Problems with pockets – McCalls 3875

This dress fulfils two purposes: it should work for cycling and it uses up some stash fabric. I was getting bored of wearing jeans every other day, but I have very few dresses that are warm enough for winter and can be worn on a bike. This has long sleeves and a high neck so should keep the chill out.

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The pattern is vintage, McCalls 3875 from 1973. I’ve had it a while – so long that I can’t remember where it came from although it was probably an Etsy shop. I love these 70s illustrated pattern envelopes. There’s something about the lovely clean lines and bright colours of the pictures that appeals to me; much more so than ones with photographs or more painterly illustrations.

McCalls 3875 envelope

This is a very simple style and extremely quick to sew. The only detail is that the bust shaping has been turned into gathers at the raglan sleeve seams. Not sure mine’s come out looking as gathered as the illustration.

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Here’s a closer look. I was a bit dubious about the gathering originally – especially on the envelope’s maxi dress view where it’s paired with a ghastly floral print fabric – but now I have made the dress I very much like the effect. I think it needs a solid colour though, and probably a fairly neutral one. I’ve gone for navy blue because that’s what I had in stash of the right weight and hand. The fabric is a very drapey viscose doubleknit which was described as ‘crepe jersey’. It certainly has that matte, slightly textured, look of crepe on the right side. It came from Minerva Crafts.

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I added side seam pockets to the dress. These have not been entirely successful. The jersey is not sufficiently stable to support them so they tend to gape. I took quite a few precautions: interfacing along the side seam lines, cutting the front pocket bag out of lining fabric to reduce bulk, and eventually adding clear elastic to the side seam, but they aren’t great. It doesn’t help that I put them in too low and had to rip them out again and reposition. The jersey hates being unpicked at the best of times and I’d already overlocked things, so this made a big mess and I lost a bit of seam allowance here and there which I think has contributed to the gaping.

The other alteration I did was to make a facing to finish the neck. The original pattern has an extra-wide allowance that you turn over and tack down, but I was worried it might be too floppy. My facing is interfaced with some light weight fusible. It turned out that this was a good thing; when I measured the pattern to check the length of the facing pieces I realised that the neckline is much wider than the pattern illustration shows. I took all the seams around the neck other than the CB seam in by 1cm (ie sewed them 0.5cm deeper) to get the neck to look the way it does.

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The back view is intensely plain. I’m proud of my invisible zip though.

The hem is a bit limp; I probably should have interfaced it. And as always with 70s patterns I had to hack off quite a few inches to get the hem to the length I’d intended. The original pattern came to well below the knee. It didn’t look bad at that length but this is better.

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I think I’d make this again if I could work out what to do about the pockets. It’s possible they’d work better if I’d placed them correctly first time, or at least not damaged the fabric when moving them. The style needs a drapey and stretchy fabric so I can’t see welt pockets or patch pockets working any better than side seam pockets. And not having pockets isn’t an option. If anyone has any bright ideas, do let me know. I like the dress despite the flaw though.
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15 thoughts on “Problems with pockets – McCalls 3875

    1. These are cut separately which is why moving them was such a pain because I had more unpicking. I guess it would reduce bulk to cut them together? Have to give that a go, thanks!

  1. Great dress. I remember this one from the 1970s, although I never made it up. This is a truly timeless design and it looks wonderful on you. Have you considered topstitching the pocket bags in place? I would hand baste them in position and see if it would help before going to the machine with it. Just a thought.

  2. It is a shame that you had problems with the pockets. I also require pockets. It is very cumbersome to be without them. I love the gathering at the front. It is very subtle, but creates a strong effect.

  3. My suggestion is to cut the pockets in one with the front and back pieces. Sew the side and pocket seam in one continous seam and apply fusible interfacing or vilene tape where they will be turned back for stability. Then topstitch the pocket edges or tack them down from the inside.

    Now I have to go search for this pattern on Etsy!

  4. Lovely dress!

    My only idea regarding pockets would be to increase the front seam allowance at pocket area only to say 1″. Have a pocket bag piece only on the back piece. Finish the front pocket opening as appropriate for your fabric and topstitch the pocket bag to the front of the dress. You’d only have one pocket layer and it’s topstitched in place. You could bartack the pocket opening to make the opening more polished or secure. It would be like an internal, kind of sneaky patch pocket. Of course the success of this idea would be dependent upon your fabric and finding the right stabilization.

    I’m sure you’ll hit upon an idea that works!

  5. I have to admit my first thought was “cycling in a dress?”. But hey I live in the U, land of big cars, lots of roads and overweight people. I can see how the flare skirt would let you cycle with ease, and I love the gathering at the raglan seam. Very unique.

  6. This is so pretty, love the neckline and bodice. I was thinking like redsilvia above, back bag only, for the pocket. You could try it on some scraps, see how it works. Hems on jersey sure can get wimpy. Sometimes does help to put in a deeper hem with interfacing. But in the end – really like this dress on you!

  7. It’s amazing how much fabric choice can change a design – your chic navy fabric is perfect with the neckline gathers, whereas yeah, I agree, it’s kind of hideous on the floral version LOL. Perfect style on you and as always, I love your boots! πŸ™‚

  8. I agree with everyone a single piece pocket possibly out of a thinner jersey would help with bulk. This is a chic little number though. Pretty cool!

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