Fashion Challenge Diary: Vintage to Modern

This is the fifth challenge of Fabric Mart's Fashion Challenge! This time the challenge was to sew up a timeless classic, using fabric and styling to make it modern. We were given two weeks for this challenge to focus on getting the perfect fit! See all the makes here

Pattern: 1953 Vintage McCall's Misses' Dress 9635
Fabric: 3 yds polyester
Cost: $15

Peter Pan collars are everywhere right now, but I was surprised to see one on a 1953 McCall's pattern at my local antique fair. Doing a little more research, I found that that the style has been around since at least 1905, and popular almost every decade since (Slate wrote a very interesting article on the history, if you're curious). 

So when the vintage challenge came around, I knew it would be the perfect pattern to show how vintage styles appear in fashion today. The challenge was to sew up a vintage pattern as-is, keeping the original lines and details but updating it with fabric and styling. For the Peter Pan collar, I chose a fun sequined fabric, and the main body is made out of a drap-ey burgundy. Of course, I also shortened the hem a bit because, you know, us modern girls like to show some leg. Even though the pattern is straight out of the 1950s, I could totally see myself wearing this to the company holiday party or a fun night out!

The vintage challenge really is the perfect opportunity to test us on fit. With the pintucks, pleats, zippers, buttons and tailored look, vintage patterns take a lot of work to get just right. To prep for this pattern, I bought a few yards of muslin and reworked, reworked, reworked the pattern until I got it right. In total I think I made at least six muslins, and in the end had to almost completely redraft all the darts and pleats. Below is a snap of the changes I made: the right side is the original bust, which looks very droopey on me, and the left is with the changes. 

While Shams has complained that vintage patterns are definitely not made up for large busts, I would say that they don't work on small busts, either! Who does a vintage pattern fit? From my estimations, a woman with a medium bust, wide shoulders, and a small small waist. This does sound a lot like the ideal hour glass figure of the time, but I'm sure glad that at least some modern patterns take the average build into account a little bit more! If you're curious, below is what my apartment looks like after running around for two days trying to make this thing fit. It's a good thing my boyfriend's patient, but he is starting to complain about all the threads everywhere. As he said during my cape dress challenge: "You know, nobody else's girlfriend does this!"

In the end I think it was worth it. The bodice fits much better on my bust now, as does the back and the sleeves. And check out that collar!

The dress also has some fun details, including slit sleeve cuffs with a facing that are designed to be folded back. The skirt pleats are also fun, and contain pockets on each side. Both functional and cute!

Finally, I leave you with some more shots of the final product:

See all the contestants and vote for your favorite at the Fabric Mart blog!


  1. So cute. Great work getting the fit right. I love the neckline pleats and the pockets!

  2. Ha, I love that picture of your apartment. I've seen that before! I absolutely love this dress! I love the sequins on the collar - you really made the challenge fit your life in an interesting way. Good luck!

  3. Oh it's pretty :) I really love the collar !! Bravo.

  4. You look so cute! Great dress!

  5. Very cute and very modern, Meg. What a wonderful color and it's fun to see the Peter Pan collar in sequins!

    I had to laugh when you were surprised to see a Peter Pan collar on a vintage pattern. When I grew up in the 60s, Peter Pan collars were DE RIGEUR for little girls! And, in fact, it's why you will never see me in one again!

    But they are certainly in style once again!

  6. That is such a darling dress! Even though it was a lot of work with 6 muslins, it turned out gorgeous - I absolutely adore the collar and the pintucks in the front. I know what you mean about vintage patterns fitting no one. I usually use vintage patterns and while I love them, I am constantly doing adjustments, especially in the waist. Great job!!

  7. This is super cute and I love the color!!

  8. Congrats on making it to this stage in the contest (you deserve it!), and I do hope you get through this round too :)

  9. Love the dress and the pattern. Looks fantastic on you.
    EllenSand :)

  10. So, so cute! I love that collar!

  11. Ohhh, my goodness Meg, I LOVE this dress! The styling, the colour, the collar, the pockets. I am going to have to have a look for this pattern online and see if anybody is selling it. Looks terrific with your yellow handbag as well.

  12. This is such a cute dress, and the fit is great! Nice job!

  13. I'm a little late to the party - commiserations on being eliminated.
    Your vintage dress is lovely and I'm really glad it's lead me to your blog - enjoy sewing for you ;)


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