Hot! “If at First You Don’t Succeed” Tennis Dress

The Facts:

Fabric: Inherited Lightweight Cotton

Pattern: Vintage McCall 6009 – Inherited

Year: 1945

Notions: Button’s .99 cents

Time to complete: First time about 10 hours, second time 2 hours

First worn: July 21

Wear again? Already have, many times, I love it!

Total price: .99 Cents


This dress was originally for the 1940’s challenge, but I hated the end result so much I couldn’t bring myself to wear it. The bust was too baggy, the waist to low, and the skirt was just at an awkward length for my petite stature. I tossed is aside to eventually re-work. When I saw the Olympics challenge on the dashboard, I really didn’t know what to do. I only follow the Summer Olympics, and I only pay attention to certain sports such as running, swimming, diving, and gymnastics, both men and women. I wasn’t going to make myself running clothes – I have plenty, the same with swimwear, I have so many that I don’t have a drawer for them. And what am I supposed to do with a leotard? So those Olympic categories were out of the question. Then I looked at my 1940’s house dress again. I thought, this could make a good tennis dress if I shorten it for sport and take up the waist. Is tennis even in the Olympics? No matter, it’s a sport and I have to do something wearable.

So that’s what I did. I cinched the bust a bit more, raised the waist, and shortened the skirt. And I ironed the front placket down to make it look like a collar. When I originally started this dress, the instructions were crumbling in my hands. I pretty much had to make it up as I went along. The pattern asked for shoulder pads, but of course I opted out. I had to re-size this thing so many times, and figure out the shoulder piece with out it being awkward. The buttons on the shoulder don’t work, just decoration.

Now I played tennis back in 6th grade. I was an amazing server, a lot of power came out of my skinny little limbs, but that’s about it. I had no other coordination. But, whatever. I borrowed the vintage racquet from my dad. My main inspiration for this dress was to re-create a dress I used to own when my husband and I were first dating. He bought it for me when we went on a road trip. The fabric and silhouette is similar to the dress I once had. Even down to the tie waist in the front. But once we got married we got a dog together, and that dog found this dress in the laundry and decided to eat it. True story.

We found this awesome wall in a neighborhood as we were driving one morning. I knew i wanted to use it for the Olympic challenge rather than the local tennis courts. So not only is this dress wearable for tennis, but I can wear it anytime. And we don’t have that dog anymore that ate my last one, Rest is soul that crazy Bulldog, Oscar.



Bethany is a forever student in Fashion Design. She took a hiatus from her studies due to the fear of using a sewing machine and a long term illness. It wasn't until her daughter was born, she felt inspired to create again and dive headfirst into sewing by machine.


Comments are closed.

  1. Sweet dress and I love your poses. Send some of that reworking energy my way-I have a whole bin full of upcycles just waiting to be born! Nice touch with the wall.

  2. Greta photos Bethany, Oscar had good taste! Ha. Love the dress, way to forge through and make it work. I think the photos this week will be a lot of fun to watch. Oh, and Tennis is an Olympic sport!

    The tennis competitions of the 2012 Summer Olympics are scheduled to be staged at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, from 28 July to 5 August 2012, making it the first grass court tournament since tennis was re-introduced to the Olympics.

  3. Fantastic photos! And way to save that dress. It looks great!

  4. What a great way to save a project! Love it.

  5. Great job. .Really looks cute on you..

  6. I was stumped for what to do this week too your dress came up a treat and you look fantastic in this cut, the possibilities are endless now that you have made this twice and what an excellent photo shoot. You are the business :)

    • Oooohhh, I like being called the “business” haha! Thanks Kazz. I love it shorter. Im excited for yours!!!!! Since great minds do think alike!

  7. You look gorgeous in that dress. Very well done, I think I like this version a lot more than the ones on the envelope. And that wall is amazing!

    • Thank you so much Karin. I like my version better as well. I’m so happy I re-did it. This wall was an awesome find! I will cherish it forever.

  8. Cuuuute! And you’re looking gorgeous as well!

  9. Nailed it again Bethany! I love the old pattern and your hair and the wall – the dress is lovely on you – well done.

  10. Love your dress, you look pretty as always. That vintage tennis racquet is a thing of beauty too.

  11. This is the cutest photoshoot! Love the dress. :) When I saw this post in google reader I thought it had to be a featured creation this week – nice work!

  12. Cute dress, and yay for conquering that pattern!

  13. Love the photoshoot! Your hubbie is doing a great job! Cute upcyle too.

  14. Cute dress, LOVE the photoshoot! If the clothes could make the sport then I’d make something like this and “think” about playing tennis again! I had a dog that would do that to my clothes too…no one else’s, just mine. And our greyhound used to steal eveyone’s underwear in the middle of the night and fling it onto a bush in the backyard! Thankfully no one else ever saw, our backyard being a little overgrown and all, but it was pretty funny : ) Love the dogs and their idiosyncracies…