Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sew Weekly: Pin-Up Style, Questionable

This week's Sew Weekly challenge was to make something inspired by pin-up girl style. This sounds sketchy at first, but according to the forum discussion, pin-up style can be boiled down to "something tight, and don't forget to stick one hip out and look over your shoulder while smiling coyly." So I set out to make this retro sheath dress, that is mysteriously "teen," although I'm not sure what makes it such:
McCall's 5781, from 1961. Originally intended for or owned by Crystal Hayden. Funny, since my parents were originally going to name me Crystal.
I figured it looked form-fitting enough, and the white collar dipping down into a V with a bow in the back would be a nice touch. It's been a while since I made a more fitted skirt, so I was a bit nervous. I tend to prefer fuller, flared skirts to camouflage my hips and thighs, but it turned out that my bottom half was not the problem! This dress closes with a side underarm zipper, and my relatively broad shoulders always make taking this kind of dress off into a weird contortionist wriggling act, usually climaxing in the dress being pulled up around my face, arms in the air, and requiring my husband's help to finish pulling it over my shoulders. Anyway, Cecily was extremely helpful in the making of this dress, since I can get it on and off her without interrupting my husband's marketing paper.

"Ta da! What do you think?"

After all the cutting and sewing and trimming was done, I proudly wore my new dress out into the living room to show my husband, to which he said, "Ummm...it looks like the Pan-Am flight attendant uniform." Friends, I accidentally made another costume. Okay, it was my own fault for making up a 60s pattern in blue with white trim, but still! So much for trying to make a more autumn-y dress. My husband's unfortunate first reaction did, however, inspire me to, in a fit of pique, whip up a quick Pan-Am-esque pillbox hat to complete my outfit. It really would've been better if I had white piping instead of peasly 1/4" white ribbon, but if this were actually a costume, it would suffice. As it is, I am actually inspired to try making an actual hat. Yikes. Like I need any more crafty things to do. Anyway, here's my accidental-flight-attendant-costume-that-was-meant-to-be-a-pin-up-style-wiggle-dress-except-that-I-don't-have-a-butt-to-fill-it-out.

Welcome aboard! Can I get you a barf bag?

Oh look! A plane is coming!

I really do love the look of the back with the V and bow.

Attempt to smile coyly just feels ridiculous.
Attempt to make use of kick pleat just results in tangling my heel in the sheet.
Anyway, I think I'll still wear this out (without the hat, of course), even if it does look costume-y. It was, after all, supposed to also be a replacement for my first sailor dress, which kind of was a mess and ended up being commandeered by my sister. And at least I've made another vintage pattern!

Fabric: Thrifted not-quite-navy-blue bedsheet (it was way more difficult than it needed to be trying to find a matching zipper and thread) made of 50% polyester 50% cotton, white cotton for the collar and bow
Notions: Pin for the bow, another pin for the button on the collar, white satin ribbon for the trim, zipper, interfacing for the hat, another button for the hat.
A close-up of the back details. The bow is removable.

Gosh, the hat looks pretty bad close-up. I really love this button I found for the collar of the dress, though.

Inside of the hat; underside of the pin (just hot glue on the back of the button)

Hours: Hard to say, since I split this up over a couple weeks. It didn't feel any longer than any of my other dresses, though; if anything it took less time since it's unlined. I'm guessing six hours?
Techniques used: My first lapped side zipper, handpicked. Gertie's tutorial was extremely useful.
My handpicking gets neater every time!
Will you make this again? Probably not, if only because I have so many other patterns I want to try out! I'm not a huge fan of the side zipper, and while the dress fits, it's more trouble than it's worth to take off. I am also realizing that I'm not a big fan of sheath dresses. It's such a fine line to walk between tight-enough-to-not-look-silly and not-so-tight-that-it's-uncomfortable. This dress is almost on the too loose side, but any more fitted and it would be impossible to take off. Also, I really prefer lined dresses. The facing, even though I tried to finish the edges as best as I could without a serger, just doesn't look very nice.
I actually still need to finish the waist seam.
Total cost: About $3, since the sheet was part of a huge full set, and the zipper was only a dollar. The button and ribbon I had already. I love that fitted dresses don't use much fabric.

Final thoughts: I do like this dress; I think it still works for fall and winter, but the bunching at the shoulders of kimono sleeves definitely takes some getting used to. It's pretty comfortable and doesn't wrinkle too much since it's made from a bedsheet. I don't know if I really achieved the pin-up girl style, but my husband thought it was an incredibly hot outfit, flight attendant notwithstanding. And that's good enough for me!

During the whole time I was trying to take pictures, Walnut kept snuffling around under/behind the sheet I draped over the bookcase. I had to keep watching out to make sure I didn't step on his tail with a stiletto! So as "punishment," I made him wear the little hat.
Noooo I can't believe you're making me wear this!!

Oh the shame.


  1. This is a very sweet dress! I love the "friends, I accidentally made another costume" comment! Haha! Oh, and I love the hat on dear Walnut! How cute are you!!

  2. You look fabulous, and ready to star in one of the new television shows! And your legs are fabulous, by the way, never think you're not perfect!

  3. I love this dress! I would so totally wear it. I particularly like that it isn't super tight like the pattern shows. Good job!

  4. Do you have the pattern for the dress still? Also how did you make the hat?

    1. I do still have the pattern for the dress, and the hat was totally improvised...just an interfaced circle stitched to a band with a little glued-on piece sticking up.


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