McCalls 4228: The Claire McCardell Day Dress

About six months ago, Tasia over at Sewaholic mentioned this pattern on her Facebook update…. or was it a blog post?  I cannot remember, but I do remember clicking on over to the Etsy shop that was selling this pattern and purchasing it on a whim.

It was the first ever vintage pattern that I have owned, and I was quite excited to open it up and have a look.  It was in perfect condition, although there was no pattern envelope.  It was housed in a paper bag with a magazine photo of the pattern taped to the front.  No information about yardage except for a handwritten notation “3 3/8 yards” on the back.  The dress is a size 16, which I thought could be tweaked to fit me, since that’s usually where I start with a pattern.  I loved the blue of the dress, and thought about making it in a deep teal jersey, but couldn’t bring myself to purchase the fabric since I’m really trying (really, I am) to whittle down my stash instead of adding to it.  And I had purchased the plum jersey, pictured, to make up the Donna Karan Vogue 1259 dress, but decided I’d use it for the McCardell dress.  But I cut it wrong.  Bad.  Very very bad.

And then I went to Fabricland.  Ugh!  I honestly only went to purchase fabric for DD3’s winter dress coat, but they had a 50% sale going for members, and the table of knits was BOGT and…  and…  and…  So much for shopping my stash.  But, in defence of economy and wise fabric purchases, this dress cost me all of $15 + HST, so it’s a steal compared to what I usually sometimes end up coming home with.McCardell 4

The fabric is a rayon lycra knit in a rich chocolate colour, but it’s got little olive green fuzzy polka dots all over it. They’re really a nice touch – a little like velvet spots – they catch the light and change from light to dark like velvet will.  And they shed, but that’s beside the point.  I really liked the green dots.  The interesting part of this dress is its construction.

If my memory serves me correctly, Claire McCardell was an American designer that revolutionized daily dressing, mostly through her use of knits and her swimwear.  I’m not a McCardell expert, so if any of you are, please correct me (or fill in the details) if I’m wrong.  I’m also pretty sure that jerseys or knits were a relatively new thing in terms of fashion fabrics, and the give in a jersey wasn’t something designers were making the most of, like today’s designers do.  So, this dress has reinforced seams.  I think the fluidity of a jersey appealed to McCardell , but she didn’t want the garment to stretch out of shape.  Here’s a shot of the interior of the bodice.interior of bodice

Every seam is reinforced with seam binding.  I used lace seam binding for the bodice.  The sleeves, CB seam and side seams are all stitched with the seam seam bindingside zipbinding to prevent the jersey from stretching out of shape.  The back pieces are cut on the bias, so that the “V” neckline edges are cut on the grain.  And every single facing is bound.  I could have omitted this step, but I wanted to do the dress as the instructions dictated for the vintage flair.  I used olive green china silk from my scrap stash for the pocket lining and the skirt CB and side seams.  I was running short of the lace binding, and wanted to use it for the skirt hem. There is a waist stay, which you can probably barely see in the picture above, and a side zipper inside the pocket opening.

I did not do any adjustments to this pattern because it’s made of jersey, and because there’s a lot of fabric in the crossover front (about 6 pleats, each 4 inches deep), and a lot of fabric gathered into the skirt.  I’m not so crazy about the pockets, but I left them in because of the zipper.  I didn’t want to mess around with the zipper placement. McCardell 1I did not make up the belt that came with the pattern for a couple of reasons, mostly because I just cannot find a two-pronged belt buckle that’s 3 or 4 inches wide.  I do have a date for the Fashion District next Wednesday, and it’s on my list, but until I get the right buckle, this purchased belt with have to do.  It’s the right width, but it’s very stiff and the bottom sits at my natural waist.  The belt pattern is only 2 inches wide, which I don’t think would be wide enough for this dress.  I much prefer the wider belt that the model is wearing, so if I ever do find the perfect buckle, I’ll be making this up as a wider belt.McCardell 5 And I have to wear it backwards, which is probably really stupid, but it works for now until I find that perfect belt buckle.  BTW, there’s nothing like a rearview shot to bring a hefty dose of reality to one’s view of oneself.  I had no idea I was so w-i-d-e across the back hips.  Brother.  The gathering of the skirt fabric does NOT help, either.backBut you can get a good idea of the bias cut of the back bodice from this picture, and the small “v” back neckline.  The sleeves are raglan, and a little shy of my wrists.  I don’t mind that length, as I prefer them pushed up a bit anyways. McCardell 2

