Easy Summer Dress - The Instructions

First, I'd like to apologize my English. I'm not a native speaker and translating from old Finnish proved to be bit of a challenge. ;)

And now, as I promised: The instructions for that easy breezy late 50's summer dresses I wrote about earlier...

The instructions tell that this dress is not only good for a sundress, but it can also be used as a jumper with blouses, and if a fancy fabric is used, it may even be suitable for evening wear... I don't know if I'd go that far, though. ;) They also mention that this dress could perhaps be used as maternity dress. So versatile! ;)

So, you'll need 2 1/2 meters (2,735 yards) of fabric 120 cm (48") wide. The article says that the original dress in the TV-show was made from silk lining fabric. As far as I know, this probably wasn't actually silk, but some other fabric (of man-made fibres). I'd say that light weight fabrics (with good draping properties) work better than heavier ones for a dress like this (like that sheer cotton versus thicker linen that I've used for this dress so far).

One word of warning… The end result will be much nicer if you take the time and preshrink your fabric before cutting. Warp and weft tend to shrink in different ways due to the tension differences in fabrication process. If the fabric is not prepared the hem will most likely turn uneven in the first wash, which is very usual problem with circle skirts and like.

Part 1: Cutting

Spread the fabric on a flat surface right side up (Picture 1) and fold along the center line E-F bringing the corner A to B and C to D. (A and C stay on the top.)

Then fold the fabric crosswise bringing the corner CD to E (Picture 2). After this you should have the triangular shape seen in Picture 3 and four layers of fabric.

Measure 20 cm (8”) from the corner AB along both sides of the triangle (AB-ECD and AB-F), marking X and Y. Cut away the corner along the curved line (I recommend pinning the fabric layers together before cutting) drawn between these two points (X, Y). This curved line will be the neckline of the dress (Picture 3).

Now decide the desired length of the dress and then add some for the hem…

Measure the added length from the point X to point P (and mark the point) and then from Y to Q. Carefully draw the hemline measuring from the curved line X-Y so that every point on hemline has an equal distance to the neckline. Now cut along the line (once again pinning the layers together might be a good choice) from P to Q.

Now open the last fold leaving the fabric only twofold. Voila! You’ve got your two dress pieces (front and back) now (Picture 4).

Baste the sides together starting from the hem. On both sides of the bodice leave c. 37 cm (c. 15”) open until you’ve tried to fit the garment to see how much room is needed for arm holes. Then baste the rest as needed to fit your own measurements.

From the leftover fabric cut two strips for shoulder straps. The width is optional, cut as wide or narrow as you like, but remember to leave some extra fabric so you can finish the edges... and cut the strips long enough, you can trim the excess lenght later.

The dress in the picture has a soft gathered sash cut on the bias. The width is 25 cm (10”) and it closes on the back side with hook and eye closure. The instructions suggest that self fabric belt is another possibility. (Purchased belt works just as fine...)

Part 2: Fitting

When fitting the dress you’ll need another person to help you (the shoulder straps haven’t bee attached to the dress yet). Turn the dress right side out and try it on. Attach the dress to the straps of your petticoat (!) using pins. See how far the side seams should go and baste them a bit further up if necessary.

The shoulder straps are first pinned to front of the dress. If the straps are wide, you can gather them a bit before attaching them to the bodice (see picture 5). Shorten the straps as needed and pin them to the back part too.

If you are making the wide gathered sash, try it on also now. Pull it tight to the back and pin it together in the middle of the back. Cut excess fabric away leaving enough to turn the raw edges in. If you are using self-fabric or purchased belt, the instructions suggest trying also these on at this point.

Take the dress off and remove the straps.

Part 3: Sewing

You’ll need a facing for the neckline… This can be either the same fabric or some other, whatever you decide. First, spread the top on a piece of paper (see picture 6) and draw the outline of the neckline and armholes on the paper (it needs to continue 2,5 cm or 1”, past the ending point of the future side seam). Remove the dress and draw the facing about 5cm (2”) wide (picture 7). Using this paper pattern cut two facings (front and back) on the bias (picture 8).

