#VintagePledge Guest Blogger: I Want To Be A Turtle

Burgundy Belle. That's what Claire of I Want To Be A Turtle has called her #VPJuly contribution, but I totally think it applies to her good self as well. She looks incredible in this early 1950s number and choosing a block colour has made the interesting details really pop!

Have you ever made a pattern just for the lines of the item? This is what happened here - it is an indulgent rather than a necessary make. I fell completely in love with McCall's 9009 from 1952 when I was browsing Etsy. It offers three options: a sleeveless dress, a jumper and a blouse. I couldn't get past the red dress in the illustrations - that collar and off centre buttons! I had to own this pattern, even if the envelope was falling apart.

The suggested fabrics are pique, denim, gabardine, rayon suiting, lightweight wool, linen, corduroy and velveteen. Plenty of options to get your imagination running! I wanted a plain fabric so the lines of the pattern would shine and dug out this redcurrant wool from my stash. The fact that it is the same colour as the pattern illustration is a pure coincidence. 

The wool is medium weight and comes from a delightful little fabric store in Zadar, Croatia. The dress is underlined with a white cupro bemberg which takes the insides up a level, but also keeps the wool's itch factor under control. Black flower shaped buttons finish the outfit to add a little more interest. The dress works perfectly in this wool although I wouldn't use anything heavier due to the bulk it would create, especially in the skirt which is made from six pieces and includes button plackets.

Getting the fit right was tough - three toiles of the bodice were needed. I knew a number of changes would be needed as the pattern is size 12 and I'm bigger across the board. Alterations included: 2" FBA, bringing the side seams forward, adding a small amount to the back bodice and quite a lot more to the front bodice. I chopped off about 15cm from the skirt length so the hem finishes at mid calf as designed. Removing this additional length meant I could squeeze out the pattern from two meters.

Sewing up the dress was straightforward but it isn't a quick make. It demands six bound buttonholes almost immediately and a lot of hand stitching. The collar and sleeves are finished with facings and these are fully anchored into place with slip stitching. I tried to avoid this and just tacked the facings in places but the finish was comprised. The hem of the skirt is also hand stitched. 

Adding the button plackets to the skirt was the most confusing part as the diagram and instructions weren't too clear but once you work it out, it's relatively simple. The instructions are succinct but enough to get you through if you have some experience. I was impressed with how they explained bound buttonholes effectively in only a few steps!

While I loved almost every moment of making this dress, I had this nagging fear that it would end up hanging in my wardrobe with very little wear. The style feels rather different to what I normally wear and I wasn't sure I would be comfortable in something that is so clearly a vintage style. I finished the dress mid-March to give me time to wear it before the spring weather came and the dress got a surprising amount of wear - I'm now disappointed that I have to wait until the Autumn to bring it out again. 

It turns out that this dress is a confidence booster and one that I'm not scared to wear in the office. I would wholeheartedly recommend this pattern if you're looking for something a little different. I'm convinced I will get more out of it - I'd love to make the jumper in addition to a summer version of the dress.


  1. This dress is absolutely beautiful and so well made and fits beautifully. I adore the neckline, I've never seen that on a 50s dress before. You've gotta love vintage patterns! XxxX

  2. That's a beautiful dress. I love the colour and those off centre buttons!

  3. Wow, Claire's dress is lovely. That pattern is amazing, and while it has a very vintage look, I think Claire has made it and styled it in a very wearable fashion for everyday life. Nice job.

  4. Oh my goodness, this is gorgeous! I love the collar and the buttons to the side.

  5. Oh what a difference the under blouse made. Actually very modern without it. Beautiful colour and well done on the fit.

  6. Absolutely gorgeous dress! I love the off-centre buttons and the rich colour. Amazing job!