1960s | Dresses

The Funnest Dress

April 19, 2012

We’ve been going through some tough times in my family lately. I needed a bright cheerful dress that I could sew from my stash. Dresses make everything better, don’t they?

The fabric is an Amy Butler print (I can’t remember which line) that just struck me as being soooo cheerful. I love that the newer Amy Butler prints have a decidedly retro vibe – her earlier prints were a bit too modern for my taste. I picked this one at a massive sale at my local fabric shop specifically because it reminds me of the It’s A Small World ride at Disney World. I balanced out the crazy with some solid black Kona for the bodice (which I did iron, I swear) and a wide red belt from eBay. The pattern is Simplicity 3815 – no date, but it’s obviously early 1960s. I’ve had that one in my stash for over two years (shame); I snatched it up when it was once featured on a Dress A Day blog post!

Since I was using a purchased belt (although the sash and cummerbund options are so tempting) I had exactly six pattern pieces to work with. Skirt front, skirt back, bodice front, bodice back, facing, facing. Simplicity indeed! Unfortunately, that charming bateau neckline wasn’t going to work for me; it was about an inch and a half too wide. Fortunately, necklines are one of the easiest aspects of a pattern to alter! I briefly considered a round neckline but then settled on a vee, which would look great with a pearl necklace (I finally treated myself to a pearl necklace earlier this year, after all the vintage dresses I’ve made!) It would be easy peasy to cut the bodice front and back on the fold, but I really like the look of the vee neck + bodice center seams. I had to do a total re-draft of the facings, but that was a breeze. I love this bodice – four darts total, no shoulder seam, it doesn’t get much easier than that!

I think this pattern must have been meant for me, because the previous owner cut the bottom few inches off the skirt pieces already! (I’m always complaining about the skirts on vintage patterns being WAY too long. I like them to hit at knee-length so I don’t look stumpy.) That saved me from having to do it, which wouldn’t have been fun on a circular skirt. I added a pocket to the non-zipper side of the skirt (I’m sure it’s possible to have a side pocket with a side zipper – I’ve seen it on RTW – but I don’t need the additional capacity badly enough to figure it out!), used an invisible zipper, and hemmed the skirt by hand. Even with my bodice alterations this dress only took a few hours to make. I may have found a new go-to pattern!

Poorly-lit nighttime photo:

This may be the funnest dress I’ve ever made and worn! I can’t wait to try out some other variations of the bodice and skirt on some of the other fun fabrics in my stash.

  1. i would never have thought to do a different colour bodice to the skirt. makes such sense! might have to go trawling for 50’s patterns myself now that you’ve motivated me. great dress!

  2. I forgot to mention, yes I am wearing it with a crinoline. My cheap eBay crinoline is borderline too poofy to wear with this dress since the skirt is not as full. I would love to make myself a tiered white taffeta petticoat once I have some more time for sewing.

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