53-minute skirt for Red Nose Day

red skirt for red nose day

I’m just going to sneak in with a quick post about a speedy skirt I made last night.

Youngest dort announced on Wednesday evening that she needed a red skirt or some red leggings for Red Nose day on Friday.

“No problemo sweetipops,” I said. I happened to be working next to Westfield shopping centre on Thursday and I would have many a ladies clothes shop to bag an emergency red garment.

Famous last words. Would you believe that between five top ladies-wear shops, and one very large sports shop, there was not a red skirt or pair of leggings to be found. Has red gone out of fashion? There was pink, orange, coral and burgundy but not a glimpse of red in sight, save a few t-shirts!

I had already planned a night in with good chums and the Great British Sewing Bee final on Thursday after work. No way was I going to cancel that. There were ‘skanklets’ and everything!

Watching #GBSB final. #skanklette

A photo posted by Tilly Walnes (@tillybuttons) on

So I planned a speedy skirt on the way to Tilly’s and – fuelled by Prosecco and pizza and mini eggs – I raced back to my sewing table before the clock struck midnight. Proper little Cinders, me!

53 minutes later, in true Sewing Bee stylee, I’d made the pattern and stitched up a full circle skirt with an elasticated waist from some leftover red jersey. It scores nothing for couture but fulfilled the brief… and diverted a tantrum.

It’s going to take me a little longer to write and illustrate the tute but I’ll be back with one later, because I quite fancy one of these myself! Till then, have a wonderful weekend, all. Hope you get some quality sewing time in.

Vintage wrap-blouse

vintage wrap blouse

In the olden days I used to worry that I wouldn’t have enough to blog about but now it seems I’m capable of even forgetting that I’ve made stuff to blog about!

This lovely pattern was generously gifted to me by Anne of Mercury Handmade. Not only did she post me a much-wanted, missing copy of Burda Style magazine back in August but she also enclosed two surprise gorgeous vintage patterns. This being one of them. If you’ve not caught up with Anne yet, I seriously advise you to pop over to her blog for all the inspiring and perfectly made clothes she makes for herself and her two lucky daughters

Bestway D.3,109 blouse pattern

The pattern is Bestway D.3,109. One of those mail order sorts, by the looks of it. And I’m thinking early 1950s.

I love the flattering neckline and the extended sleeves. The back is just one piece which incorporates the sleeves and there are interesting yoke pieces which incorporate them on the front. The ‘collar’ lays flat, sitting on the collar bone to create that lovely opening. And its beautifully shaped to nip in at the waist.

It’s held closed with just two vintage buttons. The third is for decorational purposes but at some point I would add an internal button or snap to keep the under-wrap in position. For the time being I generally tuck it into my pants!

lighthouse blouse buttons

I used a nice crisp cotton from the goldhawk road. It’s printed with lighthouses which seemed a perfect choice for this blouse.

vintage lighthouse blouse

I love wearing vintage style blouses. There’s always something a little bit quirky about them. And they are so easily paired up with a circle or pencil skirt. I’m slowly getting away from the easy-to-wear jersey tops that I used to wear all the time. Just need to make a couple more so I can ditch the rest of my tatty go-tos!

vintage lighthouse blouseAnd in case any of you are wondering. I wouldn’t ordinarily be out in December without a coat. It is winter as I post this and it is very, very nippy out! We just ran across the road while the sun was out to take these shots and ran back in before the goosebumps set in!!

I’m now about to add about 10 more layers and head out into the wild and crazy world of Christmas shoppers! I’ve not even scratched the surface yet. Please don’t tell me you’ve all done yours!



Burda Brigitte Blouse

First I must apologise for those who have had issues trying to comment on my blog over the last week or so. I won’t bore you with the tecchie issues but suffice to say all is now good at Ooobop HQ! (touch wood!) Thanks for bearing with.

It feels so good to be able to write a post. I knew how much this blog meant to me but didn’t realise quite how much. I found out quick enough when I thought I’d lost nearly 2.5 years of work! I’ve been such a bloomin’ grumpy pants all week, Mr O will tell you for nothing!

