Hot! The “Statement Necklace” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Denim in slate <$1, Vintage voile $22 (only half used)
Pattern: Simplicity 3864
Year: 1962
Notions: Belt buckle kit, $.75
Time to complete: 15 hours
First worn: January 2012
Wear again? Yes!!

Total Cost: ~$23

I never wrote a sewing resolution post. If I had, I would have said that (besides making more separates), I was going to try my hardest to make garments that I’m certain I’ll wear more than once. Either that means a more practical garment or something that doesn’t bother me in such a way that I’m never comfortable wearing it. This week’s creation is exactly the sort of multi-use garment that I’m talking about. But, it wasn’t easy to get there. More about that later.

One glance at the photographs and you should be able to immediately spot my inspiration: that gorgeous turquoise and vintage enamel brooch necklace I’m wearing.

In thinking about this challenge, my first instinct was to find a new pair of shoes to base my creation upon (I love shoe shopping and women be shopping!). But I don’t need any new shoes and I really wanted to highlight something special. But I also wanted a new accessory to work with. So I headed to Etsy to find the perfect inspiration.

Almost immediately in my search through San Francisco sellers (I needed it in two days), I found the most beautiful necklace from Yueh-Wen Chang of Sora Designs (here’s the shop’s Facebook profile.). It had everything I wanted my inspiration to be: colorful, repurposed vintage, totally a statement and local. I LOVED it. So I contacted Wen from Sora and asked if, in exchange for the necklace, she’d be interested in having her shop featured at The Sew Weekly. Like the Sew Weekly’s 30 Days of Pincushions, the opportunity to spotlight sellers and their works makes me really happy. Getting a gorgeous necklace like this one, makes me ecstatic!

And to make things sweeter, Wen is offering Sew Weekly readers a discount:  From now until 1/31/2012, use the code “Sewhappy10” to receive 10% anything in her store. I wanted to pick out a couple pieces to showcase and I seriously can’t narrow them down! Here are my four favorite pieces currently in the shop:



Thanks, Wen!

And now, a bit about the dress.

So as soon as this necklace was chosen, I went downstairs to my sewing dungeon room to see if I had any fabric that would work with this piece. I imagined a two-toned outfit, a top and a skirt. The top would be super simple in order to let the necklace to shine. The bottom would reflect the colors of the piece. In a matter of moments, I found the perfect fabric — this vintage voile that I purchase on Etsy last year for $22.

While the flowers look a bit more blue than turquoise, I think the print works marvelously. And that was it, I knew what I wanted to make.

So remember that resolution to make separates? Well, the skirt and top quickly turned into a dress. The basic concept (a dark, simple top and a printed skirt) remained and I just decided that it was going to be one piece. Ok, now remember the part about that resolution to work my little fingers until I created something that I truly loved. Well, that came into play with this dress. The pattern has been made up before as my Eat Local Dress and my Barely Green Dress.

The original bodice was way too much like a sack — especially in contrast the light and airy voile of the skirt. It just wasn’t doing it for me at all. Omitting the zipper had made the dress not form-fitting enough and the sleeves were too frumpy. And this was my conclusion after I actually hand-stitched the facings down! But instead of just making due with what I had (and not wearing it again), I decided to go in and alter the bodice until I thought it was perfect. I took about four inches out of the back of the bodice (I could still omit the zipper, thankfully!) and then I chopped the sleeves. I actually kept the facings on the outside since I liked how it looked. Oh, and I took in the shoulders about one inch. And then I went to bed.

When I put on the dress this morning, I was quite pleased how it looked (especially since I hadn’t tried it on with my slip previously). I was happy that I went the extra step to make it fit better and make it something I knew I’d wear again and again. And that made me quite happy!


I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in San Francisco, it’s uncharacteristically warm. It should be raining and it’s not (which, probably is a pretty bad thing). I was able to go the entire day with this dress and a light sweater. And I couldn’t resist the San Francisco shot that makes me realize how beautiful California can be.



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.


Comments are closed.

  1. Beautiful dress! Makes me think again about not liking a dark top half with a lighter skirt. I always go for the opposite.

    • Thanks, Katie! Yeah, it’s a difficult combo to pull off and I think I *just* made it passable. I had another dark color option that just was too contrasty. I’m glad you like it!

  2. Dear Mena,
    You look great in your new dress and necklace! Thanks for working out a jewelry shopping discount for your SW readers!

