First summer dress of 2013

What a gorgeous day it was in London today. I couldn’t believe that I actually didn’t need a coat for the first time this year. I can even feel a little after-sun tingle on my skin.

And what perfect timing I might add, to showcase my first summer dress of 2013!

simplicity 2442 dress by Hammersmith BridgeMy Mister and I, along with our trusty assistant, LMO, decided to take a walk over Hammersmith Bridge to take the photos. And to stop for some lovely lunch at The BridgeΒ in Barnes. (highly recommended, I might add!)

Hammersmith Bridge is my favourite bridge of all. A Shame we didn’t get any of it in its entirety but if you Google it, there are a gazillion great pictures of it out there.

simplicity_2442 on hammersmith Bridge

What I didn’t know about it was that there are some ‘viewing benches’ on the bridge itself. Scarily placed right up to the roadside but with such a lovely view of the river. And obvs a great place to take a picture!

simplicity 2442 dress on hammersmith bridgeAmazing how much prettier the Thames looks when there’s a bit of sunshine!

simplicity 2442 bodice section

simplicity 2442 on hammersmith bridge

From Hammersmith Bridge Mr Ooobop insisted we take some shots in the Launderette. Not the most glamourous of locations but I’m so happy that it helped to project the vintage feel of the dress.

vintage style summer dress in the launderette

The dress itself is half derived from Simplicity 2442. I used this pattern for the bodice section:

simplicity 2442 patternI was the lucky recipient of this, plus a whole bunch of other goodies from Sew Magazine when I won Star Letter, back in October 2011. You can see the generous prize haul here.

I did have my doubts concerning gaping necklines and dodgy pleat placements but all it took to get over the fear was one toile, which also helped to reassure that it wasn’t going to take too long to whip up either. I can’t say exactly how long it took because I have been sewing in such little bursts over the last few weeks, in between shed loads of work.

I love the crossover straps at the back but I must find me a decent strapless bra. I’ve just tucked in the straps of my regular bra so they don’t show. But there was a going concern that it would end up round my waist at one point!

vintage summer dress front and back

This pic is Mr O’s fave. Personally I think I look a little psychotic!

vintage style floral dress in the launderette

After much deliberation, mostly on Twitter, I decided to add a dirndl skirt to the bodice. I didn’t like how the suggested skirt was neither full nor straight. I felt it wasn’t extreme enough for the fabric I’d chosen or the vintage vibe that I wanted. I considered a circle skirt and nearly went for that, fearing too much bulk around my waist but I needed more than 3m to achieve that.

vintage floral dress in the launderette

A dirndl still gives a great shape. I think you just have to make sure that the bodice is not too long otherwise the fullness sits over the belly and that’s not a good look on anyone!

vintage floral dress with dirndl skirt

ooobop vintage floral summer dress

I lined the whole dress in red. I wasn’t going to line the skirt section at first but I remembered how, as full as skirts are, if they are made of cotton they cling like Billy-o to your tights! I also added a bit of ease in the depth of the midriff lining to prevent the outer fabric of the midriff from puckering.

dress lining

I also took great care in under-stitching the lining on the bodice top edge so it didn’t peek out.


I’m so happy with how this dress turned out. The bodice fits and feels great. Can’t wait to try with a circle skirt and perhaps even a long evening dress in some silk velvet? As if my list isn’t long enough!!

back view of summer dress

I can’t possibly round off this post without a shout out to the amazing Dolly Clacket. She without doubt has been a massive inspiration whilst I’ve been dreaming up this dress. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her wonderful 50s style tea dresses, hop over and have an oggle. They are gorgeous!

85 Replies to “First summer dress of 2013”

  1. GORGEOUS! You look like a movie star! Love the red lining as well. Can’t wait for it to be warm enough here to wear the first summer dress. Hey, I’d settle for the first spring dress.

  2. You DO look like a movie star, and now I am absolutely going to have to buy myself that pattern. You were totally right to switch the skirt – the one from the pattern doesn’t have enough sass to match the bodice. I love this so much, and your photos are amazing too! x

    1. lol… thanks Mrs C. That ‘yeeha’ has got me thinking cowboy boots with this dress! Would certainly be more appropriate for this cloudy old day we’ve got today!

  3. Oh Janene, it’s just beautiful! And the Laundrette photos are perfect given the retro feel of the dress. Absolutely love it and you in it ;o)

    1. Thank you AGR. I did give the lining some thought. Always think I could get away with less but so glad that niggling sewing snob voice in my head convinced me to do the whole lot!

  4. I love this dress! I always love a new outfit post from you. It makes me miss garment sewing and designing so much! Between the little one, work and quilting there is not much time left over for garments (not much for quilting either but I’ve been told I need to eat, so……) This is one dress i would love to find time for, and it looks stunning with your new glasses! Very vintage modern! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Stacey. Can completely relate to what you’re saying. It’s so hard juggling everything. I really did sew this in tiny shifts… 15 mins here, 20 mins there. Can’t say how long it took but often it took longer to get the stuff out and put it away than I gave myself time to sew! Oh to have a sewing room!

