The Sound of Music Dress

Some of you may recall a post that I wrote about The Sound of Music last summer (See it here, if you’d like). At the end of the post, I made a remark about the possibility of a future dress inspired by the dress in the picture below.

I love this dress–just as I love the majority of the dresses that Julie Andrews wears in the film. I wasn’t sure if I would ever find the right material for the dress, but readers, a couple of weeks ago I found it!

I was at the thrift store, and I was digging around in a bargain bin. At the bottom, I came across these vintage sheets. They were in wonderful condition, no stains, no weird smells, etc.

The print automatically made me think of the dress in the above picture. I stood there for a few short moments in amazement, thinking about how perfect this material was. Once I envisioned what it would be, I couldn’t have snatched the material any faster. A lady at the thrift store gave me one of the strangest looks I’ve ever been graced with.

Anyway, I got the material home and began designing the dress in my head. I didn’t want a contrasting bodice fabric for my dress, and I wanted much shorter sleeves.

I’ve wanted to make a dress with some pintuck pleats for a while. I like the look of them, and I thought it would add a nice detail to the bodice since I wasn’t going to use a contrasting material.

I found this pattern in the May 2009 addition of Burda magazine.

I decided to use just the bodice portion of the pattern, and create a fuller skirt with 4 panels, rather than the flounce skirt with only front and back pieces.

The back skirt panels cut out

I traced the pattern from Burda magazine and added the seam allowances.

This particular pattern was in petite sizing. Something I was pretty happy about, because I didn’t think I would need to shorten the bodice or make any other adjustments.

One problem that I always have with Burda patterns is the sizing. So, I decided to go with the size according to my waist measurement. Normally, I would use a larger size at the bust and hips, because my bust and hips are usually at least one size up according to the measurements. However, every time I trace the pattern according to those measurements, I end up having to take it in significantly.

Anyway, enough grumbling, I figured it out (although, the sizing was still a bit off in the end). Once I had my pattern pieces I cut the bodice pieces and the lining.

I sewed the darts on the bodice back, and pressed and sewed all of the pintucks on the front pieces.

Then, I attached the side front pieces to the front pieces, and sewed the bodice together at one side and at the shoulders.

I also cut out and finished the edges of those flutter cap sleeves that you can see in the technical drawing for the pattern.

Once I pinned them to the bodice and held the bodice on, I absolutely hated how they looked. It just wasn’t the style for me. They sat in a weird place that made my shoulders look strange. Anything that makes my shoulders appear narrower tends to make me look extremely disproportional.

With spring beginning to make an appearance, I decided that a sleeveless dress would be a nice option. Plus, it would work well with a cute little cardigan.

The sleeve material won’t go to waste. I’ll use it for another project. I only used one sheet for the dress, even though I had to cut strips on the bias to make some bias tape for the armholes. I also originally cut out one of my pieces at the only spot where there was damage to the material: an ink blot.

Despite that, I didn’t even have to cut into the second sheet. By the way, I bought both of these sheets for only about $1!

Back to the dress construction….I sewed the seams of the skirt, except for the seam where the invisible zipper would go.

There were self-facings on the center front pieces. So, I only had to cut the side front and back bodice pieces for the lining. I sewed the side front pieces to the self-facings, and sewed the bodice together at the shoulders and side seams. Then, I sewed the lining to the bodice, right sides together at the neckline. After that, I pressed and basted around the bottom (to hold everything in place when I attached the skirt to the bodice).

I attached the skirt and the bodice, serged the seam (as I did most of the seams in the dress), and pressed it down.

I inserted the invisible zipper.

The end was so close I could already feel the satisfaction of the finished product… and that’s when things went all wrong.

As I was zipping the zipper up after finishing sewing it in, it broke!

It worked fine before I sewed it into the dress, but as soon as I had finished all of the hard work, it gave out. The thought of having to rip the zipper out and start all over again was sickening.

This was me when I realized there was nothing left to do, but spend an hour with my seam ripper. Ugh!

This picture doesn’t begin to express the agony I was in.

Once I had finally removed the “zipper that couldn’t,”

I set to work adding the new and (hopefully) functioning zipper. The new zipper works beautifully, for now.

With the bias tape sewn in at the armholes, I folded and hand sewed it down to the lining.

