Hot! ‘Anita’s Cameo’ Dress











The Facts


Fabric: Teal blue crushed velvet
Pattern: Colette Peony (although it didn’t start there!)
Year: 2011
Notions: None  (RIP 22” zipper)
Time to complete: 6 hours over two days
First worn: Monday to school.
Wear again? Totally!
Total price: $17.77  ($19.51 if you include that dumb zipper)


The Accessory: Great Grandma Anita’s Cameo Necklace

Let’s chat about this lovely little number shall we?  To start, if not for the theme ‘accessorize’ I would have titled this the ‘are you freaking kidding me?!?!’ dress. Despite everything working out, it took a lot of work to get there.
So, back on X-mas day, I was packing up and saying my good-byes after a long day of hanging with family.  After giving my grandma a hug, she startled me a bit by running to the back room hollering for me to, “Hang on just a sec!”  When she came back she had a small little box, a final gift for the day.  When I opened it, I found my great-grandma Anita’s cameo necklace and matching clip-on earrings. It was THE best gift ever. I had plans to make the cameo into a brooch since it was missing the necklace it originally came with. When the challenge was announced, I immediately knew I’d want to use Anita’s soon-to-be brooch.  I had all kinds of images in my head about how I’d want the dress to look: velvet or crushed velvet, high cut bodice, flowy sleeves.  I didn’t have the fabric, but I did find a pattern in my stash that I could use (McCalls 5619). I had zero time during the week to get materials, but I readied my plans for a strategic Saturday stop at Joann Fabrics.

The morning of, I loaded up with coffee, put on my “don’t mess with me” boots (ladies be crazy at Joanns!), and grabbed my list. Walking up to the store, I took many deep breathes to focus my mind for the pending fabric apocalypse going on inside, but as I walked through the sliding doors there was…nothing. Could it be?!?! My first Sew Weekly Challenge and everything was working out right! I found the perfect fabric, matching thread, and–you’ve got to be kidding me–TWO COUPONS that saved me $20!!

I should have tried sewing the dress in the store, the parking lot, or my car; anywhere but home. Because, you see, that’s where things started to go wrong.  Not all at once, just little tiny bits here and there.  So tiny, even, that they never really even registered in my head as being problems.  I went to wash the fabric and found laundry that I never finished needed rewashing and finishing.  I reviewed my McCalls pattern and found that the pattern nymph stole my directions (the nerve)! Once tracing the Colette pattern none of my chalk, pencils, or markers would mark on the fabric! Still, they were seemingly small issues spread out over time and so I remained optimistic.  This was for the challenge; there was no giving up!  I drank another glass of wine and pressed onward, ending in a good place with a finished bodice and only a few more steps to go.

Sunday seemed to be a new day, with better luck.  I successfully sewed on the zipper.  It was beautiful!  Until, that is, I went to zip the dress up and the pull tab flew right off the end!! The finished end, people!  This should not have happened! Yet it did.  I tried hopelessly for 20 minutes or so to get the pull tab back on before going all Celo Green on the zipper. I picked and picked and picked at the seems, and then I sewed that back end up.  The material was stretchy (thankfully) and I’m a working-class gal…zippers, for the bourgeoisie!

In the end, I’m pretty pumped.  The dress fits well and it highlights Anita’s cameo that I ended up making into a long necklace for now. Challenge completed.  Bring on the buttons; I’m sure nothing will go wrong!



Cheryl is a teacher, martial artist, crafter and sewer just trying to find balance in a busy world. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin she's now trying to fit into and explore the vast expanse that is Chicago, Illinois.


Comments are closed.

  1. Loved reading this post. :)

  2. “…zippers are for the bourgeoisie” is my new favorite excuse.

  3. It looks great and I’m glad it worked out. It will take a lot of effort for me not to name my current project the I love my seam ripper so I totally feel you on the random things going wrong. It looks like you got a great result though.

  4. Ooh, I do love a blue Peony :o) Great post, and good luck with the buttons!

  5. Oh no! I have done the exact same thing with an invisible zipper! For future reference, you can totally fix this without ripping out the zipper. First, cut off the stop at the bottom and completely open the zipper. Next, feed the zipper back on from the bottom and then re-secure the bottom stop (zig-zag stitch) and reinforce the top where it flew off. The garment industry always sews zippers each side separate, then puts the zipper tab and stops on afterwards.
    **Side note: This also works if you sew the zipper itself perfectly but the sides don’t line up. Just open the zipper and treat them as two separate sides, realigning as needed.

    Or when in doubt, just wiggle it over your head :) Beautiful color on you!

    • Thanks for the great info Jess! I’m sure I’ll run into this issue again in the future, and now I know how to turn the table on a busted zipper. Talk about empowerment! :)

  6. Really pretty and really shows off your cameo.

  7. Lovely sumptuous background for your cameo! Way to persevere and redo the zipper…I know how crazy I can get when something does wrong at the last minute when you should be done with a garment! I am reminded of the time I just finished hemming and was trimming the thread when I accidentally trimmed a hole in the skirt :\

  8. Great post! I also hate finding laundry I forgot about. I had a similar situation happen with a dress last year. It is still sitting unfinished waiting for a more patient me to come along. Love the color of your fabric.

  9. blue crushed velvet is the perfect canvas for the lovely cameo

  10. Your perseverance paid off. Your dress looks lovely. What a fabulous color on you.

  11. Ladies be crazy, zippers are bougie! Love.