Hot! The “Sun’s a Ball of Butta'” Polka Dot Dress

Butta-promo The Facts
Fabric: Unknown (to me) fabric from Fabric Outlet  – 2 yards for ~$.99
Pattern: Simplicity 8630  ~$.20
Year: c. 1969
Notions: None
Time to complete: ~6 hours
First worn: October 2010
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$1.20

There is absolutely no way I could make a sailor necktied, late 1960s, drop waisted dress and not reference Ms. Barbra Streisand. And despite having “Don’t Rain on My Parade” stuck in my head during the six hours of construction, making this dress was a fairly uncomplicated and enjoyable process.

I’ve been on a late 1960s kick lately — the majority of my Hawaii dresses were made from 60s patterns — and I’ve even grown to appreciate the properties of polyester. While I would have previously run screaming from any polyester print, I actually have gone through my stash and revisited all those pieces of fabric that have been perpetually in the “get rid of this” pile. While this fabric is not necessarily polyester, it’s some weird Monsantian fiber that I can’t figure out. Or maybe it’s just a cotton than needs to be laundered. 

Regardless, I love my Barbra dress.

As you can tell from the pattern illustration, I took some liberties with the necktie. While I love how it looks on the envelope, I could not make it work with my frame. I needed to belt the dress because it was just a little too frumpy with my big hips and chest. Because of the need to belt, a long tie was just too busy.

This is yet another dress  in which I cheated and skipped inserting a zipper. I’m still waiting for that trick to backfire on me, but for the most part, the fit is fine and I just have to struggle a little bit to get it over my head. 

There’s just something about this dress that makes me so happy. 



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.


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  1. Oh my god, your shoes will haunt my dreams in the best of ways tonight… Sigh.
    Gorge dress!!! Off to eBay the pattern!

  2. Oh wow, it’s gorgeous!! I also love those shoes.

  3. You are really just a whole lotta inspiration Maam :)
    I’m glad that you’re a person who shares and this a world of digital amazingness that reminds me of the joy of hands on doing.
    Thanks for blogging your sewing adventure
    XX B Sees from way Down Under

  4. Love it, especially that you can envisage such a great dress from an unpromising pattern image. And I’ll also give a nod to those fabulous shoes.

  5. Something about the dress….well, you look absolutely stunning in it for starters! Very slimming!

  6. Gorgeous! I love the fabric, your neckline alteration, the cut with the belt … everything!


    Looks beautiful.
    I have a tip for inserting zips:
    Work flat before you construct the whole bodice or skirt. Stitch the seam closed as usual up to the bottom of the openiing.
    Then using a contrast thread and a long straight stitch close the zipper opening (don’t secure the ends of the row with back stitches)
    Place the closed zip face down with the teeth central over the seam.
    Tack or pin in place.
    Using the zipper foot (correct thread and stitch length) stitch into place. It’s a bit fiddly round the top where the pull is.
    Finally use a quick unpick to take out the tacking stitch – it should come out easily and you’ll be left with a stress free beautifully inserted zip!!

  8. Thats gorgeous, love it!

  9. This is FANTASTIC! One of my faves, definitely. I love it. Great color on you, the cut is great, the collar looks wonderful…so, so cute!

  10. Beautiful, and definitely inspiring!

  11. This outfit just suits you so well. You look amazing in it. It is a perfect fit and a great color for you.
    And those shoes…where did you get them?

  12. I love that dress so much I will be looking for the pattern.

  13. This is so flattering on you! Way to go!
    And, seriously, I am loving all your musical theater references. Keep ’em coming!

  14. Love this dress and your blog.

  15. VERY pretty! The colour looks gorgeous on you. I think this is one of my favourites out of all the lovely dresses you’ve made.

  16. “There’s just something about this dress that makes me so happy.”
    It makes you look awesome that’s why =)
    I think this is probably my favorite dress on you of all the patterns. It suites your body perfectly and looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Cute! That IS a happy dress :)

  18. Great dress…. and yes, the shoes are really nice too! O.k. you need to take a bit of a chill pill girl! You don’t have big hips/chest…. not from where I stand! You have a wonderful figure…. and you should be proud of it! Hey, there are soo many girls out there who would kill for your great curves! Don’t worry…. be happy! Remember what your teaching your daughter…. believe me…. it starts young! A friends daughter was told in jr. high (by a teacher mind you) that she needed to stop eating sooo much (this girl is/was a thin sort) and she took it too heart and ended up with an eating disorder! She is 21 or 22 now and is finally doing much better. Please be carefull (sorry, with 3 daughters of my own all married now…. I try not to preach too much… but life is too short!)
    Take care…. know that your blog is a delight! You do such a great job… and are a real motivation!

  19. What a success! Polka dots and sailor ties can get cheesy but you’ve steered clear of that! Great shoes, too!

  20. Very cute! I just love me some polka dots! It would be absolutely fantabulous if you would bestow on us the knowledge of where you get your belts! I just love them! All your stuff looks so great!

  21. Gorgeous. I love the colour of this dress, it’s so pretty. And you look very beautiful in it too!

  22. oh, I admire you wardrobe.

  23. Love this one! This is one of those patterns that I probably never would have tried because of the pictures on the envelope, but it looks so cheery and fun and easy in that blue polka-dot!