One last summer sewing hoorah: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

As of today, summer has technically come and gone! My thoughts are straight into fall. And I missed the opportunity earlier this summer to show off some things I made, most of which I’ll probably be tucking away soon! (But hey, on the bright side now that it’s fall, maybe I’ll actually post the cardigan I made this time last year and never blogged, ha!)

So today, you’ll have to make do with seeing one of them a bit too late for the season! It’s a Vintage Pledge item I made in July: a mashup dress using a vintage bra top pattern and a modern retro skirt from a dress pattern.

I wish I’d had the chance to photograph this dress someplace fun as this dress deserves it, but with early fall comes shorter days. It’s been too chilly or too sunny to pop outside in the backyard with a self-timer during lunch in a halter dress, it’s usually too late by the time Mel gets home from work for us to go to the park, and our weekends have been pretty booked lately.Β  Besides, I love you guys, but standing around in public in mid-September in a hot weather dress looking like a loony isn’t high on my list of things to do. πŸ˜‰ So you get the guest room instead. And somewhat lousy photos at that because the white in the dress played havoc with the camera no matter what I tried and honestly I’m just so sick of looking at it hanging there saying “photograph meeee”, so this is what you get. (I promise I have a waist and there are actual subtle details on this dress like pleats and gathers.)

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

This dress started off as a little idea. A 1950 bra top pattern, Simplicity 3250, that I picked up for a song but is apparently going for stupid bucks online! I thought would make a swell cropped top if I just added a midriff piece. I had that idea last year but never got to it. This summer, I took it one step further… why not make it a sundress?

Vintage Simplicity 3250

I knew the pattern was likely to sew up too big for me since it was a size larger than I take (along with the majority of my vintage sewing patterns these days, arrrrghh), but since it’s in effect making cups with pleats in them, I had no idea where I’d start for grading it down. And a muslin showed me I was right: totally too big. It sat around a couple of weeks while I stewed over it.

When I got up the urge to tackle it, I started small. I chopped off the sides until the side seam was in the right place. And when I realized that most of the excess fabric in the cups was at the top, I took both a horizontal and a vertical dart in the pattern piece. The right way to do it? Probably not, but I figured with gathers at the upper side edges and pleats center front, it would be worth a shot. A second muslin showed it was a lot better. Not perfect, but worth trying on the real deal.

To turn the whole shebang into a proper bodice, I added a midriff piece instead of the band at the bottom of the cups, borrowing from the Mrs. Depew Beach Bustier pattern (which I’ve sewn up at least twice, but I think only blogged this one), and lengthening it to hit my waist. The back piece of the top I re-drafted to come straighter across my back and give me more coverage, and to meet the new midriff piece.

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

I was initially planning to use a different fabric and a gathered skirt, but when I rummaged around my stash I found this Amy Butler Chinese lanterns fabric, and I had a spark of genius: sarong dress! Which would be both a) really cool with the halter top, and b) serve as a wearable muslin of the skirt from Butterick B6019 (which I later sewed as the full-fledged sarong dress).

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

To get the skirt to work precisely with the top, I measured the skirt pieces to see what size would match up with the side seams of my bodice. I cut an 8 for the front pieces and 10 for the back. In the end I had to actually slide the front side seams over an extra 1/4″ to match, so it was more like a 6 in the front. And actually I flipped the front pieces when cutting, so the sarong is backwards. Whoops!

lanterns-skirt

There are a few areas I need to address next time (ummm clearly not this year). The bodice is about 1/2″ at least too long, causing some wrinkling, and I think the front could still stand to be a little smaller. The back is also a bit too big, but only above the waist. When I’m standing still, it’s fine, but as soon as I start to move it’s more obvious. But the waist is fine, so I’m not sure how I’d address it in the upper back only. A dart coming down from the top… or take an angled wedge out of the CB piece (I guess essentially drafting a dart out in the piece)… not sure. What would you do?

I could just make it shirred, but I did some major work to get the bodice fully lined, which you can’t do with shirred panel dresses (at least not a complete lining). But I’m damn proud that I worked it out! It involved some odd construction due to how you add the halter straps as they go into the side seam, and you can’t just simply face the whole bodice and flip it to the inside.

You can sort of see below (sorry about the busy ironing board cover!), but basically the lining and bodice are attached at the side seams up to the point where you can see it’s open. Weird to wrap your head around but after trial and error I came up with this idea, and it totally worked. Since I made this over a month ago, I’m not even sure how exactly I did it now… I hope I took good notes!

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

But that bit of pattern trickery allowed me to make a fully lined bodiceβ€”huzzah!

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

Considering I pretty much hacked together a dress out of a bra top, I’m pretty pleased with the results. Not the most practical of dresses, but it was fun to sew a couple of fun sarong dresses this summer! And I did get to take it for a spin this summer, when I wore it with this amazing vintage straw hat…

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

And where we got caught in a downpour!

downpour

A fun dress for a fun summer! πŸ˜‰

(But now good grief, it’s really time to start thinking about fall and winter clothes!)