I needed several buttons, and I couldn’t find any that I thought would work well for the dress. So, I went digging in my to-be-reconstructed pile. I found a dress with these pearly buttons all the way down the front. There were so many of them, I knew it wouldn’t be a problem to steal some for this project.

I hand-stitched the six buttons on, and stitched the placket together between the buttons. Since, the buttonholes weren’t really necessary and I didn’t have buttons small enough, I just decided to skip that step.

With the bottom of the dress hemmed, the dress was ready for an enjoyable spring day.

It can be worn with a coordinating ribbon or belt. The outfit will be complete when I have a suitable cardigan.

The dress can be worn without a belt as well.

I am not comfortable with dresses this low cut, and I couldn’t tell from the magazine that the neckline was going to be so low. The low neckline is the reason that I took my first set of pictures below with the brown tank underneath.

I think it detracts from the whole look. I figured that because this was a petite size and I went a size down, I would have no problem with this pattern. Oh well, I’m not about to take it apart. 😛 Maybe I can find a pretty lacy camisole to wear underneath it. Ideally, a red or pink camisole would be best, to match the flowers in the print and allow me to wear a matching ribbon or belt.

I kept the length longer than I usually do, because it seemed to fit this particular dress.

Here’s a detail shot of the bodice front.

These pictures show the colors of the dress the best.

I also had to take a picture sitting, in order to semi-mimic the inspiration photo.

Sorry for the onslaught of pictures. 🙂 I just love this dress!

Posted in clothing, diy, dress, fabric, fashion, recycled, redo, repurposed, retro, sewing, thrifted, upcycled, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Purple floral dress for my sister

My new sewing machine and I are getting along swimmingly. Oh, we’ve had our share of misunderstandings this first week, but new relationships always require work. 😉 Learning the particulars of a new machine hasn’t allowed me to get too much sewing done this week. However, I do have a dress to share with you, and another on the way.

My youngest sister recently requested that I make her another item of clothing: a dress this time. I obviously couldn’t turn her down, because she is the baby of the family. As many of you surely know, the youngest child/baby/fledgling in the family tends to get whatever they want. 😉

Anyway, I love her and my other three younger sisters to pieces, and I’ve been missing them terribly since moving. So, this was a great way to feel close to them. Even though this dress was only for my youngest sister, making it reminded me of my whole family.

Enough talk about me, let’s move on to the dress.

The dress started out as this big white sack, with cute embroidery and cut outs at the hem and sleeves. I guess it may have been a mini dress, or a tunic. To me, it just seemed really frumpy. It reminded me of a muumuu, except for the length.

I found the dress many months ago, and dyed it, back when I created my Purple Parade Dress for the Burdastyle Remake Challenge.

The dress in the dye bath with the robe that I reconstructed.

If you don’t recall the dress that I’m talking about, here’s a picture of it:

BurdaStyle Remake Challenge dress

Anyway, I set the dress aside and just pulled it out about a week ago.

The dress in its purple form

My sister loves purple, and I thought I would use parts of this dress for her new dress. I don’t have step-by-step pictures of the process, but I do have a few.

I used most of the dress to create the skirt, cutting it just under the neckline trim. I just re-basted the gathers after cutting the skirt, and stitched the lining and outer skirt back together.

For the bodice, I used a sweet white floral knit. There are various shades of purple, pink and peach in the print. Originally when I drafted the pattern, I didn’t plan on gathering in the center of the bust. However, I think it really gives the bodice a cuter shape.

I made little bias strips with the floral knit to trim the raw edge of the old straps. The bias looks much nicer than a simple fold-and-sew edge would have, and it ties the pieces of the dress together better.

The bodice is completely lined with more of the floral material, and the straps are sewn in between the bodice and the lining. After I attached the bodice and lining together, I sewed the lining to the seam allowance (this ensures that the lining stays in place on the inside of the dress).

Once I had finished the bodice, I sewed the bodice and skirt together and added some elastic at the seam. The seams of the dress are all serged for more durability and stretch.

Here is the completed dress.

I wasn’t feeling up to taking pictures today, so I just took some photos of the dress on the dress form. I hope you can forgive me for not wanting to get all dolled up.

I am really happy with the way it turned out, and I think my sister will like it.

Posted in clothing, diy, dress, fashion, recycled, redo, repurposed, sewing, upcycled | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Reconstructions, Sewing Machine and Iron

It has been an eventful and thrilling week. I have a variety of items and some news to share with you.

