Hot! A Little Bit Tropical Dress

I'm all about setting goals and making pledges. Be it stash bustin' or the entire concept of Sew Weekly. Now I'm going to make a mini-pledge that I'm going to put away my 1940s patterns for a couple of weeks and explore some different eras. I love these patterns but I really need to mix it up. So, here's my last 1940s dress for at least one month — The "A Little Bit Tropical Dress."

The Facts
Fabric: Floral cotton print from Windmill Antiques, Sebastopol ~ $5 for 2 1/2 yards
Pattern: Simplicity 1566
Notions: Vintage wood buttons – $0.005
Year: c. 1946
Time to complete: About 3 hours
First worn: March 2010
Wear again? Yes, but more of a house dress.

Total Cost: ~ $5

The pattern is my old friend Simplicity 1566 (seen here and here). This pattern has become part of my "can do it without the instructions" repertoire. It's really that simple. 

The only issue came about with my fabric choice. It turns out that this particular fabric I bought on this vintage shopping trip had a printing error. It was almost as if one half of printing press (or whatever it would be called) was only partially inked with the white ink/dye/whatever. It's not a fading issue since only one color is affected. It's a subtle error — one that I didn't notice until I had cut the pieces. I debated scrapping the dress entirely, but I just couldn't waste it. 

So, in order to make it a little less noticeable, I sewed a fairly large pocket on the top bodice. The print is busy enough that it's hardly noticeable and the pocket adds enough of a distraction.


I've paired this dress with some of my wooden jewelry pieces because the print reminds me of the type of dress I would want to wear on a tropical vacation — hence the name. These are some earrings I picked up on my very first trip to Alameda Antique Fair. I bought them long before I would have considered wearing screw-back or clip on earrings and have never worn them until now. I actually love them quite a bit and they were only $1! Coincidentally, I bought the two bangle bracelets at the same vendor, years later and they, too, were $1 each. And the necklace was a find from last week's Alemany Flea Market. Also $1.

That's my dog, Maddy. She was also second-hand. We adopted her from the Milo Foundation animal sanctuary/rescue back in 2006. As you can see, she needs a haircut.



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. I think the color and cut look so beautiful on you, Mena! Congratulations on another fantastic piece :)

  2. I absolutely love this dress on you! I don’t think it should be “just” a housedress… it deserves to go out in the world and be seen! Great work.

  3. I think this dress is adorable! I really enjoy following your weekly finds and designs. :) I just took my first sewing class, loved it, and am now in the market for a sewing machine. Any suggestions? Things I should look for or beware of? Thanks!

  4. i can’t even see the pocket in these pictures, but i think the dress is great. and your dog is the cutest.

  5. I may have to rethink those basic 40s dress patterns. I scorned them in their plainess, and expected them to look like sacks (after all, they have kimono sleeves!) But yours always come out lovely!

  6. Just a housedress? Really? Man, I would wear that sucker out!
    I found your blog recently and you are quite an inspiration. Wish I had the time to sew a wardrobe. In the meantime, I will enjoy every one of your posts.

  7. I like the dress, but I’m really a fan of the wooden earrings. The world needs more jewelry made out of wood!

  8. I recently found you and I´m so glad I did!
    Me to is also sewing my own clothes with vintageinspiration, I´love to add you to my links at my site if that´s ok with you!?!
    Love the print, I don´t think it´s a problem with that the pattern on it is a bit wonky, that´s a part of the charm with vintage :)