Hot! ‘Little Bit of Red’ dress

This may be the oldest post ever submitted for publication on Sew Weekly, and I’m really hoping Mena is a doll and lets me post it (if you are reading this, then Mena is indeed a doll – as if we didn’t know that already!).

It’s not that I didn’t finish the Little Bit of Red dress in time for the Red challenge back in Feb, it’s that I somehow didn’t realise that I was a contributor (D’oh!).  So I posted pics on the community page and wished I could put it on the front page.  When, the next week, I realised I was a contributor (so exciting!) I didn’t realise I could post something a week late (D’oh!).

So, here is my very, very over-due post about this dress.  I’m posting it now because it’s going to be important for a later weekly submissions (spoilers…).

I made the Little Bit of Red dress for Napier’s Art Deco weekend (the same event I made the Deco Echo blouse for).  My whole wardrobe for the weeked was based around red, white and blue colours, so it fit perfectly with the ‘Red’ theme (also, I don’t own a lot of predominantly red fabric, and I’m sewing from stash this year).

The dress is made from Excella E3137, one of my 1930s patterns.  I made it up without the hip ruffles, because really, hip ruffles?

The fabric is a silk chiffon that I found on TradeMe (like eBay for NZ) and immediately though “1930s!” and snapped up and hoarded, waiting for just the right moment.  The event was the right moment, the idea of the dress was the right moment, but the dress as it is now isn’t quite right.

I mean, it’s cute, and it’s finished beautifully (rolled hems, French seams & double sewn seams), but I’m not happy with it.  Somehow it just looks uninteresting.  Maybe it needs those hip ruffles after all!

But it was lovely to wear in the stifling heat of a warm summertime Sunday in Napier; I felt cool and comfortable and ladylike, and quite 1930s without being a cliché.  And I could do stuff in it: I walked all over town and posed and danced and sat in the gravel and dabbled in the fountain and didn’t feel like I had to be precious about what I was wearing.

Quite a few of my friends also showed up in red and white and blue, so we got to pose together looking cute and nautical as we enjoyed the sea breezes and the air show that the RNZ Air Force was putting on (even if hovering helicopters aren’t very 1930s!)

The dress was so comfortable that even though I could have changed into ‘normal’ clothes I wore it all day, even for the whole drive back to Wellington.  We stopped along the way at a beautiful church that I have always wondered about to have a look and get a last few photographs:

Pretty good for a whole day of wear in very hot weather and an hour and a half behind the wheel of the car!

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 3 metre of 1930s inspired silk chiffon. $30

Pattern: Excella E3137

Year: 1932

Notions: thread

Hours: 4.5  Some of it sitting with my sewing machine on the floor in my accommodation at Napier!

Make again?  Probably not – I want to try all my other 1930s patterns, and this one didn’t impress me as much as the one I used for the Summertime Southerly dress (for example)

First worn: Sunday, 19 Feb

Wear again? Yes, I love the fabric too much not too, and have lots of occasions to wear 1930s.  It might need a little re-make though!

Total cost: $30


Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


Comments are closed.

  1. What a beautiful dress! I’m really pleased you were still able to share it with us.

  2. I laughed out loud at the hip ruffles! (Though they are pretty.) Gorgeous photo set and dress!

  3. The dress looks pretty in the photos, maybe it will grow on you.

  4. Proud you found out your a contributor..[know Mena is sweet too.]..
    I love this dress, It looks fabulous on you.. It reminded me of
    a Bonnie and Clyde movie I watched..
    I hope you start liking it better.

  5. I love your dress! I think if it was a plain fabric with no prints would have shown the details of the dress better. Do not take me wrong I love the fabric too.I totally agree of who wants ruffles on their hips!!! LOL!!!

  6. Very pretty. I’d like to see a version with the hip ruffles.

  7. I adore that pattern and I love what you made with it. The fabric is so fluttery and the print is so sweet. Great photoshoot! Who’s that sailor you’re hanging onto? That’s my favorite photo. It looks like it was taken back in the 40’s.

  8. Oh, I just love that pattern! I think my biggest problem with 30’s patterns is I’m not 6 feet tall like the models : ) Your dress is adorable and I would LOVE to try the ruffled one for the Gatsby picnic! I wish we lived closer together…ah well, at least I get to see your creations here each week.

  9. OMG, I can’t believe you still got this through. When I saw the pics I instantly recognized them because I had seen this post in the contibutor’s forum already (but didn’t have the time to comment). The photos are great. Too bad you left away those hip ruffles – would have loved to see what this looks like in reality. Hehe. ;)