Custom Reconstructions

I wanted to show some reconstructions that I just finished for a gal on Etsy. She sent the dresses to me and gave me complete creative license to transform them. The only requirements were that the tops of the dresses be made from stretch knit materials, and that the dresses have a waistline.

Here is what two of the dresses looked like before.

I don’t have a before picture for the one with the panda print, but it was just a basic spaghetti strap, straight tank dress.

Anyway, here are the after pictures. There were a few finishing touches that still needed to be done when I took the pictures. So, if you see any strings hanging, etc, that’s why.


This one has such a fun, retro feel to it. I love it!

Sewing Machine

My new sewing machine arrived in the mail yesterday, and she is one of the loveliest things I have ever seen. She sews with fervor, she is a beast of a machine (exactly what I needed), and I think I’m in love.

I have been saving up for a new machine for a while. I needed an upgrade because of the amount of sewing that I do. Originally, I was going to purchase a Pfaff Expression 2.0, but I missed my chance on the only one listed anywhere online (it was on eBay). Anyway, I found this gal on eBay too. The machine is a Creative 2.0, without the embroidery unit. I can’t believe what a great deal I got on this machine; eBay is one of the best inventions, ever.

Look at the size difference between the machines! The work space on the Pfaff is outstanding.

The reason I wanted to purchase a Pfaff is because they are solid machines. They also have IDT (Integrated Dual Transport), which makes for a smooth and even feed of whatever fabric you’re working with. There is a built in walking foot that snaps down behind the foot, and the fabric is pulled evenly from both the top and the bottom.

One of my biggest struggles has been sewing knits on my old machine. No matter what I do, the tension is never right and the fabric jams easily in the dogs. Well, this machine pulls knits through with no problems and the stitches are perfect! Not only that, it automatically back stitches, ties off and cuts the threads. 😀

I was so excited after I tested my first few sets of fabric swatches on this machine that there was actually adrenaline pulsing through me.

Yep, I’ve got some real issues, but it’s not that bad, right?

It’s not like I’m a crazy cat lady, or something?

OK, so maybe there are some similarities. I do hope to one day have a large collection of machines to take care of, and I would rather stay home and play with my machines then go out, or watch TV.

I have yet to name this new pet, but once I do I’m sure it’ll slip into a post somewhere.

It is sad to put my little Singer in the backseat. She has gotten me through many projects. We’ve had moments of joy and satisfaction, moments of defeat and frustration, and moments of complacency and indifference. Through it all, she has always been my trusty little sewing machine that could.

Alright that’s enough of my “Ode to Betsy.” She will still get attention here and there, believe me. She definitely still has her uses.

Pressure Iron and Steamer

Yesterday was without question, one of the most exciting days of the year for me. I received not only my sewing machine, but the Rowenta Pressure Iron and Steamer that I won in the Burdastyle contest back in December.

This iron is beautiful, and I can see a long and fulfilling partnership ahead.

With the arrival of these two new toys, I may disappear into my temporary basement lair for a while.

House Update

We finally received an executed contract for the home we’re buying, last Friday. The house is a foreclosure, and we are purchasing it “as is.” It’s is a fixer-upper, which is what we wanted. There is a lot of work that needs to be done that we already know about and are ready to get our hands dirty to fix. But, we want to make sure that we have the opportunity to raise objections to anything that is too serious a problem for us.

That said, we were supposed to have the home inspection this week and raise any objections and/or back out of the contract within the time-frame the seller wanted. However, neither the seller nor the listing agent seems to be capable of figuring out when the property will be de-winterized. We’ve already had to reschedule the home inspection twice now. Yesterday we weren’t notified until half-hour before the inspection (by email, no less) that the property still wasn’t de-winterized.

Anyway, this just illustrates how frustrating the whole process has been. I know I haven’t given too many details, but the past several weeks we’ve been dealing with this same type of behavior. When we are done with this first-time home buying experience, we may well have tackled the worst home buying experience as well.

I wanted to at least share a picture of the front of the house with you. I’ll take more (of the inside, etc) whenever we have the home inspection.

As you can see, she is in need of some attention. I can’t wait until we can bathe and groom her. Haha!

