Hot! The “Life’s Too Short Not To Be A Rainbow” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: Tutti Fruitti ‘Maxed Out Large With Paisley’ on sale from Jo-Ann’s, $14.97, white crocheted edging in a bag of haberdashery from thrift store $1.
Pattern: Simplicity 3833, View B
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 22″ zip unpicked & re-used from unused dress
Time to complete: 18 hours
First worn: 14th April 2012
Wear again? Yes, when some alterations have been made.

Total Cost: $15.97 (£10.04)

The challenge: “Childhood Memories: This week, we’re using childhood and our photos as sewing inspiration”.

I don’t have a whole pile of photos of me as a kid. And due to long complicated reasons I don’t have a lot of childhood memories either. But here’s what I’ve found for your perusal (sorry about the quality, it was the 70’s):

I give you Exhibit A. Look, I had the same page boy haircut from the age of 5 till the age of 13 (I think it lasted until about 17 when I had my first perm).

And look at those shoes! Practical, not pretty and definitely not fun or trendy.

No prints, just basic blocks of colour….and those colours being washed out denim, beige, brown, white and peach. I have no idea whether I did wear pretty dresses or not. About the only thing I can remember is I wanted to be an astronaut. To be the British equivalent to Valentina Tereschkova. I bet that name means absolutely nothing to most of you. Believe me, she was as big as the Osmonds or David Cassidy to me.

You see that top right pic…compare the trendiness of my mate in low-waisted, cut-off jean shorts to my high-waisted, beige, safari-style shorts, her bomber jacket to my white sensible cardigan (admittedly embroidered with red flowers, but still not trendy) and white collared school shirt (on holiday, I ask you!)

Where were the psychedelic prints of the 70s? Where were any prints at all? Where were colours that didn’t make every photo I was in look like I’d meant to dress for sepia?

Is it any wonder that I’m now a print and loud-colour junkie with a passion for out-of-the-ordinary shoes??

Actually I did find one pic slightly more interesting….

There’s flowery print here, though clearly a school photo…and even the hair’s been allowed slightly longer. Perhaps I did have days being a pretty princess after all.

I clearly haven’t learned how to smile yet though. Unfortunately I look into the eyes of this little girl, probably about 7 or 8 (?) and it just makes me want to cry.

But enough of this. Although that little girl is still in me somewhere, I’m a million miles from all that now.

But I thought I’d make you a version of this dress, with the bib front, a flowery pattern, the white crotchet trim and pearlised buttons….but just more the me now….louder, more confident, more colourful, more happy.


This is now:

As you can see, despite leaving taking the photos till the end of day, the Arizona sun still holds no prisoners. I know, your hearts bleed for me, having to cope with too much sunlight.

The Simplicity 3833 pattern wasn’t too difficult to put together but only because I’d read a few reviews from others who’s already attempted it. The important thing to know is the bust darts are formed from the bottom half of the front of the dress being sewn onto the top half (well, third really) of the bodice. This had the added complication for me of my changing dress sizes. I started it out as an 18 at the shoulders and neckline this time, went to a 20 at bust and armholes, 22 by waist and added an inch on the hemline.

I’m not convinced this shape dress is at all flattering for my shape, but I do love the fabric. It’s made me smile all week making the dress. Actually it’s only been the process of writing this post and looking back at childhood photos that’s been difficult. I’ll let you into secret, the bib is a stunt bib. I made it separately with a velcro dot closing at the back of the neck piece… I don’t have to look like a sad old woman dressing up like a 7 year old after today’s photoshoot….nope, the bib is coming off, as are the arms, which despite makeshift last minute gussets still aren’t maneuverable and definitely aren’t conducive to Phoenix summers. Because I love the fabric, the dress will very soon become a summer sleeveless muckabout frock.

I’ll tell you something else. My kids groan (but smile) at one of my sayings….”There’s nothing in this world that can’t be improved by stick-on googley eyes”. Googley eyes are stunning in their restorative qualities you know it’s a proven fact (in the House Devyne). I have huge supplies, in all sizes. One of the many, many things they’ve found their way onto is my shoes….look:

They not only turn any frown upside down….they rattle their multiple ‘eyeballs’ as I walk (or dance) along the street. I needed them today, and they did not disappoint.



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. We have similar issues with the whole childhood/photo/memory thing…but we came through it and now look at you!! The dress is adorable even with the bib but I can totally see your point, especailly because you live in Phoenix : ) Have you seen the Louboutin shoes with the googly eyes? Yours are MUCH more practical and now I may have to make a pair like yours for myself : )

    • Yep, it was spotting people’s pins of the Louboutin heels that made me hunt down a pair of suitable canvas shoes in thrift stores to googly eye myself. I reckon everyone should have a pair. The kids in the school I volunteer at adore them….I’m cool haha.

  2. The fabric is such a happy print with the rainbows tucked amidst the flowers. I have seen clerical clothes with bibs so maybe you can start a trend of flowery, happy clerical bibs. Which would be a good thing.

    • Half way through the sewing up, I suddenly realised all the rainbows were upside down…after calling myself a dimbo I then realised that even if they’d been the right way around, the order of colours was wrong. It’s not Vain In Battle Gave York Of Richard. Haha I’m the last person anyone of a clerical nature should take notes from :)


  4. I love the bib front! I had a purple dress with a white bib on – I reckon I would have chosen that if I’d done this challenge…I had that haircut too!

  5. Your style is awesome!

  6. Bright happy fabric to match a bright happy person! How clever of you to make a removable bib. Do you really have to remove the sleeves? They’re cute with that added trim detail. However, I’ve been to Arizona and I know you folks can all fry eggs on the sidewalk, so sleeveless is probably the best way to go for comfort and ease. I’ve got my eye on those shoes!

    • The sleeves look great with my arms down, but if I do keep them (I’m giving it a little time before making this sleeveless to think) I’ll need to do a better job of the sleeve gusset….I can’t currently swing on the monkey bars for fear of ripping them.

  7. Your story touched a nerve; I couldn’t do a photo this week. Love your dress. I’m a big fan of the bib! And my 5-year-old makes me so very proud when she says “googly” with authority.

    • Googly should be said with authority, good for her :) I’m not quite sure why I put myself through the looking at photos, I should have been clever and steered away, but ah….I have noticed that the ‘family’ challenge says ‘an old family photo’ not ‘your old family photo’….so I may be cunning and find a photo of the partridge Family, or the Brady Bunch….do you think the Simpsons count as ‘photo’? ;)

  8. I love your childhood haircut! Your dress is a perfect interpretation and your googly shoes are so awesome!!

  9. Those shoes are genius!
    I love how you’re going to tranform this dress to make it more wearable. I think it’s very cute as it is, but I get it’s probably not the most wearable.

  10. I love all the colors in the dress, but I think your shoes are my absolute favorite thing EVER.

  11. You and I are going to be twins soon, because I just found some vintage ’60s psychedlic print to make a shift dress, and inspired by your shoes, I bought a big bag of googly eyes for a rainy weekend project with my kids!

  12. That fabric is a-maz-ing, and I so wish I had thought of the googly eye thing myself….