Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dotted Swiss

With the gorgeous weather we have been having, I was feeling the need for a quick project with a Spring/Summer appropriate fabric.  No fancy linings, underlinings, or massively involved patterns allowed – just something fun and easy to put together.

Cotton was just the ticket.  I stumbled across a dotted swiss print at JoAnn Fabrics a few months ago.  The bolt caught my eye while waiting in line for some bemberg lining to be cut, and since it was cotton and just about gone, I snapped it right up. 

It is so rare to find a natural fiber print that I like among all the poly fleece that it was not until I returned to a sewing room full of fabric that I realized the yardage had managed to follow me home.  Whoops!  So much for my resolution to refrain from new fabric purchases.  

But then along came the Sew for Victory challenge, and the red, white, and blue color scheme seemed perfect for a 1940s design.  Which somehow makes me feel a little less guilty about the fabric purchase!

This dress is another vintage reproduction from Simplicity.  I love that they are reproducing these designs, I just wish they were more accurate. 

First, there is the length.  I am not sure where they got the model, but she must be rather short.  Granted, I used a more generous hem than the 5/8” given since I think that looks chintzy, but with my standard torso lengthening and the extra inch I added to the lower skirt edge, I added almost two inches and this still came out a bit too short.  Unless you are quite petite, the skirt is not going to cover the knee.

Also, the back facing is unlike any vintage pattern I have ever come across.  It is massive, so I ditched the whole thing and just made a narrow facing band for the center back slit; the back neck edge is finished with a strip of bias.

Another major complaint I have with the Simplicity reproductions is no mention of shoulder pads.  It looks to me like they threw a pair on the model before taking photographs so she looked more like the illustration, but there is no mention in the instructions or on the pattern envelope suggesting a pair.  I am fine with people eliminating the things if they so choose, but the vintage silhouette is really hard to duplicate without shoulder pads, and ignoring the fact is doing a disservice to the design.

For a bit of added reinforcement on the center front yoke point, I used silk organza to stay the inner corner edge of the skirt (the same technique used to reinforce a gusset).

Even with all of my complaints, this really is a great design.  It actually has more going on than a lot of the recent Vintage Vogues!


  1. What a beautiful fabric and pattern. I saw it on the flickr group and it honestly took my breath away. Very, very pretty. xx Shauna

  2. Very pretty! I actually have the same fabric too. It's gorgeous sewn up, definitely worth the slight struggles you had with the repro pattern. That neckline is fabulous!

  3. So pretty! You shouldn't feel bad about that purchase at all! I've been interested in the Simplicity reproductions (though I've never got around to making one...) because of the lack of shoulder pads. I like a lot of the vintage designs, but I'm just too small and shy to do shoulder pads at this point in history, and the couple real vintage patterns I've used have looked wrong without them. My non-purist self was actually hoping that the designs were altered a bit to eliminate the need for shoulder pads, but it sounds like that might not be the case... sounds like muslins are in order for everyone!

  4. This is a fantastic summer dress. It does seem very appropriate for Sew for Victory with it's RWB color theme. I bet it will be a great go-to all season. No need to feel guilty about that.

  5. Oh, Laura! It's so beautiful!

  6. This is so incredibly pretty! Hands down one of my favourite garments you've ever made and fabrics you've used. I would wear this in the quickest of heartbeats (especially, thanks to the colour palette, on July 4th to celebrate in spirit with my US friends).

    ♥ Jessica

  7. I absolutely love this dress! the fabric is just gorgeous! I have very fond memories of wearing dresses of dotted swiss when I was little. I had no idea that Joanns sold this fabric. I will be on the look out!

  8. I recently sewed dresses from this pattern for me and my daughter. Fun seeing it in a different fabric!