I’m resting, hiding out in the country for an extended weekend. It’s nice. I was watching an Ebay auction for Advance 7701, recently featured on Handmade Jane’s blog. (She’s still using her copy, and I totally respect that. Check her’s out, you’ll see why I’m smitten.) I don’t often get “pattern lust” but I’m itching to get my hands on this pattern. I want to make it in a medium weight teal merino knit- I can almost taste the delicious folds of fabric lying just so around my shoulders. I got pattern lust baaaad.
When I found it on Ebay I thought “Huzzah! It’s meant to be!” Then forgot to check the bids before the auction closed. Dammit. “But Steph,” I said to myself, “you could draft it. Maybe. Probably.”
“No Steph, no. Can you imagine how many muslins you’d go through getting the folds and proportions just so? At least seven, perhaps eight. Simple patterns are the hardest.“
“Yes, Steph, yes, you’re right of course. Surely the internets has another copy of this pattern…”
I spent more hours than I care to admit combing through every possible vintage pattern dealer on the internet to find Advance 7701. I’d happily settle for Advance 8190:
I beefed up my dresses inspiration file as I spent hours fruitlessly scouring the internet for non-existent wrap blouse patterns, and ran into this anomaly:
Yes, it’s nice. I wouldn’t look twice except I found copies of it for sale for $130. No kidding. Once I picked my jaw up off the ground, I googled the pattern number to find out why. Did Edith Head herself draft it?
The Selfish Seamstress featured her copy in a delightfully smug post, but at the time she wrote that post, the pattern was already ridiculously overpriced and in high-demand. I read all the comments. I’m still confused- why??? It’s a pretty simple strapless bodice with a sarong skirt, she posted a picture of the pattern pieces. I’m sure it’s very pretty made up. But seriously, why $130?
I don’t say this often, but I could BUY a dress like that and alter it for less than what it would cost to make.
I came up with a theory- please correct me if I’m wrong or offer alternative explanations.
My theory: The drawing is pretty. The models look slim and voluptuous, the dress is both elegant and understated. But, well, that dress won’t look like that on anyone without some serious girdle or boning action. It’s an engineering impossibility.
It’s tempting to tell myself I’d look like that and my body and lifestyle would be magically transformed if only I could get my hands on McCall’s 4425. When I first started sewing from vintage patterns, I expected to look like the models on the envelope when I completed a project. Never happened. I learned to look at a drawing objectively and picture how it would look on my figure, which led to fewer disappointing surprises. Sometimes I still get it wrong, but I think my expectations now are a little more reasonable.
For example, I know a merino wrap blouse with cut on sleeves and a wrap-tied waist would never leave my body come chilly weather. It would be snuggly, warm, and provide the gentle waist definition my figure craves. And no girdle.
So what’s the deal with McCalls 4425? Is it aspirational pattern-buying? Was it indeed drafted by one of the greats and I’m missing it? Have you ever been disappointed by the difference between a dress on your body and the dress on the envelope? Would you buy a pattern if the figure on the front was shaped more like you, or is that a turn off? Do you have any bewitching mid-50’s Advance wrap blouse patterns for sale?