I feel like I should be making a bit more of a dramatic re-entrance, but I’m afraid we’ll just have to make do with a humble gingham peasant blouse.

burda gingham boatneck blouse

It’s a very nice gingham peasant blouse though. Care of Burda’s June 2011 edition Mag. It’s also available for download here where it’s featured in a sheer fabric.

I’ve made three sleeveless ones before but this one has long sleeves and no elastic. And it presented a fine oopportunity to create some bias gingham binding around the neckline and cuffs which is always lovely!

burda gingham peasant blouseThe fabric was sold to me as Egyptian cotton, which I had no reason to dispute. It is smooth and cool to the touch and feels like fine quality. But the pyromaniac in me is compelled to do a burn test, always. And the little black crumbly ash that resulted, confirmed the fibres as a poly blend, doh! Win some lose some. Should’ve sniffed a rat at £5.99 really!

But not a worry as it still feels nice against my skin and it’s not snug on the pits so remains a good choice for a warm summer’s day or an office with failed air-con.

The instructions suggested a gathered hem into another bias band but I was nervous about too much poof around my middle and given that I almost always tuck in my tops I just did a standard hem. But, note to self, I didn’t increase the length enough to compensate, and with one wave across the street, it comes untucked, whether I’ve tucked it in my pants or not!

burda gingham peasant blouse

It’s very quick to make if you can even up your gathers quickly. I faffed a bit too much with my gathers as usual, but it still got completed in an evening.

I love the raglan sleeves and the boatneck. So easy to wear. Great with a pencil and equally a circle skirt. And the plan is to make some capri pants one day, just like Burda’s styling, to come somewhere close to that retro Brigitte look.

burda gingham peasant blouse

Peasant blouse: Burda pattern, handmade by ooobop
Skirt: self-drafted & handmade by ooobop
Belt: H&M
Shoes: Rocket Originals
Photography: © Daniel James Photographic


Vintage 50s blouse with monogram

simplicity 2195 blouseThis is vintage Simplicity 2195 . . . or a great substitute for a bowling shirt fit for a game with the Spoolettes! Who are the Spoolettes you may well ask? Well hop over to Sew Dixie Lou to get a little insight.

vintage 50s blouse with monogram

I’m gutted I didn’t get any photos of our fabulous sporting event. But if you want a bit of inside info, Charity Shop Chic has posted some great ones here plus you get to see her amazing bowling shirt refashion too!. We sure did rock Bloomsbury Lanes with all sorts of complimentary comments coming from the staff.

I struggled to find an actual bowling shirt pattern but I’m quite glad I found this one as it works very well as an every day shirt. I wore it to lunch today at Carluccios with Mr O. Teamed with self-drafted half circle skirt and my favourite ankle boots from Office.


simplicity_2195_4I knew the hand embroidery was going to be a challenge for me. The last time I entertained such a thing was at the age of nine. But I thought this would make a lovely project to take on holiday back in August. (An efficient bit of planning on behalf of those Spoolettes meant that this sewing challenge fitted in superbly with my holiday!)

So first in the suitcase was the needle and thread and a hoop and a half made shirt with a piece of freezer paper ironed in position. As with most things I didn’t spend too much time reading up on the best way to go about this and the only transfer pencil I had was red, so I traced my initials from the original transfer, supplied with the pattern, on to the freezer paper. I couldn’t bear to cut up and ruin the original!

I had, however, read somewhere at some point, that ‘padding stitches’ were a good idea to raise the ‘satin stitches’. And so I set about tracing the edge of the monogram with some small running stitches.


A long process but not too much hardship when you are sat outside a beautiful Maltese villa, watching your children have so much fun in the pool, whilst all 40 degrees of sunshine warms your toes!

All was going swimmingly until I came to pick off the darned freezer paper. Gah! Never again. It took sooooo long!!

padding stitchesBut once it was off It was a pleasure to sew. A bit wonky here and there but it worked, kinda! Just wish I had used some stabiliser on the reverse to stop the stretching that happened too.


