Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scarlet is Ready for the Beach!

Recent interchange in a restaurant:

Roland (husband... observing a woman walking by): I hate maxi dresses.

Kyle (son): Me too.

Me: I'm making me one.


Me: It's from a vintage pattern that is remarkably similar to the dress that lady had on.

Me: For the beach trip.

End of that discussion.

So, not only have I made a maxi dress from a vintage pattern, but I made it from fabric that used to be curtains a la Scarlett O'Hare. If she were going to the beach and not to a prison to see Rhett Butler. These curtains:

About 4 yards of a soft cotton batik. That glinty spot you see is some beading I had added for fun. It became a problem.

The pattern I used, McCall's 3246, copyright 1972:
I don't actually have that much to say about it. Bust 34 is really a little small for me, but there isn't much fitting. I did a tissue fit, resulting in a full bust alteration (FBA) which added some needed width for the midriff. I made the midriff bands
a little longer on each side (somewhat unscientifically), and added 1/2" to the lower side edges of the back bodice which was plenty. I did narrow the shoulders about an inch.

I didn't have the instructions, but this is a pretty easy and straightforward pattern. It doesn't call for lining, and I didn't want to anyway. Remember, beach. Hot temps. The V-neck has a foldover lining, and I secured it with some machine embroidery using one of the fancy stitches on my machine. I used the same thread hogging stitch around the midriff as well.
Oh! When I did the FBA, it also lengthens the bodice a bit. I removed that length along the center edge, eliminating any gaping. That's also what's causing the midriff band to sag a bit at the sides, something I can live with. If you want to see the embroidery better, I think clicking on the pic zooms you in a bit.

I did have to shorten the dress a bit, and initially, I just gathered the full widths of the rectangle, but that turned out to be way too much volume around the middle. I had traced the skirt pattern, which has an a-line shape, effectively removing about 8 inches per side.
Yep, the midriff band does sag a bit around the sides, and while I know why (see above), I didn't realize it until after all the embroidery was done. Remember... beach dress, not a couture gown.

I used an invisible zipper which admittedly is not as 1972 as it is 2012, but it was the only matching one I had. The seams and embroidery don't match up perfectly... beach dress. Now for a little test... the back skirt panels had to be pieced because of the fancy beading on the curtain which was sewn into a seam, not just put on top. I'm hoping it's not too noticeable.
I haven't gotten Roland's opinion, but frankly, my dear... well, you know the rest!


  1. Why are we always so self critical of our work, I never noticed your band sagging until you mentioned it. Id never had one a maxi in the seventies, fancy making one this summer. Ive long past asking my husband if he likes my outfits, Im convinced hes colour blind!!!

  2. Oh, I do recognize this pattern Elle --- must dig it out and make a dress! Not so sure I could pull off the maxi length though --- think I'd end up looking like a cinder block since I'm so squat LOL! You're wearing it very well --- so cute and I adore the purple-blue color! Love your version, it speaks to the not so latent 70's flower child in me :D!

  3. I love the batik fabric, and the dress turned out very well!

  4. Beautiful dress! I love that it was curtains in a past life. It's copacetic.

  5. Too funny! I love it. (The dress and the post).

  6. This is *perfect* for the beach! I love the fabric. You had one posh curtain, lol.
    What do men know anyway?

  7. Lovely maxi! Batik and the beach go together!! The embroidery is a nice design detail.

  8. Just remind them that, when you wear a maxi dress, they don't have to look at your hairy legs (beach, remember. No shaving for sunburned legs!)

  9. Love, love love your maxi dress! It's absolutely perfect for the beach and a whole lot of other locations.



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