Hot! The “Catalina Keeper” Dress

I made this dress just before taking off for Southern California to visit with family. Our first stop was to the little island of Catalina. Two of my daughters happened to be working there, so we were given the royal treatment and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We stayed in the quaint little harbor town of Avalon where we enjoyed great food at C.C. Gallighars (a fine restaurant and gift shop), playing volleyball on the beach, pampering ourselves with ice tea while some of us snorkeled at Descaso Beach, and going out on a catamaran to see the flying fish in the evening. Yes, fish do fly and it was amazing to see. In between all of our activities, I managed to get my family to snap a few pictures of me in my tribute to the red, white, and blue challenge.  I really enjoyed making this dress. The bodice is lined with the same fabric, and was easy to turn through the neck straps. Now that I have a serger and a new one as of last week, I skip the directions for tacking down the facing. I just serge the bodice/skirt seam and also serge the lining/facing at about 5/8, then I only tack it down at the side and/or front and back seams. It’s so much faster and it allows the different fabrics to adjust without tugging or pulling. All-in-all it is a very clean finished look.  Before I tacked it down for this dress, I tried it on and found it a bit loose. Since I had already put the side zipper in, I had to pick it out and adjust the sides so that the fit would be better. I am still considering putting some stays in the sides to help keep the back bodice up. If I make this again, I would defineitly add some interfacing to the back bodice, because fabric tends to stretch with wear and this needs to fit snuggly.

Sunning in a Sun Dress

The hem was quickly serged and then I sewed white trim to it. I folded it to the inside and then topped stitched it. That was also something that the directions had you do a different and more time-consuming way.  And finally, let me just add that Sergers are amazing! They save so much time and finish the seams so nicely. Plus, they open up a whole new world of fabric choices to play around with. If you don’t have one, you should put it on your wish list.



The Facts:

Fabric: Red and white print cotton from Beverlys

Pattern: Retro Butterick  B5214

Year: 1947

Notions: invisible zipper

Time to complete: One hour to cut and a day to make it

First worn:June 25 on Catalina Island

Wear again? Yes!

Total price: $15.00

Happy Independence Day!








Barbara is a resident of Northern California. She loves to sew and has pledged not to buy retail clothes for the year of 2012. That means she has to make her own, or buy it at a thrift store. I hope she doesn't spend too much on fabric. When she shops for fabric her eyes light up as she imagines the possibilities! She's like a kid in a candy store.


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  1. Really pretty Barbara. Glad you enjoyed Catalina with your family. Makes a good background for your pictures.

    • Thank you so much! Yes, Catalina was beautiful, I think I like it better than Hawaii. I got lots of compliments on the dress while there. People were in awe when I told them that I had made it.

  2. Oh, how cool Barbara, I just purchased this pattern and it’s great to see it sewn up. I’ve never done a halter top and wondered how the bodice would fit a curvy girl. It looks comfortable on the neck. Love the photos. Beautiful red dress.

  3. Yes it is comfortable around the neck. I would suggest making a muslin of the top, since it’s hard to get a comfortable fit without the zipper in. Since it’s on the side, it’s hard to pinch shut unless you have a second person. That’s why I had to take out the zipper and tighten up both sides a little. I cut a size 14 and I am a bust 38 (36B bra size). Hope that helps you.

  4. Love the pattern on the fabric. :)

  5. This is a really pretty dress. Love the colors, the fabric and the white belt. It’s such a fresh and friendly color combo. Congratulations on your serger. They sure are very practical timesavers. Don’t know what I’d do without mine.

  6. Very pretty dress! I’m going to take another look at that pattern.

  7. Really cute, and I am so envying you your holiday – the dress looks just perfect for sun and iced teas.

  8. Love that pattern…it’s not one I’d spotted before, that neckline is just darling..and thanks so much for the advice about fitting it. This is a lovely dress, elegant and simple, and Avalon looks absolutely gorgeous too.

  9. Looks like a fabulous outfit for your vacation! Well done.

  10. This looks wonderful. I have this pattern too so thanks I will take your advice. It’s great to see it made up!

  11. I’m also from Northern California (though I live in North Carolina now) and while I haven’t been to Catalina Island since high school (about 14 years ago), I was just thinking of it yesterday and hope to make it back one day! (I went parasailing one time I was there and it was amazing!)