I’ve got plans on making a gingham one, just as the pattern cover pic. Yes I’m still harping on about gingham but I happened across some gorgeous egyptian cotton gingham. Well at least that’s what the lady sold it to me as! But to be perfectly honest, it may be a way down the list as this sub-zero-like weather does not inspire me to make anything other than slankets right now!

simplicity_2195 pattern


I completely forgot that I’d asked the waitress to take the following photo. Feast your eyes on a table full of splendidly hand-made bowling shirts sported by an amazing team of beautiful and talented Spoolettes…


Pinstripes & parasols

pinstripe skirt

Now there’s nowt very exciting to say about a pinstripe pencil skirt. It’s pinstripy and pencilly… and that’s about it really. But it can’t possibly go without documentation, especially since Mr O and his buddy the camera made it look more interesting than it actually is!

pinstripe skirt outside St. Pancras station

I self-drafted the pattern so it fits well and it used up just under a metre of leftover wool-mix fabric and  a piece of purple stash lining which makes it cost-free, sort of!

pinstripe skirt and parasol

The main reason for making a garment so dull, was to rehearse the fitting process before I make a long awaited-skirt for my friend, who bid for it in the school auction! (More about that soon hopefully). But dull and boring as it may be, this skirt does make for a great go-to for work.

back of skirt

I made it a last week but needed some divine inspiration before shooting it. And then I spotted these beautiful brollies over at Masato Studio Boutique! (Yes, they are brollies and not parasols but that would kind of ruin the whole alliteration thing, don’t you think?)

Red Umbrella

It was well worth the investment. Total distraction from skirt but much more interesting photos… win! My little red beauty is made by Love Umbrellas. They do some really cute heart shaped ones too. Rainy days most certainly wont get me down any more!!

pinstripe skirt

Mr O took these shots around St Pancras Station, London, today, Just after I had the most lovely lunch with some of my favourite sewing ladies: Amy, Sally, Clare, Rehanon and Alison. They had all done their fabric shopping in the morning and I was so pleased to catch them for a couple of hours and a couple of G&Ts over at Drink Shop & Do. Boy I love that place! Should have really got Mr O up earlier to get an impromptu shot of us all but heyho can’t have it all!

St Pancras Station

ooobop! review: Burda Style October 2013

Burdastyle magazine October 2013

Before we skip to some of the inside shots of September’s Burda Style Mag, I just want to reiterate the wording of the flash on the cover.

16 Free patterns, 51 different outfits worth £61, for only £4.75!

So whether you like 51 or just 1 of the following styles, you must agree, it’s still such an amazing cover price.

There’s a bit of a War and Peace theme this month but before we launch into that, it opens up with a softly, softly approach. I’m not really a pastel person or a boxy one for that matter and so I wasn’t grabbed by any of these. A close fitting ‘nude’ dress would have me feeling just as self conscious but I like the wrapped over pleats on the front waist of the dress, bottom row middle pic. I also quite like the asymmetrical skirt, top right, but I’d have to see views all round to be convinced. I think it might not look so great from the other side! Now generally, I do like a square neckline as in the tunic, top centre pic but what is going on with it rolling out? Too big/too small, not pressed? That would annoy the pants off me!

The A-line skirt that sits directly below has large hip yoke pockets. I am so going to incorporate those into another skirt.

Nude jersey dress

Light and breezy is the theme of the next section. Lavish cocktails of lace and silk, flowers and bouclé, jersey and sequins.

Of all these, the sequin mini skirt grabbed me the most (bottom row 3rd column). Not that I would make it with said crunchy fabric, more tartan or plaid wool. Quite by coincidence, I was planning on drafting one of my own last week. Looks like I wished hard enough!

The dress is quite nice. I think I’m being sold on the print though. Its a great shape but it is a variation of that tunic in the first section so I’m assuming the same issues with the neckline.

I may have liked more in this section had it not have been for the accompanying style tip on the page of the pink bouclé coat. Apparently ‘The egg shape form is ‘in’…’  Noooo! I don’t want to be an egg shape!

Light and breezy fashions burda october 2013

So to war it is then with the New Military section.

I love the opening furry lined mini cape. No fastenings. Nothing complicated. Just a chic little snuggly accessory. There is another, more practical cape of coated twill, top row, 2nd column. But I’ve never been one for a practical choice!

Now it’s probably the styling. This model and her mane is very striking, it has to be said, but there is something about that camo mini dress, top right. It is fundamentally a long-sleeved T with batwings and a front placket closure, cinched in with a belt, and I like it a lot!

You can keep the metallic voluminous  shirt though!