    • Thanks, Jenny! I was glad to offer it. And I’m glad that I could find so many other pieces that I think people would like — that’s the testament to a great designer.

  3. Beautiful! That gray makes your necklace POP!

  4. Oh! I forgot to mention in the post that those two bracelets were from Oona! Thanks, Oona!

  5. I would have never guessed this was a dress. You did a great job, Mena. Beautiful colors and inspiration.

  6. Ah that’s so pretty! I love the fabric combo

  7. I love seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. We live in a magical spot, don’t we? Gorgeous dress, by the way. You’re two for two with the 2012 challenges. Will you ever take a week off?! You are truly inspirational.

  8. Such a gorgeous necklace – thanks for the coupon code, Mena! I love what you’ve created this week. The necklace is perfectly showcased with the dress.
    I’ve been enjoying wearing short sleeves and no tights during this warm weather. It’s been seriously gorgeous, hasn’t it?

    • Thanks, Lizz! I love the weather and then I get all worried and think “what if it never rains again?” Walking the dog in the morning in just a T-shirt is ridiculous.

  9. Hi Mena,
    this dress is marvelous. this gray is not that dark and i love the idea of that it’s a dress but looks like two pieces. (now I want one too…..) I am so glad that this vintage pink flower necklace found a great home (and a dress). thanks for the opportunity to be introduced to your readers.

  10. Oooooh this is beautiful! I can’t wait to take advantage of the discount on something pretty! :)

  11. What a great start to the year – this is a beautiful dress and the perfect backdrop for that stunning necklace. It is also VERY warm here today, about 40 degrees (celcius) – I’m melting!

  12. Great way to start off the New Year – Separates without being separate. Great colour matching for the dress and it does make an ideal canvas for the necklace.

  13. Mena, once again you have nailed the challenge! Beautiful dress… can I steal you to fill my wardrobe with pretty things?

  14. Beautiful ensemble. I am a statement jewelry kind of girl, for sure. We visited friends in San Mateo for New Year’s and then headed into San Francisco with our kids for Sunday and Monday after. It was so sunny and warm – a perfect visit. We fell in love with The Argonaut Hotel.

    • Thanks, Crystal! I think I’m going to see a lot of these types of necklaces in my future. Yeah, the weather has been amazing. I’m glad you could enjoy it.

  15. lovely dress! It goes beautifully with the necklace — I’m always impressed by how you manage to incorporate prints into these very polished looks.

    • Thanks, Valerie! I had four yards of this fabric and wanted to really make a dress out of the whole thing. But I exercised restraint and I think that’s why the print/solid works.

  16. Wow! The grey makes the necklace stand out and the voile just brings it all together. And the belt *swoon*

    • Thanks, Amanda! The belt is a little sad since I was kind of rushing through it. If I can find a pink, thick belt for the dress, I’m buying it!

  17. I really love these three colours together! And your photos are just amazing! Fabulous way to start the New Year with a perfectly fitted dress with an amazing new necklace! Going to check out the shop now!!

    • Thanks, Debi! There are some really gorgeous pieces there. I’m usually the type of person that doesn’t like repurposed vintage (I’m a purist), but I have to say Wen’s designs just work. She really keeps the spirit of the original piece.

  18. Gorgeous colour combination and love that necklace.

  19. Oh, love it! The necklace, the dress, the print of the voile, wow! Great start to sewing 2012!

  20. I was going to comment on the sleeves, the shape is so gorgeous! Ha Ha! Great colours and I’d never pick you in that shade of grey, but it’s just darling! Wonderful beginnings to 2012! xoxo

    • Thanks, Veronica! I would never wear grey usually. It just dulls me out. Thankfully, there’s a bit of a brown tint to the grey that gives it a little more wiggle room. So, are we going to see a creation from you soon? :) I miss my Veronica Darling drafts.

  21. This dress is stunning! I love the colour combo and that necklace is to die for.

  22. You look fantastic in that slate grey colour, and the final picture? Wow. So jealous of the amazing backdrop, which sets off the dress to a tee.

  23. Wow, what a brilliant colour combination…it looks so fresh and the grey makes your necklace really pop! The snap in front of the Bridge is stunning and making me long for spring….it seems a long way off here in England!

  24. Your dress and the necklace are so gorgeous! I’m slightly disappointed you had to make so many changes to the dress pattern because I was thinking how much I want a copy of it. The neckline and sleeves are so lovely.

