Ginger Made: Vintage McCall’s 5995, or the Mello Yello Dress

Holy guacamole!  It’s hot out there, folks!  It’s the kind of humid heat where if a guy so much as looks at you cross-eyed, you could gut him like a fish mumble to yourself angrily long after he’s out of earshot!  But luckily, this weather can’t bring me down ’cause…

I’ve got a brand-new dreee-eesss (sing to the tune of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”… it’s your new favorite song!)!

This is a super-UFO… the dress that I started working on for my class with Gertie back in July!  I’m pretty slow, so I didn’t finish it during the four class sessions, and then I just couldn’t work up the energy/ambition to figure out the kickpleat thing in the back.  But I’m so glad I finally finished it!  I really like it, even though it’s not perfect.

The pattern is McCall’s 5995 from 1960, and I love the style!  I thought I would have to grade it up to get it to fit, but there was sufficient ease in the pattern that it ended up fitting really well without any major changes.  I shortened it by a few inches and lowered the neckline cause it was Choke City before I did (although I could have lowered it a tad bit more– it’s SUCH a high neckline that I’m pretty sure if I bend forward in it I’ll get strangled).  The only thing I’m not that happy with are the bust darts– I iron them nicely, but then the minute I put the dress on, they’re back to looking bunchy and weird.  My suspicion is that this is happening because, ahem, I’m not quite filling out the dress.  I suppose I could take in the side seams a tad to get a snugger fit, but I didn’t really want it to be tight and risk button gaping (one of my pet peeves).  I can live with it as is (or I guess I could wear a bra with a bit more… volume?).

The pleat thingy lays a bit flatter in real life… I think it turned out OK.

I used a light-to-medium-weight cotton that I bought at Tissus Reine on my trip to Paris last summer (ack, I wanna go back NOW!!).  It was just the perfect weight– not at all heavy, but definitely not sheer, and in a FAB nuclear yellow-green color to boot!  The pattern includes a tie belt, which I made just for kicks, but it’s kinda cute, so I may wear it after all.

Take the picture and quit cracking jokes, photographer!

I got to try out a few new techniques with this dress– it was my first time using a vintage pattern, doing bound buttonholes, doing a pleat in a lined skirt, and inserting a regular zipper.  It was the first time I used fabric-covered buttons, too, but I can’t truthfully claim that skill because Man Friend covered the buttons for me!

Guts (bodice front)

I serged the raw seams, except for the ones that I had sewed last summer (they were French seamed or turned-and-stitched).  If this photo looks a little wonky, it’s because the facings were annoying as all get out, so for the left armhole, I just faced it with some bias tape I had laying around to keep the facings out of the way of the zipper.  I ended up blind-hemming the first armhole facing and the neck facing to the bodice of the dress because they just wouldn’t stay out of the way, even when I stitched in the ditch at the shoulder seams.  Blerg!  I’ll probably skip facings altogether on the next dress and just use lovely, clean, neat bias tape.

Guts (back)

The skirt is lined with a very strange material… I’m really not even sure what it is.  Some sort of acetate, possibly?  I went into Mood last summer (when I was more clueless about fabric types) and asked for lining material, and they gave me this stuff– it’s got an element of stretch to it, which is probably what I wouldn’t have chosen if I bought it today, but it works totally fine.  The pattern suggests stitching a seam binding waist stay onto the waist seam to discourage stretching, so I did that.  I used seam binding to finish the hem, then hand-stitched a blind hem, which I’m pretty proud of.  This is definitely the nicest (and blindest, ha!) hem I’ve done to date.  If you’re wondering what the little white square is just above the waist, well… I had a bit of a serger accident.  I was humming along, finishing my seams, when a bit of the bodice fabric got tucked up under the seam and the serger ATE A HOLE IN MY DRESS BODICE.  Now, drama queen me of 6 months ago probably would have freaked out, cried, cut the entire dress into ribbons, and set it on fire, but I calmly approached it with the poise and white-lipped determination of a field surgeon fear, trembling, and a little swearing, and came up with a hillbilly fix.  I cut a tiny piece of fabric to fit the hole and ironed a square of fusible interfacing onto the wrong side.  Then I dotted Fray Check around the raw edges and hoped for the best.  It’s really not very noticeable, and hopefully it won’t fray over time.  If it gets worse, I’ll probably stitch up a wider belt and just cover up the mess with that.

