Completed: cake and vinegar dress

Hello everyone! Well let me just say a big humble thank you to everyone who enjoyed my back roll with a scarf tutorial. I’m so glad it’s proved to be easy for others, and it’s been fun seeing it crop up on so many heads. I forgot to mention another time it’s a useful hairstyle: hiding when you try out a new setting pattern and you don’t love the result. (I don’t think you need to ask me to know how I found that one out.)

By the way, I’ve been drawn out of my Instagram hermit status by two lovely ladies, Land Girl 1980 and Fiercest Lilliputian, so feel free to add me @bygumbygolly. :)


Tonight I’m happy to share my latest finished sewing project. This is the dress that prompted my pressing dilemma and subsequent pressing gratitude posts. Hence the “vinegar” part of the name, as that was the secret to pressing crisp lines in my fabric and saved this dress from the garbage heap early on.

The pattern is Simplicity 4992, from the 1940s. I liked the slim gored skirt and shirtwaist style, and thought it would make a good closet staple if I made it in a basic, solid color.

In other words, I wanted a “cake” dress! (Cake and vinegar dress, get it?) Those of you who sew may be familiar with the concept of cake vs. frosting in sewing (see Tasia’s post here on the subject if not). Frosting refers to the fun and fancy stuff, while cake refers to the basics that we live in most days and need more of. I’m trying to round out my wardrobe, so I picked a sort of tan/beige/grayish wool-blend gabardine from my stash and went to it.

Of course, I had no idea that gabardine would be such a pain in the rear to press, or that I would never really be able to figure out how to attach the collar facing and the yoke (any words of advice, other than to be thankful it’s hidden inside the facing and under the collar?). Pretty much right from the start I thought this dress was doomed.

But the problem is that I actually really like the final dress, even though it’s not perfect.

Why is that a problem? Because that means at some point I’ll want to make it again and then I’ll have to figure out that yoke/collar thing and work out some other issues, most of which I didn’t document well because I thought this was going to be a one-shot deal early on. So in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy this one.

(You’ll have to pardon the wonky lighting, the sun kept coming and going. And speaking of pardons, I clearly need to go back and re-press most of the skirt seams. I love the things you learn only after you photograph something…)

While taking photos, I noticed berries on a plant that didn’t do anything all summer except be green. Exciting!

Like I said, the dress does have some issues. The back bodice could stand to be about 2″ shorter and the collar isn’t quite long enough in the back. I’m tempted to tack it down like Bex asked if I would.

I also think I may have set in the sleeves in reverse as I had to re-draft the them beause I cut about 2″ off the bodice sides and shoulder, and I did it rather on the fly since I thought it would all turn out to be crappy, anyway. I know I’m my own worst critic though and would never notice it on something ready-to-wear. On the positive side, it features a great lapped zipper with my first time using a vintage metal zipper (I know, I know) and it was my first project using my new serger! I can only do one thing on it so far but I already don’t how I lived without it.

Back to the bodice. This dress has me starting to wonder if, even though I’m a 36″ bust and usually sew 34″ bust vintage patterns, if I should instead be sewing 32″ bust patterns and grading up the skirts, as they are often far too blousy on me up top. Short waist, big bust and vintage patterns with lots of gathers doesn’t always add up well.

I love the buttons and buckle, which came from a vintage set still on the card. They’re kind of a maroony-brown color that I thought would go with almost anything.

The belt was almost the end of me. I didn’t have belting that was the appropriate width, so I first started by interfacing it to give it a bit of body, and then tried to turn it right side out. It was having none of that. About 45 minutes of my life later I threw it across the basement floor and started over. I ended up just hand-sewing it closed on the side that faces my body. I couldn’t come up with anything else and I was so over this belt at that point that I’m lucky I finished it at all.

 

The fabric is a bit heavy and drapes well, and I think it’ll be warm in winter but cool enough for spring and fall. It flows nicely in the breeze…

Frankly, it was a struggle for me to sew such a boring colored dress. If you’re a fan of Retro Renovation, you might even think of it as “greige” in dress form. But I knew in the end it would be worth it, because it could easily be spruced up. I even had something in mind.

I have to say, it was worth the yawn-inducing color as I now have a dress that can go with virtually anything, most especially colorful knitwear.

In the end it was a project with lots of frustrations, but I learned some things along the way and it sparked a few ideas for the future. I’m pretty pleased with the final dress and I’m sure it’ll get a lot of wear this winter!

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , ,

Golly, 65 Comments!

  • It looks wonderful! I adore your whole outfit, with your darling sweater and hair. You’re just lovely.

    xo,
    Em

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  • I love the dress you made ! It’s a perfect everyday style !

    I actually need one like that & you’re making me wanna learn how to create my own clothes ! :) It’s super pretty !

