Hot! The “Lumber Town by the Sea” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Made from a thrifted sheet
Pattern: Butterick 3293 (reprinted by Saundra Ros Altman’s: Past Patterns)
Year: circa 1929-30
Notions: bias trim
Time to complete: a few days
First worn: To Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast
Wear again? I hope so!
Total price: Less than $8.00 as everything was thrifted.

Challenge: Gatsby! 1920’s-1930’s







Guest House Museum built in 1892


“Inside the Museum one will find pictures and artifacts telling the history of the forest products industry on the Mendocino Coast and the city of Fort Bragg. Pictures include water shipping, railroads, mills and wood scenes and the earthquake of 1906.


Of shingled Queen Anne style, the Guest House was built primarily in coast redwood in 1892 for Tom Johnson, a family business partner in Fort Bragg Redwood Company, as his private residence. All wood used in the structure was milled by Fort Bragg Redwood Company. Before the house was finished and by direction of the company’s founder, Charles Russell Johnson, it became the lumber company’s home for senior officials and VIP guest visitors to the Fort Bragg mill and logging sites. Fort Bragg Redwood Company became Union Lumber Company in 1905 and the Guest House continued in its role until ULCo sold to Boise-Cascade Corporation, and later still to Georgia-Pacific Corp. G-P donated the home to the City of Fort Bragg on closing their Fort Bragg plant in the 1990s.” (


Downtown Fort Bragg, CA

About the dress: I ordered the pattern from Past Patterns for only $13.00. I thought that was a very reasonable price. I highly recommend this site. Saundra copies only existing patterns, so you have to find one that is in your size, or be willing to size up or down. My original intention was to make a muslin first, and then make it in more expensive fabric. I haven’t made the second one yet. So what you are seeing is my wearable muslin made from a floral sheet. I love the look of this dress, especially the  sleeves and the trim. Next time, I will make the bodice a little longer and just a bit wider around the hips.

 Please pardon the fact that I am missing my white gloves in my photos. What a bad girl I am.

Noyo Harbor
We bought fresh salmon for dinner! Yum!


It was fun to “antique” the photos to fit the era, but really there probably wasn’t any color in photos unless it was painted on. Just so you can see the true colors of the floral sheet that I used, I’m including a few normal photos.

In one of the upstairs bedrooms of the Guest House Museum.


The real color of the dress.



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. You have NO IDEA how close we came to making the same pattern this week!! The ONLY reason I didn’t go with this one was I didn’t have *quite* enough fabric for the skirt. I even have another piece of fabric set aside to make this…guess I’ll have to wait until next year : ) Don’t you love this pattern? I’ve made it at least half a dozen times for various shows and have loved it in each incarnation. Your dress, and your photos, are wonderful. I’m glad I went with my other pattern, yours is so nice. The hat and shoes are perfect : )

    • Thank you, Loren! Yes, I do love this pattern and I can’t wait to make another one. Next time I don’t think I’ll put the two holes in the dress for the tie. I should have just pinned the bow on. I got a few very nice compliments on it while I was parading around amidsts the tourists in their beach wear clothes. I bet people wonder what we’re up too when we’re all dressed up for our photoshoots!

  2. Hurray for upcycling! Love this dress pattern. Very cute.

  3. The sleeves and the trim on this project are beautiful! I love the double blue stripe! Is it piping?

    Also, color photography was rare and experimental, but it did exist by combining 3 color plates in red/green/blue and then projecting them together to make the color image. I thought you might like seeing color photos from 100 years ago from Russia – especially for the fabric and textiles…

  4. Very sweet! It totally suits you and welcome to the ‘I make dresses out of sheets’ club!

    • I really enjoy using a sheet to test a pattern. I’m always dollar conscious and I hate it when something doesn’t turn out. Thanks for the compliments!

  5. Gorgeous Barbara! You look so beautiful. This is your style.

  6. Oh so cute! Like always mama… :)

  7. Thanks Leah, I have a 40’s dress in your size that I want to try.

  8. You look great in that dress, Barbara. I love the sleeves and the matching blue trim make the dress look so nice and fresh.

  9. Darling! I love the sleeves and the bias trim you added. The bow would look good in a contrasting color too. I have to stay away from that pattern site at the moment, too tempting.

  10. Barbara you look great! I can’t believe its a sheet – so sweet!

  11. Thanks everyone for all your kind comments!

  12. Ah love it Barbara, those sleeves are perfect as is the contrasting trim. This style really suits you and you look so comfortable in it too. Bed sheet brilliance.

  13. Beautiful. At 1st I thought you changed the Colette taffy. How adorable you look

  14. This is great! I love the print on this dress that used to be a sheet. I really like finding sheets that work for garments or other projects.