Hot! The ” At least it’s Red” dress

Hallelujah for the car : )

Fabric: Red Rayon gabardine from stash, print rayon challis from Stone Mountain Daughter
: Butterick 7239
Year: 1955-ish
Notions: 2 buttons from stash, belting from Stone Mountain daughter, buckle & zipper from stash and one brand-new-just-built petticoat!
Time to complete:  A million years (probably somewhere around 15 or so including the petticoat
First worn: For this photoshoot
Wear again? Probably not
Total price: Dress ~ $10 (including pattern from flea market), Petticoat ~ $31


I don’t even know where to start with this one! Had this pattern not had serious charm I wouldn’t have considered it but start it I did and boy oh boy…

I’ve made hundreds of vintage-style dresses from vintage patterns, they aren’t rocket science : ) The rocket-science part comes when you try to dress a 20 year old who is used to wearing jeans with zippers that are six teeth long, tank tops and hoodies into something where nylons and a bra are mandatory and the belt goes AT the waist, not eight inches south…

So the fact that the pattern was complete as in all the pieces were there was fine, there were just no directions. And really, there are SEVEN pattern pieces, including the belt, how hard can it be?

Seriously? I decided to make the two unfunctional buttonholes bound. Took me three tries to get the first one where I liked it. That would probably account for 2 hours worth of “Seriously?”. The second took less than 10 minutes. Then the fake bolero top looked like it should just line up so easily…and that was probably 3+ hours of “Seriously?”. I ended up taking the whole top apart twice and finally re-draped it on my mannequin and then we were as good as it was going to get. By this time I had come down with a nasty cold that s l o w l y makes its way from your sinus’s to your throat to your lungs and I felt like serious crap and more than once I thought about just throwing this into a bag, into a box and taking a break.

But no! This isn’t what the Suburban Sewing Dominatrix would do!! This dress was NOT going to win! I figured I had an hour or so left to finish it and then it occurred to me I was going to need the proper undergarments. Out to the boxes of old costume parts and pieces and TWO, count them two, hours later…no petticoats. At one point I had about 16 and knew I had sold most of them but thought for sure I’d kept my vintage turquoise silk petticoat. Apparently not, so off to Joann’s to buy parts and pieces. Can I make this any more tedious? Seriously.

The time I thought I was going to spend coughing and napping on the couch was spent gathering layer after layer of stiff petticoat tulle. The cats thought they had a new toy, I thought I had lost my mind. I figured once it was sewn I’d have it for other fabulous outfits so I kept going. Finally it came time to try it all on and …Oh My Goodness! The ^%$* thing is TOO BIG! I cut it out a month ago so back to the sewing machine. I was SO NOT feeling the love about this red wonder : (

The only thing that saved the day was the last-minute inspiration of the cars. The ladies on the pattern look like they’re going to church or a social (why else wear gloves?) so I thought, in which would I go visiting? The truck?

Fab truck : )

I’m loving the truck, but is it fancy enough for the dress?

Oh the car ...

In between the coughing and the blowing of the nose I was able to finally see the dress doesn’t totally suck but if it was a piece of sand and I was an oyster we’d have a pearl by now…that’s all I’m sayin’.

Top close-up

It’s been a while since I was this happy at completing something that made me so unhappy. I’m still not convinced I’ll ever wear this again but by the end of the day I found a smile : )

Sort of a smile



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


Comments are closed.

  1. love how the fake bolero fits on there. so cool! hope it’s growing on you :)

    • It’s sitting on the mannequin in my sewing room…just looking at me : ) I’ll think about it some more when I feel better but thanks for the encouragement.

  2. That contrast fabric makes it. Fab styling and photos, hope you are better now

  3. You look fabulous in this red dress it’s just stunning on you. The shoes and purse really top it off. You must be very happy with this creation!

  4. I loooove this dress, and really appreciate the truth being told, instead of “I made this skirt/vintage dress/entire outfit in 2-3 hours!” as I spend 1.5 hours just re-threading and trouble-shooting my serger *before* I even get to sew a stitch. You look fabulous!!

    • Thank you, Joann! I “should” have been able to make this in 2-3 hours but the universe was playing with me. I totally feel your pain about the serger – mine involves shooing cats away and retrieving spools of thread from the floor. That’s why I own several.

  5. I love this dress! I think it’s so very flattering on you and the little details–that faux bolero!–are wonderful.

  6. I can totally relate to you, most of my projects here take me hours and hours (and involve at least one muslin for fit.) I love your dress and the cars go with it!

    • Muslins are a must for some things (especially pants!), and I have cat assistants as well, which I’m sure add an hour or so onto the time it takes to finish something. Thanks for the dress and car love : ) One of these days I’ll have to make something for my daughter and the two of you can trade tattoo stories.

  7. Oh my! I am in love with this pattern! I will defiantly be looking out for it. :)
    I hope you grow to like this dress as much as I do…it looks wonderful on you!

  8. Incredible job! The top construction is lovely. I have lost my two petticoats too – perhaps it’s s conspiracy. Plan to re buy something from Ebay, there’s no way I am making another one!

    • Thanks Trish! I used to buy those things wholesale so it KILLED me to have to make one but maybe there is some larger reason for the whole project…at least I really appreciate its loveliness now : )

  9. That dress is absolutely gorgeous! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that after you’ve had some time to forget the pain it caused you, you’ll like it too. :-) Some projects just seem to be sent to try us….

  10. I completely love it! I would also have been taken in by the pattern picture and felt I would have to sew it.

  11. I do like the tulip collar and the faux bolero – and the dramatic skirt and story. Your perseverance is great. I’ve been slack this week (oh it’s too hot to turn the iron on so I won’t do any sewing tonight)

  12. I love this dress. It looks gorgeous on you. I would love to sew it some day but I’m scared after reading the story. I give you great credit that you could sew it without directions. Can’t wait it see your piece for next week.

  13. I have to agree with everyone. This is a gorgeous dress and great styling. I’d love to make a petticoat someday. Do you have any tips on that?

  14. What? All that awesome work and you may not wear it again? That makes me sad. Beauty like that needs to be out in the world and not hidden in a closet. However, I feel priveleged that you shared it with us.

  15. Oh, you should definitly wear it, over and over again, it’s sooooo lovely. Maybe pair it with pearls :-)??? And those cars are awesome, too.

  16. Put it away for a month where you can’t see it and when you take it out again you will be dazzled by it! Because really, it’s amazing.

  17. Oh no, that dress is FABULOUS. The fit & color are so so wonderful. This is definitely a “wear-again” dress – it is so perfect on you!

  18. GORGEOUS job! This dress is so classic! I adore everything about it, especially those contrasting facings!

  19. I think you’ve made an absolutely fabulous professional looking dress (and love that fake bolero and it’s lines) despite not having the directions. Seriously impressive. Hope you’ll gradually get to feel prouder of the achievement. You look fab even when not grinning!

  20. This is so great! You look so awesome. Like you’re dressed to the nines and ready to kick some ass all at the same time. I mean that in the best way possible. :)

  21. I’m with Lisette, I’m guessing you really loathe the amount of time you spent on it but seriously you have done an amazing job and you look a million dollars in this vintage darling. I’d be proud of myself. The cars etc totally complement your look. Well done and do wear her again.

  22. It’s GREAT! That is serious construction, there, very nice work. It fits you like a glove!

  23. As an extremely slow sewist, I have to say that the time was well worth it! Fifteen hours for such a lovely dress is a small price to pay, no? :)