Hot! The “Aperol” Dress

The Facts
: old sheet, scraps of cotton blend batiste for the bodice underlining
Pattern: McCalls 3214
Year: 1955
Notions: store-bought piping for the sleeves and self-made flat piping for the neckline (both leftover from other projects), invisible zip
First worn: 9/29
Wear again: yes
Time to complete: about 8+ hours
Total cost: $2 for the zipper

Refashion week!  I chose an old sheet from the ever growing pile of refashionable items because it seemed to have the most potential for transformation.  Since I had so much fabric to work with, I knew I wanted to make a fabric-eating 50s dress.  This right hand dress on this darling pattern has been calling to me for a while.  I love how plain it is, like the generic image that pops into your mind with “dress”.  That said, I wanted to add a little something, especially since I wasn’t making a belt.  Belts at my natural waistline just bug me.  I put in red flat piping at the neckline and regular piping at the sleeves, a process that added hours to the construction time, unfortunately.

I figured with the piping I had to use the facings, so I underlined the bodice instead of lining it.  I’m not sure if that was the best way to do things, but I like that I could catch stitch the facings down to the underlining.  All very time consuming.  I was lucky with the fitting, which was minimal.  I added 5/8″ to all the side seam allowances, including the sleeves, grading with a French curve from the shoulder seam for the top of the sleeve.

I’ve made dresses from old sheets before, but never from sheets I slept on myself countless times over many years.  It was kind of a weird experience.  When he saw the finished dress, my husband agreed, though he liked what I did with the trim, impressing me greatly with his fashion vocabulary.  I do love this kind of project– making something from nothing and the little bits I already have lying around.  In the end, this dress is a lot more successful and wearable than other projects I’ve spent big bucks on.  Which is both satisfying and annoying.  I named the dress for the slightly sweeter version of Campari that is a main component of my favorite summer cocktail, the Venetian Spritz.  I’m having trouble accepting that summer is gone.



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


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  1. I too am sad summmer is going. I LOVE your dress and it must be comfy! The trim is inspired and adds just the right punch of color. Isn’t it odd the things we can do with a few bits and pieces laying about?

  2. Oooh…that’s just gorgeous! As soon as I saw this in the pending posts lineup I got excited and couldn’t wait to see it. The colours are fabulous on you, and the whole look is just wonderful.

  3. This is such a cute print! I want sheets like that. :)

  4. This is wonderful Lee! Great old pattern, love the sleeve detail and the piping was totally worth the extra time it took – it finishes it beautifully. I am inspired to try that!

  5. It will always be summer when you wear that dress. This is just about my favorite dress ever, anywhere. I love it and I find the fabric very very very un-sheet like (I want sheets like that)! It is really beautiful, love the pattern, love it on you.

  6. Lovely dress. I really have to try piping – it always looks great.

  7. This dress is beautiful..Doesn’t look like a sheet “that you slept on” ha. Just beautiful..Perfect pattern for the dress. Love it.
    I too, hate to see summer ending..

  8. Oh it’s fab Lee, it looks like these fancy cottons we have on sale at Spotlight here, they’re labelled Vintage/Retro inspired. The piping makes it pop and the sleeves are great.

    I love it when my hubby tries to talk sewing terms, he throws them all into one sentence. They don’t make sense but he walks off with a nod of the head and a cool swagger about him. It makes me laugh, I pretend to know all about golf, hoping he never hit any real birdies or eagles :P

  9. That’s such a flattering dress, Lee. Love the pattern and your colorful sheets. The piping really adds a nice detail. I really like your pictures this week and how the wind causes your hair to look a little on the wild side. It suits you!

  10. Thank you so much!