Overall, I’m happy with this dress.  The color is so cheerful and fun, and it feels good to have defeated a long-lurking UFO, one that’s been looking at me accusingly for some time.  Plus, who doesn’t LOVE HAVING A NEW DRESS?

What are you guys up to these days?  Working on anything fun?  Hope you Americans had a lovely three-day weekend!  If you guys see fewer blog posts from me in the future, it’s probably because it’s really distracting trying to type with my assistant (and that’s the other assistant parked just inches from his fan):

I’m not bothering you, am I?

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113 responses to “Ginger Made: Vintage McCall’s 5995, or the Mello Yello Dress

  1. oh oh OH this is so beautiful!!! the color, cut, everything! i think the darts look like a design element. i also think you should wear this when we finally meet up in NY (and bring a change of clothes. i will beat you down for this dress.)

  2. I love it! Fantastic and you look stunning in it. Plus your assistant is too cute – I’m glad she’s settling in so well!

  3. Miss Ginger!! I am in love with your new dress! Nobody would have noticed your little foibles if you hadn’t told on yourself – it looks perfect! I really love that color on you too :-)

    Congratulations on your new baby!

  4. Ginger, your dress is gorgeous!! I love the big covered buttons. Beautiful work. And the serger mishap made me smile, thank u for sharing ;) but i’m sorry that happened to you; sometimes when trimming seam allowances, i fear cutting into the garment. Good save on your part, it really looks awesome!!

  5. What a chic dress! Very nice indeed!

  6. I love it! The color is amazing too. Nice save on that hole too. I probably would have cried for a bit and threw it in a pile for a year. Your pup looks like she had a great weekend. Too cute!

    • Heeheehee, I know what you mean… I still need to fix the Peony dress I was making right before Christmas. I accidentally sliced into the skirt front with scissors and haven’t been able to make myself fix it! One UFO at a time, right?

  7. Wowzers, what a flattering dress! I think it’s perfect even if you don’t and it really fits you so well! Your post made me laugh out loud in places, very witty indeed!

    • Thanks so much, Marie! I really love tailored ’60’s silhouettes, although I rarely wear them. This dress has me wondering why– they’re such nice shapes!

  8. That is one gorgeous dress! You should be so proud of it! You’ve got a really good fit and it’s all so neat and tidy inside with the seam binding! Super jealous, I’m about to go on the Internet and hunt down a similar pattern…

  9. Yay! Dresses are so much fun to make. What a fantastic dress. I particularly like the bodice and that lovely button detail. I’ve never done facings and you’ve convinced me never to try. Why would anyone do them when the bias tape option is ten times easier??

  10. Gorgeous! So stylish, and the covered buttons really finish it off beautifully. Bravo!

  11. Yikes but you look smashing and so coooool on such a hot day!!! I love the colour and that being a plain (but uber zingy) colour, the cute style and covered buttons max out…..well done you :-)

  12. I think it looks gorgeous on you, and you know what I PROMISE that I didnt even notice the darts until you mentioned them ! Lovely colour on you and the shape is fab. Well done !
    I have not sewn for ages as been so busy with work and uni, but have a week of next week and after a trip back home to see the folks I am hoping to sew up a storm ! :-) You are inspiring me, for sure ! xx

  13. Jo

    Sooo lovely! The colour is absolutely gorgeous! It’s so very sweet. Congrats on not losing your head when your serger got hungry, I know I would have! Haha. Awesome, awesome! This rocks :)

  14. Reana Louise

    THIS IS SO AMAZING! I think you should make one-billion in a variety of colours it’s so fabulous.

