my ideal dress

my ideal dress//

It’s been a strange year in San Francisco. The glorious, warm, summery weather we typically expect to get no more than 2-3 weeks of down here Has Not Quit. Did I mention it’s been glorious? Glorious! Okay, I’ll calm down. But seriously, my closet was not prepared for all this (glorious!) sunshine. The heat would strike and I’d feel the need for a comfortable, easy to wear dress that was as feminine as it was sexy. Was I thinking I’d find the answer to my sartorial dreams in a vintage patten with a cover art model that looks like an extra out of a John Hughes film? Hmmm, nope. Can’t say that I was. Bad cover art be damned; when you make this dress up in something less visually arresting than peach+blue+yellow+plaid it kinda starts looking like a garment that would be equally at home on Audrey Hepburn or Bridgette Bardot. Right?

my ideal dress//

I came by Simplicity 7506 (circa 1986) when a member of my most excellent local sewing club brought a huge box of vintage patterns to giveaway at our last meet-up. I did have a moment of worrying over getting greedy around the free-vintage-pattern-awesomeness; fortunately the moment was brief. I’m not sure I realized when I nabbed this pattern that it was my dream dress. But The more I considered the elements of this dress—the full tea-length skirt, the princess seamed bodice, the button front, the pockets!—the more I started to feel the need to push all other sewing plans aside and proceed with making up this dress pronto. Friends, I’m so glad I did, because today was another glorious San Francisco summer day!


The lovely fullness of this skirt made it easy to chill at the park without worrying about showing my lady bits, and since I made it up in an easy wearing grey/black linen blend (that has been languishing in my stash for at least a year) I could be totally casual about sitting on the lawn, noshing on a sandwich. This turned out to be the perfect fabric choice for this dress. The linen has the body to hold up the fitted bodice, but still enough easy, breezy goodness to hang loose at the skirt.


I lined the bodice with a light weight rayon twill I had leftover from another project. This not only feels great against my skin, it also provides the opaqueness I needed up top. In other finishing news, I pinked all the seams because I really love the vintage look this gives and also because it’s a light weight, flexible way to finish a seam, which made it a good treatment for this light, flowing skirt.


I used my rolled hem foot to finish the hem. Now I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never had a rolled hem turn out this good! I’m not sure if the difference was me or the fabric… I’m thinking it was the fabric as usually I try to use that foot on silk, and the whole endeavor makes me want to cry. Things went so well this time I’m inspired to try using that little foot more often.

14454481452_45bd3fed74_oSpeaking of developing new skills, this dress marks the first time I’ve made spaghetti straps and that’s also my first button placket! I used Jen @ Grainline Studio’s method for turning the straps, as witnessed on her Instagram feed. Getting those suckers started was tough going, but once you’ve got that first inch or so turned the rest is a breeze. As for the button placket, I stuck pretty closely to the pattern instructions. Only change was stitching in the ditch to get the backside tacked down instead of doing that by hand. I did tack the lining down by hand, but it seemed like the placket should be as sturdy as possible. It came out looking clean, so I’m happy.
14269545089_7aa4c36469_oYou can also see in this pic that I made my own fabric covered buttons to match the dress. I got a bag of about a hundred little buttons at the thrift store, and covering them was a good way to uh, raise their profile a bit. They were fun to make and add a special, handcrafted touch to the dress, I think. Once I had the dress on I saw that buttons alone do not a fully closed dress make… Er, which is to say there was some major gappage happening in the in-between areas. If I make this dress again (and right now I’m thinking there’s a good chance I will do) I’ll probably add just a wee bit more ease into the bodice, which may or may not help with the gappage. But for this round I added the hook + bars you see above & problem solved!

14454456372_5864789c92_oYou know how sometimes you try on something you made for the first time and can’t help but let out a little squeal of joy? This was totally one of those times. I’m in love with this dress, you guys! My closet finally has the perfect dress for strolling, park sitting, barbecuing and cocktail sipping so long as SF wants to keep all this glorious weather coming!


51 thoughts on “my ideal dress

    • Thanks, Lindsay! You know, there’s always so much to sew, so little time. 🙂 Those patterns were such a gift. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  1. Gorgeous! And totally timeless in that colour and fabric! Great save on the buttons—next time I might just make 2x as many buttonholes, at least on the bodice. Did I mention it’s gorgeous? 😉

    • Awesome! This particular vintage pattern is apparently a little difficult to find, but the elements are common enough. I’m excited to see what you come up with!

    • Thanks, Erin! I’ve read on your blog that you’re leaving SF soon. Sorry to see you go, but man, hasn’t this city been especially beautiful this year? It’s giving you something good to remember it by 😉

    • Thank you, Brienne! Button plackets have been on my I’m Scared to Sew You list for soooo long. But it really wasn’t nearly as hard as I worried it would be.

    • Hey! Oh my gosh, no one I know IRL has stopped by my blog before (or left a message if they did)! Thanks for coming over, and for your lovely compliments! I’ve been to your little spot in the internet universe as well, and several times I’ve thought about how we talked about teaching you to sew. Stupid grad school got in the way. But I guess I learned just about everything I know about sewing from books, blogs, trial, and error. 😉

    • Thank you, Laurel! That skill of seeing the hidden potential behind poor cover art is one I’m still developing. This one didn’t take too much of a leap, but still, it was a pleasant surprise!

  2. Well done! I know it’s already been said, but your dress is just gorgeous. I like how the super-feminine design looks in a neutral fabric. I had the same experience as you did with the bodice gaping on a bustier top – I had to double the number of buttons!

    • Haha! Honestly, it’s just really nice to know others like this piece as much as I do. I remember your McCall’s bustier. I love those pieces! And I see your latest black one is seriously, gorgeously, buttoned down! I guess I should try that next time… but there’s a part of me that wonders how more buttons will effect the look of this piece… guess I’ll just have to try it and find out.

    • Thank you so much! And thanks as well for noting the finishing. 🙂 I’ve been working on my finishing skills as making garments that look good inside and out is a goal of mine.

    • Yes, I would to try to find the pattern as well… and my google searches were all unsuccessful. Great dress!! Thanks

      • me as well! this is also my perfect dress. finding a pattern for a very fitted, princess seamed bodice w/ spaghetti straps is very hard!!

  3. Pingback: tutorial // fabric covered buttons | SewStylist

  4. i just found your blog and the GLORIOUS dress through adaspragg’s feature and i am sooo happy i did. what a beautiful style you have and this dress is perfect on you!

  5. Pingback: Sound & Vision: Summertime Rolls | SewStylist

  6. Pingback: Makers In The Wild // A weekly Round-Up - Ada Spragg

  7. Pingback: A meetup! Home improvement! | dangerously alice

  8. Pingback: experiments in outwear | SewStylist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s