Hot! The “Barely Green” Dress

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The Facts

8979 Fabric: Patterned dotted swiss from ~$7.50, Green fabric free from swap
Patterns: Simplicity 3864, free from pattern swap! Vogue 8979 for bolero
Year: c. 1962, c.1957
Notions: Invisible zipper $3.50, vintage button
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: March 2011
Wear again? Definitely the dress, not sure about the bolero

Total Cost: ~$13.00

As I wrote on Friday, I was just not feeling this challenge; I’ve just had bad luck with green dresses in the past. Despite my paleness, a Southern Italian and Cuban heritage gives me an olive tone — one that wearing the wrong green turns sallow. Because of all of this I’ve avoided making many things with green.

image from My inspiration for this dress came from the Sears Catalog and a photograph that I posted on Friday. I loved how the dress had enough green to be a “green dress” but not too much to make me a sallow mess. For my version, I wanted it to be less 1950s and a tad more modern (modern in this case is early 1960s). For the dress, I used the exact same pattern (Simplicity 3864) as my Eat Local dress from last week. The main difference is that I took about seven inches off the hem when I was cutting the pattern pieces.

image from While the dress fabric doesn’t have a particularly interesting origin story (I bought it for $1.95/yd at, the bolero was made from some fabric I acquired (as leftover) at last month’s Swap/Meet. We took a photo of me with the fabric since it was so obviously meant to be a dress at one point. That’s all the fabric I had to work with and, luckily, had just the right (barely) amount. I’m always surprised how much fabric some really basic patterns require. The bolero is lined with the same fabric from the dress. I have to say that I was quite happy to have been able to make something with such a challenging scrap. It reminds me to hold on to fabric pieces that may seem to be lost causes. Thanks to whoever brought this piece in to swap!

Here’s a close-up of the fabric used for the dress to prove that there is green in there!


I do have to say that even though I think the bolero turned out nicely, I do prefer the dress without it. The dress pattern is really quite a dream to work with, even if I do have to include the zipper when constructing it.

Taking the photos for this week’s creation turned out to be of a challenge. It was raining and neither my husband nor I (but mostly my husband) wanted to get caught in it. We were up visiting my in-laws in Petaluma and, as a last resort, went to the Petaluma Welcome Center for some coverage from the rain. Here’s a shot snapped in the moment when I saw the most perfect backdrop for St. Patrick’s Day:

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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. margueritedesigns

    I really like the bolero! A good way to cover up on a chilly day!

  2. I like the bolero too! super cute. And that is a fab dress pattern. Can I ask… the fabric looks a little sheer..did you line this? or wear a slip? I’m finding myself lining alot lately… I seem to have a habit of making simple things much more complicated! my mother tells me I’m being overzealous.. so I thought I’d start finding out what you all do!

  3. I love your dress and bolero – I am so inspired by the bolero theme you have had on a couple of dresses now I think I need to give one a whirl! Great photos as always. Thanks for setting the standard for us to follow!!

  4. Great pictures, you’re husband is an awesome photographer.
    I love that bolero, you should wear it again, its a good colour for you! It’s totally inspired me to find a pattern for some jaquard offcuts I have. I’ve just found your site, and I think I might have to start participating.

  5. That second to last photo is fantastic. That dress with the bolero was my favorite from the 21 green dresses post as well. And I love the fabric for your dress. I love those nubbly, textured yet still lightweight cottons (and I can’t wait until it gets warm enough around here to wear them!).
    Well done. Can’t wait to see what everyone else came up with.

  6. That might be the first bolero that I’ve seen and thought I’d like to wear myself! It’s so cute!

  7. That is a very cute bolero! And if I get a dress in for this “green challenge”, it will be going a similar route…minimal green!

  8. So cute! I love the dress fabric. Do you know if it’s still available on I’ve tried looking for it with no luck. (I think it would be great for a Colette Patterns Crepe dress.)

  9. Patricia Austin

    Nice! I love the dress and the bolero.

  10. I was just wanting to comment and ask this same question!

  11. So Darling! I love the bolero and that fabulous yellow flower pin. And your dress is just darling! Looks positively fabulous on you! I also love your shoes. I’ve never bought a pair of fleshly toned shoes and need to get on the band wagon. These are darling with this outfit and really make Spring come out.

  12. This outfit is so fantastic! A great example of a vintage pattern yielding a thoroughly modern look. As usual, you look adorable. I so admire your talent!

  13. Adorable! The bolero is such a cool shape and as always, you look amazing in the dress – those vintage shapes suit you so well!!

  14. Super cute fabric and gorgeous dress!

  15. I love the dress and the bolero is darling!

  16. Oh my to have the ability, time, and access to vintage fabrics to make so much of my own clothing. You have inspired me to try a little more at least. Love the fabric.

