Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Violets are Blue and Purple Birthday Dress

Another overdue post! But it's OK because there are lots of photos to make up to it. I call this my "Violets are Blue and Purple Birthday Dress." It was finished just in time to wear for my birthday outing the last week of May. The dress was made from two different vintage patterns. The bodice was made using McCall's 8949 (from the 1950s) and the skirt from McCall's 5812 (from the 1960s).

A nice close up of the dress fabric.
McCall's 8949 and McCall's 5812
The fabric came from my mom's sewing stash. As a quilter she has an ever growing pile of fabrics to pick from for her projects. Many fabrics are gifted to her but not all are suitable for quilting. This was one of those fabrics. You'll see some more in my upcoming posts. If you look carefully at the picture below you can see some light staining on the fabric, probably from storage. It mostly came out in the wash. The marks were difficult to cut around but are not all that noticeable on the finished dress.

Here you can see the pieces for the bodice. My fabric for this project was limited so I had to cut carefully. If I had more fabric to play with I could have done a better job of matching up the print.

And here is the finished dress! I had the perfected lavender/blue colored crinoline to wear with this dress but because it's very short and full ( it was made for square dancing) it looked really funny underneath. There is a really good post here showing the difference between true vintage crinolines/petticoats and those made for square dancing.

For my birthday each year, Cori and I travel to one of our favorite antique shops in Quechee, Vt. The ladies who work there recognized us right away from previous visits (like last year's trip) and came over to chat. Afterwards we stopped for lunch and headed over to check out the Quechee Gorge. As you see we weren't exactly dressed for hiking so we only walked a short distance on the trail that leads down into the gorge.

You get the best view of the river below by standing on the bridge but I'm not one for heights so I didn't stay long. It didn't help that Cori was playing around and making me nervous.

It's sort of an odd family trait but two of my siblings and I seem to be able to find four leaf clovers where ever we go. I found all of these when we stopped for lunch. How many can you count in the picture below?

How many 4 leaf clovers do you see? :)
We finished the day with dinner and an ice cream Sunday at our favorite restaurant in town.

Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Vintage cotton print
Pattern: McCall's 8949 and McCall's 5812
Year: 1950s and 1960s
Notions: Buttons, buckle, thread, fusible interfacing, zipper.
How historically accurate is it? Hard to say because it's two pattern used to make one dress.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Fitting the bodice was tricky but it's hard to fit something on yourself without help. Once I worked out the fit issues the dress went together fast.
Did you change anything? Not really. I basically followed the pattern directions for pleating the skirt and the other directions for the bodice. Joining the two together was pretty straight forward.
Time to complete: About a week
First worn: May 2014
Total cost: All the materials were from the stash! Yeah! One pattern was free and I think I paid around $10 for the other.
Notes: If I had more fabric to play with I could have done a better job of matching up the print but I'm happy with it. Also I think the fit is still a little funky and could use some adjustment in the future.


  1. What a gorgeous dress! You did a fabulous job matching up the print being that you had limited fabric! I like how you combined two different patterns. I've never managed to do that yet, but one of these days I'm going to!
    I love going antique-ing for my birthday too. It's such a fun way to look into the past.

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  2. This is gorgeous! The fabric is just amazing, and you matched up the print quite nicely on the front! (Especially impressive with limited fabric!)

    Did you alter the bodice pattern? It looks like you raised it a bit from the original, but pattern illustrations can be deceiving, so I wasn't sure.

  3. Thanks ladies!
    Emileigh, The only change I made was to shorten the bodice a little bit to accommodate my short waist. The neckline is the same, but you're right, it does look a tad higher then the illustration.

  4. Wow thats such a beautiful fabric and dress. Amazing job! X

  5. Wow thats such a beautiful fabric and dress. Amazing job! X

  6. What a beautiful dress. Thanks for showing your WIP pictures. I always love to see these. You did a grand job with this dress. I'm curious with the pleats in your dress did you measure out each pleat or was there another technique you used. My recent dress had this type of effect and I measured out each pleat but thought there must be an easier way.

  7. Thank you ladies!
    Joanna, I followed McCall's 5812 instructions for pleating the skirt. The pleats are box pleats.


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