Hot! The “Second Day of Summer” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: Two yards x 37″ cambric from SCRAP, $4.00; striped cotton scraps
Pattern: Butterick 3029 (heavily modified) for the bodice, used a million times=free; self-drafted skirt
Year: Early 1960s pattern/contemporary; thrifted fabric–likely vintage
Notions: Zipper $0.55; hem tape $0.25
Time to complete: 6-7-ish hours? So I’m slow.
Sewing soundtrack: Vivian Girls; the Vonneguts; the World Radiant
First worn: Just to work, nothing special
Wear again: Definitely yes.
Total cost: $4.89


My mental process goes something like this: Vacation = ocean = nautical.

This dress is, I’ll admit, a lot less nautical-looking than other things I’ve made, but it’s got horizontal blue and white stripes, so it fits the bill. I’m also going to wear it next month when I go on vacation. To the ocean. Also, I’ve been wanting to make this dress since at least 2008, and–especially after last week’s tedium–this seemed like a nice and easy and perfect choice.

Both fabrics are from my stash, originally intended to be made into toddler overalls for my cousin. (Sorry, Gus.) The dress base is cambric, probably my favorite fabric. I think the piece was probably quite old, due to the narrow width–and it also feels old, the softest cambric I’ve ever encountered, and thin, almost bordering on gauzy. It was still wonderful to work with.

Also in the very old supplies department, I used rayon seam binding for the first time. Once I opened the package, I realized it was actually rayon bias tape, which I’m fairly sure isn’t standard. I almost felt bad using it–what if it was the last of its kind? But, I used it. It’s very nice and smooth, not too heavy for the lightweight cambric (I’m sure a regular bias tape would’ve been too much bulk). I’m not sure of its exact age, but Advance 6292, the apron pattern advertised on the inside of the wrapper (I’ve photoshopped both sides into the picture), is from 1953.

In case you can’t tell, I was very excited about the tape. I’m keeping that wrapper.

Anyway. Keeping things simple, I used Butterick 3029 for the bodice because, even though it looks nothing like what I had in mind, I’ve gotten it to the point that it fits me. (By “it fits me,” I actually mean, “it still doesn’t really fit me, but it comes a lot closer than anything else I’ve managed”.) Obviously I made some changes to the neckline; I also drew the waist an inch or so further down than I normally would have because I knew the skirt was going to be so short.

The skirt is just a basic half-circle skirt. I started it with a hand-rolled hem, but I didn’t like how it looked (and, I’ll admit, I was tired and wanted to go to bed), so I switched to machine-rolled. In fact, with the exception of the tie-belt-thing, everything here was sewn by machine. I don’t usually do that, but this is a very casual dress. It’s okay.

Finally. The skirt is shorter than what I’d normally wear, due to the usual lack of fabric, and I really feel like I should have some tap pants under it. Right now I’m wearing it with (in addition to my slip) the Colette bloomers, but they’re not quite ideal. Tiny as they are, I suppose they do provide (just) enough coverage that I’m not totally in danger of flashing others, and the material I used is light enough that the puffy gathers don’t alter the skirt’s silhouette much, but… Okay, the real problem is that they’re the wrong color, and that bothers me. Crazy, I know, but I like my underwear to match my outerwear. Tap pants, I think, have just been bumped to the top of my sewing queue. I’ll need some of those in blue.



Z. has, much to her surprise, been sewing since 2007. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and uh 1955-fantasy-land. In addition to sewing, she likes words, music, and old things. Her life is a story.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow, interesting about the linen binding tape, thanks for sharing. I really like how the belt ties in the front, breaks the dress ou into visual graphics shapes.

    • The seam tape was a nice surprise for me; I love unexpected odd things like that. Glad you enjoyed it too.
      And the belt–it really needs it for breaking things up. It looks like a completely different dress without.

  2. Such a pretty dress. Love the belt.. happy sewing.

  3. Very cute dress! With some tap pants, it’d be the perfect cycling dress.

  4. I like the subtlety of the stripes, a sailor dress, but not an in your face sailor dress. Also I like the length–it gives a playfulness to the sailor dress.

    • I almost laughed at the subtlety comment–so glad you think it’s not too obvious! I have (and continue to want to make) so many sailor-y things that I have to be subtle now, or else look like I’m wearing the same thing every other day… Thank you!

  5. every time i find some rayon seam binding at the thrift store, i scoop it all up! i have about 10 packages now, in all different colors. you can’t buy this stuff anymore, and it’s lovely to work with!

    • I’ll be doing the same thing now whenever I find it–it is wonderful. After having used the rayon, I can’t believe I resisted it for so long. I’m already wanting to put it on everything (even where it’s not needed) now.

  6. Cute dress. I think the length looks great on you. I love the belt, too – it provides an extra nautical touch. The seam binding sounds so cool I am almost jealous I don’t have any in my stash…

  7. Love the v-neck inset detail on this dress. Very nice.

  8. I love how you’ve put this together, the v-insert, the circle skirt is perfect, love the nautical looking belt. Love it, and the length does make it look like a summer playsuit.

    • I actually thought of making this as a playsuit, with shorts instead of the skirt, but finally decided I probably wouldn’t wear that as much. I do think/hope a playsuit is in my future, though.