Vintage Sewing: Mail Order / Anne Adams 4885, a 1960's tent / shift dress

Note: This pattern is listed in the vintage pattern wiki as Mail Order 4885, perhaps because it was delivered in a workbasket envelope via postal mail-- but my envelope most definitely said Anne Adams on the cover.

I lost my sewing mojo last year, in part because I've been rather lazy and have gained weight. I make all sorts of excuses about it, but honestly, it's hard to find time to exercise when my commute and work (at a desk) keep me away from home and on my bottom for over 12 hours every day. Once I'm home, there's coursework to do and I just don't seem to find the time to be active.

Meanwhile, I dread making new pattern alterations to fit my current body shape and size, so I've chosen to sew rather shapeless dresses that are comfortable and classic (in a sense). They'll have the added benefit of still fitting once I return to my prior shape and size, since they are sewn to fit through the shoulders. I generally sew bust 32 or bust 34 patterns for the best fit through the shoulders, and then alter from there to accommodate my pear shape-- my bottom half has *never* fit within the measurements of a bust 34 pattern. Ha!

Tip: If you're new to sewing with vintage patterns, be sure to buy a size that matches your bust measurement-- not the size number you think you wear. Sizing has changed so much over the decades, and because my clothes are almost exclusively homemade, I don't even know modern sizing. For reference, in the 1930's - 1940's, a size 16 was typically a bust 34. By the late 50's, bust 34 was a size 14. In the late 60's and 70's, a bust 34 was commonly labeled size 12-- where it appears to remain

This means that women changed THREE sizes in just 3 decades, all while maintaining that same measurement! Ha!

Moving on to the details of this dress:

EASY! The pattern is drafted to include pockets, but I omitted these because the fabric has a lot of texture and drape and I was concerned the pockets might not hang well. The fabric is a loose linen weave, rather rustic and still includes bits of semi-processed flax stalk. The highlight of the dress is its bias roll collar, but the interfacing I used wasn't quite stiff enough. Oh well-- I'm pleased with it anyhow.

Changes: Rather than cutting the dress slightly off grain as the pattern calls for, I placed CF (center front) and CB (center back) on the grain line so I could omit the CF seam, by placing it on the fold. I needed to do this in order to fit the dress within the limited yardage I had.

Mid-way through construction, I found myself unreasonably angry at the pattern because it calls for a bias strip to face the collar. Nowhere in the cutting guide does it say it's needed-- only in the assembly instructions. I was very annoyed, because I hadn't planned for this and had to piece scraps together! When all was sad and done, however, it really wasn't a big deal. Someone in Instagram suggested this is why we're taught to read through the instructions before beginning, but to that I say BAH HUMBUG. Reading ahead is spoiling the fun! ;)

The pattern calls for a lapped zipper at the neckline, in the center back of dress. I've only ever sewn a handful of lapped zippers, but I really like them and think with practice I'll be really pleased with my results someday. Until then, I find my work to be rather mediocre (not enough and constituent continuous lap), but since it's on my back I never notice once the dress is done and being worn. Ha!

And here's the finished pretty, in all of it's poorly-lit, office bathroom glory. Our building has been under active construction for 5 months now, and I'm so ready for them to finish installation of all the new fixtures. Just a few weeks ago we sat down in a conference room to find fiberglass slivers stabbing our arms, because the construction crew had installed new light and done a rather shoddy job of cleaning up. On Friday, they had painted half of the walls on our floor right before the office opened for the day, and we all felt rather woozy and annoyed by the heavy fumes. Jokes abounded about being high in the workplace, because really, it was like we were huffing paint or something!

I'm griping, so it's time to go and think about happier things like the portrayal of crime and criminals in the media, or the causes and effects of poverty. School beckons.



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