Hot! The “I can’t believe it’s done!!!” Dress

Fabric: Navy Wool Crepe & navy bemberg lining
Pattern: McCalls 6677
Year: 1940’s
Notions: 4 buttons, 16″ zipper & silk organza
Time to Complete: 8 months
First Worn: May 2012
Wear Again: Perhaps to work tomorrow, if the weather stays cool
Total Price: $45 ish




I can’t even begin to tell you all how thrilled I am to be able to finish this dress!  As you may have read in the details, this dress technically took me 8 months to complete.  heh

Last September/October of 2011 I had a plan.  I created my own inspiration board along with projects I wanted to complete.  I then set about shopping locally for fabrics to match with certain patterns and I happily got to work.  I started in on the McCalls 6677 which is one of my favorites in my stash.  I loved the simplicity of the gathers, the draped waist, and the bow belt.  I have a major weakness for bow details of any kind.

I first stitched the bodice together (darts, gathers, and shoulder seams) and then got started in on the skirt.  I cut the fabric and stitched the whole skirt portion up only to soon realize that it didn’t fit!  My hippy hips had somehow grown since cutting the fabric and I didn’t have enough fabric or seam allowances to make up for the tight fit.  Dejected, I set the pattern and sewn pieces aside hoping that a miracle would happen and my lower half and would shrink.

Fast forward to April 2012.

With the winter weather officially over, and spring was beginning I had new plans for my spring/summer wardrobe.  Thinking of fresh, summer blouses and sun dresses I found myself driving to my local fabric store once again to see if anything would catch my eye.  When I saw it….

The same EXACT fabric that I bought back last fall for my McCalls 6677 dress was there on a bolt right before my eyes!  How is this possible?!  I picked that bolt of fabric up so quick, all the while in disbelief that it was the same as what I had at home.  Not even knowing how much fabric I needed, I got 2.5 yards just in case of any more mishaps.

I got the fabric home and matched it up with the completed bodice and it was an exact match!  Craziness!!!

You see, when I first mis-cut the fabric I didn’t even bother going back to the store to see if there was any more.  There wasn’t that much fabric on the bolt and I assumed (based on my prior experience) that there wouldn’t be any left.  Silly, silly me!  When I was back in the store (8 months later) I’m nearly certain that it was the same bolt that I first picked up since the dye lots are a complete match and there still wasn’t that much left on the bolt.

I found this fabric in just enough time to start working on this pattern for the 1940’s challenge here on Sew Weekly.  I debating working on something else, but this was the perfect challenge to get it off my chair and on a hanger, in my closet, and to share with you my crazy story.  :)

While I was trilled to just be able to complete the dress, I really wanted to make it appear like the dress came from the 40’s.  So I decided to incorporate some embroidery on the bodice, which is actually my first time doing embroidery.  I practiced during one of my lunch breaks at work and also during my daily commute.  But having a 4-day weekend provided me with ample time to sit, relax, and stitch away otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to finish it in time.

The embroidery pattern I choose was basic vintage pattern found here; which is perfect for a beginner like me.  I did the daisy stitch for the flowers, french knots for the stamens, and a running stitch elsewhere.  And to give the embroidery a bit more dimension, I used 4 different color yellows along with a cream for the running stitches.

I added a bit on the back of the belt to give some more visual interest, and I think I’m going to even add a bit more on the font bow portions of the belt since I appear to be hooked on embroidery!

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be able to actually finish this dress; it’s been a long time coming.  I don’t want to preach, but let this be a lesson for you all to “never assume or think the worst” without looking for yourself.  I wish I had run back to the fabric store last year, but I can’t imagine a better ending to this story than having this dress all done.




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. The dress is super cute and I know that having it finally completed makes you appreciate it that much more. I have embroidered since I was a child but have just started sewing garments. Your dress has given me some ideas on how to incorporate the embroidery into my clothes. Great job!

  2. This is so gorgeous. I love 40s style clothing and embroidery… definitely one of my favorite projects I’ve seen on sew weekly. Love it!

  3. Liz, I LOVE your dress!! It is fantastic! You did such a beautiful job. The embroidery is a really beautiful finishing touch.

  4. Oh, my goodness! LOVE IT! So fabulous. :)

  5. I love this dress! It’s such a classic shape. It looks divine on you. Glad the fabric gods smiled down on you. Love it when that happens.

  6. Beautiful dress, such a great shape and so elegant! Love the embroidery too. You look gorgeous!

  7. oh Liz – it’s just STUNNING!! The embroidery adds such a delicate and breath-taking touch to the neckline, and the whole dress is magnificently made. I applaud you for not giving up and making such an amazing garment!!! And bravo on finding more of that fabric – what great luck!

    • Thanks so much Ms. Grand. :) I was seriously debating working up one of the patterns you lent me, but just I had to finish this one first.

  8. This is just stunning! The embroidery is so special, I can hardly believe this was your first time embroidering something! My first project was a Lion saying Grrr. Hardly on the same level at all. This is stunning and so flattering, I’m glad you persevered!

    • Thanks so much Leah! I think it helped that I do a lot of hand finishing on my garments that I was able to have a bit of confidence and precision with the embroidery for my first go. But time will tell as I try more complicated stitches and embroidery techniques…

      I bet your lion is totally cute! Do you have it up on flickr or on your blog? I’d love to see it. :)

  9. The dress would have been perfectly elegant without the embroidery, but you’ve managed to make it even better than that! So ’40s. Where’s my embroidery hoop…..