The dress certainly looks better to me in darker contrasting colours (middle row, far right). I’d wear that and those fancy gloves!

military fashions burda october 2013

And just as the army greens take hold, the Peace section comes bearing flowers and paisley. Never did I think that flares, ponchos and banana skirts would make such a return. But hey, each to their own.

The maxi coat is lovely (top, centre). Ankle-length with fitted upper section and gathered skirt. A standing collar with hook and eye fastening is a neat touch too. But I already have the loveliest coat pattern, as you know!

It’s a bit difficult to see the detailing of the jacket, middle row, far right, but it is essentially a uniform-style Sergeant Pepper jacket. Timeless and always so cool. Apparently its the ‘it’ piece of the season!

70s fashions burda october 2013

Plus fashions are a bit slim on the ground this month.

I’m not sure I approve of asymmetrically cut blouse with laid-in and partially stitched pleats with one white lapel (top row, middle pic). Far from being clever and a little bit unusual, it just looks like a bodge job. Sorry Burda. It looks far better in the ‘dark gemstone shade’ below it. All those odd fancy details are a little more subtle!

However the leather trousers (opening pic) save the day. I had no idea you could get ‘stretch leather’. Perhaps they are referring to ‘pleather’. You know how things get lost in translation. But maybe there is such a thing. mmmmm…. the possibilities!

Plus size burda fashions october 2013

And so to the kids! Shirts, dresses and strides in jersey and denim. Perfect for mucking around in.

I love the little girls jersey dress, made from patches with cute ruffles on the shoulders and ribbing on the neck cuffs and hem. Quite a bit of faffing I should think but the end result is really neat.

The little boys blazer steals the show though. Also made from sweatshirt fabric, it looks so cool but with the elements of stuffy and prep taken away.

kids burda october 2013

There really are only a couple of defo makes for me in this issue: The skirt and the little fluffy cape. But that never ever deters me from looking forward to the next issue of Burda Style.

I can be inspired by a sleeve or a shape or a colour or a photographic location… and inspiration is what so totally floats my boat!

ooobop! review: Burda Style September 2013

Burda September 2013 Good afternoon lovely ooobop followers. Today I bring you news of September’s Burdastyle mag all the way from sunny Malta. Well actually not so sunny. More stormy right now, which Is why I am insanely posting from my phone. Impressed that I am able to do so but RSi of the thumb and index finger setting in already! Plus forthcoming punctuation and spelling blunders abound! 80s fans are in for a treat this month with batwing sleeves, baggy pants and pirate shirts aplenty! Some loves some hates but no borings! Batwings all of a sudden look great in open work knit lace. Fine example of the power of fabric! (Top right) and slinky floral dresses appear to make schoolboy socks acceptable! (Top left). I love the vintage style double breasted coat (top centre) but I already have the most divine coat pattern in the world! Just got to make it, that’s all  but I do love and have a need for that fabulous tweed jacket. (Bottom centre)

Great outdoors burdastyle september

Ok. Bananarama eat your heart out. The blouson and the chiffon is back! Add a cheeky little hat, raise that waistband, ladder those stonewashed jeans and you are as good as a walking time machine! All a bit too fresh in my mind, I fear and I’d certainly give Bobby Ball a run for his money in those strides… Rock on Tommy! But I can forgive that lovely dress (top left), socks and all! Fashion stars Asia style is up next featuring kimono sleeves, wraparounds and asymmetric necklines with a dose of almond blossom applique in jacquards, silks and linen lawn. I quite like the dress (centre left) with its wide over cut shoulders and would equally give time to the geisha style dress (centre right) but I’m not entirely sold on the sleeves. Irritated even by the thought of them flapping round my elbows! Asia style I keep promising myself a white shirt and the next section serves to remind me that it is a must have timeless wardrobe essential to dress up or down. That said, I’m not really drawn to any of these. I’ve got one in mind that goes by the name of Edith! A fabulous 50s style blouse pattern designed by Maria Denmark. The following shirts have their place but create just a bit too much white space for me. The ‘masterpiece’ a la John Richmond (bottom left) is 80s blouson typique in an extravagant mix of organza satin and linen. Totally time machine worthy! And even though its not included, I so totally want a black leather circle skirt. White shirts Plus fashions go Patagonia stylee this month. It’s all about patterns, layers and colours. That cape is so earmarked for my next UK camping trip. I will be the envy of all fellow campers. Though I imagine a few pleading orders will arise out of it too! The blue rouched jumper is described as a shirt if Angora jersey. I like it a lot. And I love the dress too with its high waist and softly frayed ruffle neckline. Plus fashion Baby Bliss rounds up this months collection with some really cute makes. Apart from the diddy clothes, patterns are also included for that cute little case and the doll and the moccasins. I don’t have a baby anymore but I so want to make all of these especially the dress and the blouse and the coat… Baby bliss

