Hot! The ‘Plain Sailing’ dress | Adey Lim

The Facts

Fabric: 2 yards blue plaid stretch cotton from Shanghai $9.30
Patterns: McCall's 9619
Year: c.  1980s
Notions: Buttons, bias tape  and ric racs $2
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: March 2011
Wear again? Absolutely! It's gonna be a weekday staple!

Total Cost: ~$11.30

My week has been anything but plain sailing. My kids caught the flu bug which crept its way to me. I'm still coughing badly and drowsy from a little yellow pill.  I had dreamt up a fine weather photo shoot at the beach, on the breakwater, at the sailing club and with sandcastles for this nautical inspired number. But, the weather seemed to have caught a bug too and rain has been abundant. So, indoors it is this week. The one fabulous thing is this dress has been super duper easy to put together. 

I am quite the pattern snob and for this week's theme, I had to dig deep into my pattern stash to find one or two patterns that I am not too enthusiastic to look at, let alone use. Why did I buy this pattern?  It was probably bought with another pattern for a better combined shipping rate but I also saw potential (though filled with uncertainty) cuteness in the back opening. After all, I did make a cute party dress with a back cut out before. But, what's with all that pout lipped models on the cover and no cute accessories to match the dress? Did the illustrator think it was beyond all hope too?

This 1980s McCall's sewing pattern I chose won the hideous pattern cover poll I had on my blog sometime back. It garnered 79.8% of 203 votes. At first glance, it made the wearer look humongous, the fabric used looked too stiff, the shoulders too padded and there was also a concern of whether the bra strap was gonna show with the back cut out.

The mystery is now solved. The coverage is just sufficient.

 The only two modifications I did was to shorten the hem for a more youthful take and to make the armholes smaller. For a nautical inspired look, I used a blue plaid cotton fabric with some stretch and for embellishment, I braided blue and pink ric-racs together and created a wave like design on the neckline. It is party hand-stitched. A white scrap fabric was used for contrast at the neckline and for the waistband, which was embellished with a thin ribbon. Pink and white buttons are used for back closures. I used a red thread for topstitching of the neckline contrast and the waistband to make them less stark.

I'm gonna let you in on a secret that only the wearer knows. There are fishes in my pockets. Honestly! I used a scrap fabric with fishes for the inside of the pockets and love how adorable they looked!

I found it rather tough to match the plaids on the shoulders and side seams of the bodice as the plaids were irregular and the front bodice and sleeves were cut as one piece but managed to match them for the skirt seams.

I wore the dress to pick my son from school and he commented pointing  to my back, "Mama, your dress is so pretty but why is there a hole here".  After I told him it was part of the design, he couldn't stop tickling me. It has turned out to be quite a fun dress after all! 





Adey Sew Convert

A former kids' television channel manager turned stay home mum from Singapore, I hated sewing since I attended my first home economic class at the age of 14. In 2007, something miraculous happened when God blessed me with a second pregnancy. I discovered that I was expecting a baby girl. That changed everything. First I went crazy shopping for handmade clothes for her on etsy. Then I decided I needed to make something for her on my own. I was a month from my due date when I took an intensive 8-hour sewing class. In Dec 2008, I made a dress for my princess before she was born and have not stopped sewing since.


Comments are closed.

  1. Oh, Adey, you are a miracle worker. I would never have approached this pattern. Not even with a ten foot pole in front of my sewing machine. The details you added have made this an adorable outfit–the fishes! the trim! And those cute, cute shoes!

  2. That is just too cute! I love the way you have added the trim & white bands to give the dress a lift. Very nice.

  3. Get out of town! So great. LOVE the pocket fishies.

  4. so so so cute Adey! love it. hope you feel better soon. (put some fishermans friends in with those fishes!)

  5. love the pocket full of fish – a definite win. I too would have appraoched this pattern with great trepidation. Your detailing around the collar is inspired.

  6. What great embellishment ideas! Now I am really excited to start on my ugly ugly pattern!

  7. Adey, that is one super cute dress!! I love all the little details; braiding rick rack trim is inspired. :) I love your shoes, too. Are they Irregular Choice?

  8. I have seen this pattern in thrift shops and yard sales and would never have considered it. You have done a great job with it. I love the fish pockets and the rope at the neck line. It is very cute and as always I am amazed at your wonderful skills.