Posted in clothing, diy, dress, fashion, recycled, redo, repurposed, retro, sewing, Uncategorized, upcycled | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Red and blue striped dress with chevron

This reconstruction is one of my favorites so far. The dress started out as the dress below, which was likely from the 80s.

My first step was to remove the shoulder pads and sleeves.

I then, removed the top and bottom portions of the dress.

The next step was to shorten the waist, and adjust the length of the skirt. I cut a bit off the top of the skirt, and shortened the bodice as well.

I then decided that the skirt was too full (and the pockets weren’t helping). So to fix that problem, I took the front and back seams in, and cut and prepped the new side seams.

It was important that I pay close attention to the chevrons in the front and the back of the skirt when taking the seams in.

The bodice had to be taken in on the sides as well, and no armholes fashioned. Since I shortened the bodice portion of the dress, the pockets had to be shortened proportionally. I kept the same pocket shape, but just moved the bottom of the pockets up about an inch.

I added little lace strips at the inside of each of the pockets at the top. It gives a little more of a feminine feel to it. I like the contrast between the lace and the stripes.

Since I wanted to have a nice fit, a zipper had to be added. I decided to add an invisible zipper at one side of the dress. When I took the skirt in, I left one of the adjusted side seams open to accommodate the side zipper.

Before I could sew in the zipper, I had to attach the back bodice and skirt, and the front bodice and skirt.

The skirt pieces had to be gathered slightly to match up with the bodice pieces.

I serged the skirt-bodice seams for durability.

With the top and bottom pieces sewn together, I sewed up one side of the dress. Then, I added the invisible zipper to the other side.

I love invisible zippers, and the best part: this one was recycled from another garment.

All that remained were the finishing touches. I finished the hem and armholes.

With all the threads tucked and tied off , I sat back and admired my favorite new creation.

I had a lot of fun reconstructing this dress. My goal was to modernize it, while retaining some of the design elements and the vintage feel. I think I accomplished exactly that.

The belt is the perfect addition to this dress. It’s one of the reasons the dress stood out to me at the thrift store.  I believe I paid about $2 for this dress, and honestly, I probably would’ve paid that just for the belt.

This dress is lightweight and airy. I can’t wait until the spring weather allows me to wear this dress without a cardigan.


I also wanted to share this cute little lace number that I found at the thrift store last week.

I really had some ideas for things to do with it, but I don’t have the heart to cut it up.


By the way, we accepted a counter offer on the house last week, and are waiting for the seller to sign all of the papers and make the contract official. We’re dealing with a bank because the house is a foreclosure, so everything is moving even slower than usual. I will share a picture and some information about the house with you all once I know we’ve actually got it.

I will also start sharing some of our ideas for the house, and things from my inspiration book. Hopefully once we move in and start the renovation process, I’ll have a new blog set up with a section just for that topic.

I hope you all have had a great week. Mine started out with a nice bouquet of roses for Valentine’s Day.

I love getting flowers!

Posted in clothing, diy, dress, fashion, ooak, recycled, redo, repurposed, retro, sewing, thrifted, Uncategorized, upcycled, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Flowers and Silver Sheath Dress

A couple months back, I set out to make a sheath dress from a vintage pattern. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a pattern in the style I was looking for.

I looked through my patterns again and came across the one below (McCalls 8500) from the 60s.

I really liked the wide neckline and the shape of the skirt and top. I decided to combine the top and the skirt in view B, removing the little peplum thing from the top. It was pretty easy to combine the two pieces into a dress.

Sewing one of the many darts on the dress

The fabric that I chose was stretchy enough that a zipper wasn’t really necessary. I can just slip the dress on over my head with no problems.

I had to shorten the top significantly because of my short torso.

I knew that the pattern would fit my hips well, but I had to take it in at the bust and the waist.

The bust needed to be adjusted by about an inch on each side, and the waist had to come in about an inch and a half on each side.

At first I thought I might like the length. So, I cut the pieces out without shortening them, but I discovered when I put the dress on for the first time that the length was too much. I can’t seem to find a happy medium because now it’s a bit shorter than I would’ve liked.

I used the strip cut from the bottom of the dress to create a little belt.

With the neckline and armholes finished, and the dress hemmed, I was ready to do somersaults.

This was one of those projects that was started months ago, and put aside for later. It’s so gratifying when you finally push yourself to finish projects that have been dragging on and on.

I apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos for the process. It was one of those projects that I worked on a little bit at a time, so I didn’t think to take pictures.

With the adjustments I made to the top, the shoulder straps still sit wide on the shoulders (exactly the way I wanted them to sit), but don’t fall of my shoulders. I didn’t dress it up with any jewelry, because all of my jewelry is packed away and I’m not a big jewelry wearer (something I’d like to work on).

I need to find a little shrug to go with this dress. None of my cardigans go well with it. The jacket I’m finishing up looks OK with the dress; it just makes the ensemble look too much like dressy office attire.

I’m not terribly thrilled with how my hips currently look in the dress. In about another month, I should be closer to my fitness goals and happier with the fit of the dress.

Here’s a picture without the belt.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Super Bowl festivities yesterday.

Posted in clothing, diy, dress, fashion, pattern, retro, sewing, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Rainy day teaser

I was planning on taking pictures today and posting about the process of a recent project, but it’s raining.

So, here’s what I’ll do. Below are a few teaser pictures for some of the posts coming next week.

I finished this dress.

That's a belt hanging over one shoulder

I combined a vintage top and skirt pattern into one piece. I’ll give you more details about the pattern, etc, when I add an entry about the process (which will be when I get some good pictures of the finished product).

I used the same material for this dress and the lining of the jacket. Really, the material is too heavy for a lining, but I just did it anyway. 😉

I know this is a funky picture. I didn't realize how crooked it was until now, haha. I'll take some good pictures when it's not raining. 😉

The jacket is almost complete. I just need to sew the hem and the button holes by hand. The automatic button hole function on my machine has not been working for a while.

I’ve also got another reconstruction close to completion. It started out as this jacket:

The sleeves have a lot of VOLUME


My husband and I put an offer in on a house on Thursday, and are waiting patiently for news. We probably won’t hear until about Monday or Tuesday. We are really excited about the ideas we have for renovating the house, so hopefully we’ll hear some good news next week. 😀

Posted in clothing, diy, dress, pattern, sewing, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hint of Spring Skirt

The end of last week and this weekend was spent house hunting (Hence, the shortage of posts). The hunt has yielded results. More details later.

Today’s project started as the dress below. I found this dress a while ago, started cutting it apart, and then put aside for months.

Too much of this print was overwhelming. So, I decided to make one piece with it: a skirt. I’ll probably use the top of the dress to make a blouse at some point as well.

Gotta love that scarf/cowl thing

I separated the top and bottom portions of the dress, and cut the skirt down to the length I was going for. I shortened the skirt from the top, that way I wouldn’t have to re-hem it. Plus, it gave the skirt more fullness throughout.

Next, I cut a wide strip of black elastic to the proper waist size, and sewed the ends together. I sewed the ends together (right sides together), finished with a zig-zag stitch for a clean look, and top-stitched the seam allowances down.

This is probably the worst picture ever taken. But at least it shows you--albeit, vaguely--what the seam looks like.

To gather the top of the skirt, I used basting stitches along the top.

Once the top was semi-gathered, I pinned it to the elastic waist.

I basted around the waist first, with the skirt on top and the elastic on the bottom.

Then, I sewed the seam with the elastic on the top, as close to the edge of the elastic as possible.

With my seam ripper, I removed the basting stitch. I also finished the top of the skirt fabric with the serger.

Here’s how the skirt turned out.

I probably would’ve preferred it just a teensy bit shorter, but it’s a good length for the transitional weather between winter and spring. For me, it’s the colors and the print of the skirt as well that evoke the flux between winter and spring.

I bought those grey boots the same day I bought my brown ones (mentioned a few posts back). I got a slammin’ deal on them too. They were originally over $100, and I got them for over 70% off. Yes, I am a bargain shopper, and I am not ashamed.

I had a lot of fun taking pictures today. It wasn’t cold, so I didn’t feel like I had frostbite after 20 seconds. Today is overcast and damp, and reminds me that spring is on its way.

I was experimenting with my camera tripod. Luckily the neighbors are all about an acre or more away, so I don’t have to worry about people seeing my photo sessions.

There are so many great places to take pictures here. It’s a wonderful change to have so many different backdrops.

Here’s to the swift arrival of spring!


Posted in clothing, diy, fashion, indie, recycled, redo, repurposed, retro, sewing, thrifted, upcycled, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments