What happens when I want to imitate the cover of a vintage Delineator magazine I own, but I only have one measly yard of matching fabric to work with? This…I become a modernly basic version of a year 1931 Delineator girl.
I’ve made vintage fashion up-to-date before, but never to this point. I’ve also never used stripes in the sometimes uncomplimentary horizontal direction before, and I am still being won over to the result. Nevertheless, this is comfy to wear, cool for summer, and as easy to sew up as it is to accessorize.
This dress was made so I could have a patriotic set for Independence Day as part of the “4th of July Proud Dress Project” sponsored by the blog “Akram’s Ideas”. It was worn with my handmade necklace of Lapis Lazuli beads, blue sapphire earrings, and my own navy nail art for a full American color combo – complete with sun hat! Unfortunately, temperatures were lower than normal and a bit too chilly for me to be completely comfortable in my dress for long, so I’m looking forward to much more use of this once the full heat of summer kicks in here…especially for those dash out of the house errands or after school pick-up occasions!
FABRIC: The red and white striped fabric is a lovely 100% rayon knit; the lining is an ultra-lightweight polyester interlock in white
PATTERN: McCall’s 6559
NOTIONS: Nothing but white thread was needed, and of course I have plenty of that!
TIME TO COMPLETE: The dress was finished on June 22, 2017 after only 4 or 5 hours.
TOTAL COST: The striped rayon knit was a folded up remnant, not even on a bolt, bought when Hancock Fabrics was going out of business. Thus, I believe I bought this for about $2. The interlock is something I have a stash of on hand, so I’m counting it as free making this one awesomely low cost yet high quality dress!
Rayon is my ultimate favorite fabric. When it comes to a rayon knit, there isn’t anything more dreamy and luxurious to me. Nevertheless, rayon knit is terribly thin and delicate. Thus I figured my striped fabric, being a rayon knit, needed a lining if it was to be practical and wearable for me. Giving this tank dress a full body lining eliminates any see-through issues, feels wonderful on the inside with no seam allowances rubbing, makes my dress a total step above any store bought tank dress, and helps keep the rayon dress in its proper shape. It was a win-win all around, especially since I used the lining to even cover up the hem, doing a hand-stitched finish to “make-up” for the rest of the dress’ simple design and ease in sewing.
I have long been wanting to use this tank dress pattern and it pretty much sewed up to my high expectations. The fit is nice only because this dress’ pattern seems to run generous and I had to take it in by an extra inch or two to get a loosely close shape. The length was dictated by the amount of fabric available (not much – a 55 by 30 inch square) and so it is a tad shorter than I would like. The bias binding on the armholes and neckline is interesting and was an easy and conventional means of finishing off the edges. Somehow, though, I wish I would have made it skinnier (that is, less noticeable) as well as sewing them so that they covered up the seam allowance from the inside. However, it works, and as I didn’t want to spend too much time working on such a basic dress, I’m happy with it how it is.
I did choose the racer-back option, but for some reason I do not think it turned out quite as it should have. The racer-back ends up looking (to me) like a half-hearted attempt and not a full, shoulder blade baring style as I expected. I left the dress’ bodice back as it was because I do like the fact I do not have to adjust or change my lingerie strap configuration, as I would have had to do for a true racer-back. However, I think it makes me seem like I have swimmer’s shoulders from behind. I don’t swim, and although my shoulders are my strong point, I feel they are big enough and am sensitive about emphasizing them like this. Sorry, off topic! My point is, if you do want the full racer back to this pattern, I think you will have to do some re-cutting first.
Here’s yet another good example of what can be done with only a yard of fabric and a vintage inspiration. Not too often do modern patterns seem to lend themselves to being a one yard friendly project – sometimes I wonder if they’re in bed with the fabric companies. That compatibility with small cuts of material is usually something I see provided through vintage patterns. However, I hope this dress project of mine inspires you to keep your eyes open for both old and new opportunities to use those discounted small cuts, those remnants taking up room in your stash, or those pretty fabrics of second-hand clothing you no longer fit in. Open them up and start experimenting with the layout of some pattern pieces and you might be surprised!
Also, just because a vintage garment or image inspires you doesn’t mean it has to translate into something old-fashioned…like my tank dress, your garment can be whatever you want it to be, for whatever occasion or era you would like! Keep being inspired and creative out there, dear readers, and happy sewing!