Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing


June 17, 2013


Hi, I’m very happy to present to you my new sundress.  I designed this dress myself with the help of a (I think) 1960’s book by Enid Gilchrist – Basic Fashions for Women.  It’s a fab book that shows you how to draft your own patterns and alter them.  I used the square neck bodice pattern and changed it a little mainly by making the shoulders a little narrower. 

I also moved the neck line a little when I made a muslin.  I don’t have a dressmakers dummy so this is done on me with pins, a mirror and a pencil.  All good fun on your own!

The skirt part of the dress I chose myself.  It originally had pleats in but after faffing about with them for ages and then sewing it to the skirt I picked it all out and decided on gathers under the darts of the bodice.

I bought the fabric on a whim whilst on a weekend away recently.  We walked past a sewing shop and I just ‘had’ to have a look in.  This fabric appealed to me very much and it reminds me of a Cath Kidston fabric.  I love her stuff!  When in the shop I imagined it made up into a full gathered skirt so only bought 1 1/2 metres.  But, when I got home I’d changed my mind and wished I’d bought more.  I could see it as a dress so had to think carefully how I was going to manage to have enough fabric.  I really did only have enough for the bodice and a skirt with not a lot left over!  So, I decided to line the whole dress therefore not needing any facings.  I didn’t even have enough to make bias binding to face the neck and armholes.  I like it fully lined though.  It gives the dress a bit of structure and is not see through – always a bonus!

I used an invisable zip on the side seam.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  I did one side twice though.  Always remember to match things up ie; waistbands!


I decided to add a waistband to my dress for the feature of it but also to maybe add a little length to the overall dress as I didn’t want my dress to be too short and I only had a limited ammount of fabric.  (There really only was enough left to make some patch pockets if I’d wanted them).  I have some lovely grosgrain pink ribbon that is the same pink as on the flowers.  I bought this off ebay because it was a nice price with no intention of what to use it for – well, now it has come in useful.  I’m very pleased with how it looks used as a feature along the edges.  I folded it in half and included it in my seam allowance.

Detail showing my full lining.  It was relatively easy.  I completed the bodice first and once it was in place and the main part of the dress was attached I then attached the bottom half of the lining to the bodice lining. 

The skirt part of the lining I confess is actually a piece of old bedding that I was using for making my muslin.  I didn’t have enough of my ‘nice’ white cotton to use for the full lining.  It’s Ok though because who is going to see it?  Except you guys right now?  He he.

I recently was looking through an old Butterick book of my Mum’s and saw and filed in my mind this scallop stitch I used to hem my lining.  It is done by hand and was really easy.  Just make a narrow hem and as you are slip stitching it every now and then (every 2 stitches for me) make some stitches over the hem edge pulling it tight to make the scallop.  I think it gives a pretty edge should anyone happen to see it when I swish about!

Once my dress was assembled and because I only ‘just’ got it out of my 1 1/2 metres the length allowed nothing for hemming.  I didn’t want my dress to be any shorter so I turned the hem just a little onto the right side and stitched some more of my ribbon along the bottom as a feature as well as a hem.

I hope you like my dress as much as I do?

  1. Thanks so much for telling us about another vintage sewing book that definitely looks like a keeper! Wonder if it’s on amazon over here… 😉

    Yes! Do like your dress, and photos – all done very beautifully, with delicate finishing.

    Interesting that you’re in France – how is it for finding fabric, patterns, etc? Seems as if Paris has everything, for various prices, of course!

    Do post more of your delightful things!


    1. Hi D’ellis,

      Thank you for your comments 🙂

      Take a look at ‘Subversive Femme’ on Etsy – that is where I bought my book, emailed to me as a pdf.

      As I’m English I do ‘pop’ home quite frequently. I find things either while I’m there or I shop on ebay UK and have things delivered to my Mum and Dad’s home. I’ve shopped on the internet too and sometimes have things delivered to my home in France. In fact some dress patterns are on their way to me from America – can’t wait to receive those! I have been shopping in Paris and I have also found a good fabric shop in a town nearby. But I also have bits and bobs in my stash that come in.

      Thank you for your interest in my makes. I’m hoping to put a ‘re fashion’ on here soon that I’ve just completed using my Enid Gilchrist book to make the pattern needed.

      Cheers, Claire.

  2. Congratulations on drafting your own pattern. Very cool! That dress has such a delightful print. Such a lovely frock.

    1. Thank you! It’s really great to draft your own patterns and not that difficult. No-one else has the same….

      I fell in love with the fabric but then I’m a sucker for a pretty print!

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