McCalls 7228 1940s gown

5 08 2013

It all started when I realized I had nothing to wear to a wedding we’re attending in August. The wedding is in Montreal and black tie, quite a bit more formal than most weddings here in Vancouver where things tend to run a little more on the casual side. The only dress I once had that might have worked was tossed in the Great Clothing Purge of Fall 2012. 


I really didn’t like the idea of going out and buying a dress. 1. Shopping for a particular item is always frustrating. I’d probably end up with something over priced that I didn’t even like that much but that I bought because I was tired of looking and 2. I’m trying to avoid buying clothes for the foreseeable future. 

Instead I decided to make one. I started out looking at in-print patterns but that proved to be as fruitless as dress shopping likely would have been. The current silhouettes and styles just aren’t really my style. 

Enter Etsy. A quick search for Vintage Gown Pattern brought up McCalls 7228 and it was love at first sight. I loved everything about this pattern, from the delicate lace yoke to the scalloped yoke to the full skirt. This was the dress. 


I was nervous about making it because I’d never sewn from a vintage pattern before or made an evening dress for that matter but I was pleasantly surprised by the straight forwardness of the pattern. The scallops were probably the trickiest part and the key to that was just hand basting everything into place. 


I handpicked the zipper and I’m so glad I did. It was way better putting in a zipper that way than by machine. I really liked having so much control. Hand hemming the skirt was probably the most time consuming part of the project. Let’s just say I’ve gotten a lot of practice at the slip stitch. 

The hardest part I think was attaching the bodice to the skirt. Each is constructed separately and then the bodice is topstitched on. The trouble is there is a lot of fabric to the skirt and keeping the gathers in order was no small feat. Thankfully I found Sewaholic’s tutorial on gathers and that made it so much easier. 

I decided to use silk for the dress. I thought about using poly-taffeta, and did use that for the mock up but decided that if I was going to make a dress I should use fabric I wouldn’t be able to afford in ready-to-wear. Totally worth it!


I had to make a few adjustments to the pattern to achieve optimal fit. They weren’t especially difficult but definitely worth the effort. 

Yoke: I shortened the yoke by an inch so that the top of the bodice would end where I wanted it to. As I get into sewing I am noticing that I am shorted in the bust to shoulder area than a lot of patterns allow for. 

Bodice: This alteration was a bit trickier but still not too difficult. When I made the mock up there was a lot of gaping at the sides right at bust level. I mean A LOT of gaping. My measurements were spot on for the pattern but there was obviously a lot of ease built in, perhaps to account for structural undergarments. In order to keep the scallops lining up at the sides I needed to take a chunk out of the top of each scallop. I did this by cutting off the top of the bodice pattern piece and then cutting into each scallop, taking about 1cm from each before taping everything back together. It was a time consuming exercise but worth it when the fit was great and the scallops lined up at the seams. 

Skirt: The skirt as drafted hits me around the ankle. Definitely an awkward length for a dress. I trimmed 7 inches from each piece and also took a 2 inch hem. 

I think the effort of customizing the pattern really paid off and I can’t wait to wear it to the wedding.


I know it still looks pretty creased in the photos. I’m saving it’s good pressing for once we’re in Montreal. 




One response

6 08 2013

WOW. That is such an impressive project – unique, looks great & perfect shoes!!

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