Hot! The “Ring of Fire” Dress | Debi Fry


The Facts

Fabric: 3 metres purple cotton blend from stash, 2 metres orange cotton blend £8 from Edinburgh Fabrics
Pattern: Simplicity 4916  from Miss Betty's Attic
Year:  c. 1950's
Notions: 2 zippers: £2; 30 metres of rick rack £15

Time to complete: 18 hours

Wear again? I think so.  Definitely the blouse on it's own too.

Total Cost: ~£25

The first thing I think of when I hear the word 'Western' is Johnny Cash and 1950's Patio Dresses (though not necessarily at the same time).  When I found Simplicity 4916, I knew I had to try my hand at sewing up a 1950's Patio dress (also referred to as 'Squaw' dresses.  Lil' Vintage Homemaker did a fabulous series on the history of these dresses this week!)

Picture 59

Typical to 1950's full skirted dresses, this pattern calls for a lot of fabric….and rick rack!  I had some purple cotton blend fabric in my stash and thought that would be the perfect colour for the main parts of the dress and then wanted to get a contrast colour that would really pop.  I quite like the colour combo even if it is a bit unconventional!

This pattern features a blouse and a separate skirt.  I decided to go for view 1 because I really liked the collar (though view 3 has an amazing cumberbund–it was a hard choice but the big collar won out).

Hold onto your seats…I actually did a muslin of the blouse.  I know!!  You see I graded the pattern up and because it wasn't my normal late 30's/early 40's McCall patterns (which I know very well–hence no need to make muslins), I figured I should test it out.  Plus, I've had spotty success with 50's patterns.  Sometimes, I find their fit to be all wacky!  I made the muslin out of a cotton bedsheet I had and it was nice and very fitted–no tweaks needed!  Well, that didn't really help me much because I find the actual blouse to be a bit loose! Must be the cotton blend (with a bit of stretch).  I think I am going to take in one of the sides of the blouse and try to squeeze a tuck in the back.

Speaking of the back–check out my neat chevron of contrast fabric:

Back of dress
There is a centre front and a centre back seam.  So I applied the contrast fabric to each bodice piece (front x 2 and back x2) and then very carefully joined the seams so that it created a chevron stripe.  I also had to carefully match the shoulder seams.  I really like how it turned out!!

Skirt with shoes
The skirt is three gathered tiers with an additional stripe of contrast fabric added onto the bottom tier.  Phew! That's lots of gathering!  I am wearing the skirt with my Ness shoes that has the same colours in the tartan!  Here's an interesting Scottish western fact.  Did you know Johnny Cash is Scottish?  Well, he has Scottish heritage.  Apparently, Johnny's family name–Cash–is from the part of Scotland that is very near where we used to live (in Fife).  He visited that area many times and his family still has a very close connection to the place.  All the locals talk about the family and last year, Roseanne Cash came to play at a Falkland festival!  Anyways, that brings it all around to the tartan shoes with the western outfit!

Rick rack
So what about the rick rack?  I still have to add it!!!  But I wanted to get your advice…

Close up of rick rack
Yea or nay to the rick rack?  If yea, the pattern shows it on the contrast fabric…do you think that's a good spot or better on the purple?  What do you think of the dress! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


Debi from My Happy Sewing Place

Debi Fry LOVES vintage patterns. She started sewing in 2009 and has been going since. In 2011, she participated in the Sew Weekly challenge and looks forward to the new challenges that lie in store!


Comments are closed.

  1. Very nice – all you need now is a hoe-down (is that spelt right?)! How about putting a row of the ric rac on either side of the contrast stripe?

  2. margueritedesigns

    I like it just as it is – I can see how influenced you are becoming with tartan and it works! Sizzling colours and so original!

  3. houseofpinheiro

    love the colour block.. beautiful…

  4. Hi Debbie,
    The dress is beautiful. Without Rick Rack looks like a modern take on the 1950 patio dress. If you add the Rick Rack it will look more vintage with a twist! I vote for Rick Rack!

  5. Oh, now I want a patio dress! I’ll have to crawl over to etsy to find one! How amazing that the colours match up with your shoes so well, and that collar looks really similar to my Hitchcock dress! Just gorgeous!

