Hot! The “Esme Homage” Dress

The Facts:

Fabric: Stretch Cotton from Gorgeous Fabrics - $9/yard, Cotton Poplin from Fabric Mart - $1.99/yard
Pattern: A frankenblend of Colette’s Macaron and Peony dresses, both gifts.
Year: 2010 an 2011, respectively.
Notions: 12 inch invisible zipper, 15 1/2 inch coverable buttons, self-made piping
Time to Complete: 10 hours (thank you, impossible hand sewn lining insertion!)
First Worn: Unworn as of yet.
Wear Again?: Definitely! I think this will be the perfect springtime dress, jazzed up with some espadrilles and a cute cardigan.
Total Price: 40(ish) dollars

Y’all, I read fashion blogs. A lot of fashion blogs. Each morning, my Google Reader overflows with gorgeous dresses and adorable outfits. Many of my favorite bloggers write about vintage fashion, which is great…until I realize I can’t own any piece I fall in love with! One can’t exactly pick up a 50s shirt-dress at the Gap, you know? Recently, I developed a bad case of vintage dress lust. The lovely Esme, of Esme and the Laneway, posted a picture of her Grey Buttons Summer Dress, an adorable early-60s dress with a piped sweetheart buttoned bustline. I knew it had to be mine!

With the help of Colette’s Peony and Macaron patterns, I built a bodice pattern that echoed Esme’s dress. From the Macaron, I stole the neckline and sweetheart bust, then took the rest of the bodice and skirt from the Peony. The bodice is actually two pieces, a yoke and the main bodice, joined with a piped button placket. Originally, I was going to copy the workable buttonholes from Esme’s dress, but was worried that my machine buttonholes would be messier than the original handworked ones. Instead, I just sewed the buttons on as decoration-only. It’s not like I’d want to separate the bodice, anyway!

As for the skirt, it’s not quite the original Peony skirt either. I kept the slight A-line shape, but added room for pleats instead of the prescribed gathers. There aren’t as many as on Esme’s dress, due to fabric constraints, but they work with an early-60s silhouette nicely. Another variation I made on the original is the waist piping. Though the dress will mostly be worn with a belt, since it has a bit too much waist ease for my taste, I decided to emphasize the waist a bit more and add a bit more piping while I was at it. More piping is always a good decision.

For fabric, I used a light yellow stretch cotton with brown-outlined white flowers, which I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics ages ago. It’s been sitting in my stash, waiting for the right project, and it seemed the perfect pairing for this vintage-inspired dress. I fully lined it with brown poplin, bought for a song from Fabric Mart this past fall. That same brown is also used for the fabric-covered buttons and self-made piping.

In the end, I adore the dress. There are niggling little fitting issues that I may see to, like the darn waist ease, but it’s very wearable with my wardrobe. Once the weather gets a little warmer (and my legs get a little tanner!), I think this will become one of my favorite day dresses. Thanks to Esme, for the inspiration!


Author

Mary

After bemoaning the lack of affordable, pretty dresses in stores, Mary finally took her mother's advice and learned how to sew in the summer of 2010. She is now obsessed with vintage patterns, lovely fabrics, and the quest for - of course - the perfect dress.

49 Comments

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  1. Adorable! Makes me yearn for spring :)

  2. Very pretty! Love the prints. I want to make one too!!

  3. Great job! Both the original dress and your version are adorable. That piped sweetheart detail with buttons is so unique!

  4. I love Esme’s dress and have been considering Frankendressing it. This version is LOVELY. I’m very envious of the fact that you look absolutely adorable in yellow as yellow and I have, at best, a difficult relationship! VERY cute ensemble!

    • Thank you so, Tina! You should definitely try Frankendressing the Esme dress – it wasn’t nearly so difficult to draft as I’d imagined it would be. Also, I think I’ve just forced myself on yellow. It’s my favorite color, so I’m terrible about buying garments in any sunny shade, even if they make me look sallow. It’s a stroke of luck this one worked at all! ;)

  5. WOW! I just added Esme’s dress to my pinterest account and cited to use the macaron as a base. And what was I to find today on SewWeekly but your very own MTL of it! :)

    It looks amazing! Well done. :)

    • That’s too funny, zilredloh! Great sewists pin alike, obviously. ;) Also, I can unequivocally say that the Macaron makes a perfect base for this dress. I was actually surprised how well it came together and echoed the bodice on Esme’s original. Good luck, when you try out your own version! I can’t wait to see it.