    Love it with the cardigan too. I’d love to see the long sleeves version too :D

    Viola

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  • The fact that you can dress with any colors or styles is awesome. Kudos. Looks fantastic! That collar really did turn out well and I love the vintage buttons/belt loop :)

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  • Oh that came out really nicely! It is a lovely neutral to use with the colours isn’t it? It also looks really good on you!
    I have to admit, I have never really thought about sewing a 34 inch bust on the blousy patterns. It might actually fix some of my fit issues…

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    • Glad to plant the seed! I think I’m going to (attempt to ) be doing some pattern experimenting after the holidays to work on some typical fit issues I have.

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  • The colors are wonderful and suit you to a T. I especially love the cardi with it. Yum. xx

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  • You look so pretty!And the dress turned out great too. I want to add some plain color garments to my closet so I can have more of a palette. That way I can accessories with bright colors.

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  • It looks wonderful…you would never know you had so many issues sewing it. I also just have to say how much I loved the hair tutorial. It has become my everyday hair style.

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  • It’s lovely! And the fact that you made it work even after you thought you’d have you give up on it makes it even lovelier. I only have a few solid color dresses and blouses in my wardrobe, but I agree, they are so versatile I have discovered that I need to be careful when I wear them. Nothing hides a clumsy spill like a multi-colored print!

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  • I love this! The color looks great on you, and the shape is perfect to go with your cardigans. You always make me want to improve my sewing skills. I need more vintage dresses in my life.

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  • This is a great dress! I really love the shape of the skirt, it’s super flattering on you. And it looks especially great with your sweater.

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  • Looks very nice!

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  • I love it! It looks so quintessentially forties. I really like the color, too. I guess I like cake clothes.

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  • An absolute triumph, you look wonderful! x

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  • You know, that is one of your most flattering looks. The color sets off your hair and complection nicely.

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  • Wow, I love love love it! I wouldn’t have noticed any of the “do-different-next-time” details unless you had pointed them out =) I love the colour, but then I’m all about cake-sewing and neutral colours. It looks gorgeous with your beautiful cardigan! All in all, a great piece that I’m sure will see plenty of wear.

    On the sizing: A rather intimate but rudimentary question, are you larger than a B-cup? If so, then maybe you could go down one size for the entire dress and do an FBA? It looks like the rest of the bodice could be one size smaller, but your bust would end up a little out of room ; )

    Also, I loved your back-roll tutorial! It solves my eternal issue with those weirdlooking things I get at the sides whenever I try to do a backroll =)

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    • Not too intimate– I am indeed larger than a B (by 2!). I hadn’t thought about using a smaller size and doing a FBA! I’ve never done one, but certainly heard a lot about it. Even with this blouse, the sides were taken in probably 2″ total, and clearly it still wasn’t enough. I may buy a smaller pattern and have a whirl at a FBA, thanks for the idea!

      Btw, if you do ever get weird side things on the back roll, put a bobby pin in at the back of your ear, and slide it under the scarf. It tightens the look of the sides right up. I did that today to neaten up the super quick version I did for work. ;)

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    • Thanks for the tip on the backroll! Hadn’t thought about it, but will keep it in mind if those “wings” appear.

      Happy if I could be of any help! Myself I hadn’t even thought about a FBA before I started pattern drafting, instead I tried to change all other seams and was always tearing my hair out wondering why nothing ever fit. The FBA solved the hardest fit-issues for me, then there was of course some small other stuff as well… I’m crossing my fingers it’ll be the same magic problem-solver for you!

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  • Oh my goodness I adore it!
    Would you ever consider making clothes to sell on etsy? You’re so talented!
    x

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  • How gorgeous ! The pattern illustration made me go ‘meh’, but you’ve turned it into a total ‘WOW !’

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  • Aaaaw, very wonderful!

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  • I could be completely wrong, but the plant with the red berries looks like nightshade. Sometimes called Deadly Nightshade.

    Great dress though. I’m glad you were able to work out the ironing issues because it turned out wonderful.

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  • Love,love,LOVE that dress!!!!!! It’s gorgeous. And teamed with that cardi it looks adorable. You look amazing! :)

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  • Great dress, and the perfect match for all your beautiful, coloured knitwear.

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  • I can tell you are your biggest critic,(like me) but your dress looks great, you are truly gifted.

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  • I think it looks great especially with your yummy cardigan! I have a similar pattern but it’s separates instead of a dress and it too is destined for solid cake garments at some point in time.

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  • The dress really was worth everything, you look perfect! xxx

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  • lovely! you look like a land girl! glad you were able to get some great advice to solve your pressing problem as it was definitely worth it.

