Yesterday I posted about my ruffled vintage cherry print dress, and while looking at the photos on my phone, photos taken “one year ago today” popped up. It was this dress! McCall’s 7834 is a current pattern, not vintage. But it is a Laura Ashley pattern, and if you liked the look of my vintage dress, this is a more accessible pattern to get you a similar flavor…. though, if I’m being honest, the vintage pattern is better.
My initial thoughts as I am writing this: I enjoyed sewing this pattern, but I think it has some design features that are either 1. not quite right for my body OR 2. not quite right in this fabric. I have worn this once, in Spain (lol what a weird thing to pack for a trip). I tried it on again last night, and while I like the fabric, it is too stiff: this is vintage cotton broadcloth from the 1940s, purchased at an estate sale for $1 per yard. I think it was only 36” wide. The weave is extremely dense, and at times, my needle had a hard time puncturing the fabric. It is 100% cotton, so other than that, it was very easy to work with.
This pattern would clearly execute well with a thin, drapey fabric that ruffles well (I’m thinking crepe de chine, georgette, or challis….I hate rayon but it would be ideal here). I reduced my ruffle widths by a few inches due to my narrow fabric , but there’s still plenty of frill, and if it were any more dense, it might get too bulky inside the cuffs and collar.
As for fitting, I sewed my usual size 12. My typical bodice adjustments include lengthening the bodice 1” and lowering any bust darts 1” at the same time. For this pattern, I lowered the bust dart 1” but shortened the bodice 1/4” - which seems crazy - but it hits at my natural waist. I did not make any adjustments to the shoulder, but this pattern has the wider set shoulders that most current McCall’s patterns are drafted with. I don’t like this for stylistic reasons, and because I have narrow shoulders. If I sewed this again, I would make a narrow shoulder adjustment to get the sleeve cap sitting higher on my shoulder.
Where this pattern gets wild is the skirt. Oh boy. The skirt is SHORT and FULL. Either of those are fine, but when combined, you are definitely going to have to hold your skirt down when walking on the sidewalk, and personally, I can’t stand it. I lengthened the skirt 1” (didn’t have enough fabric for more - but wish I could lengthen it by about 2 feet), and reduced the skirt circumference by 10”!! to make it less full than a size 6 (smallest size offered). Please note, if this were made up in a softer, drapier fabric (and if it were longer), I might not need to reduce this fullness at all! But in this crisp cotton, it was too bulky.
I hate the back of this dress. There, I said it. Again - fabric choice could potentially change this! In my crispy cotton, the back is too fully, boxy, and I dislike that the waistline elastic is so thin that it doesn’t create a defined waistline and doesn’t continue to the front of the dress. From a purely personal style perspective, this dress is too short. I’m not comfortable in a skirt that is this full and this short (I will happily wear a more tailored mini skirt). It also clings not just to tights, but to my bare legs. The one time I wore it, I wore a slippery slip and tights. It looked cute, but I was tugging on it.
When I first made this dress, I loved it, but you know what? I’ve learned a lot about clothes this year. In considering ways to salvage this project, I am contemplating making it into a shirt, which I think would be more wearable, but I’m not sure I would actually wear it. I could also re-work this to have a proper waistband, and add some length to the skirt in doing so. The only way I could see this working is to find a matching blue fabric since I don’t have any scraps. We’ll see. I would like to fix it.
I guess the moral of this story is, I had fun making this and learned a lot in the process. This dress probably should have been my “muslin”, and my fabric choice was WRONG for the pattern. No regrets! That just happens sometimes and it’s best to just keep on sewing.. XO, Martha