Hot! The “Childhood Trumps Exhaustion” Dress

The Facts 
Fabric: Red & white pin dot quilting cotton from Jo-Ann’s, $9 for 2 yards; white scrap eyelet.
Pattern: New Look 6046, $3.99
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Eyelet lace, embroidery floss – $2
Time to complete: ~4 hours
First worn: April 2012
Wear again? Yes.

Total Cost: ~$15

Here’s a little fun fact about me: I WILL NEVER MISS A CHILDHOOD THEMED CHALLENGE. NEVER. If you recall, this past Saturday was my Titanic dinner (post and photos coming up later) and I was sewing/beading to the very last minute. This past week was completely devoted to finishing that darn dress. So, by the time Sunday rolled around, I hadn’t even started this week’s creation. I knew what I wanted to make but I didn’t even have the materials. Now, if I liked to be easy on myself I would have started in the morning. But since I had to go up to Petaluma to pick Penelope up from her grandparents’ house and since I had to go to Jo-Ann’s to buy fabric and since I had to go get some Korean BBQ for dinner and since I HAD to play Triple Town on my iPhone for an hour and a half after I put Pen to bed and since I HAD to watch Mad Men, I didn’t start this dress until 11pm at night.

Talk about procrastination.

The first half of the inspiration comes from a much-worn shirt of mine that is in numerous childhood photographs. Here I am, about two years old with said shirt:

The second half comes from this jumper that also is oft-photographed. While you can’t tell from the photograph, the fabric is red with little white pin dots. I hadn’t even realized that my mom was wearing an eyelet top in this photo. So, there you go: double inspiration!

When I was at Jo-Ann’s picking out the fabric, I saw that they were having a 99 cents sale on McCall’s patterns. So, instead of braving the mess of my sewing room and looking for a nice 1970s pattern, I decided to use the contemporary New Look 6046. I wish the skirt was a bit fuller, but I can’t make everything look like a 1950s party dress. The pattern was easy to put together and it’s nice to have a lined bodice.

Here’s a closer look at the bodice. The blanket stich around the neckline looks all wonky in the photographs, but I think it turned out well. After all that hand-beading I did for my Titanic dress, I can not believe I took the time to hand-stitch the floss. This was at about 2am. The necklace I’m wearing is locally made in San Francisco and you can get your own here. I have a thing for squirrels.


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.


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  1. Hi Mena, you look adorable, can’t wait to see the Titanic party dress.

  2. I love your inspiration shots. Penelope looks so much like you as a wee babe! Very cute summer-y dress.

  3. Soooo cute!! I love your pics! I agree that Penelope looks very like you as a child.

    This challenge inspired me to post a few scans of my own. Scary stuff, lol.

  4. So cute! I love the childhood inspiration but that you can still wear it now. It’ll be great in the summertime.

  5. So cute! Your little pigtails and styling make you look like you’re just a young tiny-bopper! Can’t believe you started at 11:00 p.m. — What a trooper!

  6. Super-cute! I thought I was the only one who procrastinated like that! Now, I have no excuses left! None. I shall go at once to commence flat-lining my dress…

  7. I adore this! I also adore the Triple Town session (love computer games!) and your whole weekend! Excited to see the Titanic dress!

  8. So cute! Adorable photos of you as a child too. Lovely details.

  9. I’m glad you didn’t sit this challenge out. It’s one of my favorite challenges you all do. Can’t wait to see everyone’s creations.

  10. Oh Wow Mena talk about procrastination haha. Cute fun dress, perfect for Summer.

  11. I can’t believe how much taht first childhood photo looks like your daughter! I did polka dots too, but alas I still have to hem and take photos. It’s been busy over here.

  12. Omg, stop it. This is beyond cute! I love those little ruffled sleeves. Now that I’m in my thirties, I may finally look old enough to wear this without people thinking I’m 14. I remember a resident telling me that I just had to look more exhausted and people would think I was an adult – this was when I was 24-25 and working in a hospital and complaining that all the patients thought I was still in high school.

  13. I love this. I love it so much. Very adorable and highly worthy of the inspirational photos.

  14. Ha ha! You could seriously pass for a teenager. And I thought for sure it was Penny in those pictures of you! What a darling outfit.

    Happy sewing!


  15. You look like a teenager in first shot. You really captured the essence of the challenge.

  16. That is so gorgeous! And an 11pm start – Wow!

  17. I love how you have the Childhood inspired theme! I am going to look thru old photos now to see what I can use for my version. You look great, by the way, luv the dress. :)

  18. I am in awe that you managed to make something that quickly, so late, when most of us would have been sewed out from the Titanic dress (if we’d ever managed something that complex/awesome in the first place)…..AND manage to look so cute in a photo session. Have you got a decrepit painting in your attic? I need to know the secret!

  19. So fabulous! I love the red and white together, especially with the ribbon added!