    • Thanks, Lisette! The changes could have been avoided if I went with the shorter sleeve view originally (that’s what I cut to the second time around.) And, if I didn’t cut the back bodice on the fold originally. That added an additional 2 inches that I ended up lopping away.

  25. Oh, Mena! Your creations always make me happy and I’m so happy to see you made something for this challenge. I adore that necklace and love the vintage buttercup one, too. Gah!

    I love dresses that look like two piece outfits – clever you! You’ve really done such a marvellous job and congratulations for going back and making it something you’ll wear frequently. :D

    • Thanks, Sarah! I was happy that I was able to get something out this first week. Last December I was thinking “I’m never going to do a challenge” because I was so tired. But sewing and posting is a drug to me! That buttercup necklace is gorgeous!

  26. That dress is just beautiful. Thanks for linking to that designer’s shops and getting us that discount! She really does have some lovely things.

  27. What a lovely scroll-down surprise to see the lower half of your dress in a print! And the etsy seller shout out is the cherry on top.

  28. Love this dress Mena – is it a stretch denim that you used? I especially like that the sleeves are cut in one with the bodice.

  29. So pretty Mena! I was also shocked when I saw this, because I had that exact fabric from etsy in my favorites, and when I went to buy it, you had snapped it up! SO WEIRD! I love what you’ve done with it!!!

    • Thanks, Katie! What a small world. Yeah, I grabbed the fabric since it was such a great deal. It’s really old given the selvage and the design. Though lightweight fabrics are so less practical than a good medium weight cotton.

  30. I love everything about this!

  31. I think that last picture might be one of my favorites of you! You look happy and your backdrop is perfect :) I adore the dress. It looks like a fantastic, versatile piece that has lots of color and sets off your lovely necklace so well!

  32. The cap sleeve on that dress is adorable! My eyes definitely went to the necklace when I looked at the photos; mission accomplished!

  33. Lovely, Mena! And thanks so much for introducing us to Wen’s shop. I just placed my first order with her, and I know that there will be more to come. As someone who is not often (alas) on etsy and other such places, I value sites such as yours that highlight great vendors and ideas. I love supporting these small merchants, and I am very excited to see TSW grow; it should definitely be a business! Cheers to you for 2012!

    • Thanks, Sarah! I’m so glad that you found something you liked. What did you end up getting? And thanks for the business encouragement. I pretty much do this full time. Now, if only I could make a living. :)

  34. you are a CONSTANT reminder of how to bring vintage patterns into our century. brilliant.

    ps: you’re welcome! i looked at the bracelets and thought, hey! i have those exact ones! then i remembered :)

    • Thanks, Oona! Yeah, I was glad that this dress actually looks contemporary. There’s just so much “who is that weirdo in the vintage dress?” looks I want to get during the day.

      And yes, those are your bracelets — you gave them a good home.

  35. I have been eyeing pieces from Sora Designs for a while now and love that you found her and made a fantastic dress specifically for her gorgeous necklace!

  36. Really like the idea of making a dress look like separates. Those jewellery pieces are so Spring-like and lovely.

  37. Love it! This piece is very contemporary!

  38. I love this outfit, the voile is so pretty! I’ve been wanting to tackle top/skirt-as-dress creations, and this will be the year. On a random note, it’s also pretty exciting to have a photo next to my name when I comment! Hey, it’s the little things in life ;)

    • Thanks, Amanda! I’m loving having user photos next to names. All of these people who have been commenting for years and now I know what they look like. Actually, I knew what a lot of people looked like since I read their blogs, but now I’m all “oh my goodness, that’s so-and-so!”

  39. This is drop dead! So bright and cheery, with a nod to vintage, all without being twee!!! Thanks for the shop introduction as well :) And how the heck do you get into that sucker w/o a zip?

  40. Fantastic! The dress really showcases the necklace and I love the skirt print. Thanks for sharing that Etsy shop too, it really is a beautiful necklace.

  41. Wow! I just love this dress to pieces! :) Great inspiration too–the necklaces at Sora are gorgeous (off to drool over those as soon as I’m done typing this comment. ;)), and the colors were such a great starting point. Plus it’s the sort of dress you can wear a number of ways, which lately has been appealing to me (closet versatility!). Bravo on such a gorgeous dress!

  42. The necklace is so you as is the vintage voile, yum, your photos are always so inspiring and amazing, oh if only my hubby could hold the camera straight LOL. Perfect perfect perfect Mena.

  43. wow! that’s adorable! had to come out of lurk-dom for this outfit. cute!!