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A reproduction of Biba’s Pink Gingham dress

Ooh my it’s been awhile since I’ve posted an actual project!

This item is a reproduction of Biba’s Pink Gingham dress

So as an introduction for some of you who may not have come across it before, this humble garment was one of the first dresses sold by Barbara Hulanicki in her new role as designer for her brand, Biba in 1963

The dress was featured in The Daily Mirror in a piece on four career girls. Editor Felicity Green had requested Barbara to design an item for the feature and off the top of her head, Barbara suggested a pink gingham dress with a hole in the back and a matching Brigitte Bardot style kerchief to be sold for 25 shillings. 

The dress was so successful that they sold over 17,000 units and the 400 yards of fabric they thought would be enough for the manufacture the dress, wasn’t and they resorted to petitioning all the gingham manufacturers in England for supply and ended up needing 25,000 yards!

To most Biba aficionados, finding this dress would be akin to finding the holy grail. 
It’s simplicity would be passed up by any untrained eye, but one day, one might appear and the new owner would be holding onto a priceless piece of 60’s fashion!
My reproduction has a few changes, but otherwise it’s the same silhouette, fabric and style
The main features of this dress are the key hole back, rolled collar and of course the fabric itself.

The only changes I made were omitting the back darts (not a fan) and I brought the hem up to a modern length. This dress was designed in 1963! Dresses above the knee were still scandalous! 
Without the kerchief
I used Butterick 4712 for the pattern as it had a collar piece in the pattern. 

Making the hole in the back was as simple as cutting an even hole in the back. I just took a wild guess and snipped away! 

I made bias to finish the raw edges of the hole, before noticing it should have been faced, but I’m willing to let that slide if you do…And of course I made the kerchief, though it might stay in the draw more that it’s worn.
Front view
Back View
Roll neck collar
view showing button closure
Back view detail
The original dress
I really enjoyed making this, and it was fun to study the details of the dress and figure out how to replicate them. I hope I’ve done a faithful enough job, and who knows there are many more iconic items out there waiting to be brought back to life!
Cat xo

About the author: 60s lover from Sydney, Australia with a sewing machine and endless amounts of creative motivation

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • allie December 17, 2013, 4:41 pm

    I love it! It is such a good match for the original and an adorable summer style for y’all in the southern hemisphere 🙂

    • Sewingthe60s December 18, 2013, 11:42 pm

      thanks Allie! Im glad you like it! I think it will be good to wear for tomorrows 41 degrees celsius day!

  • EmSewCrazy December 17, 2013, 9:21 pm

    Wow. Looks like you did a great job recreating this iconic dress. Thanks for sharing the history behind it too. It was very interesting.

    • Sewingthe60s December 18, 2013, 11:45 pm

      thank you! Im glad i could have offered some insight into it as well 🙂

  • Draped in Cloudlets December 18, 2013, 3:03 pm

    You are absolutely amazing – what a super cool idea and dress!

  • Mermaids Purse December 19, 2013, 5:21 am

    Awesome !

    I love it, such a fab dress, and it’s great to see how you kept close to the original. I was inspired to sew a gingham dress after swooning over this same Biba frock (http://mermaidspurse.org.nz/the-red-gingham-dress/) Totally different style – but I love gingham now.

    Thanks for sharing the historical significance too.

    • Sewingthe60s December 19, 2013, 5:53 am

      oh i did see that on here! I love your version too! I think originally Barbara’s inspiration was a fit-and-flare style dress that Brigitte Bardot wore, so its a dress that had many inspirations and in turn inspired many others!

  • BobbinBombshell December 29, 2013, 6:19 pm

    So cute!

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