Monday, November 10, 2014

Channeling Lucille and Rosie

I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom.  Having also been a working mom at one point, the notion of being a SAHM was a novelty to me before it was my reality.  I can say now that there is nothing novel about it.  It is a thankless, endless, tiring, at times disgusting and lovely and beautiful thing to do.  My mother was a hard working executive, and so my idea of staying at home was based solely on t.v. moms... moms that wore fabulous dresses and heels while baking and singing to their children.  Although my actual life does not mimic this ideal even a little, I have a penchant for fantasy and a flair for the dramatic.  It was from these notions that I decided to make my very own t.v. mom dress.  A retro number that I would put on with heels and an apron and flit about in my kitchen to the delight of my husband and pride of my children.  I only wear heels for blog photo shoots and funerals, however, so the flitting bit would naturally be short-lived.  I decided on McCall's 6891 by Palmer and Pletsch.

This pattern really straddles the line between classic, retro, and plain outdated.  It was a valuable choice, however, because it teaches great fitting and tailoring techniques.  For most patterns, you will have to bring your own knowledge of how to slash and spread in order to do more advanced fitting.  For this one, the slash lines were printed on the pattern, and there were many pages of instructions to teach you how to use them.  It was great learning experience for me.  I always have to do a full bust adjustment, but for this I also did a full bicep adjustment.  I bought a bolt of discontinued chambray (lightweight denim) earlier this year, and decided it was a good choice for this dress.  I'm not sure it was a good choice.  Once I finished the dress it had a very "I'm here to clean your hotel room" feel more so than the "retro t.v. housewife" feel I was going for.  Styling would be critical.
You can see how without the addition of the belt and headband how I may be mistaken for housekeeping.  The teapot and boxed wine in the background were really just to drive home the point that I'm a housewife, dammit!

This pattern had a great sleeve option for a long sleeve with a roll-up buttoned fastener.  I liked that for the transitional season.  Here's a detail:
And another to show the button-down placket in the front:
It goes without saying that a good ironing would have been in order here.  I thought I made it clear this was fantasy housewife land, not real housewife land?  Ironing is for the birds.

I think I could make this work for real life if I shortened the hem by a couple of inches, put a cardi over the top, and maybe some rockin boots.  I don't hate it, it's just not what I was envisioning.  In the end, it really is hard to hate a dress that fits well. 

When I showed my husband the finished product, he said I looked like "that chick on the war poster."  He was right.  It was straight up Rosie the Riveter.  Since I finished this on Halloween, my long-suffered shirt dress became a costume.  Is it weird that my everyday clothes also work for costumes?  Never mind.  I whipped up a red and white polka dot head scarf, penciled in some 40's brows, and voila!
We can do it!
Four of the six trick-or-treaters I had were tweens.  They loved my costume.  Maybe.  But since I only had six trick-or-treaters, I let them take handfuls of candy from the bowl to get rid of it.  Its hard to say to what I could attribute their praise.

I learned a great deal while fitting and sewing this dress, and I think I can make it work.  I don't know if I'll make another one, but it was a valuable experience nonetheless. 


  1. You are a hoot, but I seriously love your attitude re learning about sewing. I've been at it for quite awhile and one thing I've learned if nothing else... sewing is all about fitting and ironing. You can't go wrong with P/P patterns... worth it for the sewing lessons alone. Yes. Make it again. Please. You're so close! Go Rosie...You can do it! Would you consider lowering the side dart and maybe lengthening the bodice just a bit? As for the pressing as you sew...maybe you can cultivate a good working relationship with a little birdie? Hey, it would definitely fit in with the retro housewife fantasy. As would the longish skirt with some cute flats. Good job on the styling, too! Donna

    1. You're right... I knew I could avoid ironing for ever! And I also agree this bodice could use a few adjustments. Thank you for your suggestions. I'm going to try another pattern first, and maybe I'll come back to this! Thanks for reading!