Hot! The “From Loathing to Loving Nautical” Dress

Fabric: 7 yards of cotton Jacquard (45″ wide) and 1 yard red silk shantung
Pattern:  Butterick 7651
Year: c. 1950’s
Notions: 1 regular zipper, 3″ wide horsehair braid, petersham for waist stay
Time to Complete: 1 week
First Worn: April 2012
Wear Again: To my next cocktail soiree
Total Price: $65-$70 (eeeep!  I know!!!)


Growing up my mother would constantly dress me and my sister up in matching sailor outfits.  I hated every single one of them, and remember crying on at least one occasion for having to wear it.  I know I look happy… but I really loathed these sailor dresses.











In retrospect, I feel pretty bad about it.  My mother had taken the time to sew these little dresses and to show my appreciation, what did I do?!  I cried.

When I was looking through old photos with my mom, I brought up the subject of how much I used to dislike all of the sailor dresses.  While sewing my weekly creation for this challenge, I’ve been feeling guilty about how much I love all things nautical compared to how much I used to hate it.  I was going to apologize to my mom about the grief I gave her but she was completely clueless that I had ever hated them!  heh  Crisis averted!

As a result of the conversation, I don’t feel so bad anymore about how my love has grown for all things nautical.  :)  I can even say looking back, they were cute little girls dresses.  (I wonder if my sister can say same the same though…)

Given how much I used to hate my sailor dresses, I couldn’t think of a better inspiration to use for the Childhood theme.  I was originally going to sew an adult replica of the classic navy and white sailor dress, but instead I happened upon the perfect striped jacquard fabric to make a nautical-inspired dress using Butterick 7651 from the 50’s.

The construction of the dress wasn’t difficult, but cutting the fabric to match all of the stripes to create a chevron pattern took me at least 3 separate evenings, which was primarily due to the 8 gore skirt.  After I sewed the back bodice together, I realized that the darts were going to wreck my carefully planned chevron pattern on the front of the bodice.  Going back to the drawing board, I spent Friday moving around 2 darts to create 1 large dart to fall in line with the stripes of the bodice, a la Gertie.  My pattern piece looked a bit funky since my new dart ends near the bottom of my side seam, but it worked like a charm.

If the ropey-stripes don’t scream nautical enough, I went and sewed on a matching red sash on the neckline as well as on my sleeves.

I may have gone a little overboard with my stripe matching. heh

I can’t get over how much I love my new nautical dress.

I’m inserting a happy nautical *Twirl* here.

I’ve gone from completely hating nautical/sailor dresses to completely loving them.  Now I just have to sew 3 more…. heh



By day Liz Holder works as a research analyst where she plays with data and charts, but by night she becomes a create-a-holic. She loves creating and learning new things which is why her favorite craft is sewing, which she’s been doing in full force after taking her first sewing class a year and a half ago. There is an endless array of skills, tricks, and techniques for her to research on any given project and at the end she's ecstatic o have created a unique garment that she can then celebrate by sharing it with the blogosphere after which she wears it to work where she crunches more numbers and starts the cycle all over again.


Comments are closed.

  1. Hey Liz, amazing how beautiful everything lines up, so striking. I really want to learn how to do that myself. This is my favorite item you have posted so far. Love the photos, they came out fantastic too. Bravo!!

    • Thanks Krista! For me it was really time consuming and I had miscut 2 of my skirt pieces (which later became sleeves), but it’s totally doable! Look for a fabric that you can see the stripes on the wrong side as well as on the right side; it will make matching the stipes loads easier!

  2. Gorgeous! I’ve been following your blog posts on this dress and love the final garment. Great job with the matching and I love your childhood photos.

  3. Seven yards! A real 50s pattern showing how women made up for wartime austerity. what is so nice about the fabric is that it keeps to the sailor motif without looking like a costume. I admire your being able to handle the yardage and produce such a lovely dress.

    • I know! I don’t think I’ve ever used so much yardage on any other dress before. It was primarily due to my layout since I had to match all of the stripes, I cut it all on the bias, and it was only 45″ wide.

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment. :)

  4. Holy hell this is amazing. AMAZING! It’s so gorgeous and special and really flattering and glorious! Well DONE, your patience paid off, this is magnificent. I love this! Splendid!

  5. Wow, a whole week to make this! Well worth it.

  6. Liz,
    The dress looks fantastic!! As for the quilt feelings, the best way to square things with mom is to take the folks on a cruise (with you wearing the dress, of course).
    -Dr. Robusto

  7. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Did you wear some kind crinoline underneath or is that simply the fullness of the skirt?

    • Hey Stef… I wish I had a very clear answer for you…
      The fabric was on the thicker side, being a cotton jacquard so the gathered waist really helped to puff it out initially. I added a 3″ horsehair braid hem along with a facing at the hem which also contributed to keeping the hem full, and then I did wear a crionline underneath to help retain the puffiness while I was on the windy dock. :)
      I think it would have been perfectly full enough with the horsehair braid due to the thick fabric.

  8. That is VERY impressive. My favorite picture is right after you talked about sewing the sash on the neckline and sleeves. LOVE the dress in that picture.

  9. Amazing! Great construction and attention to detail. I can see why you love it! You pictures on the dock and boat really help set off the dress. My favorite is your twirl photo.

  10. it’s wonderful, and all of that effort really shows in the fabulousness of the final result.

  11. I love this. I’m about to tackle a chevron striped summer dress in the near future and it scares the pants off me! Yours is lovely, and such an elegant update!

    • I was saying to Krista above, it helps when you can see the stripes on the wrong side of the fabric; totally key to help line everything up correctly.

      The chevron pattern is so fun, it’s worth all of the potential pain of cutting/sewing. :)

  12. What a FEAST for the eyes! The beautifully matched stripes and red trim touches are stunning!

  13. Fabulous! All the hard work was well worth it. Great pic too.

  14. Not only is the dress amazing, but you found a perfect backdrop for your dress, too. Excellent!

  15. Gorgeous! I’ve loved following the progress on your blog. I think the tie at the neck matches really well to your childhood dresses! Such an awesome job matching all those stripes!

  16. A triumph of a dress! Love the red sashes and full skirt. Congrats!

  17. Wow! What an amazing job on matching up all those stripes.
    *I bow down to you in admiration*

  18. The dress looks wonderful, great matching of stripes and I adore the red sash too:)

  19. Love your nautical dress! You matched those diagonals like a pro, and to a beautiful effect.

  20. Wow you look stunning in your dress! It is definitely nautical and I just love that fabric. I love everything about this dress!

  21. Incredible! I love it! And in these photos you do look genuinely happy. :)

  22. This is amazing. The stripe matching and dart is just brilliant. And I LOVE your smile in the photos, you are radiant….clearly proud of your achievement and having fun. Fab stuff. That red lipstick really suits you.

  23. Absolute perfection!! A masterpiece, I say :)

  24. Just gorgeous, love your happy little twirl too.