So there we have it! Mission September Burdastyle i-phone blog post complete. Squiffy eyes and permanent pointy finger but so happily delivered from the comfort if the poolside! Wishing you all summer loveliness and looking forward to reading about your new creations. Laters x

For the love of lawn

Red rose print cotton lawn dress

What have you ByHandLondon girls done to me? How am I ever going to make another dress that doesn’t involve an Elisalex bodice?

red rose cotton lawn dress

To be fair, it was the fabric that led the dress time. A three metre bolt of cellophaned gorgeousness that has patiently lain in wait for about 18 months at the bottom of Fabric Mountain. It is a rose printed cotton lawn. So silky soft and so very light, in need of a failsafe design. I haven’t seen this print anywhere since and I wasn’t about to bugger it up in a moment of madness. So, having made some fine fitting adjustments to the Elisalex-with-FBA-test-garment, I was able to go straight to and cut.

red rose cotton lawn dress detail

I toyed with a sleeveless version but having seen a few with sleeves and knowing that I wouldn’t suffer the consequences of plastic under pits, I had to give it a go.

I knew the bodice would be an even better fit than the last one as this fabric has a magical elasticity about it. Not a strand of spandex to be had. Just to do with the fineness and high yarn-count of the weave I think. It really is such a luxurious material. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to use any.

red rose cotton lawn dress over shoulder

I used the whole 60″ width of the fabric to create the gathered skirt but it looks and feels half as poomfy as the vintage rose version. Just because it is lighter. Further confirmation that at some point I must make a full on layered petticoat. I say ‘make’, because I know I will find it impossible to go buy one, even though I am wincing at all that endless, time-consuming, middle-stare-inducing gathering involved!

red rose lawn dress in the park

The sleeves were easy enough to set in. Well if you inset them the right way round that is! I was wondering why, when I tried it on, the sleeves insisted on twisting round. I thought at first that the FBA had reduced the armscye somwhat, but oh no. Just a tired, dippy moment last night.

Note to self (and to anyone else who has ever made the same mistake): 
2 notches on a pattern piece indicate the back; 1 notch indicates the front

I had the moment of clarity, as I often do, standing in my blurry morning haze, under the shower head. A Eureka moment, kind of. So, following this one, I ran downstairs in a towel to check the notches on the sleeve. A bit tricky when you’ve clipped all the seams (doh!) but sure enought, that’s exactly what I’d done.

red rose lawn dress

You’d be forgiven for thinking that that was the end of my dippiness. But oh no no no. Having unpicked them and swapped them over, I then proceeded to pin the hem edge of one of the sleeves to the armhole. Can’t believe I openly admitted that. But better out than in, I say!

red rose lawn dress profile

Quite a bit of hand stitching re bodice lining to armscye and waist seams and hand hemming. Only because I feel like I’m cutting corners if I do otherwise. But I have temporarily machined the sleeve hems just because at that point, Mr O was politely tapping his foot with a camera round his neck.

Best not upset the photographer, hey?!

red rose lawn dress on the kerb

ooobop! review: Burda Style August 2013

Burdastyle Magazine August 2013

Well hello August Burdastyle Mag with 16 Free Patterns. So very pleased to receive you!

This month veers completely away from the beach and heads into Autumn with a whole range of styles. Heaven knows how the Burda team keeps it up each month. It’s as much as I can do to come up with one style that I wan’t to actually make!

