Hot! The “You Had Me at Dog in Boa” Dress

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Simplicity-1926The Facts

Fabric: Cotton novelty print from Novato Estate Sale: The Return! - ~$.25
Pattern: Simplicity 1926
Year: c. 1945
Notions: Belt button fasteners, side zipper
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: November 2011
Wear again? Yes! 

Total Cost: ~$.25

When I first considered what I wanted to sew for this week's challenge, I only thought of the patterns and outfits that I was less than happy with the results. I was pretty much certain I was going to revisit the skirt and top combo from our 1970s week. Bad fabric choices are pretty easy to undo the second time around: this time I would choose a heavier skirt fabric and a less matronly print for the top.

But then when it came to find the patterns, I could not find the top. That was the bad news. The good news is that it forced me to somewhat clean my sewing room. I am happy to say that I can now (pretty much) walk in the room without climbing over any boxes, pieces of fabric or pincushions. It's still a mess, though.

image from nested.typepad.comSo instead of revisiting the bad and hope to make it good, I decided to revisit the good and hope to make it great. Simplicity 1926 was used all the way back in January for the second challenge — the "Unrequited Love in Film" theme. I absolutely loved (and still love) that dress and would have to say that it is one of the top five pieces I've made this year that remains in heavy wearing rotation. In the past two weeks alone, I've worn it twice and that's with winter coming up fast and furious.

Even though the dress is highly wearable, there are a couple of changes that I wanted to make for the latest version. For one, it's just a little too long. Though I like the look of the three-tiered skirt, I decided that I could do without the middle tier. That would bring the dress to my knee — a far more modern take on the dress.

I also chose to make the neckline ruffle a bit narrower. It always feels a bit too costumey when I'm trying to get everyday wear use out of it. Both complaints (dress length and costumey bib) would make it seem that I don't like the dress. It just goes to show how much I do like the dress! Even though these two elements bother me a bit, I still want to wear the thing all of the time. Maybe it has to do with its awesome yellow color.

But back to this week's creation.

Let's just take a moment to appreciate how awesome this "dogs wearing boas" fabric truly is. Yes, dogs in boas. I could start and end this post with just the following image and be completely satisfied. 

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This fabulous fabric came from the Novato Estate sale, part II. Based on the narrow selvage and print method, I believe that this was one of the oldest pieces of the lot. Even though I thought it was cute at the time, I didn't know if I'd ever use it (that's how it always goes!). 

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I found those little belt fasteners in my stash of vintage notions. They are SO AWESOME. You sew them on just like buttons and then they connect in the middle. I wish I had more of them!

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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. What a pretty dress! It is really lovely!

  2. I really, truly love this dress…both versions are gorgeous!

  3. Those belt fasteners are amazing – are they a purely vintage thing, or do people still make them??
    And I love your re-do of the dress – hopefully this one makes it in to regular rotation with the yellow dress!

  4. Fantastic dress.. I really liked the yellow one, but I like this one ,even better.. The fabric is so cute, and I love the belt fastners.. Happy sewing.

  5. I adore that crazy fabric! Love you in navy blue. Also think you nailed the proportion of the neck ruffle – I would wear this in a heart beat! Woof!

  6. I have got to get me this pattern! I love both versions you’ve done.

  7. have to admit I much prefer this dress than the last … Definitely, the changes you made were able to earn beautiful dress. So beautiful!

  8. Mena, this dress is so fab that you’ve just made me completely change my mind about the dress I was going to cut out tomorrow! I made a purple dress a while back inspired by your yellow one.. and just like you, I loved it.. but it seemed a little costumey – ruffle too big, skirt a bit long. Watch out.. I may be copying you again!

  9. Clarissa Henderson

    Very cute! You made some modern adjustments and made the dress fab! Although I also love the yellow version too.

  10. I love ruffles and both versions of the dress. The yellow one always makes me think of the Roxy Music song “Prairie Rose”.

  11. Super cute and flattering! Love the dog print, love the belt fasteners (wonder if I could rig up something like that with frog closures?), love, love, love!!! thanks for inspiring my Monday morning!

  12. Love the changes you made and love the fabric- great job!

  13. The changes are great. This pattern definitely suits you. I hope you’ll make more of these dresses!

  14. Yes, the fabric is amazingly fantastic!!!

  15. This is so cute! That fabric is amazing!

  16. margueritedesigns

    I prefer this one too – especially the fabric!

  17. Yes your dress is very inspiring . And I just decided to make some knit seperates because I always make dresses but now I want to forget that and get to work on another dress too!

  18. I always did think that the photo of you in the yellow dress was a great photo, and I can see how this dress will give a similar feel but be a little more practical. Dog with boa! What a Hoot!

  19. I have this pattern and I never make it, and I don’t know why because your versions are just so awesome! I did find a 70s pattern in my stash that is remarkably similar to your edited version. Maybe I’ll make that!

  20. My sewing room would still be a a metre high full of overlocked offcuts and tissue patterns if I hadn’t have moved house!
    LOVE this fabric, and those little clasps are so gorgeous on your belt! A perfect outfit! xoxo

  21. I never thought of going to an estate sale to get fabrics! Thanks for the idea.

  22. That’s a super cute dress, I can see why you revisited this pattern, great fabric too Mena.