Last month, I sewed a plaid dress. Not just any plaid dress, but a plaid flannel dress. It’s cute, warm, and comfy. What could be more delightful for fall and early winter?
This dress is from McCall’s 8989, a pattern from the 1950s.
The wing collar is annoying to construct… the type where you sew to the seam line on both sides of a seam, and invariably I leave a huge hole or puckers and have to re-do at least once. No exception this time. Cute but oof. Well I suck it up since so many of my beloved 50s styles involve variations on this collar. The envelope makes it look a bit more like it’s also a standing collar much like the collar in a blouse pattern I’ve used several times (a couple of versions here and here), but it doesn’t stand up much.
I’ve always loved plaid. Hell, I even designed a plaid hat pattern. For a long time I shied away from sewing it, but that’s changed drastically in the last couple of years. I’ve come to really enjoy the challenge of matching the print! Um… mostly enjoy? Kinda enjoy? Find satisfying? It’s a pain too, not going to lie.
I’ve sewn several plaid things, not all of which has made it to my blog. I think my proudest one was my Pendleton 49er-inspired jacket coat year, and a pair of slim trousers I sewed earlier this fall and haven’t yet taken photos of (the plaid matching on them is perfect). My plaid flannel dressing gown is up there on the list too. Oh wait, and my hooded plaid shirt too.
I’ve made some mistakes with plaid matching along the way (such as not stepping back far enough from the fabric to see the dominant vertical lines in my brown plaid dress), but I’ve learned a lot too. I feel pretty confident in taking balanced or unbalanced plaid and matching it up in most of the important places on a garment.
I’m particularly pleased with how nice the plaid looks from the front on this dress.
It’s probably worth noting that I wouldn’t call it advisable to use plaid for cut-on sleeves, but that hasn’t stopped me before. I’ve seen it in original 1950s garments, and that’s good enough for me. If you’re clutching your pearls at the idea, since you can’t really effectively match the plaid along the shoulder seam (unless you possibly do some complete pattern re-drafting that might be a poor idea anyway), oh well.
I’d much rather have something match nicely across the center front and/or back and skirt or pant leg where possible. I don’t worry about cut-on sleeve seams. I do match across the chest to a set-in sleeve if there is one. I match below the bust dart too when possible, but that’s way lower on my list of important things. Sewing gives you the choice to pick what you want to focus on and what makes you happy, so that’s my call.
I made this dress to wear to the Indie Untangled Trunk Show to help my mom who was a vendor at the show. The trunk show is the night before Rhinebeck starts, AKA the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. Here’s a photo of us at the show! (We were by a door and it was chilly, so I didn’t expect to need to keep my bolero on all night.)
Sorry we’re a bit blurry, but here’s a better look at her cute booth.
I made a dress for the same event and purpose last year and took photos but never blogged about that one nor blogged about the vintage apron I made for last year and also wore this year… whoops!
Anyway, I am generally no longer a fan of side zippers, but I was doing this on a deadline and didn’t feel like trying to match up the plaid along the entire center back seam for a CB zipper nor cutting out the back pieces as two instead of one, so I opted for the easier side zip. I added a pocket in the right side, in part because obviously pockets are great, but also because I wanted my phone accessible in case I needed to use my mom’s Square card reader with my phone.
Because I didn’t do a center back zipper, I placed the vertical lines of the plaid nicely across the back bodice and skirt, both of which I cut in one piece. Saved time, fabric, and pattern matching.
Looking at the back reminds me, I borrowed the skirt off a different pattern, Simplicity 4002 from 1952, which I sewed before a couple of years ago. It’s a plain flared skirt in the back but with soft side pleats in the front. Gives it a nice bit of fullness without being too bulky and without requiring as much yardage as a half or full circle skirt, which I didn’t have enough fabric for. And frankly, I was under a deadline and had already cut that skirt out versus the original for this pattern.
There’s lots of tutorials about matching up plaid online, but the biggest advice I can give you is to ignore any that say to lay the fabric on the fold and carefully make sure all the lines match up. You’ll never get it perfect, and you’ll have spent eons trying to. Why go through that?? Cut out on one layer, and either fold your piece over or cut the piece out without a fold line so that you can see the whole thing. And if you’re skimpy on fabric (like I was for my pants you haven’t seen), trace the pieces you use twice again (so like two front legs, two back legs) so you can place all the pattern pieces on the fabric at the same time. That way there’s no possible way you can accidentally cut it out without room to match up one remaining piece that doesn’t quite fit. (Several years ago I bought a box of medical table paper on Amazon to use as tracing paper and I’m still going through it.)
What else to say about this dress? Oh those lovely vintage buttons. I bought those last year at Rhinebeck! They have kind of a leaf design on them and they were the perfect thing to top off this dress.
I used a Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel fabric that my friend Sydney gave me, and it’s delightful. I’m really a fan of sewing with flannel, it’s a fabric sewers often seem to forget about unless they’re talking about a button down shirt or pajamas. I say why save it just for that? It’s not any more wrinkly than most other cottons, and many of us sew with that loads. There’s so few cozy fabrics out there and the colder months can be the pits, why not wrap yourself up in as much comfort as you can.
Of course, finding ones that aren’t little kiddie prints or plaids is not easy… good thing I love plaid! 😉
dress – made by me
vintage copper cuff – misc.
vintage copper Renoir earrings – misc.
shoes – Miss L Fire