Summer party frock

November 29, 2009

Christmas here in Australia is always very hot, so we can’t wear formal dresses made of luxurious fabrics like velvet or taffeta. But a cotton summer frock always comes in handy this time of year, and this is my christmas party dress:

I made it from Simplicity 3918 (view 3 the white dress), bought from an op shop and which was still factory folded (what a find!). It is undated but I’m guessing early to mid 60s maybe? It’s a pretty simple shape, a bodice with a side zip, and a large rectangular skirt gathered around the middle, I didn’t make any changes to it at all, although it’s a little puffy around the bust darts – I think a conical bra may make the most of the bodice shaping!

The red panel at the front, called a ‘vestee’ on the pattern, is actually designed to be detachable, perhaps so you could make a neutral coloured dress and a whole series of vestees in differing colours. It’s supposed to be held in place by a number of press snaps but I just sewed the vestee to the facings instead.

I also lopped about 6 inches off the bottom because this reached mid calf on me, even though the pattern envelope shows the dress sitting on the model’s knee. I know that women from decades ago weren’t freakishly tall, so it always mystifies me why the sewing patterns are so long.

The fabric was an ebay purchase a few years ago, so it’s of unknown vintage. It’s a very crisp medium weight cotton which means the full skirt flares out nicely without the need for a petticoat underneath.

All in all, I love this dress – it’s not too costumey so I won’t feel self conscious when I’m wearing it but it’s also unique enough that I won’t look like everyone else and isn’t that why we all sew our own clothes?

Kristy @ loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

  1. Oh hai!

    Perfect all round, great length on you, great fit.

    I never knew what those panels were called, I think of them as modesty panels as not every lass liked to show a boob bulge. Lucky it can be optional! xoxo

  2. Beautiful. I have the same pattern though it is in a size slightly too small for me. It is nice to see it made up. I love the fabric.

  3. As a fellow Aussie, I totally agree! Summer is unbearable isn't it. It's so hard to dress up when you're dripping with sweat all Christmas (classy!!). But I would totally wear this! I love that fabric – red, black and white is such a great combo.

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