Friday, September 16, 2011

This Dress Is So, Like, The Eighties.

It was a weird idea that shouldn’t have worked, but it did. I think.

First, I’ve had this Marc Jacobs cotton burning a hole in the stash for months now and I felt I HAD to do something with it. It’s Marc Jacobs! Probably the only Marc Jacobs anything I will ever see in person. I got it in a super-discounted last-chance sale at FabricMart some time ago.

Then, I picked up this moderately ugly McCalls dress pattern from 1984 at a thrift shop, regretted it by the time I got home, and shoved it in the back of the pattern box.

I was looking at the fabric for the umpteenth time and thought it was clever that the stripes look like paint splatters.

Paint splatters brought back the shameful memory of my paint-splattered faux-dance attire of the years 1983 through 1985 courtesy of Flashdance. Did you not have a rainbow assortment of torn-neck sweatshirts to wear with bike shorts, fluttery wrap skirts, leg warmers, or all of the above? And did those articles of never-danced-in garments not have splatters, speckles or drips of paint which may or may not have been applied by you?

Well you can see how these thoughts logically led to the next step, which was to match the paint-splattered fabric to the 80s dress pattern. And that was my last logical thought.

This is a heavy denim, or possibly lightweight canvas. Why not a coat, you ask, the obvious choice for graphically awesome black fabric? Because I live in the low desert and on the coldest winter day here I am pushing my tolerance to wear a heavy sweater. Also I have at least ten heavy coats already, from when I used to live in a cooler place. Why not jeans, an even more obvious choice for very cool striped denim? Because the stripe is crosswise, from selvedge to selvedge, and there was not enough width to get a full-length pant leg out of it. See, I have my reasons.

The pattern suggests crepe, challis, jersey, silk, or lightweight linen, so my denim was almost as far off as I could get. Interestingly, I think it all worked out. The fabric doesn’t stretch, or drape, or do any of the things that the pattern requires, yet it fits great, I like the way it looks, and I think it will be great for our “cooler” weather, that is if it ever drops below 90. But the one remaining problem? It is very difficult to get in and out of! Since this is meant to be a slippery, soft, loose dress, it has no opening other than the wide V-neck. I can shrug it over my shoulders but it does take a bit of effort.

On the topic of the pattern itself, it seems that McCalls was mighty pleased with it.

Not only do they illustrate twelve different options on the pattern front, but there’s also a ten-page pamphlet included inside the pattern envelope, further touting the wonders of McCalls 8991. Maybe this extra marketing push was common? I’ve never seen it before. It’s a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, which is surprising because I thought their thing was fitting precision. This is basically two rectangles with sleeves, sewn together at the sides and shoulders. No shaping. Hemmed and done.

I think I like it. On to the next project.


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