Last summer sewing hoorahs: Chinese lanterns sarong dress

outfit details

dress – made by me
Bakelite bangles – misc
earrings – made by me
sandals – courtesy of Sven Clogs

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , , , ,

You may also like...

Golly, 28 Comments!

  • This is so cute! And looks like a pretty complicated pattern hack. I have a really similar fabric to this in orange (it may even be the same in a different colour way), but have avoided using it due to worrying it may look too “60s.” This is putting it back into “using this soon” territory.

    Completely unrelated, would you be willing to do a short tutorial on how to alter the Emery zip from an invisible zip to a lapped one? I haven’t attempted it yet, but am not quite sure how it’ll work with the lining…

    Reply

    • Ooh I bet it’s really pretty in orange! And thank you on the dress. In all honesty I doubt I’d get to that tutorial anytime soon– I spend forever doing them and am already a couple of ideas behind that I’ve been meaning to document for over a year now. :/ But the rough gist is that I ignore the zipper instructions, and when I attach the lining to the bodice, I leave the back 2″ or so unseamed at the upper CB seam (I find this a lot easier), then follow instructions for inserting a lapped zipper, then finish sewing that last little bit I leave unfinished, and then hand tack the lining to the zipper tape and waist seam. Not a completely machine-finished method but works nicely. πŸ™‚

      Reply

  • this dress looks like if you had bought it directly from either Chanel or Dior.. it fits you perfect…
    ciao ciao and greetings from Switzerland, Christa

    Reply

  • Love it! I’m super impressed that you managed a whole dress from just a bra top pattern. Those pleats are fantastic, and I love that you mirrored the pleats in the sarong skirt.

    Reply

    • Thank you! Yeah, it’s kind of a stretch starting from such a small pattern to make a dress, lol! I wasn’t planning the pleats to work so nicely, that was sort of an act of sewing fate once I picked the sarong skirt, but I love it too! πŸ˜‰

      Reply

  • WOW! I love this. Great work building the bodice from the bra top. It looks like it was meant to be a dress! I’ve started thinking about fall sewing too. I have small piles of flannel, corduroy and wool all waiting to be turned into cool weather clothing.

    Reply

  • Ooooo, super awesome! I love the conversion from vintage brassiere to bodice. I’ve been meaning to try a pattern that looks almost exactly like that, so it’s nice to see your insights on construction.

    I personally can’t wait to see what you make for fall and winter, since I’ve only just started following you in the warm weather days. Excited!

    Reply

  • Your dress looks pretty amazing to me and the fabric is just gorgeous.

    Reply

  • The colours of the fabric are absolutely fabulous with your hair – and the fit compliments your figure beautifully! I love the fabric, the print reminds me a little of Orla Kiely’s prints πŸ™‚

    Reply

  • I rarely (never) comment though, as a queer vintage femme myself, I just love your blog! Apart from that wonderful stranded cardigan a few years back, this is my favourite piece you’ve made. I tend to like all your things but this fabric and style are just made for each other! And they really suit you.

    Reply

    • Thanks, Meg! I’m pretty happy with this dress too. Too bad it’s closet-bound now for the next several months, but it’ll be fun to pull back out next summer when I’ve forgotten about it! πŸ˜‰

      Reply

  • What a great dress! I love that fabric.

    Reply

  • […] By Gum by Golly pointed out the other day, summer is officially over! So I thought I’d better follow her lead […]

    Reply

  • My dear,
    You have brought summer to my heart (currently, it’s cold and wet in Brussels – not a perfect time to play a tourist). The dress will play a key role, I’m sure, in your tiki-parties next year. Right?
    ..and I love your ironing board. πŸ™‚

    Marija

    Reply

    • Thank you! Yes, I definitely need to take this to a tiki bar for sure…. next year of course! πŸ˜‰

      You know, I love that ironing board cover but it was a mistake to get something so busy, I lose things on top of it constantly! lol

      Reply

  • Splendidly pretty pattern. I just love that colour palette. It’s very chic and fun!

    Have a great first weekend of fall, dear lady!
    β™₯ Jessica

    Reply

    • Thanks, Jessica! Fall hasn’t quite fully settled in to stay yet here (in the evenings yes, but we’ve had some pretty warm days) but we’re on the cusp!

      Reply

  • This is an absolutely fantastic dress and looks simply stunning on you. Congratulations!

    Reply

  • What a fun dress! It’s so sassy and cute! And wow, what a challenging project! You really created this look yourself! Awesome job!

    Reply

  • I love it! The fabric, the bodice, the front pleats on the skirt, all of it! You totally lost me on how you got to the end product though!

    Reply

  • What a lovely dress! πŸ™‚ The fabric is fab and fit is great!

    Reply

  • Nice choice of fabric, and the details are great! That side pleat is very flattering. And of course, I love the bangles. πŸ˜‰
    Vintage Jewelry Girl

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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