Hot! The “You Say Potato” Dress

Potato If I was a clever blogger, I'd say that last week's Project Runway inspired me to take on the potato sack challenge. What could *I* do with pieces of burlap and just how fierce could I make it? Well, I wasn't exactly working with burlap, but the tweed dress I attempted does look a bit starchy.

Cue the sad trombone.

Fabric: Main fabric is about 2  yards of a brown tweed found at an estate sale for $2. Leaves are made from black felt, and black trim is from Joann's.
Pattern: Du Barry 6095, about $2.50 from eBay
Total cost of supplies: About $7.00 
Notions: One 12" zipper (from the stash of zippers bought at this garage sale.)
Time to complete: About 20 hours.
Year:c. 1945
First worn: Not worn yet.
Wear again? The better question is whether I'll ever wear it. It doesn't look horrendous in the photo, but it just doesn't suit my body.

There were just so many Project Runway sound bites swimming through my mind as I created this dress – particularly "make it work." But instead of Tim Gunn's calming voice, it was my own voice screaming "I'M CONCERNED, MENA! "I'M CONCERNED! MAKE IT WORK, DAMNIT!" I can't pinpoint the exact problem that made this project such a disaster/undertaking. Working with the tweed wasn't easy and the hang of the dress required a much more lightweight fabric. The bodice — even being a 34 — ended up being too loose and I had to take it in. When I did that, the buttons were then too far to one side. Hence the second row of buttons. Oh god, don't get me started about my crooked little buttons. The skirt was supposed to be gathered completely at top, but, given the fabric, was just too bulky. So I trimmed about 4 inches off the the width and chose to gather partially on the left and right sides. That in turn, made the pockets look ridiculous (yes, it had pockets), so I removed them. 

If you watched Runway last week, this would have been the dress that Ping would have draped over her crazy little body. Although you thankfully can't see my butt, I look like I'm packing 40G (yes, I got to "G" when I was breastfeeding my daughter) breasts in this thing. 

I do like my little leaf embellishment — similar to the one I made for my holiday party dress fascinator

Lessons learned: 

  • Tweed is for structured garments that aren't supposed to flow.
  • I need to take a little break from the unprinted patterns.
  • Perseverance is a good thing and helps you learn what not to do next time.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


Comments are closed.

  1. Is this made from McCall’s 5177? You list this pattern on other dresses, but this view is not shown. I’d be interested in seeing the pattern views for this.
    I love your project. It’s so inspiring!

  2. Mistype on my part! It’s Du Barry 6095. There’s one on sale at eBay over here:

  3. Gosh, I LOVE this dress, there’s something quirky but very, very reminiscent of the time in it. I think the problems you’ve had with it are what make it truly vintage style. Afterall, back then they would have made similar mistakes but would have had to wear the dress anyway and make do as there was no waste.
    I think you should wear it – it’s really lovely.
    Lottie x

  4. Do you think that if you made a muslin, you would have averted these challenges?

  5. So Sophisticated!
    It’s very 1940s film noir style.
    I think your “altered” version looks even better than the original pattern. You definitely should wear it!
    I had a question:
    Could you post a picture of the back of your garments as well as the front? I like to see how the backs of frocks are made too…
    Keep up the great work!

  6. Double buttons always enlarge the appearance of the bustline. Maybe it’s too late, but how about taking off one column of buttons? depending on the tweed fabric, you might be able to do it and steam press out the sewing holes. — and Asymmetry is ‘in’