  5. I just hope England gets the best summer ever, so that you can promenade as much as possible in this gorgeous dress. Lining it was such a good idea as it really gives the floral fabric some extra substance. I just love it.

    1. You are so sweet, thank you Margorie. I don’t think there is ever chance of that but we can live in hope. I nearly didn’t line the skirt but indeed it was worth it. If I have learned anything over the years it’s that cutting corners never works! πŸ™‚

  6. Oh my. I’ve only been following you a short while (on MrsC’s recommendation) and I’m not sure I’ve commented before, but This Is Stunning. Divine. Lustworthy. And seeing it on you made me stop for a second and then I sent a text to MrsC asking her if she thought we had a similar shape. I’ve always avoided gathered skirts on the basis they won’t suit me but this looks gorgeous on you and I suddenly thought that we have some similarly proportions going on so maybe I COULD brave a gathered skirt! MrsC confirmed my suspicions and now, thanks to you, I’m going to try one! Eventually… (so many projects. So little time).

    1. Oh that Mrs C is a lovely one, isn’t she?. I’m truly grateful that she bought you over here because that means I get to follow you too! I’m at work so can’t hang around but have just had a wee glimpse at your lovely blue top and purple dress and rest assured I’ll be back for a proper looksy. I really didn’t think gathered skirt would be good on me either. But the trick is to make sure the bodice is shorter than meets your natural waistline. Then the gathers are over and not on your belly! I can assure you that mine needs no emphasising… just hiding… and its perfect for that! Thank you for your lovely comments and so glad to be acquainted! πŸ™‚

  7. Hi I think you look fantastic. And what a beautiful dress. May I ask, how long did it take you to sew it?? Amazing, I have been buying all the Burdas to get some inspiration. Many thanks for your blog

    from a very sunny Malta 25 deg but we still take a long time to start removing our winter clothes here…..

    1. Hi Dolores. Thank you so much. I’m not sure exactly how long it took because I had to sew in lots of short bursts. I imagine, without making a toile first and without the hand hemming, probably about 7 or 8 hours. I must get to see some of that Malta sun one day. Sounds glorious! πŸ™‚

  8. Tried to leave this earlier but child grabbed the laptop. Anyway, this is absolutely stunning. You were right about the skirt, it needed the fullness, none of the options on the pattern would have done it justice. And great photos! Hopefully you have persuaded the warm weather to stay.

    1. Ha ha… one day our lives will be so quiet we won’t know what to do with ourselves! Thank you so much TC. And so looking forward to meeting you for real on Saturday! πŸ™‚

  9. Good Lord. Just when I think you have all the talent in the God given universe BOOM! You make this!! And LINE it like you could wear it reversed?? Are you serious?? Props and kudos and candy bars girlie. You are astounding.

  10. What a fun photoshoot! The dress is beautiful! I love dresses that are pretty on the inside and the out. The shape of the bodice is so flattering, and I like how the straps cross in the back. If you find a decent strapless bra, let me know. I have never had luck with that.

    1. Thanks so much Becca. I did set out to find one M&S being the first stop but they only had a few sizes and not mine πŸ™ I do need one though so I’ll keep looking but it sounds like it might be an issue! :-/

  11. Oh what a pretty dress. I love everything about it!!! The bodice is great (especially the crossed over straps. Great fabric choice, too. I can see how this gets a lot of wear in the summer (let’s hope last Sundays sunshine is the beginning of warmer weather….finally)

    1. Thanks so much Bea. I’m patiently waiting for the sun. Desperately need to include this dress in a Me Made May day… running out already!

  12. What an adorable dress! Top choice in fabric and your skirt mod has made this totally perfect! Another dress that you would never match to the original pattern envelope!!
    And your photos! Stunningly stylish! Well done on such a successful shoot πŸ™‚

  13. Gracious! What a beautiful thing you’ve made! Thanks for sharing your ruminations about the circle vs. dirndl issue. Good food for thought. Love the laundromat photos…what a clever fella you have.

  14. Yes, it is gorgeous!!! And your work is perfect. I remember dresses similar to that from when I was a kid back in the 50s and early 60s…love it!

  15. I love your dress and it looks amazing on you. In fact, your whole photo shoot is causing pangs of envy – perfect dress, shoes, hair, everything. I hope you get to wear it lots this summer.

  16. OMG, this is absolutely adorable!! You look fabulous!!! I really like how neat and professional the lining looks on the inside – well done. : )

  17. That is gorgeous! I love it! Unfortunately it’s still winter over here. I know… the calendar says April but I step outside and I could swear it’s still February. Makes it a bit hard to get in the mood for spring sewing.

  18. Thank you SO much for this post! I have been looking for ages for a pattern with a similar neckline and straps to use for a wedding dress next year. I’ll do it with a circle skirt (you’re right, the pattern skirt is kinda lame!) and a lace overlay. This was very helpful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.