Hot! The “Greetings from Albuquerque” Dress

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The Facts

Fabric: Vintage rayon from Alameda Antique Fair, $10 for 4 yards
Pattern: None, based on existing dress
Year: Unknown
Notions: elastic, $2.00
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: August 2011
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$12

When I found this fabric in April, I wrote:

“Oh, I love this piece so so so much! So much so that I didn’t even bargain when the seller told me $10 for 4 yards. At Alameda, I always bargain but I was sold the minute I saw the piece. Imagine the possibilities! I see a playsuit with matching skirt! Or, if I’m daring a bathing suit with matching skirt. I love this piece so much! My favorite find of the week!”

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image from Well, the fabric didn’t turn into a playsuit, though I seriously considered it. Instead, I decided to use this much-loved fabric for a dress I knew I’d love — a dress based on a store-bought vintage dress hanging in my closet.

While the dress doesn’t look that special in this picture, I absolutely adore it. It’s comfortable, easy to wear and quite the style I’m in love with as of late. And because it is such an easy dress to make, I knew I could replicate it close enough to the original. So, I held my breath and took the seam ripper to this favorite dress of mine.

And this is what I got:

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Two bodice pieces cut on fold (containing the sleeves as well), four skirt pieces and six pieces for the bottom ruffle totaling a whopping 7.5 yards in length. For such a simple dress, it uses a lot of fabric — my only regret about using the dress as a pattern. I really would have loved to have squeezed two garments out of this VIP.

This week’s photoshoot takes place on the road — Albuquerque, New Mexico to be precise.

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And yes, I was able to put the original dress together again:

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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. YAY! Love this dress!! And it’s so great you were able to use one of your favourite dresses as a pattern! The photos in Albuquerque are fantastic! I really love New Mexico!

  2. That is so gorgeous! I am in love with that print, love its kitschy cuteness. And aren’t you a clever clogs for deconstructing then re-constructing the other dress. And look at those cacti! Love!

  3. Your bravery with the seam ripper paid off. And now you’ve got a paper pattern too. Great print for a pretty, summery dress.

  4. margueritedesigns

    Gorgeous print – I’d have trouble deciding what to do with that. Works so well with that dress shape.

  5. I love it! Can’t believe you took the seam ripper to a favourite dress.. you are braver than I! That is very fun fabric, so nice to use it in a dress that can get alot of wear.

  6. Beautiful use of that flea market treasure! Plus I love that you used the old dress for a pattern. The rayon really suits this style well; I’m always a bit leery of these super-gathered silhouettes because they can get bulky quickly. But your dress (and the original) hit the right balance! :)

  7. I really love it! And not only because you’re in one of my favorite places ever, New Mexico. :) It looks like a fun casual dress, I can totally see why you ripped apart the original to replicate it (though egads, I don’t think I have the stomach for doing the same!). So fun and summery!

  8. Another hit Mena! I love everything about it, the style, the fabric, I adore the ruffle at the bottom and the gathers at the neck. Complete success! It probably helps that this is the style I’m into right now too. The best part however was the deconstruction of your lovely pattern and the happy ending of seeing it put back together!

  9. I love this dress. It is so lovely. Would you know of a similiar pattern?

  10. Oh my, I have the sweats just thinking about taking my favourite thing apart. But you, you took it apart, made a better one, and put it back together again! Love! But I do think the new one is better than the original, its just something about the quirky fabric! :)

  11. I really want the pattern! ;)

  12. I love this one..Fabric is beautiful and I love the pattern..Great job .taking it apart and putting it back together.. wow!!
    The photos in Mexico are beautiful.Enjoy..

  13. She looks perfect, so breezy, summery and comfy. Love the print too perfect for New Mexico.

  14. That fabric is PERFECTO for that style! I love it!

  15. This is a fabulous summertime dress! The fabric is so FUN – I can see why you were holding onto it!

  16. You can’t lose with your choices. Well played.

  17. yumalicious, and fantastic that you saved the original! you give me courage to rip apart my favorite old dress (which ruggy says is so old, it makes me look servile. feh).
    and hello cutie pie mini mena :)

  18. Wow! I applaud your courage in taking apart your favorite dress. I would be ter-ri-fied, but now you have two! Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  19. You certainly are brave to rip apart your favorite dress! Good thing it worked out and you got it back together again. Now you have two great dresses! I love vintage rayon.

  20. Both are so beautiful but I love red and it is a great color on you.

  21. Just lovely. So satisfying to find a perfectly fitting dress to use as a pattern. But very brave! I have only done this for a childs dress. One that my daughter had outgrown. I loved the shape and took it apart. No fear as it didn’t fit her any more in any case… I just made it a bit bigger! The fabric is of course wonderful. Bravery on both accounts!

  22. That is an adorable print and dress. But next time maybe you could try making a rub-off pattern. I bought a book about this technique :
    Brilliant. Not only for the technique (which I’ve tried successfully) but she gives a bunch of great tips too. I thought I knew a bunch of stuff (had an aunt who taught me to sew, and whenever I see couture techniques in my huge sewing books, they’re things I do cos of aunt Bibi) but i learnt a couple of new things from this writer.