Hot! The “Windy City” Dress


  Chicago theater 2  

M5923 The Facts

Fabric: Geometric patterned linen from donated fabric stash – free!
Pattern: McCall's 5923 for $1.50 at a Hancock Fabrics sale – yay!
Year: 2010
Notions: Zipper $2
Time to complete: 7.5 hours
First worn: March 2011
Wear again? Yes, but definitely when it is warmer!

Total Cost: $3.50


Singing 1 When I first heard about this challenge, I immediately began rummaging in my stash for ideas.  Halfway through my search, I stumbled on this linen.  It has a fantastic geometric pattern on it with hexagons mixing with diamonds.  This fabulous design reminded me of the building at 150 N. Michigan Ave.  When I first moved to Chicago, I came here without having a job.  I only had enough money to buy groceries and pay my first month's rent, so I needed to jump in and start swimming!  I finally found employment after a month in this lovely building.  I spent a great many hours here and I love the architecture still.  

I originally bought this pattern because of the neckline.  I love square necklines and I have nothing in my closet that reflects that love.  I also have very few dresses that could be considered "work appropriate." Building 1 Not that they are too revealing, just entirely too colorful for an office environment.  I thought this dress could be a lovely addition to my wardrobe if it came out they way I imagined – and it did!

 This pattern was fantastic for the design on the fabric and was very easy to follow.  It offers varying pieces for different bust sizes (something I always love in a pattern) and offered a very efficient method for putting facings in (something I hate doing with a  passion).

Building 5 The side pieces are cut on the bias and when sewn together with the front, create a fabulous illusion of everything going up!   Since this was my first time working with linen, I learned quite a bit about ironing (there is so much of it!).  This was also my first time working with princess seams. O. My. Good. Gracious. The seams and I had to battle it out quite a bit, especially when it came time to take things in for a second fitting.  They said, "We are supposed to curve like this," but I said, "I need you to curve like this and I have the scissors." And then we got along fine.

Version B of the pattern calls for lace and ribbon to be added to the bust.  I have a lovely collection of lace that I want to use for everything and I was so glad to have justenough lace to put some on the bust and hem!  I added the bit on the hem to draw the eye away from my pasty legs.  I thought having too much white in one area might blind an onlooker.

Building 4 I noticed some problems once we made our way to Millennium Park, such as the slip I was wearing  was not pleased to stay in one place so I may have to sew a slip specifically for this dress or put in a lining.  I also forgot how badly linen wrinkles when I sat down on the bus, so please pardon the photos. I was excited to be able to sit comfortably though!  I had to make a few hip adjustments on the dress to accommodate my one hip being an inch higher than the other, so some areas were a little tight.  Another problem was the cold!  This dress was not meant for 25 degree Fahrenheit weather and the Chicago wind, but we made it work!  Many thanks to the boyfriend who held my coat and took pictures and sat with me in Starbucks when I needed something warm. Also, thank you to the onlookers who said I looked cold but nice :)
Thank you for letting me share my Windy City adventure with you!  And if you ever come to my neck of the woods, please stop in say, "Hello!"   
Subway 2


Meg the Grand

Megan Grandstaff was thrown into the sewing world in 2005. Ever since that fateful day, she has been eager to increase her skills and reduce her (quite large) fabric stash.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wonderful Wonderful – Can I borrow this dress for a wedding I’m going to? I love square necklines and the inspiration of your building is very clear in this and the colour (fab material). Thank you for braving the snow for us all too LOL

  2. OH! This is so cute! A love the print and the shape is divine – way to go Meg!

  3. Hello from another in the Windy City! I always called that building the lipstick building growing up… who am I kidding, I still call it that. LOL
    The dress looks great! I love the lace details and color. And knowing exactly what our weather is doing right now, I appreciate your c-c-cold efforts to lovingly photograph it. :)

  4. Girl, I live in Chi, and I’m freezing just looking at these pictures! The dress is fantastic! Thank you for risking pneumonia for the sake of your hometown photo shoot.

  5. I have never been to Chicago (need to change that ASAP!) but I’ve heard of the nasty wind chill, etc. so bravo for this photo shoot! Almost like America’s Next Top Model when they wear almost nothing in below freezing water. Your dress is so cute! Nice ending with the “Grand” sign :)

  6. Meg this dress is fantastic! I love the style, the fabric and the lace trim …. and that you braved the cold to show us. Thank you!

  7. The dress is so cute and definitely work appropriate. I love the first and last photos very much, you are adorable in them. Thanks for braving the cold, gosh I can still see snow, you brave girl!

  8. this lovely, I had said on some one elses dress that it is a really interesting challenge, I feel like I’m getting to know everyone on a new level. You look beautifull. x x x

  9. This is FABULOUS, you look amazing, great photos. I LOVE the pattern
    Charlotte Tilley

  10. Wow Meg! you look great in this dress.. and yes a little cold, but Bravo you! Well done on the fitting alterations. So interesting to hear.. not to mention see the great result from your efforts.

  11. margueritedesigns

    Looks great! Well done for braving the snow!

  12. What a very cute dress! And you are way braver than I…I have about 5 garments to photograph but I can’t bring myself to go out into the cold in them!

  13. The dress is beautiful.. You look great in it.. Your inspiration shows through.. Love it…
    and thanyou to a sweet boyfriend for taking pictures, holding your coat and also sipping hot chocolate on that cold day,with you.
    thanks for sharing.

  14. Patricia Austin

    Awesome!!! Looks awesome. Yeah there really isn’t a Spring in Chicago. But we pretend right? Well Done!

