A Tablecloth dress with vintage style

I have had this project in my back pocket for OVER A YEAR. I’m sure most sewists are familiar with that idea. Usually when I keep an idea at bay for that long, it changes over time and becomes something else. But I always knew I wanted to use this tablecloth to make a dress like to Betty’s below; the fabrics seemed so similar.

I pulled a few vintage patterns, but finally decided on Simplicity 3035.

I wish I’d had enough to do the little jacket, too!

The first issue I had was a biggie: The tablecloth was quite damaged, and I hadn’t noticed it before! Luckily I had plenty of room to play around with placement of the pattern pieces; it still took me over an hour to place them in the spots with the least damage. The large skirt pieces were especially challenging.

Once I got everything cut out, I still noticed some holes as I sewed. I just had to patch them up and hope for the best! My biggest concern was the front skirt piece and of course there was a giant hole that I hadn’t noticed. I used a scrap to make an applique and used Wonder Under to put it on top of the damaged flower. It’s not noticeable to anyone except me (I hope).

This was a very quick and easy make! I definitely needed to add that trim under the bust:

…and done! A perfect dress for spring!

Had to strike a pose!
The dog was not excited.

Next make: a quilted vintage housecoat!

Sewing a vintage shirt dress!

I have been meaning to write about this dress since I re-started the blog! But life and stuff got in the way, as it does. This is one of my favorite shirt dress patterns – mostly because it only has one button and my machine hates it when I try to do buttonholes. So I try to avoid them. But I do love the look and practicality of a good shirt dress!

Butterick 9299

I decided to omit the waistline tabs; they’re unnecessary (and it meant more buttonholes), and I had to take in the waistline as it’s a vintage pattern and only has the one size included. I just eliminated the seam allowance on the waist to take it in and hoped for the best! Luckily it ended up fitting perfectly.

There are some differences in the way vintage patterns gave instructions, and we now know that there are easier and less confusing methods to use.

Getting the skirt pleats correct took forever since I had taken in the side seams of the bodice. Look at all that pinning!

That was all the hard part; the rest was fairly straightforward. To get an authentic vintage look, I used seam tape for the hem.

Lastly, I really wanted to do an authentic vintage belt. I have all these old belt making kits, but I was missing the stick-on part for the size I wanted. I tried to improvise, but it didn’t work out. I just ended up doing an extra long tie-on belt.

Despite the issues, the fit is great and I love the end result! The fabric is a vintage plaid lightweight cotton I picked up at a garage sale. I think the dress is pretty true vintage and something that would’ve been made by a home seamstress in the 1950’s!

Next week: a Betty Draper replica dress made from a tablecloth!

Colette Macaron Dress

Well for weeks I’ve been talking about making vintage dresses and posting my progress on this blog. But- sewing, like life, doesn’t care about your plans!

Quiltcon is a big quilting (obviously) convention coming up here in Austin at the end of the month. I’m helping my friend with her booth (she sells the cutest Japanese fabric so go check it out- https://www.etsy.com/shop/fabricsupply ) and also offered to help make samples. She wanted a dress (or two) to wear during the weekend, so I thought that could be my “sample”. And it turned out so cute!

Colette Patterns is an independent pattern company, and I’ve used their patterns plenty of times before. The Macaron was one I’d never seen!

It’s a cute design and looked fairly easy, but I did run into some issues. First, the midriff pieces are curved, and the illustrations don’t make it clear which way you’re supposed to place them.

In the end I ignored the directions and made both front and back midriff pieces curve upward. It would’ve been easier if they were both straight pieces. I noticed this was a common complaint in reviews of this pattern.

I didn’t do facing on the neckline, instead opting to create a bias strip and using that. But then I had the worry of – since this is a side zip dress, is the neckline going to fit over her head? The neckline seems awfully small for there to be no opening. I stretched as I sewed and ended up being able to squeeze my head into it, so hopefully my friend will be able to as well!


