Red and White Stripe 80’s Dress (that’s surprisingly au courant)

red and white stripe knit dress

When Minerva Crafts sent me this gorgeous red and white stripe knit I knew I was going to do something with it, since it was exactly the shade of red that I adore and a great stretchy knit. However, I had a giant list of ideas and couldn’t settle on any of them. I thought of making some super basic tees in no-, short-, and long-sleeves because I could really use some wardrobe staples. And then I thought of finally making a Drape Drape garment that would show off the stripes to their full advantage. And then I thought of a pattern that I’m currently working on, but it’s not far along enough that I’m ready to offer sneak peaks. And somehow I settled on a vintage dress pattern from 1981. I willingly chose to make a 1980’s dress even when faced with a plethora of other ideas. Never would have guessed that from myself!

McCalls 7849 from 1981

The pattern is McCalls 7849 from 1981. I made it pretty close to the pattern as drafted, lengthening the skirt and sleeves (as always), changing the sleeve cap to fit my shoulders (as always), and changing the neckline construction to remove the visible binding since I thought one more set of directional stripes would distract from the cool shapes the stripes make in the front.

mccalls 7849 vintage maxi dress front

I know it’s kinda funny to go from a lightweight cotton crop-top and skirt to a long sleeve maxi dress in one week, but I was trying to be practical with this dress. Since it is nearly September it means it’s nearly fall and despite the fact that I want to run around in summer clothes forever, this is my acknowledgement that the weather is in fact going to cool off soon. And I adore maxi skirts and this knit is so stretchy and comfy it’s like secret pajamas which is a total win in my book!

red and white stripe knit dress close up

For the sake of full sewing disclosure, there are a couple of flaws that are super visible in this photo and which I intend to fix before hanging this in my closet. (I find it refreshing when people point out things they struggled with along the way to a finished garment so hopefully you do too!). I was actually pretty skeptical that the dress would look nice without some serious hacking since the pattern is from the 1980’s, so a lot of the seams are basted which will make it easy to fix. You can see the the neckline facing is peeking out a bit. I did stabilize the heck out of the neck and understitch the facing so that peeking should go away when I sew the facing down on the inside. I also have a bit of pulling on the bottom of the yoke and the pleats aren’t even between left and right. This should go away with just one more rip and re-stitch :)

Despite needing to fix a couple flaws, I’m actually kinda excited for some cooler weather so I can start wearing the dress!

mccalls 7849 vintage dress back

Comments 9

  1. Wow, I love this so much! What a great style, definitely a good 80’s pattern that looks good today! And is that little building in your new garden? It is adorable, what a gorgeous thing to have if it is!

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      The little building is a now-defunct greenhouse that was there when we moved in. We removed all the giant broken glass panels so it’s no longer a death trap, but we’re going to have to take it out at some point in the future since the foundation is cracked all apart (there are flowers growing up through the cement) and the wood is rotting apart. In the meantime, it sure is romantic to look at!

  2. Awesome job, love the stripes and the color. Do you have a collection of 80’s patterns? It seems that a lot of sewers have collected patterns from different years. Just curious, I began sewing about 4 yrs ago and all I have are current patterns.
    I lived through the 80’s, big hair, shoulder pads and leg warmers!

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      I have a collection of a LOT of different patterns. I buy vintage patterns at the thrift store any time I run across them (although my collection is large enough at this point that there has to be something about the pattern that grabs me). I’ve also eeen given a bunch of patterns from different people at different times who all know I sew.

      Most of my patterns are 60’s dresses and 70’s separates, since those are the easiest to find at the thrift store (that are aesthetically pleasing to me). I snag any 40’s and 50’s patterns any time I stumble into them, but they show up at the thrift store a lot less frequently. I have some 80’s patterns that I’ve picked up along the way, although most are just so obviously 80’s that I’m not interested in having them in my stash. And then I have a few 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s patterns that I’ve bought new.

      Of course I also have a collection of modern patterns from indie sewing designers :)

  3. Oh I love your dress! Great use of the directional stripes! I will have to look out for this pattern now as I love the v waist. I have quite a few ’80’s patterns and I think so long as you use the right fabric they can definitely look fab.

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      Thanks! I think it’s very true that the atrocious 80’s styling can disguise good lines underneath. i guess that’s why it’s always important to look at technical drawings instead of pattern art! Please do share the next time you sew a modern looking dress from an 80’s pattern – I’d love to see it!

  4. This is chic. I would never had guessed it was done with a 1980s pattern. I was gifted a bin of vintage patterns with a couple from the 1980s…

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