  15. Jen, of course you can borrow the dress!  Just let me know where to send it :)  Aren't square necklines the best?  I feel like its difficult to find patterns with them so I jumped on this when I saw it!  Thanks for all the support too – I really appreciate it!

  16. Thanks Sarah!  I am very much looking forward to your post tomorrow!

  17. haha Michelle!  Isn't this winter just awful??? At least I didn't have to fight with 2 feet of snow (so happy about that)!  Thanks for the comments on the dress – I'll be happy to wear it when it gets warmer!

  18. Thanks Debbie!  I have never loved sweatpants as much as I did that day :) 

  19. Thanks Adey for the lovely comments!  I'm so happy with the first and last pictures – I think I may continue to do location shoots like the rest of you wonderful contributors (weather permitting, of course).  Your photos always look so polished and fabulous that I tried to emulate that as best I could :) 

  20. Omygoodness…it DOES look like a tube of lipstick!! And now, I will think of that whenever I see the building instead of calling it "the 150 North Michigan Avenue building" or "the Adventures in Babysitting building" :)  Thanks for all the comments on the dress!  I admit, my favorite part of the day was going home and putting on my sweats – silly Chicago winter that lasts forever!

  21. Amanda, come to Chicago and we can have coffee and talk sewing!  But come in summer because then it isn't so grey and blech :)  Thanks for commenting!  I was so excited when I looked out the train window and saw the subway sign – I thought it was a "sign" that it was a successful photo shoot haha!

  22. Brilliant job! I LOVE this dress, especially the lace trim. The fit is fabulous and looks great on you. Well done!

  23. Thanks Charlotte!  I feel like I've gotten to know everyone so much better through these forums and pictures.  I loved reading all the responses to the questions the contributors posed last week – hearing about inspirations and goals from so many like minded people really struck a chord with me.  Have a fabulous day!!!

  24. Thanks Charlotte!  Your comments made me giggle at my desk – heehee!  I love the pattern too – I was thinking maybe making the dress again in a yellow plaid for something a little more summery.  I guess it's just wishful thinking when I make clothes that I cannot wear in this weather yet!  Hope all is going well with you!

  25. Thanks Casey!  I was a little worried about the adjustments since I don't make many dresses that fit so snugly around my hips.  It was definitely an interesting process, but isn't that the case with all of our sewing projects?  I absolutely ADORE your purple dress – how fabulous that you can wear it with your shoulders bare or not! The fabric makes me feel like summer is right around the corner :)

  26. Thanks Marguerite!  I love your mini bloomers you made – I showed the picture to my friends and they all wanted a pair!

  27. Hi Lisette!  Thanks for commenting :)  I'm not going to lie, it was incredibly tough to go outside when all I wanted to do was snuggle under my covers and watch a movie.  You could always do what I did: "Two more photos til coffee…" "One more photo til coffee…"  "Time for sweatpants and coffee!"  It was a nice little mantra for the afternoon.  I would love to see your pictures of your outfits!

  28. Aw, thanks Judy!  Your comments always make me feel happy.  I can't wait to see the pictures of your dress!  I hope you feel better soon so you can get some by the college that inspired you :)  Have a great day!

  29. lol thanks Patricia!  I like how we pretend that all of this ghastly rain is really Springtime here –  I cannot wait for some sunshine!!!

  30. Thank you Sarah!  I think I'm in love with your Singer skirt – I adore the pockets and the scissors!  Also, I saw on your to-do list for this year that you are making a scrap quilt.  Can I just say how awesome I think that is?  I am completely in awe of anyone who can quilt – I'm so excited to see all of your projects happening this year!

  31. The dress looks great, and the black lace really adds a lot — and clearly mimics the building. Also, nice job making the dress fit your curves so well! :)

  32. I love Calamity Jane, so I have ‘heard’ about your windy city!!!!!!! Thanks for showing it off!
    You look SO great and it looks like you had heaps of fun in the cold! I really like how you’ve used the lace, as I wouldn’t have thought to embellish a patterned dress. I’m really keen to use my inherited lace collection, so I should get into it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  33. What a wonderful sense of humor. The dress is great and the inspiration is beautiful. Great Job!

  34. YAY! Meg! The dress is FAB-U-LOUS and the pictures are grand! Your sense of enthusiasm is contagious…I absolutely love it!!

  35. great dress – this is my favourite building in Chicago, all because of the film Adventures in Babysitting (Night on the Town in the US I think) :D x

  36. Thanks Sue!  I cannot wait to wear it warmer weather!  I hope the weather is fabulous where you are!

  37. Thanks Debi!  It's all because of you – thank you so much!! Your lovely comments made my day :)

  38. Thanks R8chel!  I was hoping my fabric and inspiration came through!  I'm ready for warmer weather so I can wear it outside again :)

  39. "Well I just flew in from the Windy City/The Windy City is mighty pretty/But it ain't got what we got/No sirree!"  I just sang that from memory – haha thanks for getting that stuck in my head!  Isn't Howard Keel dreamy?  *happy sigh*  love that movie!  I liked dancing on the sidewalk in my dress to keep warm – the tourists thought I was crazy!  I'm trying to use up more of my lace collection and I would love to see what you do with yours :)  I'm looking forward to your next outfit so much!

  40. I had not heard of that movie until one of my friends said, "You work in that building!  How could you not know the movie?!?"  And I watched it and laughed quite a bit – those crazy kids!  It's one of my favorite buildings too :)

  41. I think this is my favorite of all the Megan-made dresses I’ve seen! I want it in green. I will pay cash money.