Hot! The ‘Around the World in 21 Days’ Dress | Debi Fry

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The Facts

Fabric: 2 metres of some sort of looseweave silk wool blend fabric, (gift) FREE; 2 metres of teal wool jersey for underlining,  £10; 1.5 metres of red Kona cotton, £5.
Pattern: Butterick 5032 (retro re-release)
Year: c. 1952
Notions: zipper, £0.10,
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes

Total Cost: ~£15

This is a truly intercontinental dress!  The fabric was a gift from a former colleague and is all the way from Pakistan.  It's an amazing looseweave silk wool blend that has tiny little flowers on it and is the most amazing teal colour I have ever seen (very Latin-inspired colours!).

The pattern is all the way from Adey in Singapore! Early on in the Sew Weekly challenge we did a little pattern swap.  I sent her a 1940's sundress and she sent me this fabulous re-issue Butterick sheath dress pattern:

This dress was constructed on four different sewing machines in three cities during the past week!  I started out on my sister's new Singer machine on the west coast.  I managed to cut out the fabric and make and underline the bodice.  The second sewing machine was my friend Kristen's that I borrowed for two hours when I was visiting her in DC.  On her machine I managed to sew the skirt together.  The third sewing machine was at the Sewing Studio in New York City.  I managed to sew the bodice to the skirt and iron the hem and baste in the zipper.  The final sewing machine was Oona's very own Kenny the morning of our fabulous meet-up!  On Kenny I finished sewing in the zipper and sewing the hem and did a slapdash job of tacking down the facings (too slapdash because one of my zipper ends was still poking out the top back…grrrrr…)!

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The construction of the bodice is actually very nifty.  You sew the facing onto the bodice front and back in one go leaving about 1.5 inches at the top of each shoulder strap.  Then you sew the shoulder straps together in one continuous seam.  That automatically attaches the facing and all you have to do is slipstitch a very small area at the shoulder! Et Viola–completely finished neckline and armholes! I loved it!!

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I made the view with the sash made out of red Kona cotton for that Paso Doble look.  The sash instructions were a bit hard to follow and I'm not sure I got the pleats on the sash right but I just sort of winged it.  My only regret with the dress is that I graded the bodice to be slightly larger than the pre-cut size 12 measurement and I don't think I needed to do that.  So it gapes slightly in the front unless I rest the shoulder straps at the very tippy edge of my shoulders. lol.  I was thinking one fix for that might be to take a tiny tuck at each corner of the bodice front and then cover it with two fancy dress clips!

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I wore this dress out in New York City with the lovely Oona, Meg and Mena (photos above by Mena and Oona).  I know Oona has loads more to tell about that adventure in her post–so I won't say much.  Just to say that I had a super duper fabulous time!

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David and I took photos inspired by Lena Hoschek clothes as photographed by Lupi Spuma.  I first found out about Lena's clothes on Q's Daydream Vintage blog.  So we thought we would try out something similar and I really like how the pictures came out!  So much fun!!


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!


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  1. Oh Debi, the dress looks incredible in that fabric and you look absolutely stunning! Love the first two photos so much! And what an adventure you had sewing up this dress!

  2. Love the effort you put into the photo shoot. It’s perfect.

  3. Wowsers Debi, like Adey said what a sewing adventure, these are the best photos ever they really suit the beautiful beautiful fabric, my gosh, you really have done a magic job. You go girl.

  4. So classy and foxy at the same time!

  5. You look absolutely stunning, Debi! That fabric is really a pice of art itself, and I believe that you´ve chosen just the right pattern for it. So pretty!

  6. Love the dress Debi and your pictures are fantastic! What a gorgeous backdrop and it’s so perfect for that dress.

  7. Debi, I wanted to post this on your blog, but I got a message from Chrome saying your blog has some sort of malware on it that can spread viruses to my computer. Maybe you should try to access it from someone else’s computer and see if it gives you that message as well?
    Anyway, I LOVE that first picture. It made me immediately think of Alphonse Mucha:

  8. What a gorgeous dress! Well done!

  9. That fabric is to die for — border print and all! What a great friend! Was it difficult to sew on a loose weave fabric?

  10. That is one beautiful dress. You look amazing. Love the poses.

  11. Thanks Adey! That pattern is fabulous–thanks so much for swapping it with me! And sewing this up was definitely an adventure AND I got a tour of different sewing machines :-)

  12. Thanks so much Amy! We had a lot of fun with the photoshoot! Our cats liked it too…hehehehhe

  13. Thanks Kazz! You are inspiring me to spice up my photos :)

  14. Thanks so much!!! xoxoxo

  15. Thanks Solvi! It’s the only pattern that seemed like the perfect fit!!

  16. awww..thanks so much! I really adored your cape this week!!!

  17. Hi Elise! I really adore Alphonse Mucha–so that’s a huge compliment! Thank you!!! And thank you for telling me about my blog–we are looking into it now!!! you are a godsend…hugs!

  18. Oh wow! Lots of sporadic sewing and such wonderful fabric! Nice work Debi!

  19. It wasn’t too difficult to sew with but I have to be REALLY careful not to snag it! The great thing with the pattern is that the stitching does not show up at all–you can’t even see the stitching of the zipper in the back! I do love the border print as well. I had to carefully figure out how my hem would hang while cutting because I wanted that border at the bottom.

  20. Thanks Kathy! We had fun with the photos!!

  21. thanks so much! xoxoxox

  22. What beautiful fabric, photos and dress! You’re an international sewing inspiration.
    I was excited to see that pattern – I made my first ever dress using it! Though I have found since that it must have a bucket load of ease built into it as according to the packet, the dress I made should now be 1-2 sizes too small but somehow it still fits.
    I hope you had a truly amazing time in New York xx