Friday, October 23, 2020

A Red Linen, Non-Stretchy, Dress from a "Stretch and Sew" Pattern

After months of not going out into the world, I finally ventured into a couple of antique malls at the end of July, and I left with armfuls of patterns. Old sewing patterns. When I find them at antique malls and I think there's even the slightest chance I will use them, I buy them. With an average price of $2 per pattern, they are not to be passed up!

Usually I find "Big 4" patterns from the 1940's through 1980's this way, but every once in a while I'll come across something else as well - such as a 1920's child's dress pattern, a 1980's Folkwear Pattern, or more recent out-of-print historical costume patterns. These are exciting finds! In comparison, this old "Stretch and Sew" pattern I brought home from the local antique mall this summer is positively boring. It's very similar to many, many, modern patterns and isn't really "worth" anything. For some reason, however, it appealed to me. So, for $1, I bought it. I brought it home, and made it up right away, first thing, before any of the older and more interesting patterns I bought at the same time.

I completely disregarded the fabric recommendations and decided to do my own thing with this pattern. The results? No regrets! Patterns are only starting points anyway!

It was view A on the pattern envelope, the dress with the yoke and the buttons down the front, that caught my eye. Surly, with the loose silhouette and buttons this dress could be made just as easily from a woven fabric as it could be from the recommended knit. I decided to give it a shot with a red linen/rayon blend I picked up at Joann's over the summer when their linen was on sale. 

I pulled the pattern out of the envelope to find the pieces I would need. The pattern sheets were printed on both sides so cutting out the pattern pieces was not an option. Tracing was required.

I grabbed a handy piece of paper and started tracing off the pattern pieces in the size I measured. The view A dress I was interested in was made without a waist seam. This wasn't quite what I was wanting for my dress. I wanted a waistline and a full skirt. So, I just traced the top "bodice" section of the front and back pattern pieces, ending them at approximately waist level.

To get the silhouette I wanted, I added a narrow waistband and cut the skirt as two full widths of fabric to be gathered down.

Of course, I added pockets to the side seams, because one must have pockets!

The dress was fitted with the bodice being gently gathered into the waistband, and the skirt being tightly gathered into the waistband. The resulting shape reminds me of 1850's and 60's dresses, which makes me happy!

The full sleeves were supposed to be finished with an elastic cuff, but I decided to do a plain fabric cuff instead. I'm not a huge fan of elastic cuffs.

I had 3 yards of fabric and that was just barely enough to cut this dress out of. I would have actually preferred to cut the skirt a few inches longer, but since that wasn't possible, I decided to conserve fabric by doing a contrasting hem facing rather than lose another inch in length by doing a turned up hem.

After much internal debate over whether to trim this dress or leave it plain, I decided to trim the sleeves and skirt with some black cotton lace, acquired on a past antique mall trip. 

I'm glad I decided to add the trim - it's just what this dress needed!

Trim on, it was down to the buttons to finish this dress off! I contemplated a few different options, and ultimately decided to go with matte black buttons to match the black lace.

None of my sets of matte black buttons had quite enough buttons for the entire front of this dress. Thus, I used one style for the yoke and waistband buttons, and another for the bodice and skirt buttons.

I'm ridiculously pleased with how this dress turned out!

It is amazingly comfortable, and was one of my go-to garments to wear during quarantine.

It's pretty loose overall, and completely non-constricting, but still has enough shape to make me happy.

Something else I love about this dress is the sleeves - I don't have very many sleeved dresses in my closet so this helps to fill that gap.

The sleeves make this dress a wearable garment for most of the year! I certainly can't complain about that!

Comfortable, cute, historically inspired, and very versatile. 

Not bad for an old Stretch-and-Sew Pattern! Especially one made from non-stretchy fabric!



  1. Gorgeous, with a patriotic feel to it!

  2. Love your hack of this pattern! I agree that the black trim really makes this dress special!

  3. Totally! Patterns are just a guide, not the law ; ) This dress looks so cut and comfy, I want one!