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Ok, for those of you who drooled over the amazing Milly plaid fabric I was able to procure from Gorgeous Fabrics, I’d like to point out that a very limited quantity of another amazing Milly silk has just popped up on that great site. I’ve already laid claim to my precious two yards, so I’m graciously going to give you all permission to snap up the rest. That’s right, I’m sharing. (Yuck.) [Update: And 5 and a half hours later, this fabric is gonzo! Better luck next time, my chickadees!]
Oh, so pretty. And it’s disappearing fast, so make haste! Look what you could make with it:
If you had that dress, wouldn’t you be making the smug “I have this dress and you don’t” face too?
And if you totally want to Single White Female me (Engaged Asian Female?), I picked up some of this silk too:
And again, no, I’m not getting paid to promote the business. It’s just really really good fabric. :)
A few months ago, I chanced upon some pictures of the Melissa plaid shirtdress by Milly, and I wanted it. I wanted it the way a toddler wants a gummi bear. I wanted it the way that annoying guy in your office wants the new iPhone and won’t shut up about it. I wanted it the way Dan wants out of the domestic prison in which I have ensnared him (just kidding, Dan’s not allowed to want things.) Basically, I wanted it the way that only the Selfish Seamstress could want something – violently and aggressively. After all, just look how cute:
So after seeing it, I trolled the web hunting for any plaid fabric with a similar feel and colorway to make my own shirtdress and found nothing. I’m fond of plaid in general, but once I had this particular plaid in mind, every other plaid just looked comparatively dorky. I did have a moment of hope when I discovered Cidell’s plaid silk knit tunic, which was in the right plaid flavor category, and super cute on its own merit. But of course, the fabric was already sold out, which leads me to think that she planned the whole thing to get a rise out of me. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s bested poor Selfish.
So I did what any rational person would do in a state of despair – I threw myself down on the floor and pounded at it with fists and feet, screaming at a high pitch, “I hate you I hate you I hate you” at no one in particular. As usual, it worked. My efforts were rewarded when a few yards of the exact Milly silk (a plain woven with nice body to it, and minimal sheen and slipperiness – perfect!) appeared magically on Gorgeous Fabrics, almost certainly because of my temper tantrum.* I immediately snapped up three yards of it to make sure that none of you would get to it first, backstabbing vultures that you are.
Next up was finding the right shirtdress pattern. Given the huge scale of the plaid, I wanted to avoid piecing to the extent possible. None of the current Big 4 patterns, nor anything in my stash of Burdas had quite what I was going for, so it was off to Etsy, where I found a vintage Simplicity 8294:
(This actually isn’t my copy- mine is a size 6P with a *sigh* 30.5″ bust, but I forgot to take a photo of it.) The pattern was missing the sleeve (and it wasn’t really the kind of sleeve I wanted anyway) so I drafted my own. No princess seams or waist seam on this pattern. The only places I had to worry about matching were at the side seams, across the chest and onto the sleeve, and the center front, so my three yards was more than enough. A bit of taking in through the torso and waist and ta-da! Once again, Selfish gets everything she wanted. (Excuse the photos- the light was fading outside and it was freeeeezing.)
I realize that the navy of my shoes is not the same as the navy of my dress, but I still have every intention of wearing the two together.
Hmm. There seems to be a little wrinkling across the bust near the bottom of the armscye that I didn’t notice during fitting. I’m going to have to check that out. Also, I think I need to wear the sash a little looser (the way the Milly model is wearing it) so as to give it less of an Urkel-y effect.
The dress isn’t an exact copy of the Milly version, as I made mine a more work-wearable slightly-above-the-knee length, and it’s got a different placket and sleeve. Incidentally, I wasn’t too impressed with the RTW version’s placket stitching (you can learn a lot from the zoomable views on department store websites!):
Fortunately it’s not my problem now that I’ve got my own. By the way, you may be wondering more generally how it is that Selfish always gets exactly what she wants, despite being a person with no redeeming qualities, one who contributes little to the world while simultaneously exploiting it and everything in it for her own purposes. Is there a trick or magical secret, you might ask, to continually evading the karma police while managing to end up with everything one desires and never giving anyone anything? The answer is yes. Yes, there is. Have a good day, y’all.
*Okay, perhaps I should acknowledge the the amazing Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics for having procured this wonderful fabric, rather than attributing it solely to my impressive and highly effective tantrums. But you know how I am loath to give credit where it is due unless it’s to myself.
