July 8, 2014

handcrafted | a nod to the 40s with a tropical flair!

This post was meant to go up last week, but the days didn't go as planned (as so often happens here)... So I opted to just wait until today to share this with you! It's a combination Style Monday (even though it's Tuesday... *ahem*) and Handcrafted post--yes, I've been doing some sewing! *gasp*

wearing: dress (made by me), shoes (Remix Vintage), bracelet: vintage, sunglasses (Target).

I love sundresses this time of year. If you were to peek in my closet, I dare say half the dresses hanging there currently are sundresses! It seems crazy to add another to the mix, but I couldn't help it. A impetus for sewing this dress is using the fabric (a cute tiki-inspired cotton print with just the slightest hint of stretch); I've been sitting on it for years, unsure of what to use it for. Originally I had planned a 50s sarong style dress, but there are very few and far between reasons to wear a wiggle dress these days. So I opted for something I could actually get some use out of with my life the way it is (aka Reality Sewing)!


I used a vintage 1940s pattern (I could have sworn I've sewn it up before, but I can't seem to find photographic evidence!); a really classic and easy to wear halter dress. I made a few modifications: the biggest was swapping out the supplied a-line skirt for a simple gathered silhouette; I just tend to prefer those during the summer. I also redid the back to allow for shirring, rather than just using a flat, fitted panel. Some of my favorite sundresses have shirred panels, and I love the close--yet adjustable--fit they give. (Gertie's tutorial is a classic and the best, in my opinion, for modifying a bodice back for shirring.) I also opted to redo the straps to allow for a cross-back configuration rather than a halter. No matter how much I fiddle with halter straps, they often give me a neck ache! I actually did not decide this until after I sewed the entire dress, so the ends are just lightly tacked to the inside of the front bodice near the side seam (because attaching them to the shirred panel--while not impossible--would have been fiddly. Plus I feel like the wider set of the straps helps the front to "hug" a bit more around the chest.). Really gives it the look of a totally different dress! If I decide later on to wear it as a halter neckline, I can easily rip out the hand stitches. (A buttonhole on each tie with a corresponding button inside the bodice may be in the future...)

I love the easy construction and fit of this bodice. This dress took me only a couple afternoons to sew! But, I must confess: it sat on my dress form for over a month waiting for the zipper. Every time I walked in the room I got excited to wear the dress, but kept putting off the last detail. Obviously someone needs to stop procrastinating with zippers. lol.

Have you been sewing anything this month? 

18 comments :

  1. Beautiful dress. The gathered skirt makes it look much more summer like, and goes wonderfully with the top. My last finished garment was a long time UFO, a very summery Simplicity 2444. All that I needed to do was to finished binding the inside seams, but I was determined to have this dress finished as neatly as I could make it. Then autumn hit, it got cold, and it went into the pile to wait for next summer. It took a heat wave and what I knew was going to be a proposal date to get it finished. And I am so glad I did. A beautiful dress, that unfortunately I now have to pack away til summe.

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    1. Isn't it funny about finishing some projects like that? Good for you sticking with it! :) I still have a circle skirt in my UFO pile from last summer! I really, really need to finish it; it's a beautiful black cotton that would go with a large portion of my wardrobe easily--and translate into fall as well. But I've just been staring at it, and then shoved it in the UFO drawer. haha! Need to get it out and tackle this!

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  2. What a wow dress! I've been wanting to add shirring to a sun dress - it's the perfect solution for a mom's ever changing body :) I agree about halter straps; I love the way they look, but they are never comfortable. I often opt for a criss cross back as well.

    I just finished sewing up a skirt that is a copy of something I saw in a Boden catalog. Next up is a maxi skirt for summer - with little increments of time here and there I hope I can complete it by the end of this month!

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    1. YES! That is exactly why shirring appealed to me; my figure seems to deviate a lot post-baby. lol.

      Yay for small bits of sewing time! I've been juggling a few other projects (mostly furniture painting), but I'm hoping by August I can get back to a more frequent sewing schedule. ;)

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  3. So pretty!! When you have a fabric like that there is absolutely no reason to not add another sundress to the mix!

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  4. Such a cute dress, I love it! And the print is great, too, what a lovely use for that fabric. It's so funny you did a shirred back and crossed the straps, as those two features are next on my list for a modified version of Mrs. Depew's 50s beach top for the very same reasons you mentioned! And I may take your tip for where you attached the straps as I plan to shir the whole back too. Thanks for being one step ahead of me to help with my inspiration for my future project, hee hee! ;)

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    1. How funny that we are both on the same wavelength! ;) lol. I used a shirred back when I made Mrs. Depew's 50s beach bra a few years ago--and it made it so comfortable! It always takes a bit more calculation and prep time to do a shirred back, but I think it really is becoming a favorite--and sensible--option for styles like this in my wardrobe. :)

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  5. Super cute Casey!
    I've been sewing a lot this month! Mostly things for our blog, but some business and personal stuff too. Recently I've been getting into T-shirts... :)

    Brigid
    the Middle Sister and Singer

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    1. Thank you so much, Brigid! Tshirts are so fun to make! I've been meaning to drag out my serger and make a few mini tees for Miss A., but somehow haven't gotten around to it... lol.

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  6. I love sewing sundresses too, but lately I'm also trying to make "reality sewing" my mantra, sometimes dresses just aren't practical for sculpture classes...but I think you've convinced me to take a little break from sewing the basics and make a sundress I've been wanting out of some vintage sheets I've been saving (I still have two months before school, plenty of time to justify it!)

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  7. I love it! I've never shirred anything, but I love how it feels and fits, so maybe it's time to get over the fear. I've sadly been in a 6 month sewing famine but as soon as I finish moving this month, I have big plans to dive back in (probably starting with new curtains). By the way, I'm glad you were able to get back into blogging! I loved the emphasis on vintage you used to have, but I like the new themes too get get lots of ideas from your posts! The main problem is actually putting them to use. :P

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  8. Love this dress, it's so fun and cheerful.

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  9. I want to sew so badly. I always screw up with getting my bobbins filld with thread where it gets tangled. My mother-in-law bought me one of those little machines that does it for you, but I have no time to go to the story to get bobbins so that I might thread it even with that. eeeeek. I want to make myself a blouse or skirt.
    Anyway, your outfit is so cute and I feel like I have not seen you do a post like this for a while or something. . .or I just haven't checked blogs in two months or so...yeah that's it!
    +Victoria+

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  10. Fabulously cute dress! I love every last element of it, very much including that it features a great novelty print on a black background. That's always been a particular favourite of mine when it comes to prints (from any era).

    ♥ Jessica

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  11. It's a lovely dress and your shoes are great :)

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  12. How pretty Casey! I have been working on a summer dress which is almost done! Just some bias binding at the neckline and a hem left to do. After that, I'm on to some knit tops! :)
    -Lauren

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  13. I love your dress! I am new to sewing,and have decided to follow your circle skirt sew along posts as my first project!

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