Spurred on from my last true vintage sewing pattern, I wanted to try another so I returned to my stash of true vintage patterns. When it comes to vintage patterns, it can be really daunting to cut one up and I have noticed that more and more online pattern sellers are selling prints of vintage patterns. One such store is the Vintage Pattern Store. A little while ago, when I thought I’d be sewing a bit more than I actually was, I purchased a few reprinted vintage patterns and McCalls 5142 was one of them. Vintage pattern reproduction companies often sell patterns that are simply either digitised or reprinted; one vintage pattern can be sold many times over so there’s no stress in missing out on a rare pattern. A major upside of these companies is that you can decide to get either a cheaper digital copy of the pattern that you print out at home, or you can receive a printed copy in the mail. For this instant, I got the printed copy because my printer prints drunk.
McCalls 5142 came out in 1959 and it features two styles featuring the same bodice but your choice of a fitted or flared skirt. The bodice includes a scoop neckline with short or three-quarter length sleeves in one with the bodice. The bodice is gathered above a front midriff piece curved into a semi-circle shape and is lined and interfaced. The bodice also has front ties added in the side seams. The back of the bodice has a part way zipper at center back. My pattern is sized as a 16 which includes a bust of 36 inches. Vintage sewing patterns often come in just one size and after measuring up the pieces, this dress should technically fit me very well. Should I make a calico muslin? Absolutely. Am I going to? Absolutely not.
You can find my Bust 36 pattern here from The Vintage Pattern Store but I also found it in a smaller 32 inch Bust here although I’ve never shopped from this store before and can’t comment on their service. My pattern arrived in a pattern pack which included a front cover, note pages about fabric, sizing, sewing terms and scans of the original pattern envelope front and back. The pattern pieces came on large butcher paper which was easy to cut out. The lines were clear and had all the original markings printed clearly. Along with the pattern pieces, the pattern instructions were also printed on the brown paper (I actually thought they would be in the little booklet and I had to really search for them, when I finally found them they seemed really obvious).
It’s time to shop my stash. I really struggled finding a fabric that I felt fit the vibe of this dress. I knew I wanted something floral but I didn’t want anything overly dark. Deep deep down in one of my fabric boxes I found a plastic bag and inside was some fabric I bought way back in 2017. There were a few pieces of fabric inside, one of them being a white cotton stretch sateen with large blue roses. I remember buying this fabric from Minerva Craft and I actually thought I lost it because I remembered buying it but I know I never sewed it up into anything. I also have it in the pink so I might be using that soon if I find a great pattern. Ta-da! There it is. This fabric was very wide so 4 meters was a bit too much but I figured I could turn the rest into a cute top further down the road.
Sew, let’s get started! Like always, I began with the bodice sewing together the two top halves of the bodice top. The bottom of these pieces were gathered using a hand stitched basting stitch and then it was time to attach it to the midriff piece. I ironed on interfacing onto my main midriff piece and then very slowly, I pinned it to the bodice top. I really took my time pinning these pieces together as being front and centre of a dress, theres no where to hide. I kind of enjoyed the methodic pace of this bodice coming together as it was relatively simple in it’s construction. The bodice isn’t lined which made putting it together relatively simple.
Despite this, the neck is concealed using facing which I finished off with bias binding and a top stitch. Part of the joys of shopping with The Vintage Pattern Store is that they send you a dress label to sew in and I love this little edition as now my dress looks really lovely and professional; maybe I should get some labels printed up for myself? The midriff pattern piece is concealed and reinforced with a facing piece as well and I basically just cut out another midriff piece from the fabric remnants and sewed that in. It came out lovely and smooth and I was so happy with myself. The pattern does say to sew in some bias binding in the armpits of the bodice for reinforcement but I made sure to just top stitch it really well instead.
