Hot! The “Hips Don’t Lie” Dress

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The Facts

Fabric: Crepe or Crepe de Chine (?) from Missouri Mouse in St. Paul, Minnesota, $13
Pattern: Vogue 8930, $1
Year: c. 1958
Notions: none
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$14

Considering the pink explosion that was my Slow and Steady Dress, I gave myself  a little freedom with this challenge to let a little lavender slip into the palette. Still even with the lavendar, brown and coral, this dress passes the pink test: Does my daughter like the dress? Yes, then it's pink enough.

When I bought this fabric last weekend in St. Paul, I knew that it would end up as a wiggle dress. The yardage was minimal and the texture would lend itself to a close-fitting little number. I don't know how, but this dress only ended up requiring about 1 3/4 yards of 44" wide fabric. Having a pattern in my stash that is a such a small yardage wonder is always a good thing.

Well, I guess I know how it required so little fabric: it only has two pieces, the front and back of the dress. There are no facings (they are built into the main pattern pieces) and the belt is optional. That this dress took me four hours is kind of ridiculous. If I made it again, I should be able to knock it out in two. The problem arose with my inability to follow instructions with regard to the shoulder/neckline. That little overlapping  shoulder part was far more complicated than it should have been. I never quite understood the instructions and decided to just wing it. It SHOULD NOT have been that hard, Vogue 8930! Anyhow, now that I know what to do, it shouldn't be such a time suck.

Oh, and this dressed passed the Mena Test (zipper can be omitted). The good news is that I didn't have to insert a zipper. The bad news is that 2 out of 3 times I try to get this dress off, I start screaming "I'm stuck" and I need my husband to help me out. But, hey, no zipper!

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Here's the hat I bought in Minnesota last week:

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This week is brought to you by my Spanx, which made wearing this dress possible. There's something about a wiggle dress that just makes me walk a different way. It's like my hips are crossing the street without me.

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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. I really, really, really love this.

  2. This is absolutely gorgeous! The print! The cut! Great work.

  3. So glad you found the Missouri Mouse and Antique Mall of St Paul while you were here, they are full of treasures!
    Your dress is lovely and you wear it like a perfect fitting glove – elegantly!

  4. Gorgeous! Note to self – need more wiggle dresses in closet!

  5. That’s really pretty and elegant.

  6. I have a question that’s just driving me nuts. Who started calling straight skirts and straight skirt dresses wiggle dresses? I lived during the 50’s and 60’s and never heard this term until fairly recently.

  7. Love your dresss, The fabric is realy pretty.. Happy sewing.

  8. That’s such a lovely outfit, with the pink/fuschia hat and shoes to complete the dress! Do you buy shoes for certain outfits, or do you have a whole closet full? (I’m assuming the hat and shoes are not counted in the cost of each outfit?)
    Pink is my second favorite color, so I will have to whip something up!
    Happy sewing,

  9. Its stunning mena! There’s nothing like a good wiggles dress backed up by a solid pair of spanx to make you feel all woman!

  10. I really love this dress…and the hat. It is gorgeous!

  11. Fabulous cut and fabric choice

  12. Ahhhhhhhhh…..I LOVE this dress! you look AMAZING in wiggle dresses!!! Such fabulous fabric!!!

  13. This is so darling on you. Love the pinks and the hat is perfect. On the wiggle dresses I think that is just a modern term that is used because I too never heard of it in the old days either.

  14. This dress is just beautiful! I love the style of it, and pink is your color. Looks great on you!

  15. You look like you could be in a Melbourne street! Oh Hai Mena!
    This is GORGEOUS! I’m loving the Mena test, and the lavenders in the fabric which make it pinky but not too pink! I love you in a wiggle dress!

  16. It looks SO much sexier than the pattern illustration! It is a darling little number, and I like the incorporation of lavender. I don’t usually love hot pink, put that hat is really cool. I have a similar one from the 60s but it makes me look like a jester!

  17. There is nothing like a good wiggle dress to make a girl feel fantastic! ;) I just love the fabric you used–and that you paired it with that hat! :D Now you’ve got me digging through my pattern stash for a simple sheath dress pattern… (Though I need to daydream about another sewing project like a hole in my head… :p)

  18. That dress is awesome! Super sexy and beautiful!

  19. That dress looks really stunning! I think the little bit of lavender makes the pink look a lot fresher and a lot less ‘Barbie’.

  20. What a fantastic outfit! The fabric is gorgeous and the hat is TDF!

  21. This is one of my favorites you’ve made! The fabric and cut are so great – you look lovely in pink. And the hat is perfect.
    Also, I do love my Spanx, too. I could never go full girdle, but Spanx are great for a wiggle dress. :)

  22. Perfect!!
    I have no idea how you can possibly get that on and off without a zipper!

  23. Gorgeous dress and I especially llllooooooovvvvveee those shoes!!!!!!
    Where may I ask, did you procure them?

  24. Love this dress! One of my favorites that you have ever made! (I wish I had a pattern that only had two pattern pieces!)

