Monday, February 24, 2020

Cotton Cord

Here is a project that has been sitting in a bag, unfinished and forgotten for years.  Years!  I honestly cannot remember when I started this.  And I am actually quite glad that I left it unfinished for a couple of reasons.

But first, here is McCalls 3730.  I liked the pattern enough to purchase it, although I wanted to make changes to those sleeves from the start.  And I conveniently kept a little sketch of my idea in the bag with all of the bits and pieces when I abandoned the project.

At the time, I desperately wanted to use a couple of crochet trim pamphlets that I had collected.  So I got to work and made up my trim in lengths that would match my bodice and yoke pieces so there was no need to cut anything and have it unravel.

I remember tea dying the pieces because I didn't like the brighter ecru color against the darker colored flowers.

I also left myself a couple of pages with measurements and even a drafted cuff for my theoretical sleeve.  But I never cut out a sleeve, which meant that I had enough leftover corduroy to do that now.  And instead of drafting my own sleeve, I decided to test out a vintage pattern, Simplicity 9723, first in muslin.

The sleeve fit beautifully into the armscye of McCalls 7370 (it always helps to have a sleeve with a gathered cap, though!).

Instead of lining the sleeve, I flatlined it with rayon bemberg.  I figured this was the easiest way to approach the sleeve construction, and I knew I wanted a lining of some kind with the sticky cotton cord.

This pattern has a technique I have never seen before that stabilizes a small opening with a scrap of fabric that gets used as the cuff opening.

If you have a very large hand, this might create a problem as there is a lot less room than a traditional placket opening, but for me, it worked beautifully.  Will I make every cuffed sleeve I encounter in the future in this manner?  Probably not, but I do love learning new tricks from vintage pattern primers!

And here are the sleeves on the dress - so much better than the ones that came with the McCalls pattern, in my opinion!

Once the sleeves were on, I fiddled with trim placement along the shoulders and hand stitched it into place.

Which brings me to another reason I am so glad I set this project aside.  In the project bag, I had started to cut into some polyester lining.  Thankfully (although I didn't feel that way at the time), I failed to transfer some of my bodice alterations to the lining pieces so that they would not work with my dress.

Which meant that the horrible staticky and gross poly lining did not get attached to my dress.  Instead, I used some bemberg remnants in my stash to recut the lining with my alterations.  It really is incredible how a short dress takes so little fabric yardage.  (I don't plan on deserting my tea length frocks anytime soon, but I understand why manufacturers push short hemlines - they save on fabric and therefore costs go way down, which they don't necessarily pass on to the customer.)

And I added handmade crochet trim to the hemline as well.  Past me was very considerate and kept all of these pieces with the project so I didn't have to go searching for them.

The final bit was buttons and buttonholes on the cuffs.  I still can't get my Bernina machine to play ball, so I have to pull out another machine . . . which is aggravating.  But I made it work.

It is also interesting to note that these cuffs are quite slim.  I generally have to make cuffs smaller, either while cutting out, or cheating on button placement.  With this 1970s pattern, I made sure to pick a small button so I could easily get the cuff to wrap around my wrist.

And here is my dress!  The copyright on the McCalls pattern is 2002, and I would guess that I cut into this soon after purchasing the pattern since I did not have the pattern stash that I now have.  Which means this project probably took at least 15+ years to complete.  And I think that's a record for me; one which I hope I never repeat!


  1. Speak of tea dying, and I'm sweetness and light.
    Mention "another machine", and as a "friend of Mrs. White", well, umbrage is where I begin.

    How you kept a bag filled with a UFO for 15 years is, in and of itself, amazing. Your organizational skills, and long heralded/feared tenacity know no better testimonial than this dress.

    In a fitting tribute to when this dress was started you could style your hair in a "Rachel", and visit several coffee shops.

  2. Hmmmm, maybe you should wear this and start a "not so new" trend. .

  3. That corduroy fabric is lovely and the tea-dyed lace is to-die-for. I have done that sleeve opening technique at some time,but can't remember when, obviously a long time ago. Your dress is lovely.

  4. So clean perfect and neat. You could wear your clothes inside out and they would look good

  5. Love this! Very, 70s prairie somehow, despite the length.
    Mary in Thailand

  6. Such a beautiful dress. I love your attention to detail. And you've inspired me to look through my UFOs, some of which are simply plans, and pick one to finish. Thank you.