1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

An “Homage To A Mad Old Lady” Dress

By on June 29, 2013

Years ago, when fabric shopping, a kind yet mad woman wrapped me up in a makeshift sari, telling me that I would look make a “beautiful bride” for her son. I laughed the whole thing off, insisting that I was involved, unwrapped myself from the fabric and bought what I needed.

What I hadn’t seen is she’d thrown in a length of the fabric she’d wrapped around me, and told me “not to tell her husband.” I was confused at the time, but once I’d got home and seen the fabric, I promised to make something pretty out of it and fondly remember the crazy woman.

Approximately four years later – I’ve finally used the fabric in a dress!



This dress uses the bodice from Butterick B5880, omitting the neckline notches, and has a pleated dirndl instead of the sarong skirt – and pockets! I can’t live without pockets in my dresses, and these large patch pockets are absolutely ideal for carrying around the essentials on a holiday, as I have found out!

Personally, I adore this dress, it’s comfortable and classy with just the right hint of “vintage”!

  • Fabric:
    Black and silver check voile [stash]
    Black cotton [stash]
  • Pattern:
    Butterick B5880
  • Pattern Alterations:
    Omitted neckline notches, Replaced sarong skirt with pleated dirndl and patch pockets.
  • Notions:Invisible zip
  • Make again?:
    Definitely! The whole dress is so comfortable, hangs beautifully and feels like a dream to wear! The bodice is roomy without being unflattering, which is so nice.
  • Total price: £0!

You can read a little bit more about my thoughts on the dress and a little bit into the construction over here at Bourbon and Bras, if you so wish!

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely weekend!

Melody ♪

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1950s | Dresses

“No Cock Nor Tails” Cocktail Dress Ensemble [from a newbie]

By on January 19, 2013
No Cock Nor Tails Pulover

Hello there! I’m a new contributor, but a long time reader!
My name is Melody and I blog over on Bourbon and Bras, where I make vintage-inspired clothing to better my sewing skills.
It’s nice to finally take the plunge in contributing, and I hope through this I can get a lot of tips and tricks, as well as new sewing friends!

I thought I’d get right to the chase and start blogging with one of my most recent makes!

Over the Christmas period, my boyfriend had a work’s Christmas party at the Natural History Museum in London.
The dress code was black tie, and never one to shy away from an opportunity to dress up, I made myself a 50’s inspired Cocktail Dress, and a ‘pullover’ sheer mesh top to go over it, to emulate the sheer-yoked nature of this dress by Aiseirigh Vintage, with the wearability of two separate garments.

No Cock Nor Tails Emsemble

The dress is made from a faux silk taffeta, made from a self drafted pattern from a basic block.
It’s unlined due to a short time to finish it, but features a sweetheart neckline, full circle skirt and center-back lapped zipper [a first for me]. The seams are pinked and the hem  was hemmed with bias tape and hand stitched to the dress [this took three hours. three. hours.].

The pullover was “frankenpatterned” from two patterns from Gertie’s Book For Better Sewing, the Wiggle Dress and the Bow Tied Blouse. You can read a little about that on my blog here.
It was made from a dobby spot “lace” mesh, which has four-way stretch and is little else other than a pain to sew.
But it features a 3/4 length sleeves, front and back darts, a tie back and some interesting “these-used-to-be-kimono-sleeves” panelling under the arm.

 Overall, I’m really quite happy with the ensemble. I have finally worked out a good fit for my bodices, and although this dress is plain I think with the lapped zipper and below-knee length it’s a good “vintage-style” circle dress, but the pullover makes it more “vintage modern” which is a style I go for! If you so wish, there is more about this ensemble, including links to the design/inspiration, please check out my post on it, here!

  • Fabric:
    Dress; Faux silk taffeta
    Pullover; Dobby print stretch ‘lace’ [stash]
  • Pattern:
    Dress; Self drafted from basic circle dress block
    Pullover; ‘Frankenpatterned’ from Gertie’s Wiggle Dress and Bow Tied Blouse
  • Notions: Bias binding [hem and facing], metal zipper [stash], grosgrain ribbon waist stay
  • Time to Complete:
    Dress; I’d estimate that, including hand-stitching the hem and the pattern, around 15 hours
    Pullover; Around 8 or so hours, including the ‘frankenpatterning’
  • Make again?: Definitely, the dress is a great fit for once, and a nice length, and the pullover pattern could work in any jersey or mesh and it’s a great little coverup!
  • Total price:
    £17, for the fabric, bias tape and thread.
    Pullover; £0! Unless you count the pattern, which was from Gertie’s book which cost me £15.
    So, £32 in total for an entire ensemble, including a pattern!

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