This was a fun pattern to put together.  It’s a classic cut of dress, comfy because it’s knit, and the style suits me, I think.  I’m not sure if I’ll make up another one, but if I did, it would be in a dark teal blue, I’d shorten the waist by about 2 inches, and probably try a circle skirt to eliminate the dirndl look. But then I’d probably have totally different dress!  As it is, I’ll probably wear this dress a lot once I get the perfect belt!

Happy Birthday Post

Happy Birthday to me yesterday!  This is a belated post, and I’m sorry I’m behind the eight ball, so to speak, but better belated than never!

No, this is not my DH – it’s Joe, DH’s business partner – apparently his birthday is today – and my dear Sarah eyeing that cake! We celebrated with the A2D2 Christmas Cabaret, which was in support of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. It just so happens that the owner of the company and three of the aerial artists teach my daughters dance.

Mel & Joe BD

I wore the Vogue 1259 dress with tights and the skirt behaved beautifully, even with all the dancing and jumping up to take photos.  It was super comfortable to wear, and you were all right about this outside-the-box ensemble…. of course!  My doubts about actually wearing it in public have been thoroughly put to rest.

a2d2Santa showed up, which was hilarious.  He sang a couple of songs that Mrs. Claus had written Santa-appropriate lyrics to, including one about exercise and proper diet, as he was looking a bit trimmer than usual.  He was very entertaining and interactive.  It was an excellent show in support of a good cause and a wonderful way to spend my birthday!

In sewing news, have been busy doing mundane alterations on a few items for friends, and finishing the McCardell dress so I can get on with the Christmas projects.  It’s finished, but I really want to have a decent belt before I share pictures and tell you about the very unusual construction process, considering that it’s a jersey dress.  I’m going to keep you hanging on this, but let me just say you’ll find it very interesting!  So I’ll get that belt either purchased or made and take some decent pictures by the end of the week… I’m hoping!!  And, in case you’re wondering, no.  I haven’t cut Christmas projects yet.  Am I starting to panic? Nope, although I may if I don’t get something started this week.

Oh, and because this is my birthday week, I’d like to announce a giveaway!  Yay!  First ever for this blog, and hopefully the first of many.  It’s too close to Christmas to give away holiday party appropriate fabric (I’m thinking taffeta and sequins), so I thought I’d offer a length of silk chiffon.  It’s an Anna Sui fabric with gold metallic threads running lengthwise.  This piece is 3m long and 135cm wide.


I’ll do the draw for it on Friday this week, and hopefully it will arrive in time for Christmas Day at the winner’s house!  It’s the usual eligibility rule:  leave a comment and you’re entered into the draw!

Plans gone awry

Woe is me. I’ve had two projects in my cue and they’ve both gone off the rails.  The first, and most pressing, is a new winter dress coat for DD3.  In an effort to be economical, I asked her to shop my stash, and she decided this purple-green-teal tweed was the best thing available.

v7792 tweed

This Vogue pattern I’ve made up a few times over the years.  The details make it:  all the pleats in the back and the length…. The length is very important.  My little princesses really like their winter dress coats LONG.  Unfortunately, there’s not enough tweed for this gem.  The fabric is only 35 inches wide, and there’s no way to squeeze the coat out of it.  So I’ll be shopping for fabric.

And the other complete mess up is this:


It’s a vintage Claire McCardell design for McCall’s (M4228)  that I purchased off EBay last winter.  The jersey is from EOS, but being distracted by some kids movie that the girls were watching while I was attempting to cut this darling, I completely planned the cutting WRONG!!!!!!!  I don’t have enough fabric because I didn’t lay it all out prior to cutting.  How stupid!  Now I have 3 large pieces (skirt) and one not-large-enough piece for the bodice and the belt.  I actually don’t know what I’m going to use all these pieces for, but it won’t be this dress.