Machine stitch the side seams (picture 9), iron them open and finish the raw edges.

Turn in the raw edges of the shoulder straps and stitch (picture 10), you can also line them if you want.

Baste the shoulder straps to bodice front right sides together (see picture 11), the other ends of straps hanging towards the hemline.

Finish the bottom edge of the facing as needed. Put the facing on top of the bodice front and the shoulder straps right sides together with the dress (picture 12). Baste and then machine stitch. Turn the right side out and iron.

The instructions tell that the back facing should be attached in the same way, but leaving the straps away. The straps should then be hand stitched to the backside. (I just did it in the same way that the bodice front was supposed to do. I think it looks nicer that way…)

Blind stich the facings to the dress on the wrong side as seen in Picture 13.

Then just hem the dress and you're done!

I hope these instructions can be of use to you! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. :) And if you would like to have the instructions in Finnish (pdf), just ask!


I'll be right back...

I got back from my mini holiday (and vintage shopping spree) in Sweden... more than two weeks ago. It was fun! I found a lot of nice stuff and got to dance plenty in Herräng.

Pictorial review of Herräng, the "lindy hop heaven"... I had a beauty parlour in the middle of forest where I whipped up some nice hairdos for friends of mine... LOL

Herräng pictures from friends...

I haven't been blogging lately because I've been sick ever since I returned. Not so nice. Now that I'm finally getting better I'll get on with the instructions for those summer dresses as I promised...


Old projects - Part 3

This time it's two light and breezy summer dresses... tent dresses to be exact. I think this might be one of the easiest dress "patterns" I've ever worked with. First of all there is no pattern. ;)

The instructions were in a Finnish ladies magazine from 1959 (Kotiliesi). The article tells that this dress was one of the things featured in an British tv-series for home sewing without patterns that played the year before in British televisin.

I made one using sheer light beige cotton with two toned brown paisley print. I was supprised how well it turned out. Because it's cut on bias, the fit wasn't that bad either. It was easy, but took some time, because of all the hand sewing... I'm not sure anymore, but I think I hand hemmed it.

Once I was at it, I also made another one using linen. It was a bit thicker than the paisley print, so the fit wasn't that flattering. Also, I didn't have enough fabric, so I had to add a ruffle to the hem to make the gress little longer. Not that bad, but not very good either. This time I added adjustable straps because I got thinking I might not be using this dress myself - and I never did.

After the two muslins (that's what these really were) I quite liked the easy design and one day might even try it again.

I've still got the instructions somewhere and maybe I could post them here... if anyone's interested?


Old projects - Part 2

I have this thing... I keep making stuff that I'll never wear. I still don't know how I ended up choosing pale apple green for this dress after I found that nice border print in aqua. Total waste of fabric. I thought about going crazy and using orange (yes, there's orange in the roses if you look closely). Orange is a nice color, it suits me and brightens up my day. With a happy color like that I could have at least used the dress around the house if I was too lazy to dress up properly...

Pale greens and yellows just are not for me. I don't know how I keep forgetting that. Usually it happens with pale apple green - I love that color, but it doesn't work for me in oh so many ways. Bold colors and prints are good, pale pastels will do if it's light blue or right kind of pink, but never ever will I look good in pale green, got it? No, I never do, just keep making the same mistake every few years again and again... I actually even had some orange fabric that I could've used, but decided to take it easy and go with the pale green. Bad choice!

So, I never wanted to wear this dress once I'd finished it. I just felt I was vanishing from sight when I put it on. I thought using black accents would be enough to spice up the paleness and make the dress work for me, but I was wrong. Every time I even tried it on I just started feeling crumpy.

Yes, it's my first and (so far) only version of the famous Walkaway Dress (reissued pattern), originally Butterick 6015, reissued as B4790.

Finished dress had a perfect fit and looked kind of cute, but the color of the overskirt made me sick. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful when someone else wears it... just really not me. I did have to shorten the bodice a bit, but that's the usual alteration I need to make so it really doesn't count. I did notice that the underskirt had the tendency to ride up a bit, so if I'll ever make this again, i'll need to fix that problem somehow.