  15. Love it loveiloveit! Perfect match of pattern and fabric. You look awesome in it! Also, obligatory pug photo yay! How’s he dealing with new dog? Handling it ok or being a sook?

  16. This dress is just gorgeous! Love, love, love. I am soooo glad I am not the only one to serge through their bodice. I was making up a vintage 1950’s dress pattern and managed to do the same thing on my bodice, but on a princess seam right at the front. I did the same fix as you, but I got to admit, I was sooooo cranky it is now in my UFO pile – I just can’t get past the fault! Enjoy your dress.

  17. Amy

    The color, the buttons, the style. Bravo.

  18. Ali

    This looks lovely on you! Pretty color and great silhouette (I’ve got a soft spot for the 60s!). Sounds like a lot of work, but perhaps it can be that dress that makes you feel fabulous when you put it on — and I’ve got a Big Girl Bra for precisely the bust dart problems you mention ;)

  19. mkatiecanavan

    Super cute! I looove the color, and you look fabulous in it!

  20. Loving it! Everything about it is spot on. Well done!

  21. Sue

    It’s so cute! I love the color and those buttons. :)
    You’ve inspired me to go digging in my UFO pile.

  22. That is *so* cute and I think you nailed that 60s mod feel with the color!

    And I’m buried under a pile of costumes that I need to work on. Story of my life. ;)

  23. I love this dress! Despite the high neckline and the bust darts, the color is just so so awesome, especially with the pink lipstick. Awesome girl. Really, really awesome!

  24. Liz

    This is stunning and the colour really makes it. You are so lucky to be able to wear this colour – I am too pale and it makes my face the same colour – not a pretty look! I love the buttons in the front and if you didn’t point out any of the flaws none of us would have even noticed! Great job.

    • Thanks, Liz! I feel like I’m pushing it a bit with the color– I’m pretty pale, too, with gross green undertones to my skin– but it makes me so happy that I don’t care if it isn’t my best shade!

  25. The dress looks beautiful , I love the colour and the buttons. It was definitely worth all the work! x

  26. LOVE this! The huge fabric covered buttons are just so swoonsome.

  27. Love this dress! It looks great on too :) The colour is fabulous, I made a skirt in a very similar colour.

  28. This dress is stunning Ginger I LOVE it! So chic and the colour is da bomb on you. I was watching Mad Men last night and it;s like something Megan would have worn to the office. You look so sophistificated ;) Where you gonna wear it? Good call on serger tragedy – I am inspired by your stoicism and quick-wittedness!

  29. Mellow yellow yowsa! This dress almost made me miss the bus I’m on to the airport, stopping me in my tracks at 4:30 in the morning. I love the color & style, so glad you saved it from that serger snafu!!!

  30. Wow! This dress is gorgeous! GAH!! that color!! it looks sooo goood on you. I wouldn’t really worry too much about the bust darts – they look like they’re supposed to be that way. Also – nice save on the serger chomp! I’ve done that, like, so many times its getting a bit embarrassing – next time (fingers crossed there are no more next times!) I’ll remember your clever little solution.

  31. wow – this is gorgeous! everything about it is so flattering! and honestly, I wouldn’t have even noticed the bust darts if you hadn’t mentioned it!

    good save with the serger mishap – that’s exactly why I’ve disabled the knife on mine… too much anxiety. My relationship with my serger is one of fear. i need to man up.

    • Oooh… that’s a good idea! You know what it is? I think I need to start finishing the seams before I press them flat. I like to press them first just to make sure everything looks alright and fits correctly before serging, but the fabric is so much more likely to get caught up in the serger when it’s pressed flat against the seam (does that make sense?).

  32. Meg

    First off, I LOVE YOU for saying “gut him like a fish.” I used to say this to people on the street when I was in college. Hearing this from you warmed my heart haha! But now onto the dress – what a magnificent color!! It’s so brilliantly lovely on you :) The style is just darling, bravo on the bound buttonholes, and your kick pleat looks smashing. It’s such a great dress on you – very stylish indeed!!