  10. That is REALLY lovely and the embroidery is great! I love doing handwork like that.

  11. That embroidery really caught my eye! I love this! And the headpiece is a lovely touch.

  12. I am in awe. What a beautiful dress and the embroidery is just perfect! WOW! I am so thrilled you finished this-give yourself a pat on the back for me. Really-I’m speechless-it’s beautiful. Fabulous job! Just fabulous!

  13. that bit on the back of the belt kills me, it is such a wonderful grace note to the entire piece. what a great way to finish a UFO and really make it something special.

    • Thanks Puu. :) The back belt was a split-second decision since I was on a roll with the embroidery and I’m glad I did it. I think it helps tie the piece together.

  14. This is just lovely. The embroidery – wow. Just wow. I never thought about that as a detail, I’m getting all sorts of lovely ideas today! I am so pleased you managed to finish this dress, it’s a winner!

  15. Gorgeous dress, and great story with a happy ending! How lucky and wonderful is that! Love the embroidery, love the whole thing on you!

  16. So lovely! My favorite item that I have seen on you to date! This cut, shape & style are so perfect for you. I could see it in other fabrics, too. Just love it!

    • Awwww thanks Sarah! I always felt the 50’s was a better fit for my pear shape, but I’m finding myself more and more drawn to 40’s patterns.

      I actually am debating making this dress again in a fun, cotton print for summertime! :)

  17. Hi Liz, love the embroidery, you inspired me to try it on a upcoming challenge. Thanks for the link. This color palette is really beautiful on you and I’m so happy that you finally get to wear such a beautiful dress.

    • Thanks Krista! You totally should do embroidery on an upcoming challenge! Just make sure you build in an extra day so you can relax while stitching. :)

  18. OMG!!!!! I want that dress! I love your fabric choice and the pattern that you used. The embroidery is phenomenal ! It adds the perfect touch to an already beautiful dress. I’m glad you were able to find matching fabric and finish it.

    • Thanks so much Barbara! A while ago I also bought some reddish-pink wool crepe that I was thinking would make a stunning version of this dress too. But I think the navy made it a bit more classic.

  19. Hi! You’ve sewn a great dress. I want to put embroidery on my dresses, too! I’m a newbie needlepointer, so can I ask how you added this lovely embroidery to your crepe dress? Everything I have read says you have to block a piece after you finish your embroidery, which would warp and stretch the fabric a little, right? You’re so clever, I want in on your secret!

    Happy Sewing. :)

    • Hi Emily, thanks so much for your sweet comment. :)

      Well, being a total newbie to embroidery also I didn’t actually know I was supposed to block my piece afterwards. heh My fabric didn’t warp or stretch out, but I also didn’t tug very tight on my hoop to get the fabric taught.

      I took a scrap of my fashion fabric and put that in one of my hoops and I practiced on it first. I made sure the fabric wasn’t stretching out and I worked on my stitches before doing the real deal. Since I worked on wool, if the fabric did get a bit stretched, I just could have pressed it with a bit of steam to shrink it right back up again.

      For the transfer I just used a piece of wax-free transfer paper that was in the embroidery section. I tried a few different marking tools: pen, toothpick, etc. But what made the crispest transfer markings for me was using a metal knitting needle. :) But I would always test on a piece of scrap fabric since each fabric type will require different tools.

      Good luck!

  20. This dress is lovely! You should be so proud! You really inspire me to join this site and get to sewing. You look super authentic!

  21. The embroidery is lovely!

  22. That is so beautiful, love the embroidery. I’m so glad you finished it.

  23. Gorgeous dress! I love the touch with the embroidery as well. I’m impressed that it’s your first attempt embroidering – looks wonderful! :-)

  24. That’s a really pretty dress with such great details. Love the embroidery (I am a sucker for embroidery).

  25. Love the story of this dress and your journey to complete it. I can imagine the joy on your face seeing the fabric back at the shop. And the embroidery is exquisite!

    • I believe I may have made some loud, exciting noises while I was at the fabric store that brought a sales person over asking if I needed help. heh
      All for the love of sewing. :)

  26. Love, love, love! Congrats for finishing it up, it really looks breathtaking on you. You look like an old Hollywood movie star!

  27. Wow, Liz, this is stunning. Beautiful dress and the embroidery takes it to a whole other level. Really amazing. As always you look gorgeous.

  28. What an incredibly gorgeous dress, Liz! I just love all the little details that make it pop! Well done!!

  29. I love the shape of this dress! And great job on the embroidery! The whole thing turned out perfect!

  30. This dress is beautiful and looks fantastic on you, I am sooooo happy that you went back to the fabric shop…and it was there “just waiting for you”. What a happy story..
    The embroidery is beautiful..

  31. GASP! You are a perfectionist, an artist I think this is beautiful Liz well done.

  32. Wow!! too perfect Liz. Love that you found the fabric again.. and that embroidery! I can’t believe you’ve never done that before.. it looks very professional.

  33. Pitch-perfect and perfectly you. You should definitely make a summer version!

  34. This is absolutely gorgeous – you should be so proud. It is perfect!

  35. I’ve always said “done is beautiful” but this is really stunning. I’m SO glad you got to finish it for us to drool over : )

  36. That back belt detail takes it over the top. This dress is stunning! Nice styling with the hat, too. :-)