The Sew for Victory Dress that wasn’t…………and the seduction of vintage pattern art.

I get seduced by vintage pattern art.

The women are always so elegant, so well put together.  The outfits are always perfectly styled and everything fits them to a tee.

I forget they are not real.

They do not have real bodies to fit.  I’m also sure they never had to bother reading and following vintage pattern instructions because they wouldn’t look so darn sumg  calm, so pleased with themselves.  They stare back at me from the pattern envelope.  Watching.  Judging……..

……because I can’t for the life of me figure out or follow vintage pattern instructions!!

I know this, but as a very enthusiastic beginner sewist, I jump in head first every time and try to plow through the detailed instructions and drawings.  This leads to mistakes, ripped seams and disastrous results EVERY TIME.

This time, I was inspired by Lucky Lucille’s Sew For Victory 2.0 challenge and choose to make this wonderful raglan-sleeved 1940’s-style shirtwaist dress pattern.


I cut, sewed, then angrily  stumbled my way through the pattern only to discover that what I had made had to be the most unflattering, frumpy wadder of a dress ever.

There were signs along the way, of course.

  • The vintage-inspired mustard colour poodle fabric that was all wrong for me and made me look like I had mild jaundice.  Ew.
  • The “blouse” style bodice that I knew would add about 40 extra pounds that I just don’t need.
  • The fact that I sewed the bodice with the poodles UPSIDE DOWN because in my haste to begin the project I had mistake a clearly one-direction print for a multi-directional one.
  • The dowdy skirt length that made me look like I had “cankles”.
  • The fact that it took me 4 hours to figure out how to apply the collar and facings.  Eventually I gave up and improvised.  It looked like crap.

When will I learn that I should just stick to vintage-inspired modern patterns with modern instructions and video tutorials to help me??

Coming off of the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge where I made 14 dresses from tried-and true indie patterns that I loved, I had built up a false sense of confidence in my sewing prowess.  After trying on the poodle dress, I burst into tears.  I felt burnt out, frustrated by my own impatience and lack of basic sewing fundamentals and ready to give up  the dress to the fire pit in the backyard.

Then my daughter walked by me.

I realized that having a darker skin tone and much darker hair than me, the poodle fabric in all its mustard-hued glory really should have been for her in the first place. I hurried downstairs to my sewing lair and spread the dress out on my cutting table.  I grabbed my go-to blank-slate girls dress pattern and measured the pieces against the dress and they fit!  I created a super cute little sleeveless dress with a sweet little collar (salvaged from my dress) and a pleated skirt (she says that pleats are always more flattering that gathers.  She’s 10.  Everything is flattering on her!).

Dress fabric saved.  Fire pit avoided.

My newest recipe for gluten–free dairy-free brownies were baked to celebrate! Find the recipe here.

While the finished product is not 1940’s and therefore not eligible for entry in Sew For Victory, at least I’m back on the sewing band wagon again. So not Sew for Victory, but rather a sewing victory!

And my daughter is happy.



twirl, girl!


And I’m so happy that my bluebird dress from the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge was featured in Fiona’s newest blog post!  I love her blog, Diary of a Chain Stitcher and was completely surprised and thrilled to see my dress pop up in her indie pattern inspiration round up.  Thanks Fiona! 🙂

So, do you have the same problem with vintage patterns?  Do you get sucked in by the serene faces and tiny waists on the cover art? Have you ever had a project that turned out so badly you just wanted to stop sewing altogether for awhile?  Tell me it’s not just me.

Up next in the sewing lair, a tried and true pattern mash-up in a pretty wicked fabric.

French Baguette Bakery dress, here I come!




Finished Project: Russian Doll Dress

Now that spring might actually be hitting Southern Ontario, I can start to wear the results of all the sewing that has gone down this winter. It was a long one for us up here, so there is quite the backlog of projects!

I have some photos to share of my Russian Doll dress, inspired by one of my style (and cool girl) icons, Zooey Deschanel.  She wore this on an episode of her sticom, The New Girl. I don’t have any idea if the show is any good or not, I just watch it to see that Zooey is going to wear.


Zooey’s version was called “Doll In a Dress” and sold on ModCloth for $295, plus about $40 shipping to Canada. (And a CRAZY customs charge I always seem to get hit with when I order from They are targeting me, I swear!!)

Obviously, I could not get away with spending so much on a dress so I put my sewing skillzz to work and copied the crap out of the original design.

I used Michael Miller’s Russian Doll fabric for the self-drafted box pleated skirt and a beautiful royal blue suiting fabric bought at my local Fabricland. Sometimes I do get lucky there.

The bodice is my old standby bodice pattern the Cambie by Sewaholic. It always fits so well.

I love this dress and feel very twee in it (in the best possible way). I am so smug pleased with myself that it turned out so well, despite the wonky zipper insertion at the back (no pictures of it, it will ruin my mood). My version cost $40 start to finish. Take that, Canada customs!!

Ha!  I thought I heard my husband coming down the stairs and I did not want to deal with his snickering and rolling his eyes as I shot these photos.

Ha! I thought I heard my husband coming down the stairs and I did not want to deal with any snickering as I shot these photos. It was a false alarm.

Russian Doll Dress 032

Russian Doll Dress 021

Russian Doll Dress 025

Sassy Sears catalog pose!

Sassy Sears catalog pose!

Cheeky Sears catalog pose!

Cheeky Sears catalog pose!

Smug Sears catalog pose

Standard Sears catalog pose.

Hope you like it! Can’t wait to get some sun on my legs and wear this finally!