  9. I hit enter too soon. So sorry you all have been sick I hope and will pray for your healing to come soon. Blessings.

  10. SO CUTE! I LOVE this dress! The fish pockets are such a great detail! You are a miracle worker with that sewing machine! Fantastic job!!

  11. margueritedesigns

    Love it! I actually remember this style! My favourite bits of this are the fishy pockets and the braided neckline.

  12. Oh my, that is one extremely cute dress! Love all the detail work you´ve done on this. Both the pockets and the ric rac braid. Adorable!

  13. Adorable! And all the sweet details including your little boy’s comments! LOVE!
    I conclude the 80’s really had some odd fashions! I wonder if some generation will desire the 80’s as we all do for vintage?!

  14. Patricia Austin

    Wow! That is AMAZING!!!!!! I would never have thought of that in a million years. It looks so good! Oh and your shoes totally rock!

  15. The dress looks MUCH better in reality than on the pattern envelope. And the color looks great on you! Oh, and the pockets are so much fun. :)

  16. Ady..
    so sorry you and your kids had the flu terrible.. and to think with the flu…you made this adorable dress.very impressed.. Love the nautical trim at the neckline. Great job..and looks cute on you.

  17. Love what you did with this pattern. I absolutely love your shoes!!

  18. I hope you are feeling MUCH better now Adey! Yay for you for your amazing take on this pattern! I want to try it RIGHT AWAY! It’s a great length and a great construction! So flattering! xoxo

  19. Thanks Veronica! I'm much better today:) Yay! I'm so happy you like it! I think this pattern will look extremely adorable on you:)

  20. Thanks so much Paula! I heart Irregular Choice shoes too:) 

  21. Thanks Judy! We're much better now especially with my girl's fever gone…phew! I'm glad you think the dress is cute, there's hope for not so cute pattern covers after all :)

  22. Thanks r8chel! The pockets cheers me up too:)

  23. Thanks so much Patricia! I'm so glad the dress turned out well and I love those shoes too:)

  24. Thanks so much Cathe! After doing this sewing pattern I'm beginning to think perhaps 80s fashion isn't as bad as I had imagined or remembered. Perhaps, it's the styling then and all that misrepresentation on sewing pattern covers that's doing it injustice :P

  25. Glad you like it Sølvi! I love how your Kate Trousers is turning out! So classic and chic! 

  26. Yay to embellishments and secret fishy pockets! I'm SO glad you like them :) I just wondered if back in the 80s people really did wear this dress style in longer lengths like on the pattern cover…

  27. Thanks so much for the sweet and encouraging comment Debi!

  28. Thanks Sue! We are so much better today! Definitely healing, thanks for praying for us :)

  29. I'm so glad you liked the fishy pockets and embellishment! As always, I am encouraged by your words!

  30. Thanks so much Sarah! Yes, love Irregular Choice kekeke:)

  31. I'm so glad the dress turned out all right! Indeed, I was rather unsure even while sewing it! So glad you liked the fishy pockets and embellishment :)

  32. LOL! Your comment made me laugh and laugher is the best medicine! We're much better today, thanks so much!

  33. Thanks so much Tasha, glad you liked the fishy pockets:)

  34. Thanks so much Debbie for the encouraging words!

  35. Thanks Melissa! Can't wait to see what you have done with yours!

  36. Thanks so much PunkRizz! Honestly, I wouldn't have approached this pattern if it weren't for this challenge and now I am so glad I did! 

  37. OOOH! So beautiful! What looks like such a 1980s pattern on the cover looks timeless and beautiful when done by you – great job!

  38. I love how this turned out! And the fish in the pocket are a delightful touch :)

  39. Adey, this is hot stuff! You look so sexy and cute all at once. I want to make a dress like this now!

  40. I can’t believe you got something decent out of that pattern. Awesome.

  41. Thanks so much Erin, I'm happy it came out wearable:)

  42. Oh thanks so much Bethany! You made my day!

  43. Thank you so much Sarah!

  44. i love your son! but i am quite mad at you again for yet another stunner. i mean, hidden fishies! and i am absolutely ENRAGED over those shoes.

  45. This dress us simply amazing, it blew me away! I love your ability to dream up this fantastic nautical number from that daggy pattern – well done indeed!!

  46. LOL! You never fail to make me laugh:)