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
Emily Kitsch says
The dress looks amazing! I love your choice of plaid, the colours really suit you and you did a beautiful job – as always! 🙂
Oh, and I also wanted to say your mom’s booth is SO cute! Wish I could have been there in person to have a look around! 🙂
Amazing dress! The plaid matching & fit both look impeccable. I can’t think of a more perfect dress for the Autumn & Winter
Carmen Elizabeth Velarde says
I agree 100%. Very beautiful dress and fabric! Well done!!
This is adorable Tasha!!!
Melissa Wiliams says
Oh My Gosh ! What a stunner…. you and the dress of course, both ! Gorgeous color, the orange and black. I also love plaid, but was afraid to wear such a bold one in case it made me look “broad”…ahem . Well, phooey on that, because seeing your gorgeous creation, gives me courage to make my own Vintage Plaid Dress. There is one in a certain catalog which I really love, but can’t/won’t spend THAT amount of money for…but I can make it ! What a cute pix of you and your Mom.
Absolutely beautiful!! What a fantastic job on matching the plaid! I agree the fit is impeccable! The lack of zipper makes it all that more amazing! And I have to say the skirt is a perfect. I will have to try that for my skirts!
I do love your vintage apron!
And beautiful smiles of two creative and confident ladies!
Thank you for sharing!
What a beautiful dress! That plaid is just lovely. Thank you for sharing.
Johanne Kemp says
Stunning! I have just started on a plaid dress obsession! So this is a well timed post for me! Lovely to see thank you for sharing.
Oh my gosh. Stunning. I love the color. Your sewing is immaculate, and that collar stands up plenty pretty IMHO.
First, this dress is sooooo fantastic! I love the colors and as a guy who sews, I have mad respect that you were able to line up the plaid so masterfully. Well done!
Second, while browsing your blog, I find that I am completely enamored by your style.
Thanks for all of the effort you put into this blog.
karen sumner says
your plaid matching and attention to detail is amazing!!!! fantastic look. I agree with you on flannel being a good fabric to use, but it is hard to find one other than plaid to sew something for my husband. all kinds to sew for the grandchildren.
thank you for sharing this dress and this look. wonderful! it takes a lot of time and effort and you look as tho it was a breeze. thanks
I love this blog entry! Your plaid matching information is so valuable! And the way you matched the plaid on this dress is wonderful! I especially like that you used a different pattern for the skirt. It’s perfect.
Tasha, I love this dress so much!
You did a great job balancing the plaid indeed, I particularly love the way the dark stripes look around the waist darts and the pleats of the skirt…
And i think I love everything about this dress, the plaid, the colours (which look great on you), the collar, the skirt.. all of it.
And I love the booth too, but it’s hard to compete for attention with all the dress pictures, and the great booth holders 🙂
Fabulous plaid matching. You are inspiring me to get over my plaid inertia. I have a wonderful plaid mohair blend for a Chanel style suit but I have been struggling with finding the right basic jacket pattern and I want to be able to match across the shoulders.
I love it. I’m terribly lazy about matching plaid myself. Anytime I can get it to line up across the front I’m always unreasonably pleased with myself.
Janey Ellis says
Okay, I think you did a fantastic job matching the plaid! Bravo! I also ADORE this color combo, so I don’t blame you for wanting to make a dress out of it. It’s such a perfectly fall dress!!
Also, you and your mom are too cute!! I love that I could instantly see that she is your mother!
Your mom’s stuff is so nice also! They would make good project baskets.
jeanine attaway says
WHAAAAAAAAAAAT—–Plaid flannel in a fantastic vintage dress?! Too killer for words. I LOVE THIS. I WANT TO WEAR IT! I like all the matching talk because I was burned by plaid once and am shy…perhaps I’ll try again sometime. I was trying to do it on a pair of 60’s bermuda shorts and they came out looking like total poop. It made my brain hurt and then my eyes. Ugh.
Your mom is adorable—I see where you got your mad skills.
Stay warm this winter!
Bobs & Botany says
Ahhhh! The perfect cold weather dress! This is absolutely gorgeous and I love the vintage button detail. I have so many of those in my stash that I really need to use…
Do you think you’d ever do a photographed, step-by-step plaid/pattern matching tutorial (or have a link to a good one)? Your descriptions are helpful, but being able to see how you actually do your perfect matching would be such a great learning tool.
That looks great on you! I think I will have to look for this pattern! And thanks for all of the tips about sewing plaids — very helpful.
Kayla Pins says
Your plaid matching is amazing and the flannel looks super cozy. You ALMOST make it seem like I could attempt something similar.
Kristina Suko says
Oh my word this dress is everything I’ve ever dreamed of. The plaid! The cut! The colors! I’m in awe of you and your matching skills! And, of course, your sewing skills! It’s just gorgeous!
You are such an inspiration. Love the dress and everything else you create.
I’ve been dying to make a flannel dress. Did you add a lining to this dress? I can’t figure out if it’s necessary or if I can do without.
Nice dress! I found it while I googled for advice for my new flannel vintage dress I want to sew. I have an original fifties pattern I want to make and I wonder if I should add lining to it. So did you do a lining for the bodice or skirt?