Sunshine Yellow Stripes In 1933

Last summer, I decided to make a dress from McCall’s #7153, an archive pattern from 1933 (although now out of print, it was released in 2015 so it’s pretty easy to find with a quick search). This is a pattern I’ve been eyeing for awhile. I decided to make it because I wanted something comfortable, new, and appropriate for daytime to wear to a Gatsby weekend in the heat of August. 1933 is obviously not in the 1920s, but the weekend tends to be more generally 1920s/1930s in terms of clothing, so I figured this would fit right in.

The style of the dress is quite defined by the differing grain lines on the pieces, a detail that is set off by the stripes used for the sample dress. Accordingly, I went off in search of a good stripe for the dress. I couldn’t find one I liked in the right weight with a stripe quite as delicate, visible, and widely spaced as the sample dress, but I did find a lovely yellow and ivory narrow stripe at Farmhouse Fabrics (although now they have this, which is similar to the sample dress–I’m not sure which one I would choose if I had both options in front of me now!). I couldn’t find a yellow belt buckle that was right, so I decided to go classic with a white mother of pearl one from my stash instead.

I cut out a mockup in size 14. This was a project for my #virtualsewingcircle while I was still finding time to sew live. The mockup fit, but was very tight, so when I cut out the yellow stripe I made the dress a size 16 (for reference, my measurements were about bust 40″, waist 32″, and hips 42″).

The only other change that was required was to take up the shoulders (which I think meant that I also lowered the front neckline and cut new front facings, though now it was long enough ago that I don’t remember perfectly). McCall’s must have been thinking people were going to put in huge shoulder pads–there was so much room! I believe I took about about 2″ (4″ total) of height!

In addition, I took Kelly’s advice from making this dress and omitted the zipper down the back to keep things smooth. This was made possible in part because my fabric has a little bit of stretch in it.

I think I mostly followed the pattern directions for assembly. There are some steps in a specific order to get the nice point, particularly in the front.

I machine finished the hems, including the sleeves, and under stitched the neck facing, tacking it down by hand to the seam allowances on the inside. The seam allowances were pinked to keep the seams from getting bulky while also keeping them from fraying. This wasn’t important for the bias cut pieces, but it definitely helped the center back and center front panels that are cut on the straight grain of the fabric!

I completely ignored the belt directions, opting instead to use belting encased in a tube of my fabric. Belting is a great product that, as fas as I can tell, stopped being produced in the last few years. Boo! It’s a bendable but stiff plastic backed fabric that you used to be able to purchase in different widths to use as stiffening for self-fabric dress belts (perfect for dresses from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s!).

Despite the photos of the whole look with accessories (which I’m very pleased with!), when I tried on the dress after finishing the sewing I was so disappointed! I looked so frumpy in the mirror with the calf length hem and my bare feet! I made a lot of faces. Then I thought, ‘Well, I guess I try on the shoes I plan to wear with this.’ That idea did make me a little happier, because I had snagged a pair of Royal Vintage brown and white spectators but hadn’t found a reason or outfit to wear them with yet. And then… MAGIC. Those 3″ heels absolutely transformed the look! All of a sudden that calf length hem looked great! I was probably standing with more confidence rather than disappointment, too, but really, it was like I was wearing a different dress. Has that ever happened to you? The accessories really make some looks come together! And especially with 1930s calf length hems… the heels really help posture and proportions.

I found that my first pair of Royal Vintage shoes are very comfortable. They have a bit of padding in the sole, which is great under the balls of my feet especially, and also arch support. They don’t pinch or rub in any uncomfortable ways. After wearing them for the better part of two days in a row I can say that my feet were tired of being in 3″ heels, but tired or aching in no other way (that’s just a function of being in 3″ heels, no matter how comfortable they are). And boy, did I feel snazzy for those two days!

This next one is the ‘Oh no! My hat is flying away!’ face. It was rather windy, so there actually were moments where I had to hold onto my hat to keep it from flying away! This hat is a refashion of a modern sunhat that deserves its own post–coming soon. I’m very pleased with this updated version and I love how well it coordinates with my shoes!

The stripe in the fabric gets a bit lost when you’re not right next to the dress, but I still like it overall. I found the dress was more comfortable to stand in than to sit in, but it did well in the heat and was cool and breezy. Success!

12 thoughts on “Sunshine Yellow Stripes In 1933

  1. Oh my goodness! I love your dress! It looks perfect on you. Yes, I too find that it isn’t until a dress is accessorized do I feel that I am completely happy with it, especially with anything historical in my experience. I love that sudden “Ah ha” moment when you see it work! So many times liking a sewing project even just comes down to having hair that is put together and not my “I might be a frazzled mess but at least my sewing project is done” appearance when I try something on as soon as it’s finished, he he!