  6. Love, love, LOVE this dress! Fab job.

  7. You have done an amazing job with this dress – I love it.

  8. Great job on recreating a vintage dress, I have so many of those saved in my ‘inspirations’ folder too!

    • Thank you! So happy to not be alone in the vintage love. Sewing has been the best thing for this obsession. It’s great not being limited by what’s in my size at the local vintage shops.

  9. Adorable interpretation! I just love that neckline detail! Adding it to the inspiration list :-)

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Isn’t that neckline awesome? Whomever the original designer was is completely brilliant. It’s such a great detail and not that hard to recreate, thank heavens! :)

  10. This is wonderful! You did a kick ass job of recreating it. And you look amazing in it, too!

  11. I want this dress!

  12. This is so adorable! I love the detailing! And add me to the list of people who are super-envious that you can wear yellow. The fabric is so gorgeous!

    I’d like to add that Esme’s dress isn’t early 1960s vintage. As she states, it’s Veronika Maine (a mid-high end AU & NZ clothing store) circa 2006. I remember clearly because I fell in love with it instore and desperately wanted it, but had to concede that the shade of yellow it came in was not my colour.

    I’d forgotten all about it for years, but now maybe thanks to you I’ll make a version in a ‘me’ colour. It can be an Esme & Mary homage dress :-D

    • Wow. That will teach me to look closer at fine print photo captions! Even going back to look at the post, it took me an embarrassingly long time to see that caveat. Leave it to Esme to look so great in something contemporary that it completely passes as vintage. She had me convinced the shop she’d found it in was one of her great vintage haunts! Too funny. Thanks for the correction, Dreamstress. Now, I suppose I have Down Under store lust instead.

      Also, you must make one in your own color! I’m an avid follower of your blog and know whatever version you make up would put mine to shame. I would love to see a Dreamstress take on this faux-early-60s dress. ;)

  13. Oh wow (blushing), thank you!

  14. Love the details on the bodice. Great dress that’s beautiful to wear.

  15. I loved Esme’s dress when it popped up in my reader and I especially love yours because it’s handmade, I loved reading about the construction too. The button and piping detail is just gorgeous.

    • Thank you, Kazz! I’m just happy I was able to figure out the construction details. I’m a bit of a newbie at pattern drafting and altering, so it’s fun to see something come together correctly!

  16. Very cute. I love Esme’s style and all of her dresses.

  17. Love this, it is gorgeous – I’ll have to try my own Macaron/Peony Frankenstine… lol

    • Thanks, Anna! You will definitely have to try out this Frankenpattern. It’s so much fun to wear! I’d love to see more of them!

  18. Love the dress. Its very much like Esme’s! The soft colour is wonderful. I drool over her blog too…

  19. Great style! That’s really a great accomplishment–putting two different patterns together and ending up with such a great cute dress.

    • Thanks, Barbara! I really think it was mostly luck that it came out so well. I’ve had other Frankenpatterns go far, far awry.

  20. Jeepers- this is stunning! And the fact it is a mash up AND with such glorious fabric. Very inspiring!

  21. It’s such a fantastic dress, and I adore your piping details!

    • Thanks, Meg! I think I might be a bit of a piping addict – the dress I’m sewing right now is piped too. It’s just too cute of a detail. :)

  22. Great job recreating the look! I’m inspired and the details are totally adorable. It’s definitely a ‘I want one too’ spring dress!

    • Thank you so much, Adey! The original was just perfect, so I had to have one too. It really does make me feel all ready for spring!

  23. wow – I’m really impressed. The original is a great dress and I really like your take on it. The line of buttons is a great detail.

    • Thanks, Jen! Aren’t those buttons great? I couldn’t resist copycatting them – they’re just too cute of a detail.

  24. I love this fabric, and you look too sweet in this for words. More piping is always the right choice. Well done!