Neo Romantic a la Downton Abbey, makes a dramatic entrance with chiffon and ruffles. Very reminiscent too of my 80s New Romantic phase. I’d have killed for a neck ruffle like that back then… and actually maybe now! Don’t ask me about the Michael Jacksonesque lace blouse though. I actually don’t have words. But I did use to have a dress very similar to that white one, top right. Though mine didn’t look like I was wearing pants over the top!

neo romantic burda august 2013The lace dress in the centre is lined with silk. A fitted bodice and three quarter length sleeves make for a very special dress indeed. I don’t reckon I could carry off the Hong Kong Phooey look, alongside, though.

Bottom row left corner, coat is a very simple but stylish design and I might have considered it had I not have accidentally on purpose purchased a good looking coat pattern just recently 😉

I like the pinafore dress though. Very much. But it’s odd that the chiffon sleeves are joined on. I would defo leave them out and have the option to wear my own blouse under or not.

And that jacket, bottom right is really cute. I would defo have worn that in the 80s and I might be persuaded now. Leather puffy sleeves or not!

Described as having graphic inspiration from the 20s, I get an 80s vibe too from this next section: Form and Style. I don’t dislike anything from this section, I just don’t think it’s my thing. It’s a bit too ‘blocky’ and casual for me. I’m aware that it’s completely away from my colour palette (kidding myself I actually have one) and as much as I try and envisage the styles in a teal or a red or a black or an orange, it’s still not working for me. The skirt, top row centre, is quite interesting though.

Form and style section

And then enter the Style Icons!

Swinging London, rock ‘n’ roll meets bohemia. Now that’s very much more up my street.

I have had a blouse like the first one on my list for such a long time but the leopard print chiffon brings it up a line or two. I love the idea of leather drainpipes but might have to rein myself in a bit there! The jacket top centre is a very sleek chic sort and there’s a great step by step tute included for this one too.

Check out that cape! Kind of commands a big floppy brimmed hat to carry off the whole dramatic look and I might be inclined to add a pair of thigh high leather platform boots. (Woahhh…..there I go again!)

One of these days I will run up a maxi. I’m sure I won’t look back. I love the whole floaty nature of them but I just can’t seem to get going on one. Too busy eyeing up the leather pants and fitted jacket look! (bottom right)

style icons section

Am I just fickle or is the next ‘All in Red’ section the best? Am I blinded by one of my favourite colours or are all of these styles indeed strong, sophisticated and stylish, red or not?

all in red sectionOk, ‘all’ might be a bit of an exaggeration. The peplum is still hanging around. Just to annoy me. I got vaguely interested in creating something with a peplum at the beginning of the year. I toyed with it in my head and for whatever reason, now it just really annoys me. There is a ridiculous amount of volume in the front of this one too. I don’t need that kind of volume placement, I can tell you!

But I do like everything else. That gorgeous dress top left is made of washed silk. Red washed silk! So cool and soft and luxurious. I love that massive bow. But I dislike the pockets. I think they are too much for a fabric so delicate.

Red silk velvet for the dress 3rd one along top. I would make the front opening a tad more discreet but I do love an empire waistline. The collar stands higher at the front than at the back and again I love the three quarter length sleeves. Teamed with some 60 derniers and some Docs, I would be happy as some Larrys in that cheeky little number!

The coat is lovely but not as lovely as mine! 😉

The jacket bottom and bottom right is the one that has a supporting step by step tute. Such a versatile shape. Teamed with strides or a skirt. Dressed up or down. But properly bringing some class each time.

No little retro number for me to harp over this issue but there is a special Designer Style a la Wolfgang Joop. I had a ‘quick’ Google of the Wunderkind label and was pleasantly surprised. This dress pattern, though tamer than most of the dramatic styles I saw, is an attention seeker nonetheless. (Would be even moreso in red!) And oh how I love that style of fashion drawing. Going to teach myself how to draw like that one day.