The answer to that question is yes. Apparently a LOT of people want my copy of McCall’s 4425.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not giving it away, so feel free to clench your little fists and punch your screens in frustration over the very enticing and misleading title of this post. McCall’s 4425 is one of the jewels of my hefty, enviable collection of vintage gown patterns. I stalked eBay for a long time to find this one in a small size and I had to bid-bomb many weak, inferior eBayers to win it. And it does bring me joy to gaze at its beauty and know that I have what so many others desperately covet.
What does NOT bring me joy is the sheer number of people who email me asking me if they can have it, buy it for cheap, or if I can (seriously??) make them a copy and send it to them. (This is not a knitting pattern- we’re not talking about a 3-minute photocopy job here.) Inevitably the writers of the emails justify their requests by quoting the ridiculously high prices that vintage pattern dealers want for original copies of the pattern, and by telling me that they desperately need it for a wedding/gala/cotillion but don’t want to pay that much. What am I supposed to say in response? “OMG are you serious??? They’re charging $150 for the pattern? Oh you POOR THING!! Take mine!” Listen, peeps, I know how much the pattern costs- I actually bought it, which is how it came to be that I have it. I’ve had it for so long that I don’t remember how much I paid for it (certainly not $150) but I know it was NOT CHEAP. So it drives me kind of insane when people “graciously” offer to reimburse me for the cost of tissue paper to make a copy and for the postage it would cost for me to send it to them when I actually paid the money for this pattern that they don’t want to pay. (Also not my favorite? When people say, “The cheapest I’ve seen it for online is $125, and that’s ridiculous. Would you be willing to sell yours for $50?” That’s just bad negotiation skills in a seller’s market.)
Now, I don’t mean to come across as a let-them-eat-cake (let-them-wear-cashmere?) seamstress (even though, let’s face it, I am a freakin’ empress) I realize that not everyone can afford to splurge hugely on patterns (I certainly wouldn’t pay $150 for it), and I know what it’s like to covet that elusive vintage tissue paper masterpiece. But when something is out of my budget, I’m not about to email strangers on the internet and ask them if I can have theirs for free or if they can make me a copy for a fraction of the price, and then explain the request by saying that it’s just too expensive for me to buy my own. Lots of things are expensive- Prada boots, signed first editions of Catcher in the Rye, Warhols, Bernina 830s… I can’t afford them, can you send me yours? I’ll pay for shipping.
So I received an innovative request from Traci, who stumbled upon my blog while looking for the pattern, asking if she could “rent” the pattern for a short period of time such that she could copy it herself. I have to give a big thumbs-up to Traci for proposing a solution that would require neither hours of labor on my part, nor giving up my precious pattern at a fraction of market value, while actually offering compensation for the request. Thank you, Traci, for being decent. If Selfish had even a tiny sliver of goodwill to bestow, she would give it to you. Of course, shipping my rare patterns across the oceans to strangers without any guarantee that they’ll come back isn’t the wisest of ideas, and I don’t feel quite right about distributing my patterns for a fee such that others can make copies.
What I proposed instead was that I would send her a good quality photo of the pattern piece drawings such that she might be able to recreate the dress herself. For all the hullaballoo over McCall’s 4425, it’s actually relatively simple- a basic double-darted strapless sheath with an asymmetrical front hemline, and an additional draped panel that gathers into a little loop at the hip. And being the magnanimous sewing empress that I am, I’m providing the images to you as well, out of the quasi-kindness of my teeny, tiny, almost nonexistent heart:
Photos of pattern envelopes seem to be pretty standard fare on the web, so I’m going to assume there’s nothing unethical about posting them here. If the good folks at McCall’s think otherwise, I’ll remove them. In the meantime, you can click on them for larger views. See? It’s really not that complicated a pattern. (I’m guessing that what people really want is that drape, so you could easily start with any strapless sheath pattern and just modify it to accommodate the drape going off of the photos above.)
Incidentally, there are people on the web selling what I assume are unauthorized copies of this pattern if you really want it, but even the copies seem to run around the $100 mark. I’m not going to post links because I don’t want to promote those businesses, but if you Google and check Etsy, you’ll probably find some. As for making copies of my own, I’ll reiterate what I’ve got on my FAQ:
Despite lots of inquiring and searching, I have never been able to find definitive information that convinces me that copying and distributing vintage patterns from the 1950s is legal in all cases. In addition, copying patterns is time consuming and requires big paper and lots of space. If you can provide me with evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a particular pattern is no longer under copyright (and by this I mean something along the lines of a record from the US Copyright Office indicating that the copyright on a specific pattern has expired, not a quote from an ill-informed rant about pattern copyright on someone’s blog), then we can talk. My hypothetical fee for legally copying patterns is the same as my hypothetical fee for sewing: $85/hour for labor plus all materials costs.
Now. How may I help you?