Ginger Made: Vintage McCall’s 5995, or the Mello Yello Dress

Holy guacamole!  It’s hot out there, folks!  It’s the kind of humid heat where if a guy so much as looks at you cross-eyed, you could gut him like a fish mumble to yourself angrily long after he’s out of earshot!  But luckily, this weather can’t bring me down ’cause…

I’ve got a brand-new dreee-eesss (sing to the tune of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”… it’s your new favorite song!)!

This is a super-UFO… the dress that I started working on for my class with Gertie back in July!  I’m pretty slow, so I didn’t finish it during the four class sessions, and then I just couldn’t work up the energy/ambition to figure out the kickpleat thing in the back.  But I’m so glad I finally finished it!  I really like it, even though it’s not perfect.

The pattern is McCall’s 5995 from 1960, and I love the style!  I thought I would have to grade it up to get it to fit, but there was sufficient ease in the pattern that it ended up fitting really well without any major changes.  I shortened it by a few inches and lowered the neckline cause it was Choke City before I did (although I could have lowered it a tad bit more– it’s SUCH a high neckline that I’m pretty sure if I bend forward in it I’ll get strangled).  The only thing I’m not that happy with are the bust darts– I iron them nicely, but then the minute I put the dress on, they’re back to looking bunchy and weird.  My suspicion is that this is happening because, ahem, I’m not quite filling out the dress.  I suppose I could take in the side seams a tad to get a snugger fit, but I didn’t really want it to be tight and risk button gaping (one of my pet peeves).  I can live with it as is (or I guess I could wear a bra with a bit more… volume?).

The pleat thingy lays a bit flatter in real life… I think it turned out OK.

I used a light-to-medium-weight cotton that I bought at Tissus Reine on my trip to Paris last summer (ack, I wanna go back NOW!!).  It was just the perfect weight– not at all heavy, but definitely not sheer, and in a FAB nuclear yellow-green color to boot!  The pattern includes a tie belt, which I made just for kicks, but it’s kinda cute, so I may wear it after all.

Take the picture and quit cracking jokes, photographer!

I got to try out a few new techniques with this dress– it was my first time using a vintage pattern, doing bound buttonholes, doing a pleat in a lined skirt, and inserting a regular zipper.  It was the first time I used fabric-covered buttons, too, but I can’t truthfully claim that skill because Man Friend covered the buttons for me!

Guts (bodice front)

I serged the raw seams, except for the ones that I had sewed last summer (they were French seamed or turned-and-stitched).  If this photo looks a little wonky, it’s because the facings were annoying as all get out, so for the left armhole, I just faced it with some bias tape I had laying around to keep the facings out of the way of the zipper.  I ended up blind-hemming the first armhole facing and the neck facing to the bodice of the dress because they just wouldn’t stay out of the way, even when I stitched in the ditch at the shoulder seams.  Blerg!  I’ll probably skip facings altogether on the next dress and just use lovely, clean, neat bias tape.

Guts (back)

The skirt is lined with a very strange material… I’m really not even sure what it is.  Some sort of acetate, possibly?  I went into Mood last summer (when I was more clueless about fabric types) and asked for lining material, and they gave me this stuff– it’s got an element of stretch to it, which is probably what I wouldn’t have chosen if I bought it today, but it works totally fine.  The pattern suggests stitching a seam binding waist stay onto the waist seam to discourage stretching, so I did that.  I used seam binding to finish the hem, then hand-stitched a blind hem, which I’m pretty proud of.  This is definitely the nicest (and blindest, ha!) hem I’ve done to date.  If you’re wondering what the little white square is just above the waist, well… I had a bit of a serger accident.  I was humming along, finishing my seams, when a bit of the bodice fabric got tucked up under the seam and the serger ATE A HOLE IN MY DRESS BODICE.  Now, drama queen me of 6 months ago probably would have freaked out, cried, cut the entire dress into ribbons, and set it on fire, but I calmly approached it with the poise and white-lipped determination of a field surgeon fear, trembling, and a little swearing, and came up with a hillbilly fix.  I cut a tiny piece of fabric to fit the hole and ironed a square of fusible interfacing onto the wrong side.  Then I dotted Fray Check around the raw edges and hoped for the best.  It’s really not very noticeable, and hopefully it won’t fray over time.  If it gets worse, I’ll probably stitch up a wider belt and just cover up the mess with that.

Overall, I’m happy with this dress.  The color is so cheerful and fun, and it feels good to have defeated a long-lurking UFO, one that’s been looking at me accusingly for some time.  Plus, who doesn’t LOVE HAVING A NEW DRESS?

What are you guys up to these days?  Working on anything fun?  Hope you Americans had a lovely three-day weekend!  If you guys see fewer blog posts from me in the future, it’s probably because it’s really distracting trying to type with my assistant (and that’s the other assistant parked just inches from his fan):

I’m not bothering you, am I?

113 responses

  1. Your dress looks great! I want to make some 60’s mod dresses. I have found some great vintage patterns on line on etsy, but they do not list finished garment measurements. Did you use the size that matched your measurements? I have been making a size or 2 smaller than recommended by my measurements in order to get a decent fit in modern patterns.

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    • Thanks, Kate! This was a size smaller than recommended (a 32″ bust and I’m a 34″), and I was worried that it would be too tight, but it fit really well without adjustments.

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      • I should say, though, that you definitely want to muslin at least the bodice, as vintage patterns are proportioned a bit differently than modern ones (and necklines tend to be way higher, bust darts point to a dramatically different place, etc.). All easily fixed, but would be much easier to deal with at the muslin stage. :)

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  2. I used to live in Montmartre and I loved all of the fabrics stores in the district (including the one you mentioned)!!! I think I will buy a 34 bust pattern instead of a 36, a size down usually does the trick. I’m looking at a McCalls 8645 , 1966 pattern.

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    • Cute pattern! It’s not a super fitted style, so I bet you can get away with just making a size down. I’m so jealous that you lived in Montmartre! I would move to Paris in a heartbeat if I could convince my husband!

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