  17. I love this! My favorite outfit so far. And what made me notice it most was the bolero. I wish I had those patterns for the bolero and dress. :)

  18. yes I too think it’s just lovely with or without the belero.

  19. Thanks, Dianne! Yes, I was thankful to have that bolero in the rain :)

  20. Thanks, Casey! Yes, the fabric is sheer but I didn’t line it. I debated it but I’m too lazy. :) I’m wearing a full slip underneath which is a bit annoying because the slip was longer than the dress and I needed to keep hiking it up. But, it works.

  21. Thanks Debbie! Boleros are super easy and a great way to feel accomplished. This bolero was lined so it was a total of four pieces (including lining). And, they’re versatile!

  22. Thanks, Andrea! I think this is the sweet spot green that I need to flock to. I’m glad you found the site and totally encourage you to participate!!

  23. Thanks, Erin! I’m looking forward to this week’s creation. I always love it when we all coordinate on the front page!

  24. Thanks, Alex! That’s quite the compliment!

  25. Thanks, Becky! I bought the fabric more than a year ago so I don’t think so. I actually looked on when writing this post and couldn’t find it. Since it was clearance fabric, I’m sure it sold out quickly.

  26. Thanks, Patricia!

  27. Thanks, Sunni! I bought these shoes last week. They’re the same shoes as these red shoes.

  28. Thanks Elise! That’s such a nice thing to say!

  29. Thanks, Elizabeth!

  30. Thanks, Jessie! My biggest goal is to get other women inspired to sew and I’m so happy that I could do that a little for you!

  31. Thanks, Monika! I’m so surprised that people like the bolero so much. I thought it made me look a bit stubby, but I’ll take your word for it!

  32. Thanks, Charlotte!

  33. I love this outfit, it’s absolutely gorgeous!! The dress – my oh my – is so pretty and feminine and I really like the bolero. Looks great!

  34. Thanks, Sarah! It is certainly feminine. Once it warms up, I’m sure it will get more use.

  35. This is definitely the most perfect dress for St. Patrick’s Day and those windows are hilarious–it turned out to be quite a good photo shoot after all, eh?
    Emily :)

  36. I love your outfit! and lovely photos.

  37. I love love love the bolero, especially the longer sleeve length. Once again you’ve inspired me! thank you!

  38. Thanks, Emily! I couldn’t believe my luck. I had no idea that the facade was there when we parked and it went from a settling backdrop to a perfect backdrop!

  39. Thanks, Alexandra!

  40. Thanks, Helen! I’m glad to have inspired you!

  41. I love your dress ..the fabic is so pretty..[the best way to use green]..Have to agree with everyone else..the bolero is just really cute on you. Judy

  42. Awesome St Patrick’s Day combo! I know what you mean about green! It’s gotta be the right shade!
    The dress and bolero have turned out awesome, and what I like best about a bolero’s cut is that for cuter petite shapes, it gives you a sense of height, but keeps you skinny at the same time, as the waistline appears higher than it should be. (Or that’s how I see it!)

  43. Wow – the bolero looks great and fits really well. And those windows?! Perfect!

  44. aw wow! how beautiful are your photographs! the dress and bolero are simply stunning
    Samantha x

  45. What an adorable combo! Love the green in the bolero! It’s so awesome that you made this dress from last week’s pattern and the two look so different!

  46. This is a great outfit! I love the bolero, so unique. And the thought bubble photo cracks me up!

  47. Such a cute dress! I like the outfit with the bolero.

  48. Thanks, Judy! I was worried that it was too little green for this challenge :)

  49. Thanks, Veronica! You partly inspired me to make the bolero — I still love that one from Valentine’s Day.

  50. Thanks, R8chel! Yeah, those windows make the picture.

  51. Thanks, Adey! Yeah, since I don’t make muslins, its neat to go into a dress knowing exactly what I want to change.

  52. Thanks, Amanda! I try :)

  53. Thanks, Rebecca!

  54. Great for St. Paddy’s day without being too ‘oirish’ – That’s a great pattern.

  55. I love the bolero! I love boleros, though, honestly, I think they are unaccountably charming. So lovely! I think you have indeed conquered green!

  56. Darling! Love the bolero! I’ve been meaning to make one just like that :)
    Love the photos! I can’t believe you found shamrock windows!

  57. Thanks, Jen! I think that it’s just the right amount of green for me :)

  58. Thanks, Leah! Given the feedback for this bolero, I see many more in my future!

  59. Thanks, Lauren! The only thing that would have made this picture better would have been a rainbow and a pot of gold around the corner.

  60. Adorable outfit! Looks great on you.

  61. This is adorable! You are so brave to buy fabric online. How has your experience of buying fabric online been thus far. Any tips or advice?

  62. I like the bolero too!!! I think it suits you very well :)