The Summer Sky Dress: McCall 3730 (1940)


After a break from sewing for the last couple of months to focus on my other creative passion, fabric design, I needed a quick win to kickstart my mojo. I started this dress last year, using a pattern kindly lent to me by my lovely friend Debi, Ms 1940 McCall.

Pattern review and fit

  • Pattern: McCall 3730

  • Year: 1940

In cotton, the dress came together quite easily. Drawing up the gathers evenly around the curved centre front panel was a bit fiddly, but not too difficult, thanks to the stable weave of the cotton fabric. , using some quilting cotton purchased at Beetle and Fred when I attended Gertie’s Beacon dressmaking retreat a couple of years ago.

This version was intended as a ‘wearable muslin’ to trial the pattern, and I decided to take the risk of just diving in with the pattern straight out of the packet. I even eschewed my usual Full Bust Adjustment, figuring on the forgiving nature of all those gathers. I’m pleased to say it worked out! It’s a larger size than I normally make (I usually start with a 1940s size 16 and make an FBA), but the waist ties mean it can be cinched in to fit. There are one or two minor adjustments I might make next time, but it’s an incredibly comfortable dress that’s already in regular rotation - in fact as it turns out, while I normally subscribe to Marilyn’s practice of wearing dresses a size too small, I’ll confess the extra breathing room is quite welcome in the heat.

To date I’ve made two versions of this pattern: this one in cotton, and another in a lightweight rayon crepe (photos coming soon). The fluidity of the crepe made the fiddlier aspects, such as fitting the gathers around the front panel, a bit of a nightmare; the lightweight drape also made the gathered bodice a bit floppy. It still gets a fair bit of wear, but it’s not as flattering, and I don’t love it quite as much as this one. So while I never expected to say this, this is one early 40s pattern that I’d recommend making in a cotton (in fact I’m planning to make at least one more in one of my own fabric designs!).


Photographed at Kew Gardens

  • Butterfly brooches: me-made from vintage sequin appliqués

  • Earrings: Vintage lucite

  • Shoes: Marks & Spencer

  • Bangles: Splendette and vintage