This story does have a happy ending: Once again I sold the dress to a new happy owner (who looks good in pale green).

Here's a better view of the underskirt. That borderprint was so nice... Good thing I bought plenty! ;)


Old projects - Part 1

I thought I should show you some of my old sewing projects... now that I finally found pictures of some of the lovelies I've already passed on to new owners. This is also a sewing blog, right? ;)

First one is a soft white (with two tone pink roses) linen swing dress with full circle skirt and self fabric belt. I made this about fifteen years ago, got to wear it once or twice, but because those little cap sleeves were just a bit too tight for my strong arms, this never became a favorite of mine. ;) After about ten years I decided I wasn't going to fix the sleeves (and that I'm really not that into pink) and sold it to a very nice lady with smaller arms (Who keeps asking for more - I just haven't had the time to sew for her yet. Sorry!). I made a petticoat to go with the dress for her after she bought it...

I really loved that fabric. The print was just about perfect, even with the pink-factor considered. I made the pattern myself and spent a lot of time on little details like the belt buckle. I loved the (slightly unpractical) combination of boat neckline on the front and very deep v-neckline on the backside. I also made a matching little scarf... I don't know where I got all the energy those days. ;)


What a week!

We've been experiencing warm weather lately here in Finland. If it gets over 30C it's a record around here... and that's happened like three or four times within a week. I couldn't be happier! The heat wave also explains why it's been so quiet in Finnish blogworld lately... all bloggers are out absorbing the light and heat now that we finally have some. ;)

I've been busy enjoying the weather and touring flea markets and thrift stores (and washing windows), and I've actually found some pretty nice stuff touring around the neighbourhood: old cardboard suitcases, nice vanity table (needs a little TLC), nightstand/side table (can't decide which), black suede shoes from 40's, some cute clothes, big bunch of artificial frowers, etc. And I finally got to wear my new 60's/70's tent dress. Look, it's got a big pocket with Eiffel Tower! When I saw it I knew I just had to have it...

I'd really need a pair of Eiffel earrings to go with the dress to make it super kitchy... Something like these (from Distracto Girl).

I also won a giveaway held by the lovely Yesterday Girl and got these cute souvenir goodies from Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in mail two days ago. She was sweet to include that lovely felt brooch too (made it herself!)... :) If you haven't visited her blog yet, you relly should. ;)


Giveaway alert!

Jessica of Chronically Vintage is having the greatest giveaway: a $75 gift certificate from CollectibleSpectacle! I'm super excited. I'm always lookin for "new" vintage frames.

Here are some of her personal favourites for the inspiration:

For those of you who do not need eyeglasses there's also a good variety of vintage sunglasses, so if you haven't entered this giveaway yet, I suggest you do it right now! Hop to it! ;)


Home renovating and decorating - a never-ending process

Last weekend I finally got to spend Sunday putting up wallpaper. Yay!

I'm so exited. I've been waiting for this ever since I picked out the wallpaper almost two years ago. It's a vintage travel ad themed design from Wallquest/Fairwinds Studio.

Yes, I know it's super kitchy. (Isn't it great!!!?) No doubt about that. Yes, honestly I believe that no-one will ever want to buy our appartment because of that wallpaper. (But I love it!! Love it!) My co-worker actually said she'd have nightmares if she had to sleep in the same room with that wallpaper, but that she understands why I like it, whatever that means... ;)

I'll have to post actual pictures of the appartment after I get things (back) in place.

By the way, Wallquest also has other beatiful designs, like this Moulin Rouge themed wallpaper I originally fell in love with. Unfortunately I don't know where I would put it. Can't have everything... ;)


France Mediterranean

Just a short pictorial summary of my holiday in southern France... This was in mid May when they'd just had this unbelieveable storm with huge waves and hail and snow. At the same time the volcano in Iceland was still erupting and just one day before we left most of the flights were cancelled because of the ash clouds. For the last week before our flight me and my friends were worried to sick if we are going to get there or not... I didn't mind the idea of staying a bit longer, but first you need to get there. ;)

Nice by day.


