Hot! The “Revival” Dress

The Facts
: white cotton with black flocked pin dots from JoAnn, white muslin for bodice lining, black with white mini dots Japanese cotton from B&J for sash
Pattern: Simplicity 1668
Year: 1946
Notions: invisible zip, hand-made bias tape (used for the raw edge of the hem)
First worn: on my birthday, 8/11
Wear again: yes
Time to complete: about 6 hours
Total cost: $32?
Musical inspiration: Gillian Welch’s 40s-style polka dot dress from the cover of Revival

I love everything Gillian Welch and David Rawlings wear– Dave’s suits, Gill’s dresses, her coat with the fur collar, their boots.  Of course I’m a fan of their music too and was lucky to see them live last year while they were touring for The Harrow and the Harvest.  What an amazing buoyant joy leaving that theater– after listening to a bunch of sad depressing songs!  This dress is a loose interpretation of the dress on the cover of Revival, based on fabric and a pattern I already had.

Happily for me, the grading and fitting went much more smoothly this week, even though this pattern is for an even smaller size than I used for my Suzy dress last week.  The pattern pieces are perforated, which I had a phobia about, but they’re also clearly marked with detailed information, unlike another 40s pattern I have that I had to put away because it made my heart pound in fear.  So perforations are no big deal.  Nice to know.

The fabric is a bit sheer, so I lined the bodice with white muslin, saving me from having to deal with resizing the facing pieces.  I have to wear a half-slip.  The bust shaping is just a short length of four rows of gathering stitches at the shoulder.  Sewing the curved edges at the sleeves and neckline was the tiniest bit tricky.  I put an invisible zipper at the center back instead of the side and left out the pockets.  I kind of regret the pockets, but there was no time.  I also machine stitched the lining to the waistline seam allowance instead of slip-stitching by hand.

When I got to the hem I forgot about time-saving measures and thought it would be great to finish the edge with fancy bias binding I’d made from Liberty Tana lawn over a year ago.  Then I ran out of what seemed like so much binding about three quarters into the hem.  So I pretended it was a quilt and slapped another contrasting print hand-made bias binding on there.  I used the wonderful blind hem foot on my machine and then I really should have called it a night.  Ah, the sash.  Those seams aren’t finished and it’s not hemmed.  I think I’ll be able to salvage it.

not proud of this

Saturday was my birthday–38!– so I went on a lovely adventure with my family.  Can you guess from the view above where we went? 

Later there were lobster rolls and coconut cream cake with mint whipped cream icing.  Yum.



Lee is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.


Comments are closed.

  1. Darling! I love that you are wearing a white dress in NYC in the summertime. Such a breath of fresh air.

    And happy, happy birthday!

  2. Gorgeous dress!!! Breath taking!!! Happy belated birthday!

  3. This is a beautiful dress. Awesome inspiration too. I have loved Gillian and David for years. Glad you got to see them live. Happy belated birthday!!!

  4. The neckline and sleeves are fantastic! So flattering.

  5. Very, very nice. I am big fan of polka dots so I adore your fabric choice. The scalloped neckline is feminine but not over-the-top. Love it!

  6. I love this dress. So pretty and looks great on you.

  7. Hi Lee, Happy, happy Birthday. The dress looks very chic in the pictures.

  8. Happy birthday! Your posts make me want to donate all my old clothes and completely start over. Love polka dots, love the neckline, love the hate you’ve paired with it in the bottom pics.

    • What a wonderful compliment! I’m gradually replacing some very sad clothes myself. The hat is old from Brooklyn Industries– big, not too floppy, folds up in my bag. Not the freshest white anymore but still pretty much perfect.

  9. I want this pattern…it’s so cute. I like that you thought to line the bodice instead of using facings. It makes it look so much nicer. All the scalloped edges are perfect. Sorry about the hem. You know you can fix that if it really bothers you. I hope I come across this pattern because you look gorgeous in it. Well done!

  10. I love the scallops with that fabric. They turned out so well!

  11. I love that pattern too, and what a great fabric choice, since it’s subtle enough not to hide the construction details. Fresh and beautiful.
    (and Barbara: I’ll beat you to the first pattern that shows up on Etsy! ;)

  12. Super cute Lee, this style of dress really suits you, HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY, looks like you had a great time. Hip Hip Hooray

  13. What a pretty dress! I love the scalloped edges and the sash. I really do need to make a dress like this at some point. I’m already thinking fall though so maybe not until next year.

    Happy Birthday! Looks like it was lots of fun-

  14. Happy happy birthday! The dress is so lovely – those delicate polka dots with the wavy neckline and sleeves is just divine!