Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Dress of Sheets, Scallops, and Spring.

Have you ever puzzled over a design for weeks, tried to figure out what patterns you could possibly use to make it, only to discover you've had the perfect pattern in your stash all along and your mental struggle was needless? That is exactly what happened with me and this dress.

But the story doesn't start with the dress design, or the way I agonized over what patterns I might use to recreate it. Oh no, the story starts with the fabric, which began its life as a bedsheet.

This twin size soft floral cotton flat sheet jumped right off the thrift store shelves and insisted on coming home with me. Well, maybe not quiet, but pretty much. I found this Ralph Lauren sheet in a pile of other sheets. It was soft, yet crisp, 100% cotton, great quality and pretty much brand new - no signs of wear or use at all. Immediately I knew it needed to be a dress and there was no way I was leaving it at the thrift store! Thus, I acquired the fabric, and began the fun task of figuring out the design of my new dress.

As the sheet was a rather crisp fabric, with very little drape, I knew my dress design needed to be rather structured. I also wanted it to have a vintage feel and feminine details. It wasn't long before I happened across the perfect inspirational design on Pinterest - a 1940's pattern for a button up wrap dress..

This design immediately caught my eye, and I knew it was exactly what my floral sheet needed to become. I just needed to figure out what pattern I could adapt to use for this project. Well, that appeared to be easier said than done. I had no similar patterns in my stash and neither the Simplicity, McCall's, Butterick, Burda, nor Vogue pattern books at Joann's yielded anything promising. The sheet was in danger of languishing in my stash for a loooooong time, just waiting for the right pattern to appear, when I discovered I'd actually had the perfect pattern all along - Simplicity 1460

A few weeks ago I used this pattern to make myself a blouse. It turned out fabulous, and fit wonderfully! So, once the blouse was done, I started thinking about what else I wanted to make from the pattern. Immediately my floral sheet 1940's dress idea came to mind. By just continuing the angle of the V-neck all the way to the waistline, I was able to quickly and easily draft the wrap bodice I wanted. I love the scalloped detail of the neckline of this pattern, so I continued the scallops (in a pattern of larger and smaller scallops) down the bodice and onto the skirt as well.

With just a little bit of careful measuring, and more tracing of scallops I was able to extend the blouse peplum pattern into skirt pattern to match my new wrap bodice pattern. (How many times is it acceptable to say "pattern" in one sentence??) Once that was done, I drafted waistband, to mimic my inspiration picture, and new facings for both the bodice and skirt (all my pattern changes had rendered the original facings completely useless). Then I was ready to sew!

To show off all the scallops I so carefully traced and cut out, I decided to apply blue piping to the front edges of both the bodice and the skirt, and around the waistband too for good measure. This was the one part of dress construction that took the longest - but it was so worth it! Look at how nicely those scallops pop on the finished dress!

Ok, those white flakes? Yeah, that's snow. The second weekend of April, and we got snow!
Once all the piping was done, the dress went together quickly - until it was time to pick out buttons. I had a card beautiful green buttons that were absolutely perfect for this dress, but, unfortunately, I only had 3 of them. This dress needed at least 4 buttons. So, I searched my button stash for something else, but nothing, nothing, matched the dress as well as those three green buttons. Eventually I decided, darnit, I was going to use those green buttons! After a bit more thinking, I figured out the perfect solution. Three would be enough for the bodice of the dress, I just needed to find a different button to use on the waistband. Nail polish to the rescue!

In my button stash I found a large wooden buttons, just the size I needed for the waistband. Then, I dug through my highschool nail polish collection (good thing I haven't thrown it away) and found the perfect shade of green to match my existing buttons. In under 5 minutes I had a green button for the  waistband, and my button dilemma was solved!

Once the last button was attached, I put on the dress and was immediately excited - it had turned out exactly as I hoped it would!

Attempting to relish the fact that it's snowing, in April, while I'm wearing a spring dress.
The stiff sheet fabric holds the shape of the dress perfectly, and hardly wrinkles at all, making this dress very easy and comfortable to wear!

The scallops, piping, and wrap design are fun, feminine, vintage details that add visual interest, so this simple dress can't be called boring!

Cute, comfortable, vintage inspired, and easy to make (with pockets too, of course!), what more could I want from a dress? Honestly, I don't know. I think this dress is pretty awesome, and I plan on making it again, once I find the perfect fabric, or sheet, to do so!

Thanks for reading, and have a happy spring! I hope yours is warmer than ours has been!


  1. This is so cute.. if I new how to do scallops this would be on my ' need to make' list.
    Any ideas for sewing a more formal dress? We have a wedding to go to in June and I need some ideas.

    Hopefully this weather will decided to act right. This warm , then snow then warm pattern is making me

    1. Oh gosh, this weather has been insane! The Scallops are actually pretty easy, you can't hem them, so you just finish your edges with a facing instead :) You cut the scallops exactly the same on the garment and the facing, lay the two with the scallops aligned, right sides together, pin and sew along the scallops. Clip the curves of the scallops then turn the facing to the inside of the garment and press.
      Oh I always have ideas for more formal dresses! Do you have a basic idea of what you're wanting? This refashion I did a few years ago resulted in a formal-ish dress, and it went together quicker than sewing a whole new dress:
      Or for a dress I made rather than refashioned, I'd consider my Easter dresses from the last few years wedding guest worthy:
      Hope that helps!

  2. Just adorable - now I need to hunt up that pattern for myself.

  3. Do you get tired of me saying “good job”? Love the dress and I am sooooooo impressed that you can make your own patterns! I enjoyed sewing garments, but always had to have a pattern and found it very difficult to modify a pattern.

    1. Well Gram, we both know that I wouldn't be the seamstress I am without you and my mom, I learned from watching you guys, and you both took the time to do projects with me and be incredibly encouraging - so thank you for that!