Hot! The “Is My Top Riding Up?” Dress

The Facts 

Fabric: Red bottom weight from JoAnn’s $12, vintage rayon from Alameda, $5
Pattern: Simplicity 1803, $.99
Year: Contemporary
Notions: none
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: May 2012
Wear again? Yes, though the wrinkling drives me crazy

Total Cost: ~$18

Instead of starting the week, I end it. Not for any grand or sad personal reason other than I kept on putting off sewing my dress and taking my pictures. My absence has nothing to do with anything personal other than laziness on my part. Ok, let’s continue now that I got that out of the way!

The truth of the matter is that I probably would have skipped this week’s challenge if not for the fact that I bought this necklace specifically for this week’s challenge.

My original plan for Vegas week was a 1950s dress made entirely out of the vintage rayon. While the fabric print is of arrows and not cards, it seemed pretty perfect for a Vegas-themed dress. But here’s the thing: I was way too lazy to work with rayon this week. I wanted something crisp, easy to cut and sew and, well, basic. After a trip to JoAnn’s for some red bottom weight fabric and a 99 cent Simplicity pattern, I put off making this dress for days.

So. About this pattern. I found the weird bodice top piece to be very difficult to fit. As you can tell in the photos, it doesn’t sit quite flat across my chest. Perhaps if I had taken off an inch or so from the middle it would have been a better fit. Or perhaps IT’S JUST TOO WEIRD.

I figured that for a Vegas theme, it was quite appropriate to tart it up a bit. And what better way than with a little peek-a-boo cleavage. It’s an interesting concept and all… I just don’t know how I feel about it. When I look down at myself wearing it, I feel like either I’m wearing the shortest half shirt ever. Or, I’ve gotten my top stuck and I can’t get it completely over my head. There’s just some weird stuff going on down there.

Well, not every dress of mine can be something from the 1940s or 1950s.


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. Love the hanging cards! ‘Tarting it up a bit’ haha! I find it funny that when trying to do this we end up with not so great results. I wonder if more practice would help or if it’s just that we’re not suited for tartiness ;)

  2. Love the first picture and I love this dress on you! I actually did a double cause it makes you look so much younger and very sexy! Now I plan to go make my own version…and wear it everyday! Nice job!

  3. Cute! That red suits you perfectly. That neckline on you is adorable.

  4. Love that last picture. :)

  5. I agree, the peekaboo cleavage is appropriate for a Vegas challenge. I think the fabric fits it too. I’m sure that with your mad sewing skills you can sort out the slight rippling in that chest piece…thing…what do you even call it?! The rest of the dress fits beautifully!

  6. Love the dress! I think the peekaboo cleavage is nice because it’s not overkill. The top portion is super cute and it looks so close to laying flat! I always figure that when I move, things are going to shift around anyways. It was fun seeing you close out the week this time. :)

  7. I bought this pattern during the 5 for 5 Simplicity sale too, because I liked Gertie’s LBD she made from it. She didn’t make this view. I’d planned to make the same view as you in eyelet, but after reading your post, now I may make one of the others… and THIS is why sewing bloggers are so handy.

  8. When I saw the picture all I could think was, “Hubba, hubba!” Too bad the top bit didn’t work out so well but you definitely know how to make the sexy come alive in your face. You had me blushing!

  9. Love the contrast! When I used this pattern, I too found the top piece to be awkward. I had to add a knot in the middle of it to rake it in a bit and sit right against my clavicle. Looks great on you Mena!

  10. Wow you look hot! Love the arrow print but it is sitting weirdly. The dress is super flattering on you apart from that. And red looks great on you! I too bought a dice necklace, bracelet and earrings. Was unable to sew last week – hope I can still get mine done sometime

  11. Great smile in the pictures Mena and the dress is hot in Red!

  12. I love the hanging cards and the red looks great on you!

  13. I love it! But I know what it’s like not to love something you’ve made. Still, I like this very much. And you look excellent all tarted up! IS that weird to say?

  14. Love it! Perhaps the top thingy could be taken in with two tiny darts where it wants to bubble out? :)

  15. Pretty dress..Red is my favorite color.. Sorry you had trouble with the top part.
    But in the photo, looks great.

  16. This one is super cute, Mena! Love you in it!!! <3 Best, Emma

  17. Va Va Voom! Check out that come hither look! OK, I’ll admit this isn’t my favourite of your dresses, but it may be my favourite photoshoot!

  18. You look smoking hot. Sexy just like the city of Vegas.

  19. I love the fit and color of this dress. To bad the top part didn’t fit quite right, but I bet you could fix it. I really hope you do because the rest of the dress is gorgeous!

  20. Nice seeing you sew up a contemporary pattern. So sorry the top piece gave you trouble. Sewing with time contraints always makes complicated features a pain in the butt to execute…that’s been the story of my life lately. But I’m glad you saw it through….love the colors and styling!

  21. I struggled for the past week with this pattern. I think I assume Simplicity patterns are easy and I can just breeze through them. What I really need to do is to study then before sewing. I just thought the top piece was wrong because of my adjustments. Its really too weird. So I fooled with it for a long time to get it to look ok. I didn’t do a good job of marking the print and had to take the skirt apart. I’ll try to finish it tomorrow. Glad to know I’m not the only one having problems with this pattern.

  22. I totally love the peekaboo, it is pretty sexy while not flashing too much flesh, just go with it!

  23. Right, promise me that when the next bloke approaches you in the bar and you’re wearing this dress, and he says “wow, what an original dress, do you gamble?” you don’t start telling him “actually I’m not quite happy with how this bodice piece sits” (UNLESS you then point to the bodice and let him inspect further….) The correct response is probably: “why thank you….why, do you feel lucky?” (with or without an added “punk” at the end depending on whether he starts to smile). OK?

  24. I love the look you are rocking in that last picture! The dress is pretty fabulous, and thank you for including all of your thoughts about the fit – I just bought this pattern myself and may even try for a contrasting fabric like you did :)