Hot! The “blue & white parasol” dress | Adey Lim

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The Facts

Fabric:  Blue and white stripe cotton from Spotlight $8.50 for 3.2 metres at 30% off rolls end sale!
Patterns: Kansas City Star mail order pattern 3257
Year: c. 1958 (according to postage stamp)
Notions: Invisible zipper, 5 vintage buttons and interfacing $1.50
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: 31 May 2011
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$10

The little isle I call home is one degree north of the equator. We do not experience the four seasons. Instead, what we have are 365 days of summer with an average of 179 days of cool rainy days. While all the dresses I have made are essentially good for the weather here, I wanted this dress to spell summer fun for me. 

Essentially,  it has to be sleeveless, fun and versatile enough to be wore to the beach or a family restaurant. My family love strolling along the beach on weekends but sometimes I feel overdressed for it after a shopping trip or church service. This dress needs to fill the gap. It has to be a fun dress. A sundress.

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In terms of fabric choice, the parasol print of bright blue & white stripes or red & white stripes immediately came to mind.

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When I visited Spotlight, I couldn't find any red and white stripe fabric (Isn't it like an essential basic print?) but found this blue & white stripe fabric hidden right at the bottom and it was the exact shade of blue I had in mind! I'm so glad the last 3.2 metres waited for me, the only other option left in the store was a hunter green and white stripe print which just wasn't summer. And because the store was having a rolls end sale, I ended up getting a 30% discount on the fabric! How wonderful is that?

I have a bunch of vintage mail order patterns in my stash and was so happy that I finally got around to sewing from one of these. The pattern pieces from Kansas City Star 3257 were unprinted but came with notches and perforations. 

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I've never heard of the Kansas City Star mail order patterns until I got mine off ebay sometime back.  My google search was unfruitful, there wasn't much information on this brand of vintage patterns. But, according to quilting sites, the paper published more than 1000 quilt patterns from 1928 to 1961 and many of these patterns were submitted by readers. The original envelope was postage stamped 1958 so I assume that's the year this pattern was published. I'm not sure if it's the same with other mail order patterns (I certainly hope not!) but the instructions were really scarce to the extend that there were only ten instruction points for constructing the entire dress and a bolero. 

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What really attracted me to the pattern were the cute pockets but after reading through the instructions and looking at the pattern pieces, I realized that it only made provisions for mock pockets and if I wanted a real pocket, I had to draft my own pocket pieces. That wasn't difficult, I just had to borrowed the pocket pieces from another pattern and use it for this dress. The pockets however weren't sandwiched between seams and the directions given were to cut a slit on the front skirt fabric and insert the pocket. Oh gosh! Cutting on the front skirt pieces was frightening as I didn't have enough fabric to cut another skirt piece if things didn't work out. So I tried doing the pocket on scraps first before actually making the slits. Still, cutting the fabric felt unsettling but in the end I am glad I did cos the pockets turned out really cute! For contrast and a dash of fun, I used orange vintage buttons on the dress.

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 To make full use of the stripes design, the front bodice, front skirt pieces and back skirt pieces were cut on the bias while the back, shoulder straps and front waist piece on the vertical. I love that all stripes that were meant to match did. Those on the skirt met on the centre front seam, centre back seam with invisible zipper and the side seams. And I must confess I had great fun matching them! As with most patterns, I had to take in the sides to adjust the fit of the dress but matching stripes made it more challenging this time round.

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 Out to the beach we go- the parasol dress and I! Thank God for a sunny day as this time, I finally managed a shot with sandcastles  in my fun dress!

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Author

Adey Sew Convert

A former kids' television channel manager turned stay home mum from Singapore, I hated sewing since I attended my first home economic class at the age of 14. In 2007, something miraculous happened when God blessed me with a second pregnancy. I discovered that I was expecting a baby girl. That changed everything. First I went crazy shopping for handmade clothes for her on etsy. Then I decided I needed to make something for her on my own. I was a month from my due date when I took an intensive 8-hour sewing class. In Dec 2008, I made a dress for my princess before she was born and have not stopped sewing since.