The Grand Casino and Café de Paris.

Jardin Japonais de Monaco.

Koi fish pond.

Nice by night.

This place had a hidden little beach and great big red rocks that reminded the Ayers Rock in Australia.

My toes on the beach, enjoying life.

This guy didn't read the sign "Shallow water - Don't park your boat here"...

The last picture says more than a thousand words. I don't know how long that boat has been there, because I've seen similar sights before in the same area. Maybe it's just a strange custom of rich people who can't really sail? ;)


That dress...

After I saw this dress here chez The Retro Modern Housewife I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I mean... silk, slightly oriental design, slit sleeves... it's just stunning.

...And now it's mine. What a happy ending! ;)


Been busy lately...

Insanely busy would be the correct expression. I've been busy at work, studying and (very little) dancing. I promised not to spend my time in internet while I had these other, more pressing things to do. Like study maths. For a week and a half now I've been just trying to get rid of all the excess stress and trying to tell myself that I'm still a good person even if I'm not perfect every time.

I managed to fail one math test and now I wont be able to graduate earlier than in August or September. Well, these things happen and it's not the end on the world, but I'm still disappointed. It would have been so much easier to get everything done before the end of June. The annoying thing is that I bet I could easily pass that exam now after I've had some more practice doing maths and I'm not suffering from bronchitis and fever anymore. But it's my fault really... I should've just started the process earlier. There's no way denying that, really. ;)

While I was gone I didn't just study... After that terrible math test I had this great candy apple flavoured milkshake in American Diner and went to movies to see Iron Man 2.

Before that I did also go to Tampere Vintage expo. It was fun, but I didn't buy anything this time. I was mostly busy performing, or trying to find something to eat, and mainly trying not to die because of that bronchitis. ;) I was in such a lousy shape that it's hard to imagine. I didn't really hear anything and was afraid that I'll just start coughing my lungs out any second. Dancing in that shape is really hard, and getting interviewed in front of people in that condition is just plain torture (but no-one else wanted to do that)... I'm just glad I survived. :) Still, I'm really happy to say our troupe got asked to perform again in next Helsinki Vintage. I also loved my hairdo that day. I had an accidental fake bob that turned out really nice. Sadly, no pictures - again...

Me fooling around on the beach near Agay.

And I visited Mediterranean France... Nice and St Tropez! I really love Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon areas. In a perfect world I would be living somewhere there. The climate is perfect! I can't wait to go back. It's been four years since I last went to France and that's too long for me to handle. ;) I'm hoping to go to Beziers next, or maybe to Montpellier... I'm not into Paris or the northern parts that much, but I love the Mediterranean!



I recently found this cute (unfinished) 40's day dress in Ebay. It's made out of really adorable feedsack fabric and is kinda my size, so I couldn't just pass it. Naturally it was also quite a bargain because (yeah, let's face it) it's also quite a mess and needs to be totally redone. But I'm up to that challenge.

It's weird. This dress is both more adorable and much worse in person than in pictures. The print is really neat: red, blue, wine and jadeite on white, but there's some age toning (it's far from the crisp white of the pictures). Side opening doesn't have any hooks or snaps, there are some spots and stains, the seams are all very uneven and there are some darts in really weird places... like the dress was really ill fitting and someone tried to compensate that by adding darts here and there. Let's just say that whoever started this project didn't really know much anything about sewing...

The seller thought that this could have been someone's sewing project in home economics class. Could well be... It remainds me of one of my best friends tossing her unfinished shirt around in the classroom when something went wrong Again. I loved sewing already then and would usually help my friends through the rough spots while doing more complicated designs or some extra projects to spend the time after I'd finished the required projects. Yep, I was a total nerd when it came to sewing. ;)

I already took the dress apart. When I'll have time I'll be re-sewing it back together in a bit more refined way than it was done before. (And removing those spots and stains.) Hopefully. ;)


I did promise myself... but it was on sale, right?

