It’s finished! My second version of McCalls 7743 is complete. I’ve called it the Little Letter Dress because that’s what the fabric is called. (So uncreative, I know. This is why I stick to a theme when naming my patterns. It’s easy to name the next one when they’re all named for Vancouver area places and streets!)
Back to the dress!
It was really sunny out so all of my photos turned out very pale. In some the dress looks almost white! (And my shoes completely blend in with my legs. It’s a bit weird but we can’t complain about sunshine after all the rain we’ve had!) To be honest, I’m not thrilled with the photos, I feel like they don’t do the dress justice. Light colours in bright sunlight are hard to photograph!
Here is the first version of the dress here, now faded and pulling apart at the seams, too worn out to wear. Goodbye, old dress! (Many of you suggested that I keep the fabric and try to do something with it, and I will. Or I plan to, anyways, it’s in my scrap box waiting for me to learn to quilt.)
Double-gauze fabric seems like it would be sheer, but with a lining of cotton voile it’s quite opaque. I’m wearing a black bra and you can hardly tell!
The bra I’m wearing has a slightly vintage shape to it, so it fits the dart placement of this 1965 pattern well and has less of a rounded effect. I’d tried this dress on a few times with a modern padded push-up bra and you can really tell the difference. This bra makes my chest look smaller, but more suited to the bodice of this dress. It’s really true what they say in fitting books, wear the bra you plan to wear with the finished garment when fitting a dress! You can see the different bra shape in the side view photo here.
I changed the neckline, raising the back to cover the back bra strap and lowering the front so it would sit more comfortably. I also lengthened the bodice a little, but with the change in bra it now looks like there’s a little too much space in there, especially if I’m not standing or sitting up perfectly straight. (No slouching in this dress!) Probably if I were to make it again, and plan to wear the same bra, I’d go back to the shorter bodice, or alter it again so the length is in between the two.
I made the belt! It’s a bit over-the-top sweet but I like to have the option to wear it. I think for a daytime summer wedding it would be pretty with the bow belt. (Who are we kidding, I’ll probably always wear the bow belt, it’s adorable!) The bow pattern piece was missing but I faked it with a piece cut the same width as the belt, and 18″ long.
The belt is secured with heavy-duty snaps. (Or poppers, or press studs.) These are the type of snaps that are hard to open again, so they’re great for a snug belt. I sewed them very securely, going around the holes several times. I wore this dress to walk outside, take the photos, and wore it while I typed up these notes. The snap didn’t budge at all! (Very reassuring for wearing the dress for longer periods of time.)
The skirt did not actually end up longer than my first version, because I followed the pattern instructions for hemming the skirt with a wide hem. (Because I’d already trimmed the lining to the finished length, which gets tucked in the fold of the skirt, and I didn’t mind it being shorter.) I kind of forgot what I had planned, as I worked on this dress in stolen moments of time, a couple minutes here and there.
The instructions call for you to trim the lining to the finished length of the skirt, so the hem of the skirt fabric folds up and over the raw edge of the lining. Then you sew the hem to the lining, so the hemming stitches are completely invisible on the right side. It’s nice because the lining doesn’t separate from the skirt and there’s no possibility of it hanging down longer than the skirt, but it doesn’t allow for any changes to the hem length after cutting.
Next time, especially as I’m thinking of making a solid-colour version, I will add to the length. It’s cuter when it’s short, but a couple of inches would help bring it from cute to elegant.
The other thing about lining cotton fabric with cotton lining is that the layers stick together a bit, so the skirt can look wrinkled when in fact it’s the two layers of fabric gripping to each other. It’s soft and very comfortable, and it will be breathable in the summer heat, but it requires a little smoothing out now and then! (Something to think about for your upcoming summer sewing projects.)
I hand-picked the zipper. (Tutorial here!)
I did a bound buttonhole at the back opening, but sewed the button on top of the buttonhole through both layers so it’s not functional.
And on the inside, I whipstitched the loose edge because I remember safety-pinning the first version of the dress in place.
Hm, what else? I really like how this turned out. The shape of the dress is simple so that the pretty, girly fabric doesn’t look too cutesy. (Something with gathers or ruffles would probably be too much cute.) I loved the original dress so much that I literally wore it out, so it’s nice to have a new version.
Here’s the back view – not a great photo of the dress as I’m twisted around, but you get the general idea! (I have better photos of the back from the first version.)
This is the beauty of sewing – no dress is ever irreplaceable! You can use the same pattern, look for similar fabric, and re-make a dress you love as many times as you want. Even if you’ve lost the pattern and have to buy it again, it’s still worthwhile to get the dress of your dreams back.
More posts about this dress:
- McCalls 7743: Revisiting a Favourite Vintage Dress
- Surprising Things about McCalls 7743
- A Different Kind of Waist Stay
I did a quick search to see if this pattern is for sale anywhere, but sadly no! It appears that there are at least two other patterns called McCalls 7743 and neither is this dress. It’s a good one though, pick it up if you see it!
What do you think of version #2? (What would you pick for version #3?)