Vintage Sewing

No More Buts (Oct-Jan project)

January 18, 2008

This did not start as my ‘No More Buts’ project. I have a vintage muumuu pattern (the kind with a draped/train back) that I don’t have quite enough fabric for and will have to redraft the pattern for using a different fabric in the pleat that I wanted to be my project. But I digress.

There were several factors leading to this becoming the October – January project.

When I started to pull the pattern out of the envelope, it was crumbling before my eyes. The previous seamstress totally just shoved the pattern back into the envelope all wadded up, not even folded! What I believed would be a fairly straightforward project taking a couple afternoons soon turned into several hours of tracing a disintegrating pattern before I could even start.

The next problem I encountered was with my fabric. It’s a lovely piece I bought on sale last year from an online retailer. I laid it on the cutting table and started to put the pattern pieces down, and quickly realized it was a DIRECTIONAL PRINT! I was cutting it seriously close with the yardage, since the website did not say it was a directional print and I didn’t buy extra fabric. My general rule is to buy 5 yards of fabric if I don’t know what I’m making it with it, so I always have enough for a full skirt. For this pattern to work, especially since I wanted to make the longer sleeved version with full skirt I would need about 1/2 yard more fabric than I had. Oops! So there was some cunning layout work to do.

After getting everything cut out, I thought it would be smooth sewing. First, I’ve never made a notched collar, and when cutting out the pattern I just followed what had been cut by the previous sewer – the notch line. It wasn’t until I got to that part of the sewing instructions that I realized I was supposed to cut that line after sewing around the notch. Ugh. After trying to make it work, I eventually had to cut a new collar from the scraps. At least I had enough fabric! Then, when trying to sew it all together the top and bottom would not match, no matter what I tried. I sewed it 3 times! Fearing I traced the pieces wrong, I got the crumbled bits back out and compared. I had done a perfect tracing job. ??? Then I noticed the very faded word ‘Ease’ that I had missed the first time. Whew! So I eased the right places and it fit together perfectly.

The final problem I encountered was with the back zipper. Despite meticulous basting it took two tries to get it in straight. Then, because I used an invisible zipper, the plastic-ness and the placement of it caused the fabric to bow out in the back. I looked like I had a weird tumor growing. My mom suggested I take it out and just sew up the back seam since there was plenty of room with the buttons in the front to pull it over my head. That worked brilliantly.

I also realized while sewing that this is only the second time I’ve had to set in a sleeve on a garment. The pattern had good instructions, so it was pretty easy peasy.

So here I am, in the finished dress!


I love the collar so much, and how huge it is in the back! I think it looks cute with a sweater, too. Always a plus when you pretty much only sew cotton dresses to wear year round.


A close-up of the vintage rhinestone buttons I used. I tend to wear day dresses in the evening, so a little sparkle makes it feel more special.

  1. Wow! Love the dress, love the print, love the buttons and the collar, LOVE the pink tights. Love your house too! And great story, too. I love how your Mom chipped in good advice. And you saved a pattern from extinction, too – well done! Victory is yours!

  2. So fabulous I wanted to use expletives but realise this is a family blog…it looks just magnificent. Love your house, too. I’ve been thinking I might try one of these big-collared numbers and now I’m convinced. Well, well done.

  3. I will second all of the other commenters, your dress is awesome!

    BTW, what REALLY makes your picture is your mid century home behind you! OMG its awesome!

  4. Fabulous dress, and EXCELLENT choice for a fabric and print. I could wear a cardigan sweater with everything! I love the pink and brown, and I adore the collar. Wonderful job!

  5. I really appreciate your telling us all the problems you had to overcome–it is very inspiring, and the result shows all that effort–it is perfectly beautiful! Congratulations!

  6. Wow!
    Beautiful creation – you have inspired me to up my game and try something a little more testing from my vintage pattern stash.
    And, as others have said – beautiful, beautiful home Marissa!

  7. I’m so glad you posted this. I have this very same pattern and have been hesitant to make it up, now that I’ve seen how nice it looks I think I’ll give it a shot soon!

    Beautiful fabric and amazing job!

  8. Gorgeous dress! The fabric is wonderful and it is such a great pattern. It was definitely worth all of the trouble.
    I love your house too – what a perfect backdrop. Is that a George Nelson Marshmallow sofa back there? I’m so jealous!!!

  9. Thanks again, everyone!

    GP High – I bought a kit for the belt at the fabric store.

    Moxie tonic – it is a Marshmallow. We have a thing for mid-century modern furniture. 🙂

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