McCalls 6503: 1950s style dress

Summer’s here guys! I made a new dress to celebrate. Here I am enjoying the sunshine on my balcony.

McCalls 6503 1950s dress

Oh alright. This is me pretending there isn’t a biblical downpour going on around me. The constant, miserable rain in London is really getting me down. Personally I blame Thames Water. As soon as they launched their huge media campaign telling us all to conserve water due to a massive drought in the South of England,  the weather gods decided to take the piss by ordering 40 days and nights of constant drizzle. It’s very ironic, or something.

McCalls 6503 back

The pattern is McCalls 6503. I went a bit mad when Jaycotts had a half-price pattern sale and bought loads. McCalls are the only one of the big 4 that I haven’t sewn from before, and I was really impressed with this pattern. The styling on all their envelopes is uniformly terrible though. Exhibit A below:

The garish fabric totally obscures the lines of the dress, not to mention the truly nasty 80s shoes and whatever’s going on with the hair styling. See how much better the midriff and bust gathers actually are in real life:

I think this dress has a very 1950s look, with the midriff band, the cross-over bodice, and the gathered skirt. It even closes up the side, so you could go really authentic and do a lapped zipper, although I couldn’t be bothered on this version.

The fabric I used is not vintage, but it’s along those lines. It’s from Fabrics Galore and I’ve hoarded it for about 3 years. The print is so crazy I needed to do it justice. Here’s a close-up:

Yes, it’s a black and white line-drawing of some scarily intense ballet dancers. My boyfriend described it as looking like ‘a scene from hell’, and there is a slight hint of Dante about it. These are not pink tulle wearing ballet dancers. They are ripped and will probably cut you if you get in the way of their jetés.

At first I wasn’t sure about this dress. I love the print on the fabric so much I should probably have made an everyday item with it,  not something so costume-y. .But after wearing this dress all day today, I’ve come to appreciate it more. It’s super comfortable, and looks okay with a cardigan and tights, which is no doubt how it will be worn for 51 weeks of the year.

I added lace trim to the collar, and black piping to the midriff seams (the piping was another score from the Brighton meet-up! Thanks Clare!). I also added some big old pockets which are always necessary.

The only fit changes I made were to lengthen the bodice an inch, the skirt two inches, and the sleeves one inch. I also took out a bit of the fullness in the bust gathers, as recommended here, but I think they could be left in if you’re working with a lighter fabric. I didn’t need to do a FBA on this as the style is very forgiving.

Prior warning: this dress needs a lot of hand-tacking to hold down the cross-over bodice, otherwise it will never sit right.

Now all I need is for it to stop raining…