  25. Love it! Wiggle dresses are made for you girl – way to rock it! Also, totally going to use this Mena test soon – yay no zippers!

  26. Mena, you’re stunning!

  27. Stunning! Love the pattern, the print, it all!!

  28. Beautiful dress on a beautiful woman! I love the shoes, too…

  29. “It’s like my hips are crossing the street without me.”
    i swear to god you kill me.
    this is freaking amazing.

  30. Unbelievable you can get in this dress without using a zipper! It’s a pity that I don’t have that Marilyn Monroe-like waist and hips of yours… This dress would never look this good on me!

  31. The fit is fantastic and you look amazing!

  32. This is hawt. The color looks amazing on you, and is such a sweet juxtaposition of how bombshell the actual dress is. No zipper? Incredible.

  33. Beautiful!! I echo all of the sentiments already expressed – you look fantastic!

  34. Isn’t it great to try a new look? This silhouette looks fantastic on you!

  35. Oh. My. GAH. This is AMAZING!!! I LOVE it!! Can’t wait to meet you in NYC!

  36. Well, just stunning, Mena. Great job! I am loving the pink theme!

  37. Thanks, Cathe! I didn’t realize you lived in MN until I met MommyLap at a bar. I wish we could have met up!

  38. I haven’t a clue when the phrase was coined. I hadn’t heard it until a couple years ago when I started reading vintage clothing blogs.

  39. Thanks, Katrina! Most of my shoes are already in my closet. These shoes are probably one of the oldest pairs I own — between 5-7 years old. And no, I don’t factor in the accessories in my cost since I rarely buy new things specifically for the look.

  40. Thanks, Molly! All I need is a corset to feel really really all woman!

  41. Thanks, Debi! I was kind of meh about this fabric when I bought it and that made me say to Ben “I bet this is going to be a dress I’m really going to love.” And, it turned out to be the truth!

  42. Thanks, Nan! I’m thinking the wiggle dress term is a modern one as well.

  43. Thanks, Bethany! I like that it’s pink but not too much pink.

  44. Thanks, Veronica! The Mena test is my gift to all lazy sewers.

  45. Thanks, Lisette! The pattern envelope totally put me off — but I was in a lazy mood so the two piece pattern won me over. :)

  46. Thanks, Casey! I usually avoid wiggle dresses because they’re just so much effort to wear — moving around and eating too much, etc… But yes, they really have a way of making a gal feel sexy.

  47. Thanks, Lindsay. I agree about the colors. The brown in the print also makes it so much adult. It turned out to be a much better fabric than I imagined when buying it.

  48. Thanks, Maren! The thing about girdles (or at least the ones I wear), they always manage to squeeze the fat somewhere else. At least the spanx distribute the fat in a more evenly manner. :)

  49. Thanks, Nichole! I’m like a snake unhinging its jaw when eating a large animal. I just manage to make my body fit with contortions.

  50. Thanks, Jeri! I really don’t remember where I bought them since they were purchased years ago. I do believe that they were Chinese Laundry, though.

  51. Thanks, Carrie! I think this is the only pattern I have that is only two pieces. Most two-to-three piece patterns usually trick you and don’t count facings.

  52. Thanks, Sarah! Every time I Mena test something and pass the test, I feel like I’m just doing something horribly wrong. But, this dress fits and I can get it on so it must just be right.

  53. Thanks, Oona! I write my jokes with you in mind. :)

  54. Thanks, Doortje! I’m lucky that I have proportions that work with vintage patterns. It’s funny because I have the hardest time fitting into modern store-bought clothing — especially pants. I’m just meant for another era.

  55. Thanks, Lavender! I saw the fabric and just knew it had to be this sort of dress. It’s so weird since those dresses tend not to be florally and such. But I’m glad it worked!

  56. Thanks, Stephanie!

  57. Thanks, Melissa! I’m glad I forced myself to get out of the full-skirt box for a week.

  58. Thanks, Ginger! I’m so glad you’ll be at the NYC festivities. See you Friday!

  59. Who would of thought pink could be so darn hot, swing it sister…perfect cut, perfect print, perfect photos. Love it Mena!!

  60. You look amazing! I love the pink on you.

  61. I love that you didn’t sit on that fabric at all and it’s already a new dress. Those fabric purchases are the best in my mind..And the hat is so stunning!

  62. That dress is fabulous! And with that hat! Need pink real bad.

  63. i DO love a dress with no zip,, although removal can be a bit claustrophobic,,nice dress is it practical or does length stop you doing much in it ?? very pretty