72 Comments

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  1. It’s lovely and o so summery!! I love the parasol print- and yes, *I* thought red and white stripes were a normal part of the fabric shopping experience ;)

  2. Amazing!! Love the stripes and you did a great job matching them up!

  3. This is the best summer dress ever Adey!!! I love it! And a bargain! Well done on the pocket addition & all that amazing stripe matching. I would have thought you’d need more fabric to get the stripes all matching like that & with such a full skirt. Well done! (oh and I always find that if I go out in search of the most basic of fabrics… it’s never there!) I love the blue & white.. reminds me of the greek islands.

  4. Gorgeous! I love how the stripes go so many different directions!

  5. Oh Adey this dress just makes me smile, it resonates happiness and endless summer days. Such pretty details and fun graphic stripes! It really is perfect!

  6. Such a beautiful matching of the stripes. How amazing is the old pattern. You have done a lovely job. The orange buttons add that little something special.

  7. What a cheerful and happy dress! The orange buttons are a perfect contrast!

  8. the stripes are matched perfectly! such a pretty dress and yet so fitting for the beach. you must be the best dressed on the beach that day!

  9. This is a perfect sundress. I love the fabric and the added details. Cutting on the bias was so brilliant. Your style always makes every pattern you make stand out. So lovely!

  10. margueritedesigns

    Lovely and well done on the stripe matching!

  11. I love your dress – it is so summery! And that sand castle is the best I’ve EVER seen!!!

  12. That’s one impressive sand castle!
    THe dress looks beautiful. The colours are perfect for summer indeed, you look lovely!

  13. Fun!! This is such a cheerful summer dress! I love how you cut some pieces on the bias — good eye.

  14. Darling dress! That’s a great use of a stripe fabric. And you are very brave to cut a slit in the skirt to put in those pockets! What a challenge!

  15. Gorgeous dress – the style and colors just scream summer. Great job on matching the stripes and adding the pockets..

  16. LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR DRESS!! I’m sooo into stripes right now! Very well done!

  17. Lovely! Wonderful fit and impressive stripe-matching and pockets. So glad that scary skirt cutting method worked out.

  18. This is completely fabulous – I adore the color and style! Perfect for summer picnics and walks on the beach :) Awesome work!

  19. it looks fantastic! oh my goodness, you have inspired me to find my own blue/white striped fabric now!

  20. This dress is FANTASTIC! It reminds me of my own search for a decent stripe fabric in red, white, & blue. No luck, but yours is so great! Great job with matching the stripes.

  21. Perfect! The dress is beautiful and so is the scenery.

  22. The perfect summer dress. I like that you went one color over on the color wheel with the orange buttons, rather than the expected red.

  23. I adore this dress!

  24. Absolute knock out! This is a stunning dress and you look equally stunning in it. Magnificent job in matching all the stripes. It takes the dress to a whole new level.
    I hope that one day I can match stripes as well as you have!

  25. Your dress is amazing! Now I find myself wanting to make something similar!

  26. judy roberson

    I love your dress.So pretty and looks great on you.. How nice to have summer weather year round..Nice!!!

  27. Thank you so much Rachel! It’s so strange and a little frustrating that the most basic prints are so difficult to find here.

  28. Thank you so much PepperReed!

  29. Aw, thank you so much Casey! Actually most of the 3.2 meters were used for the skirt pieces, the bodice was cut out of whatever was leftover :P While making the dress, I did think of Santorini!

  30. Thank you so much Heather! Your ‘grow with you swimsuit’ is amazing!

  31. Thank you so much Cathe! Glad that the fun dress turned out to be a happy dress as well! Love your sorbetto top and that kokka print! Seeing your version makes me wanna give that top a try:)

  32. Thank you so much Jen! I love the orange contrast too and because they are vintage, the buttons are all in slightly different shades of orange.