    • Thanks, milady! I love that you say that, too! Sometimes I like to imagine myself as a modern-day Philip Marlowe. And then my coworkers ask me why I use slang that their grandpa used. Oops.

  33. I adore this, I just adore it! I think the color and cut are just divine, and way to finish it after all this time! Ginger FTW!

    So chic, so perfect for summer in the city.

  34. This color is absolute perfection on you! Love the dress!

    (I have my husband do my covered buttons, too!)

  35. It looks super cute! Well done.

  36. What a gorgeous dress! That colour!
    The neckline might be a bit uncomfortable but it looks so chic!

  37. Oh you poor thing! I had the same serger incident last week and it’s the most traumatic feeling as you look at your butchered piece of fabric – what a wonderful solution. The dress is utterly lovely and looks such a fantastic fit. x

    • Thank you so much! Ugh, it’s the worst feeling, isn’t it? I always seem to have those kind of accidents at the very end of a project when it would be way too difficult to simply cut a new piece!

  38. I love, love, love it!!! Glad the neckline didn’t strangle you before you got a chance to share it with us! :) That color is amazing. :)

  39. Ginger, it’s so, so beautiful! What an unusual and beautiful color. I think it was worth the struggle!

  40. Stunning dress.. Love the fit and the color

  41. This is SO CUTE!! What a great color & shape on you :D

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  43. That color is superfantasticawesome!! I think you look smashing in it!! And yay you for not setting it afire, lol. That’s pretty much my initial reaction to sewing mistakes, too.

    • Thank you, lady! It’s SO HARD to be cool and fix problems! Ugh! Maybe someday we’ll be super awesome sewists and won’t make any mistakes! Think that’s likely? Hahahaha.

  44. Your dress is so beautiful. We wants it!! Seriously I wish I could magically steal it. Yellow suits you. I am officially jealous. Now I want a yellow dress. The thing I like about vintage patterns is that they have proper sewing details like bound buttonholes. You don’t find that with modern patterns.

    • Thank you so much, lady! Btw, you’ve gotten me obsessing over a Mission Maxi dress! I ordered the pattern and I can’t stop thinking about which fabric to use!

  45. What a gorgeous dress! I wish I could pull off such a bright yellow like you do… you soo rock this color. :)

  46. Fabulous! (Just found your dress via little red squirrel)
    Your serger patch comment made me laugh – my daughter did a similar thing to a dress recently but she had more of a torch it reaction – she did earn the name “Thumper” from sewing machine rage though – yet to learn patience!

  47. Gorgeous dress and color!

  48. The colour and cut of this makes me want to cry acid yellow tears of pure, unadulterated joy.

  49. the dress looks amazing!! it has a beautiful 60’s vibe, and love the mustard yellow color fabric you chose! i want it!

  50. This is such a cute dress! Gorgeous colour, well made and delightfully 60’s :).

  51. Kate

    Your dress looks great! I want to make some 60’s mod dresses. I have found some great vintage patterns on line on etsy, but they do not list finished garment measurements. Did you use the size that matched your measurements? I have been making a size or 2 smaller than recommended by my measurements in order to get a decent fit in modern patterns.

    • Thanks, Kate! This was a size smaller than recommended (a 32″ bust and I’m a 34″), and I was worried that it would be too tight, but it fit really well without adjustments.

      • I should say, though, that you definitely want to muslin at least the bodice, as vintage patterns are proportioned a bit differently than modern ones (and necklines tend to be way higher, bust darts point to a dramatically different place, etc.). All easily fixed, but would be much easier to deal with at the muslin stage. :)

  52. Kate

    I used to live in Montmartre and I loved all of the fabrics stores in the district (including the one you mentioned)!!! I think I will buy a 34 bust pattern instead of a 36, a size down usually does the trick. I’m looking at a McCalls 8645 , 1966 pattern.

    • Cute pattern! It’s not a super fitted style, so I bet you can get away with just making a size down. I’m so jealous that you lived in Montmartre! I would move to Paris in a heartbeat if I could convince my husband!

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