Hot! The “Maria Returns from the Abbey” Dress

Maria-abbey-promo The Facts
Fabric: Boucle from Stone Mountain & Daughter – $15 for ~3 yards
Vogue 9944  - $1 from Alameda Antique Fair
Notions: Vintage zipper – $.005
Year: c. 1960
Time to complete: About 10 hours
First worn: April 2010
Wear again? Perhaps.

Total Cost: $16

My daughter is currently obsessed with The Sound of Music. It's the only thing she wants to listen to in the car ("I don't want to hear Edelweiss!!") and I recently bought the DVD ("There's a movie???") for her viewing enjoyment. I never thought I'd watch this movie as much I have in the past month.  That's okay, though, because I like the movie as well. 

However, there's on thing that drives me absolutely batty: the costume direction/design. It baffles my mind that they'd spend all the money to shoot on location and use helicopters and stuff but couldn't bother to actually try to have period-accurate costumes. 

This wasn't the 1830s we're talking about. The 1930s were only thirty years prior to the filming of the movie, for goodness sake! You know someone on the set had to be around in the thirties and must have been thinking "Um, does anyone else notice that the Baroness kind of looks like she just walked off the set of Peyton Place?" The baroness, is, by far, the greatest offender. While her dresses are just wrong, it's probably her hair that makes me angriest.

The point of this story? Every time I'd see the dress Maria's wearing when she returns to the Von Trapp compound, I was reminded of an unfinished dress of mine that was collecting dust in my closet. Not as offensively anachronistic as the Baroness' wardrobe, Maria's dress doesn't necessarily scream "1960s", but the design is quite similar to Vogue 4499 from the early 1960s.


Abbey-mena  I started working on Vogue 4499 last winter, right when I began sewing. Working with the fabric (boucle) proved to be way too frustrating and when I had all but sewn the zipper and hem, I realized that the dress was way too small. Instead of the trash, the dress went into the closet and I assumed I would never finish it. Fast forward to this past Tuesday night when I needed a new dress for Wednesday work and I had about 2% motivation to sew. 

Thanks to regular exercise, the dress fit! Sure, it's a bit snug but I could get it on and over my birthing hips and butt. I'm still not crazy about the fabric, but it was wearable to work. I could even imagine wearing it again if I lost a couple more pounds. I have a crazy little desire to be comfortable in my clothes and this dress is just a little too constricting.

That all said, I think I would be happier if I made the dress in a different fabric, perhaps a stretchy knit or rayon. I'd also want to do the piping as the illustration shows since that is the cutest detail.


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 really love that pattern and while the fabric may have been a bear to work with, it looks great. This is near the top of my favorites list of things you’ve made. Love your frustration with the SOM costumes! I honestly never thought about that (but you can bet I will next time I see that movie!).

  2. WOW!! The dress looks fantastic & the colour suits you perfectly. There’s something to be said for those abandoned projects…

  3. Oooo that is so pretty! Like not a weekend dress, but a totally “pretty” work dress. The fabric, style and YOU make it look way cool! :)

  4. I love the collar and tie belt on this dress — it’s a knockout.
    Maybe the reason the costumes in TSOM are so inaccurate is that the 30s were too close to the 60s for the filmmakers to feel comfortable being strictly authentic? If we were to shoot a movie today that was set in 1980, I guarantee you the costume, makeup and hair would be *very* modern interpretations of the styles of the day.

  5. As soon as I saw the title of this week’s post, I immediately knew the general look of the dress you’d be wearing…SOM is my favorite movie! I have to admit, I’ve never given that much thought to the period-correctness (or lack of) as far as the costuming. Interesting!
    I agree with previous comments…this is one of my favorites you’ve made so far. The fit is so flattering, and the color is perfect for you! Love, love, love!

  6. One thing I noticed about that movie is that until the wedding, Maria has NO sense of style. Her dresses are drab and horrendous. The one she wears to the party was a joke. However, that wedding dress is one of my all time favorite movie dresses and the outfit that she wears when she comes back from honeymoon is another favorite. It’s like she became aware of her attractiveness only after she fell in love and the love was returned. Because from then out, didn’t she look great?

  7. This is one of my favorites! Love it. Especially the collar and the sash belt.

  8. That’s a very good point. The farther we get from a time period, the more the styles stand out. I often wonder whether in 30 years, fabulously costume-designed films like The Young Victoria will have a dated, late 2000s look to it.

  9. I only recently discovered this blog, and as a novice seamstress, I’m gob-smacked and humbled that you really only got into serious sewing last year. I may never have the ambition to sew a dress a week, but I can certainly aim to finish the projects I’ve started! Thanks for the inspiration!
    And on a lighter note, I think that the standards for historical accuracy (in terms of art direction) in period films in general have become much higher in recent years – sort of, the more you know, then the less room you have to fudge certain details.

  10. Love the pattern, you should definitely make it again in something you like a little better. But this dress looks great too!

  11. Totally classy and very flattering!

  12. If you are not going to wear that I would be happy to buy it! Seriously!

  13. I was just recently introduced to your blog, but oh my, so many gorgeous creations! I love this dress, and I hope to have time to look through your archives. I guess Me-Made-May won’t be your biggest challenge with all your great garments…

  14. A Sewn Wardrobe

    This is beautiful! It is very flattering. Anything Julie Andrews-esqu is a wiinner in my book, though.
    I listened to her book “Home” on CD – it is read by her, and I was absolutely mesmerized by her lovely voice. It’s worth listening to for that alone.

  15. Ha ha ha! I always thought the same thing!
    That dress is totally gorgeous, although the boucle does look like it would be rough to sew. But lady, it looks great on!
    Congrats on yet another terrific dress!

  16. This is so cute! Not to mention those shoes.

  17. I really like it on you, it doesn’t pull and wrinkle around hip area so must be quite a good fit. well done on the exercise and fitting into it!!

  18. Kathy Waldron

    This is a really inspiring site, I used to make all my own clothes but have not done any sewing for years. Your body shape seems very similar to mine and I would like to see every design modelled by you, so I can be sure it would suit me. Could you tell me how tall you are? The styles are so much more flattering than current stuff,
    I can not wait to get sewing again.
    Thank you so much.