  33. Thank you so much Melissa! Am so glad you like the dress and those cute buttons!

  34. Thank you Fiona :) With the rest of the people mostly in shorts and tees, I think I was hahaha!

  35. Thank you so much for saying that Rebecca! I’m so encouraged by your words!

  36. Thank you so much marguerite!

  37. Thank you Debbie! I was so blessed that there was a group of teenagers building sandcastles at the beach that day.

  38. Thank you Karin, there is actually a shop by the beach which rents out sandcastle building pails and moulds so these sandcastles get made pretty easily. The day i was there, there must have been seven or eight of these around:)
    I am so happy that you like my summer dress!

  39. Thank you r8chel! Am thrilled that you like my fun dress!

  40. Thank you Suze! Oh, those pockets were indeed unnerving to do, what an adventure it was!

  41. Thank you so much Karen! The skirts you have made are so cute and oh, those prints are amazing!

  42. Thank you so much allie mae! Stripes are just addictive, after making this dress, I couldn’t stop looking out for stripe fabrics!

  43. Thank you Lee! Am so glad the scary method worked out too, phew!

  44. Thank you Meg! Your scallop edge hat is adorable, I want to make one too!

  45. Thank you so much Lauren! I hope you find your perfect striped fabric!

  46. Thank you so much Holly. I hope you find the perfect red, white and blue fabric soon!

  47. Thank you so much Stacyverb! I am loving all your Made Me June outfits so far!

  48. Thank you so much Crystal! I love the orange buttons too:) Orange just seemed more fun and cheerful with this blue:)

  49. Thank you so much rachael! Have a great weekend!

  50. Thank you for the sweet and encouraging words Marie! Appreciate it!

  51. Thank you Susan! Go for it, stripes are pretty fun to match:)

  52. Thank you Judy! haha…strange that I don’t appreciate the perpetual summer as much as I should, it’s just too hot. My fave season is actually spring with all the flowers blooming and slightly below 20 degree celsius temperature :)

  53. Adey – this is so beautiful! What a fun, summery and flattering dress!

  54. Oh, my… your dress is so gorgeous! The lovely stripes remind me of a slightly softer version of a dress from season three of Project Runway that I still covet to this day. :-)

  55. I love this dress. It is perfect for strolling on the beach or slipping to a nice place to have lunch. It looks like the perfect dress to wear at Dana Point CA. actually so if you ever come to So. Cal. you can fit right in.

  56. Adorable! This really is the perfect summer dress! Great job!

  57. this is amazing!
    I love everything about it and the stripes really pop with that pattern…
    love!
    I am inspired now, uh oh! I already have a million projects going!

  58. I love, love, love this dress! and OMG the stripe matching and effect is stunning.

  59. love, love, love this! The stripes are perfect (love how they match the sun parasol)! And the photo of you with the sandcastle is soooo divine! I want to come to visit and go to the beach together :)

  60. Thank you so much Sarah! Hope you are having a great weekend!

  61. Thank you Meghan! I have not been able to follow many episodes of Project Runway here but I’m utterly flattered that my dress reminds you of a version from the show!

  62. Thank you Sue! I’ll love to visit Dana Point someday:)

  63. Thank you gingermakes! Love your ginger skirt too and that bright blue hue is just lovely!

  64. Thank you so much Angela! LOL! How I wish I have more time for more projects all the time too! The photos on your blog are so beautiful and inspiring! I hope I can be as good as you in snapping photos one day!

  65. Thank you Rae! Am absolutely thrilled you like the stripes & the dress!

  66. Come come! We can build sandcastles, enjoy refreshing coconut juice and seafood barbeque all at the beach!

  67. SO beautiful Adey, love the vintage look on you and it’s just perfect for your climate – all year round! ;)
    xoxo

  68. i love love love this dress… it says “sumer” most perfectly! (lucky you, having year-round summer)

  69. Thank you so much Veronica!

  70. Thank you Rhonda, am thrilled you like the dress!

  71. Beautiful job. Great use of the stripes.