Hot! The “30 minutes to Spare” dress.

The Facts:

Fabric:  Thrifted rayon jersey, $1/metre
Pattern:  Butterick 3131 (sorta)
Year:  2001
Notions:  none
Time to complete:  30 minutes.  Not kidding.
First worn:  Haven’t had a chance yet, since we spent the weekend in a cabin in the woods.
Wear again?:  Yes, but I’m waiting until it warms up a little.

Total cost:  $2

I always thought it strange when Mena et al. would start one dress, then abandon it to start another at the last minute.  Well, here we are on the second challenge of 2012 and I’m in the same boat.

I spent much of my free time last week refashioning a suit, accessorized by a silk-screened clutch, but it just wasn’t coming together as well as it could I didn’t want to make any mistakes because I was working with a tailor-made dupioni suit that had belonged to my mother-in-law, Margaret.

Having abandoned my first idea, I looked up and saw this rayon jersey draped over my ironing board. Hmmmm…those tiny red dots would work well with that red leather belt that Margaret gave me…..and that would pass for this week’s theme in a pinch!  So I grabbed Butterick 3131 and cut out a very rough front and back, plus a little extra length.  The pattern recommends a woven fabric, cut on the bias, but I figured this drapey knit could be cut any ol’ way and work out.  A little serging here and there and I had a dress.  That was easy.  Just don’t look at the hem.  I SAID DON’T LOOK AT THE HEM.

On Friday evening, I got a call and was invited to spend the weekend at a cabane way out at Lac de l’Orignal (Lake of the Moose), which meant I had to get this done, photographed and uploaded on Friday night between kids’ bedtime and my bedtime.  The photo above is the best I was able to do in a dark house with my self-timer.  I tried to get some shots again in the morning, aided by my little “helpers”, and I managed to get the ones below.  (I’m wondering where my 2-year-old learned to pose like that…)

Those who read my blog may know that I lost my mother-in-law recently.  Having spent the early years of her marriage living with her own MIL who could be very, VERY difficult, she made every effort to be just the opposite to me.  She was generous with gifts, hesitant to criticise and always afraid of causing offense.  She was as far from the MIL stereotype as you could get.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to finish the gorgeous silk dupioni suit this time around, I still got to include a memory of my mother-in-law with this accessory.  Thank you Margaret.  For everything.



Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.


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  1. Love your dress, and love your wee one posing with you :) It’s a fabulous ensemble to honor your MIL’s style and memory.

  2. I love this dress! The print works beautifully with the cowl neckline and the belt. It’s wonderful tribute to your mother-in-law.

  3. Nice redraft on the shirt pattern – for a last-minute switcheroo it sure turned out nicely, and the suit can be your UFO project for next month :)

  4. I also lost my very lovely MIL Margaret (Maggie) too early, unfortunately before I had her granddaughter, who fortunately for us all is her image :o) Your dress is lovely, and a fabulous way of respecting the memory of and accessory from your own MIL.

  5. My condolences on the loss of your MIL… she sounds like a fabulous lady and seems to have great style (as I love that belt) to boot! This dress is lovely and very flattering!

  6. Great dress, and lovely writing. :)

    When can we see the suit?

  7. Oooh! I love this print! (You’ll see something similar once my project is up). And this is definitely a great way to pay tribute with the belt.

  8. Weird – comment didn’t go through. Anyway, I love this print, and the whole look is a great way to pay tribute to your mother-in-law. Lovely!

  9. There’s your comment! haha
    There was another comment that went to my email inbox, but didn’t show up here. Maybe too much traffic on sewweekly? or who knows; I know zero about web hosting.

  10. What a beautiful tribute to your MIL! That red belt pops so nicely against the background of the fabric. Also, as soon as I read that I wasn’t to look at the hem, I of course had to scroll back up and look…

  11. Love it! Love the fabric, love the belt, love the 30 minutes. Kudos!

  12. 30 minutes?!? Wow!

    I love the story behind this, and that it’s a tribute to your MIL. Beautiful.

    • 30 minutes = I SAID DON’T LOOK AT THE HEM! ;)
      I’ll probably finish the hem and armscyes during UFO week….or just always wear it with a cardigan.

      I have many things from my MIL that I’d love to work with and showcase here: fabrics, accessories, clothing. She was quite the shopper and saved everything, so there was a lot to sort through when she passed away. It has also given me the impetus to purge my house a bit, knowing that someone else will have that gargantuan job when I die. I pity the poor soul who has to sort through my sewing things! …or perhaps my son and daughter will be sewists and see it as treasure…

  13. Thanks for the kind words everybody – I was seriously thinking that this would be a train wreck of a challenge, but it has turned out OK. I’ll try my best to actually finish the garment I started this week, rather than resorting to plan B. Again.

    Two weeks down, 50 weeks to go.

    Woah, my house is a mess already……