  2. That dress is so pretty! I have that pattern as well but have been dragging my feet on making it up, I really like how yours came out so maybe I need to get sewing it.
    I’ve had that thing too with pumps or high heels. I’ve learned not to do a fitting without wearing them.
    Jennie from

  3. Wet nice addition to your wardrobe. And, yes, accessories seem to elevate most any outfit. Love your Royal Vintage shoes. So perfect with the dress. Question: how do you get such great pictures of your clothing. I have been disappointed with my Costumers group; they are not much for pictures. I’m lucky if we get one group picture. No ones outfit is very visible. I’m trying to encourage more individual pictures. And heaven forbid if you would like to pose. ( this weekend I tried to recreate one of your poses with a book, looking out a window, and the poor thing with my phone taking pictures was so impatient. Consequently I have no good photos of any of my costumes. Suggestions for changing this? Your lovely photos are one of the things I enjoy most about your posts.

    1. Thank you on many counts, Helen! What lovely compliments.

      I have to say that I am blessed to have one friend in particular who likes photography and will frequently use her real camera to take my photos. Short of that, she will use one of our phones, but given her experience with photography she is able to set up better angles/lighting/etc than a random person would. In addition to that friend, I’ve slowly trained some of my other friends into taking good photos of me as well. Some are better than others, but now I’ve got backup photo-takers in case my photographer friend is absent from an event, for example. The important thing is that all of these friends are gracious and generally patient with me and my posing. And I trade off, being patient and taking photos of friends in return, so that we all have photos of our outfits.

      My suggestion is to find people who understand your goals about getting outfit photos and are patient and willing to take many, many photos so you get ones you like. It’s great if you find someone you can trade photo-taking with, and also someone who shares your interest in the clothing so they are around at events (if you have them–or maybe they’re willing to meet up with you to take photos) and know what to focus on in photos. Perhaps the right person starts off taking photos that aren’t great, but if you’re able to look at them after a few photos, give some feedback, and then try again (many times), hopefully that person will improve over time. It is very nice to have good photos, so I wish you the best of luck! Maybe later in the year you can report back with improvement in your photo taking? 🙂

      1. Quinn, thank you so much for your encouragement. I did reach out to my closest friend in our Costumers group, explained my dissatisfaction with the number and quality of pictures. She agreed with me. We are planning to do more “posed” pictures for each other at events. As she so rightly said, it takes so long to “get dressed from the skin out” for each outfit. We really need more documentation of our efforts. I encouraged her to follow your blog, if she doesn’t already. I may have mentioned before that you set the bar very high. I have high standards of costuming from seeing what you do. I may not always achieve that level (well, hardly ever) but you do inspire me to excellence. To me, you are costuming royalty.

      2. Helen, that is so very kind. Thank you! I set the bar pretty high for myself most of the time, too! I’m so pleased that my work is inspiring. Thanks for sharing your update about photos. It sounds well-received. Progress! Yay!

  4. I’m about to make this dress so have been reading several reviews, and so many of them come out huge on top and looking like hospital scrubs. Yours looks fantastic though! I noticed that the size you ended up making is what McCall’s says should fit someone with measurements consistently 2″ smaller than yours–would you suggest using that (taking 2″ off my measurements) as a fit starting point for this pattern? And do you find that is consistently the case with McCall’s patterns?

    1. Hi Teresa! Thanks for reading this post and taking the time to comment. I appreciate your compliment!

      The size 16 dress I made has a bit of stretch in the fabric and just skims my figure. If I made this dress again I would consider sizing up one size to have a roomier dress if I were going to use a non-stretch fabric. So for you… I would consider the type of fabric you plan to use and decide from there how much ease you want the dress to have. The skimming look really accentuates the 1930s silhouette, I think, but of course that’s up to your own taste.

      Regardless, I think you will find that the shoulder/sleeve area is roomy even if the rest of the dress fits nicely for the size you picked. As I mentioned, I took out a few inches of fabric along the entire shoulder seam to get a streamlined fit.

      I’d love to be able to give a further thought about McCall’s patterns in general, but unfortunately I haven’t made enough of them to have a consistent opinion about their sizing in general. Sorry about that!

      I always suggest making a mockup before cutting out the real fabric. That way if you’ve picked the wrong size you can easily adjust (my mockup was a size 14, the dress is a size 16, for example). I hope your dress comes out wonderfully!

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