The McCardell dress- the bodice

So this morning I had approximately one hour sewing time (minus the time required to stack the dishwasher). I spent my time pressing the seams open on the facing done for one side of the bodice and fitting the bodice onto the mannequin. Before I cut the taffeta, I decided to do a post muslin run in some ABSOLUTELY fabulous, crisp retro cotton I picked up a few weeks ago- it caught my eye because it totally reminds me of the 1940s designs featured by the Onandaga silk company in my Vogue Pattern Book collection of that era (though I would date the fabric to the 1960s, possibly 1950s but the colour palette doesn’t really jive for that era). In any event, perfect for an everyday McCardell dress.

Making a McCardell dress

Featured here is the bodice- one arm facing has been done, the other side is yet to be done… Pinning to the mannequin the pattern actually made more sense… I was able to correct the pleating around the neck which had me puzzled when I handled it on a table (a 2D surface with no form to fill out the strategically placed folds).

Here is a ready made vintage Claire McCardell dress which I think is in the Met Museum – the pattern closely resembles (however the one I am making has a lovely romantic sash)…

A McCardell is a thing of beauty

Oh wow. My muslin is a mess. There is lots of loose orange basting thread, the seam allowances I provided are enormous and when I slip on the bodice and tug it a little around the waist so it nips in… I see it… the way the dress is supposed to look. Despite all the ickiness of the muslin bodice, a vision of the finished dress is starting to emerge. I have to unpick the basted pleats (again) and try and figure out where I am going wrong at the shoulders… but wow.

This is a dress I am going to love. Forever and ever! Created well before the famous Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress, McCardell’s dress  has the same undated, elegant simplicity. No wonder her designs were such a stand out when Dior was reigning supreme.

I inspect the muslin again, yes I will trim the seam allowances, give the pieces a good press and perfect “the look”. The plaid silk taffeta, carefully packed away awaits… and begs…!

Dressmaking can be a slow process with a one year old to care for. But it gives me such pleasure to create. And always with a cup of tea or coffee on hand!

1940s tea cosy pattern available at my etsy shop, VanessaLovesVintage

The making of a McCardell

I cannot tell you how utterly excited I have been to be making a Claire McCardell dress, to wear to a friends wedding, no less. I had bought the most perfect silk taffteta plaid earlier this year and given McCardells classic air of casual glamour, the fabric and pattern begged to be married (excuse the pun). The pattern was sourced from the US from a fabulous seller in Pittsburgh, once part of a vast collection, it is now on the top shelf of my own humble collection, prized because I know I could probably make the same dress a dozen times over and wear it all Summer long. At this very moment it is sitting in a delivery truck waiting to be dispatched where my eager fingers and ready-pressed muslin await…

It is a loose, untailored and versatile style but given the slight size difference, my desire to make it over several times and the cost of the fabric involved, I have decided to make a muslin first. After all, you can never really “waste” muslin but you can gain valuable knowledge about the pattern and cut more confidently with a view to a great fit on the second run. Additionally, I am grading the pattern using my own sophisticated methods of guess-timation (basically eye balling it with use of a pattern that actually fits me).
I should be cleaning the house. Mr One Year Old (aka Little Prince) keeps tearing it apart. No Threads Magazine is safe!  Seriously, I am lucky if I get through the day with his face clean and dinner thought about. (Last night I ate cereal, if thats an indication)!
Todays pattern of the day is a knitting pattern (you’ll have to wait till the next installment to see the McCardell).
Enjoy the 1940s eye candy, available at VanessaLovesVintage on etsy…

Originally designed to make in Navy and White…

Two tone ice cream colours! Yes, please!

Little Prince turned one over the weekend… where has the year gone? though since he has started crawling, my life has gone into a vacuum! My spare minutes however are still spent swooning over lovely vintage fashion… I just listed this pretty knitted lingerie shop at my etsy store:

Yummy vintage design!