  6. I love rick rack so I say add it!!! I especially liked the pink.

  7. YOW MAMA! i loves me some johnny cash! and i LOVE this color combo but i’m sure you saw that coming. how about rick rack… just sectioning off the skirt tiers? to enhance the patio skirt effect?
    and i spotted the ness shoes straight off; awesome cash connection!

  8. I love this. June Carter Cash would definitely have worn this on stage.

  9. Debi,
    Great job.. I love it ..And I like the ric rack.. Both colors on the contrast would be great.. and I also like the idea of adding it to the skirt sewing

  10. I think the contrast fabric part could use the extra pizazz that the rick rack would provide, but it’s lovely as is (you certainly know your way around those Ness colorways!).

  11. Oh, Debi! You are ROCKING this look!! Purple and orange are definitely you (love the Ness shoes) and I give a big enthusiastic YES to the rick rack!! Yeehaw!

  12. Oh I love this dress! I’m such a country girl at heart and this just makes my heart strings flutter! Love it! I personally say “no” to the rick rack – I think the outfit is perfect how it is. So fabulous! xoxo, Sunni

  13. It looks so great, Debi! I love it, and love the unusual color combo. Personally I really like the way the rick rack looks against the red chevron. I think the rick rack is the little extra push that makes it distinctly a patio dress. :)

  14. Dagnabit now I’m singing It burns burns burns, the ring of fire, the ring of fire!
    Anyway song stuck in my head aside, I think that the red ricrac on the purple and the purple ricrac on red

  15. I really like the contrast stripe in the top. Matching the stripe in the back and the shoulder & the front is some fancy pinning. There’s something a little weird going on with this skirt (you don’t seem to like it as much either). Did you use a ruffle foot attachment on your machine to gather the skirt tiers? the middle tier doesn’t seem very ruffled at the top and has has gathers at the bottom which should be smooth. The top of each tier should look equally gathered and the bottom of the tier should be smooth.
    No one likes to spend too much time with the seam ripper, but maybe if you took the tiers apart and regathered them you would like the fit of the skirt better.

  16. Hello, definitely a big ol’ yea on the rick rack! I like it just how you’re holding it up. And the colors are amazing!
    I’m really sad I don’t have any time to participate in these challenges :( I’ll have to make them up another time.

  17. You can never have enough rick rack on a Western dress ;) Love the colors Debi! You look fabulous in purple and I love the style of this!

  18. Rick Rack on Debi, all the way, the contrast will make it pop, great colours…. LOVE it.

  19. I have been wanting to see this pattern made up! Thank you! It is really cool! I vote ric rac!

  20. Thanks Debbie! That’s a good idea! Love it!

  21. Thanks Diane! I really loved the theme this week! So much fun!

  22. YAY for Rick Rack! I think it is definitely winning out!

  23. Hi Dear! I’m actually giving away this pattern on my blog at the moment–you should definitely enter! I could totally see you in this dress!

  24. Thanks dear! Happy birthday fabulousness!!!

  25. Thank you! What a compliment! I love the Cash family!

  26. Thanks Judy! Another yea for the rick rack!!

  27. hehehehe! Thanks Trish!

  28. Thanks Sarah! I love this colour combo!

  29. Thanks Sunni! I could totally see you rockin’ a dress like this too!! I bet you have some killer cowboy boots already! :)

  30. Thanks Tasha! I tend to agree!!

  31. hehehehehe! I had that song in my head the ENTIRE time I was sewing (which was a long time)…that and ‘Walk the Line’!!

  32. Thanks Ryan! You are RIGHT! There is something weird going on with the skirt. I may just have to dig out the seam ripper (grumble, grumble). I had a really hard time gathering the second tier. Turns out that each of the tier pattern pieces are the SAME SIZE!! That doesn’t seem right, does it? If I do it again, I would make each tier a bit longer than the other to make gathering easier!!

  33. Thanks Lisette! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  34. Thanks Meg! I am lovin’ purple at the moment! And another happy birthday to you too!

  35. Thanks Kazz!!! I’m hearing a resounding yes to Rick Rack!!!

  36. Thank you so much!!!

  37. Love love love! Such a beautiful pattern and love the fabric!