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  • Tasha,
    Wow, that dress is beautiful. You look lovely, if only I could look like you when wearing similar style of dresses that would be awesome for me. I truly admire you…

    xox,
    Jacqueline

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  • I was going through my patterns the other day (reorganizing them! It was quite an undertaking… lol) and thinking how I needed more 40s shirtwaist dresses in my life! ;) I really like how versatile this dress is! So often I make things out of fun prints or colors, forgetting that sometimes one needs a little “cake” in one’s closet. ;)

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  • It looks amazing with that sweater!

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  • Lovely dress! It looks fantastic! It may have been a pain, but the end result is fabulous!

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  • Soooooooo cute, I love it! I especially like the final photo with the dress, cardigan and headscarf – it all matches perfectly!

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  • Looks like a delicious piece of cake to me! :) I personally looove sewing stuff up in “boring” staple fabrics, because like you said – they end up going with everything! I only recently fell into the dark hole of 40s shirtwaist dresses, but I think they are my favorite dress style now. This is super flattering on you, you babely babe.

    Also, I’m excited that you are finally on Instagram. Yay!

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  • It looks wonderful on the outside Tasha, no matter what the insides look like. :) I keep trying to find your lapped zipper but it is no where to be seen. heh

    I hear you about the bland color, but I think the style of this makes up for the brown. Plus, I kinda like the brown… it goes with anything & everything. Cheers for finishing!!!

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  • GAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWJUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! Especially with the cardy! You look tip TOP!

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  • You look amazing! You are so talented!!!! xox

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  • The dress is gorgeous! And so is that sweater! Wherever did you get it?

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  • Tasha, I think this dress looks great! I have a length of wool in a similar color, and I’m now thinking that I need to save it for a very similar project :)

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  • Thanks everyone! ♥

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  • Gorgeous! You look absolutely stunning. xx

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  • Lovely <3 Looks great with that cardigan!

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  • I’m not sure exactly what your construction issues with the collar were, but I thought this might help. This turotial from Pattern, Scissors, Cloth takes you through attaching a convertible collar that doesn’t have a facing.

    I have so many plans to make a few shirt dresses, but haven’t gotten started yet.

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  • What a wonderful shirt dress, and the tutorial is great! The step by step is clear and products etc. I’ve tried it before and it wasn’t going well. This I will try ! Also, I was looking through Ravelry and found this free pattern it just looked like something you would like .http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dress-no-856 .
    My ravelry name is ELICIAMCG .
    Again, many thanks , I enjoy your blog very much.
    Best,
    Elise

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  • This is flawless!! And so delightfully perfect and versatile!

    I also wanted to let you know I added you to my links page!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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  • Oh Tasha – that dress looks so good on you!!! You’ve inspired me to start thinking about cake dresses too (but icing/frosting to just so delicious)
    x

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  • Lovely dress and the cardigan matches so well, it’s like they were made for each other!!! You make me want to work on improving my knitting skills.

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  • How wonderfully lovely! I adore this dress and see why you’ve fallen hard for that pattern, too. The colour choice was a great one. Very versatile, match-able (as in lots of other colours will work with it), and easy to wear most anyplace. You did a great job (way to go on sticking it out!), and look awesome in your new frock.

    ♥ Jessica

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  • Waow!!!! Nice… Santa Claus is suppose to bring me a brand new sewing machine, I hope I will be able to learn fast to follow your example!!!!

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  • I think it is perfect. Absolutely! And it fits you very much. Beautiful one!

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  • Long time lurker coming out of hiding:-) Your dress is so lovely on you! In my experience, Simplicity patterns, even vintage ones, have much more ease than many of the other brands. I can often go down a size or more in vintage Simplicity patterns. They also often have a 3/4″ seam allowance for the side seams (or at least the ones from the late 30s-early 40s do), and if you don’t notice it, you can end up with a giant sack. Guess how I figured that out.

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  • This dress is very pretty, and has all of those wonderful 40s details that I love, and looks very wearable and comfortable as well. And, I have this pattern in my stash! Yes!!! You have inspired me to sew it up- I just love to see a version ahead of time. BTW, I have the same problem with pattern sizing. I actually have a small bust, but measure a 36, and a 34 always fits much better. Anyway, nice work!

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  • Oh that sweater! I love all of the colors!

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  • How do you carry these styles off so perfectly?! I would look like a dinner lady in this style but you look every inch vintage perfect! That cardi is delicious by the way!
    Px

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  • I absolutely adore this, it looks perfect (even if you can see mistakes). You look fantastickly (sp?) stylish. Great job and perfect to wear all the time!!

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  • I LOVE this dress!!! I’m hoping to add some “boring” dresses to my wardrobe, too, ‘cuz they are so useful. I didn’t notice anything at all was wrong with the dress until you pointed it out; it looks great! I also love the shape of the collar. So fun.

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