Honestly, I promised myself I would spend less money during the end of March and all through April. After I found tons of vintage shoes, clothes, hats, purses and other stuff that I just had to have I began to feel a bit bad because all of that excess spending. Not that I would have any financial trouble because of it, but it just doesn't feel right.

So I promised myself not to buy more stuff that I just "have to have". At least not for a while. And then what happened? Trashy Diva had a sale going on and they had the Avian dress...

...and the Babydoll top. Both are mine now. (Bad kitty!)

But ain't they just oh-so-pretty? I just couldn't resist...

I thought I would be okay and back on the track after that, but then I heard/remembered that Freddies of Pinewood also had a sale. I'd been thinking about making myself vintage styled jeans, but with their sale prices I decided to give it a go and try theirs intead (since I won't be having any time to sew in the near future). So I got Rebecca top in light blue and pink (with striped collar)...

Wait! Those are not even jeans! (Very bad kitty indeed.)

I got myself a pair of grey Jeanies (not many jeans were left in my size at that moment). I've been lusting after Utilities, but I'll just have to get those later if I like my Jeanies well enought. ;)

Hmm, that's not all... I also got the 50's button top in pink. (And I don't even like pink that much.) The tops were just so cute and quite a bargain really.

Yes, I know... I really shouldn't even go to internet after a long day of working and studying, I just end up buying stuff. ;)

I think I'll just promise to relax about the whole thing and enjoy these when they arrive. ;)


No time to play

For the past one and half months I’ve been working like crazy to finally finish my studies. I have to graduate in July if I want to avoid loads of extra work (and actually graduate at some point), so I’ve made it clear to myself and people close to me that I won’t be doing much anything besides studying for a while. I have to work full time too and sleep sometimes and there’s only 24 hours in a day. I need to focus and finishin my M.Sc. degree is my number one priority right now.

Yes, it’s totally my own fault that I haven’t started (to continue) the process before. I’ve had plenty of time. It’s just that after I finished my thesis I was so exhausted and wanted a time out. So I took a little breather and after a while I was offered a job and one thing kind of led to another… and now that I woke up again and smelled the coffee I’m in a bit of a hurry to get the last few bits done.

I’ve done about half of the remaining things so far. When I started I had five exams and eight papers to go, now I’m down to three exams and three papers. That’s called progress, woohoo! ;) After this week I’ll be left with those three exams and only one paper, so it’s going to be a bit easier for me in the future. I’m actually quite proud of myself – will be prouder if I manage to get everything done before the end of May that’s the actual deadline. ;)

Vintage student Barbie... ;)

I’ve really enjoyed my studies in the Technical University. I love the place, I love how it smells (each building has a different scent and even diffent parts of the buildings are recognisable just by the way they smell - yeah, I'm weird...) and I love the way it has it’s own weird life inside the campus area. The unexpected things one can run into in the campus area after dark... that's something that cannot easily be described. All those more and less private student parties and student clubs that come alive after the formal business is through for the day... The university is always alive, every minute of the day and night. I just love it. :)


Vintage Expo finds

About a month ago I went to Helsinki Vintage Expo with my friends. We had so much fun! I also spent loads of money, but I couldn't help it... they had deadstock shoes in size 2 1/2!!! See what I mean...

And also deadstock winter boots in that same size Very Small...

This pair was used but sooo gorgeous! Black suede.

And to top everythingI found deadstock galoshes to protect my new shoes!

I know you can't blame me... ;) When I find shoes that fit like a glove I just have to buy them.

I also found some cute vintage frames (also deadstock). Please do not mind my messy hair and tired expression here... it was Very Late when I got home. Happy but tired. (My curls were by that time nothing but a distant memory...)

I love that yellow top I was wearing... I wish I had a better picture of it. It was made by my granmother who is a total wizard when it comes to knitting. So 40's, so chic. I wish I can find the instructions someday again to make another one.

Little something for the Mr. too! These fab deadstock all leather shoes...

Frames for sunglasses. (Yes, they're deadstock.)

Vintage tie... used. ;)

See, I don't shop just for myself... ;) Just cant wait until the Tampere Vintage Expo!