Creating the ties was also pretty easy and they were attached to the sides of the bodice before ffront the bodice sides were attached to the back. I left an opened seam to give space for the zipper I would add later. With the bodice complete, it was time to move onto the skirt. Made up of four pieces, I sewed the side seams together and left an opening in the back centre seam for the rest of the zip to go into. I used my dental floss method to gather the top of my skirt and pinned it as evenly as I could to my bodice. When I was happy I basted the stitches to the bodice and then went in with a proper stitch. As I was attaching my skirt to the bodice, I think the pattern should have asked for the ties to have been raised about 5/8 of an inch up the side so when the skirt was attached, the ties wouldn’t be sewn in slightly into the skirt. I tried to keep it out as much as possible but I wasn’t able to omit it completely. If the ties were raised, they would have sat a little smoother on the sides and I think it would have looked a bit better.
The last thing I needed to do with this dress was to hem the arm holes and the bottom of the skirt. The pattern says to hand the dress for several days before hemming the skirt hem as parts of it would have been cut in the bias meaning it would stretch a little from it’s own weight. After I cut the pieces, they were hung up for a day or so before I got around to sewing them together so I figured they’d have stretched enough. I did my best trimming them and hemming them with a double rolled hem. This fabric would have been great to add some horsehair braid to show off the fabric a little more but I think it still looked lovely.
The pattern asked for a zip to be added to the back open seams but I decided an invisible zip would look better and cleaner so I went with that option. I’m not the best at sewing invisible zips so I went back and hand stitched the zip closed a little better. I’m happy with how it came out even if I can still see some zip tape where the bodice meets the skirt.
I kind of wish I changed my two front bodice pieces so there were larger blue roses along the front instead of smaller ones so I will keep this in mind when I get around to sewing the pink rose fabric sometime in the future. I was really intimidated by this pattern when I first looked at it and it took me a little bit of a self pep-talk to even start cutting out my pieces. As I’m trying to challenge myself in my sewing this year, this pattern was great as I got to work on my invisible zip skills and a bodice style that I never got to try before. I feel silly for letting myself feel intimidated by this pattern as the whole thing came together really quick and smoothly. The fabric was a good choice despite the fabric being quite thick and some parts with multiple layers of fabric were a bit of a push to get through the machine.
I love the overall look of the finished dress and I was so excited to wear it. It might just have been the zip but the dress on it’s own would zip up fine but as soon as I put it on, I couldn’t zip up up past a certain point despite there being enough fabric. I eventually got it going but I can’t quite guess whats wrong. The dress fit really nice and snug. The bodice could have been shortened a little bit especially the back as there was some gaping but everything else fit great. I loved how the dress looked when it was on and the fabric really was a good choice despite me wishing for bigger roses on the chest.
If I were to try this pattern again, I would raise the ties 5/8th of an inch so they didn’t get caught in between the skirt and bodice and of course, I would add pockets. There was more than enough fabric to cut out pockets but I was just so nervous with this pattern that I didn’t want to alter it without seeing how it goes. Overall, I really love this dress, fabric and pattern.
After two great vintage sewing patterns, I think I want to try a pattern that is a little too small for me so I can properly learn to pattern grade. I may be over ambitious but I’ve really had a lot of fun trying new patterns and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my creations too. Buying a pattern like this was really simple and I loved having the option between buying a digital or physical copy. Opting for the physical copy means that I found the process a little easier and smoother but it’s great that there’s a digital option for those who prefer that. I would definitely buy from The Vintage Pattern Store again and I do have more of their patterns to try. I’m very excited to keep going with some new and challenging patterns.
If you’d like a little ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge, whilst shooting this dress, I noticed that somehow, during my multiple wears of the dress on previous occasions, I had torn a seam under one of the arm pits. Simple mend and nothing major. Funnily enough, this was the last dress I shot this day and upon returning home, I was trying to get changed and couldn’t get my zip down. I called my husband who after a few tries, some zip lubricant and some very choice words aimed at invisible zippers announced the zip was jammed. Bent over on the bed, my husband very slowly unpicked the zipper and I was essentially cut out of my new dress. It is now back on my mending pile and I think I will just sew in a normal zipper.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.