I should add at this point that, as mentioned above, another friend of mine had made this dress previously so I was using her muslin pieces. And that dress did fit our mutual friend, so I have to have confidence that this will too!

I also didn’t use the skirt pattern provided- I just did a simple square cut gathered skirt to make best use of the border.

Last issue for me was just a user issue- putting in an invisible side zipper! I’ve done countless invisible zippers, but never a side one, so this was just trial and error. If I do it again, I’ll insert the zip before I sew the top side seam together- I had to rip it out before sewing the zipper.

But it turned out pretty good, if I say so myself! (and that’s another thing about this pattern- the pieces just don’t match at the top- another complaint I’ve heard from others, but unnoticeable)

This being an early version of the pattern, it’s possible that some of these issues have been resolved in reprintings. Even with the challenges, this dress turned out very cute! I’m quite pleased with it!


Using what I have – a Plan for the year!

It seems I am constantly rotating my vintage wardrobe: buying new things, feeling guilty about buying new things, going through my closet and thinking “what do I REALLY need?” (hint: I don’t “need” any of it ha!), and finally selling some things to make room. Recently I was looking at a vintage dress for sale and thought “I have a vintage pattern that would work for that! Why do I need to buy it”? Well, I’m going to dust off my vintage patterns and fabrics and get to work! What’s the point of having all these fabulous items if I’m not going to use them?

I’m determined to work through what I have with the fantastic library of vintage patterns I already have (of course I wouldn’t pass up a good opportunity to buy more! In fact, I just bought some of the above fabrics yesterday. Oops. ) Below I’ll go through some projects I have in mind for the year plus the inspirations behind them. No surprise, some of those inspirations come from Mad Men. The clothing on that show is SO GOOD. This will also be something I can come back and reference if I’m feeling uninspired or don’t know what my next project will be. So, here goes!

I got this amazing cotton pique floral border print from a Facebook seller. It was too unique to pass up! I thought it would look good as a Butterick 6453 dress with a white top, a la Megan Draper’s “Maria Von Trapp” outfit from the Tomorrowland episode.
Here’s this one again!! Since this has been in the pile the longest, it is definitely going to be my next project when I finish the shirtdress I’m currently working on (which will be the subject of my next post!)

I’d really like to use my smaller fabric pieces to make more of these vintage Butterick tops, which I noticed Betty wearing similar on the “Long Weekend” episode.

Now for some non-Mad Men inspiration! I LOVE blue florals, and I have quite a collection of vintage and modern- way too many for them to be hiding in a drawer. While perusing Vixen by Micheline Pitt’s website, this one caught my eye! I don’t have many fitted dresses, so it would be a nice addition to my closet.
I wear aprons just about every day, and would love to make one with multiple pockets!! Also good for small yardages.
Probably easiest are simple shift dresses with these groovy 60’s fabrics! The orange is a polyester knit, which isn’t my comfort zone, but with a simple pattern it shouldn’t be too bad.
And lastly, a high necked, darted bodice, back zip dress. It looks simple BUT I’ll have to grade this one up because vintage patterns were not multi-sized like the one’s we have today. This one is a 30″ bust. Uh, no.

I think I definitely have a start on my plan for the year! It sure beats spending two hours trying to think of my next project, which is my usual plan. I enjoyed having a challenge with the Liz dress, and I’m excited about these projects because working with mostly vintage patterns is more of a challenge than working with modern patterns. The pattern companies expected that every woman knew how to sew therefore there weren’t extremely detailed instructions, some of the techniques they used are different (in my next post I’ll show some of those differences and how I completely disregard them and do things my own way), and as I pointed out above, the patterns came in one size only and sometimes need to be graded up or down.

If you’ve read this far, thanks! I’m pleased that so far I’ve kept the blogging going 2 weeks in a row, and stuck to my Sunday morning blogging pledge. Maybe I’ve given you some inspiration for your next project! I’m excited to dive back into those buckets of vintage patterns that have been hiding under my sewing table.