Wunderkind dress

But it’s the Plus Fashion section that captures some fine vintage styling for me. I love all the styles apart from the crazy wide cut silk trousers. It would take someone special to carry them off. I’m getting closer in my quest to grade patterns, having just dipped my toe in with my latest dress. So I’m taking more notice of the bigger sizes with the hope that one day my grading skills will be enough to start with any size and make it fit me just so!

plus size burda august 2013

And so the Children section wraps up this issue. But not in such an uber dramatic way. The coat is lovely but Little Miss Ooobop didn’t look overly impressed. And both of us agree that the skirt looks more like a sewing fail than anything else! I’m sure the T-shirt pattern will come in handy at some point but hey. I’m not complaining. I could do without a small person adding more to my list!

burda kids august 2013Any faves? Any already made up? Do tell. x

1940s shirt dress revisited

1940s red shirt dress

I always wondered why, with all the patterns in the world, would I ever make one twice? In the case of my peasant tops, here and here, I can only say it was because they were dead easy and required little brainpower, perfect for a late night sew. But in the case of this dress, the rationale was purely because I’ve never had a dress I feel so at home in! I had in my head, that I was a simple shift dress girl but actually I think I’m more of a shirt-dress girl!

1940s red shirt dress

Without the association of the pattern, I wonder if anyone would guess it dated back to the 1940s? Do you think it’s obvious? Or have I been looking at vintage patterns for so long now, I think they are the norm?! Perhaps if I were to style it with appropriate accessories: hat, bag and gloves, it might give the game away, but – dressed traditionally sporting wellies and a brolly – I think it also crosses over as a modern shirt dress too.

I’d like to tell you what this fabric is but I have no idea! It’s red and it’s 100% cotton for sure. Kind of like a cheesecloth seersucker but not, and vaguely reminiscent of my candlewick beadspread I had as a child… without the little soft threads that pulled out oh-so satisfyingly easily! I thought it might be ribbed cotton. I’ve heard that mentioned before but I really haven’t a clue. It was kindly donated to me by a friend who desperately needed to get rid of a big bag of fabric… I could never be like that! And I knew what ‘the red’ was destined for immediately.

1940s shirt dress detail

It came together sweetly as before with the addition of a few minor changes. I added a third button just because I love the little ‘targets’ and two didn’t showcase them enough. They cost £2.45 for six, bought at the London Vintage Fashion, Textiles and Accessories Fair, September 2011 and I think they are vey happy on this dress!

target button detail

I made it an extra inch longer, but really could have gone for 2 inches… oooh, I am getting brave in my old age!

length of skirt

I also added an extra inch around the midriff, knowing the struggle I have to get the dress on, over my head and judging by the photos of the last dress, it does look a bit snug. But it was highly unnecessary on this version. The mystery fabric, unlike the shoe fabric, has a lot more give and resulted in little poofy bits at the sides. I put it on the mannequin and looked at it for a few days, wondering if I could get away with it. I probably could have done, but it would have annoyed the hell out of me!

dress before alteration

And so… I sensibly turned the dress inside out and chalked and basted where I wanted the new line of stitching to be. Namely half an inch in from the original seam, starting from just above the waist, in a straight line up to the armscye. I tried it on again and was much happier with the silhouette.

Dutifully, I removed the basting and unpicked the topstitching where the midriff meets the bodice. I sewed the new side seams on the bodice over the chalkines. Sewed the new side seam on the right side of the midriff section and trimmed the left side opening to match (where the zipper goes).

I must be getting better at this. I would never have had the patience to do that a few years ago! But it was of course, worth it and now I am a happier bunny!

Here is a picture of the zip in the side seam. Once I’d sewn one size of the zipper in place, I made sure to make chalk marks where the midriff needed to line up. I pinned the second side of the zip to those marks first and then pinned the rest. Worked like a treat!

zipper detail

I opted for longer sleeves this time. Not full length, just three quarters. Mr Ooobop! thinks they will annoy me being so fitted and I have a little tendency to agree but I wanted to see how it affected the overall look.

I’m intrigied by the construction of the sleeve with darts to shape the lower arm. I guess this is a vintage thing because, to date, I have not come across these in a modern pattern.

vintage sleeve darts

Allowing for adjustments, this dress did seem to take longer than the first. About 5 evenings after work, spread over a couple of weeks. I have been really keen to see it finished but not so keen that I wanted to rush it and ruin it! And in any case I had to wait for Mr Ooobop! to be around to do his usual photo magic . . . and for the sun to come out! Well, we gave up waiting for the sunshine!

1940s red dress in the rain

I’m sure that this little revisitation wont be the last but I do have an incredibly long list of other ‘wannamakes’ to tend to first, so its back into the envelope and into the box ’til next time!

Do you like to revisit a favourite pattern or do you prefer to try something new every time?

back of dress

butterick 2638