Finished: polka dot dirndl for summer

Glad you like my new eyeglasses! Of course, you’ll see I’m wearing my vintage ones in this post. I go back and forth. πŸ˜‰ By the way, I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial on my hairstyle in that post. I may work something up but in the meantime, you can watch this first part of this Lisa Freemont Street video for a 40s scarf updo to evening glamour to get the gist!

I finished this skirt at least a month ago kind of slapdash-style, and it even went to the UK with me. It’s a basic dirndl skirt using Simplicity 4496, from the 1940s (but undated).

The construction is pretty easy: it’s basically two gathered rectangles and a waistband. In fact, Gertie did a tutorial on making your own gathered skirt from scratch several years ago if you’re looking for a similar pattern.

I’m in the mood for these fun and flouncy skirts! More roomy and breezy than an a-line and easy to wear with a casual blouse. You can even dare to mix patterns like I did.

(Yes by the way, my blouse really does snap up the front that way, I’m not missing any.)

I do have a tip for my fellow short-waisted + busty friends out there: I find that you really need a good, uplifting bra when wearing this style of skirt (check out my old 40s bust silhouette post for tipsβ€”I need to actually add a couple of bra updates to that). Somehow with the gathers extending out at the waist instead of a plain flat front, it’s really easy for your bust and your waist to creep closer together than you’d like, unless your girls are as high and proud as you can get them. That’ll keep you from feeling dumpy in this style. Just sayin’.

The fabric I used was in my stash forever and it’s a lightweight cotton blend, but I discovered something terrible: the damn polka dots are, I don’t know, painted on? Not silk-screened. Or at least not silk-screened well. I managed to wash and dry the fabric fine, press the fabric fine, press the seams fine, press everything and its brother fine, but when I was pressing around my zipper I smeared a few #@$%^&% polka dots. Aaaargh! Fortunately it’s subtle, I really had to try to get them to show up on a photo.

But I can forgive the stupid smeary polka dots because the pockets are so cute. I liked the look of the super deep patch pockets on View 2 but didn’t have enough fabric for them, so instead I took the slash pockets from the Sewaholic Cambie pattern and added them to this skirt. (By the way, this was my inspiration to do the same type of thing on my Refashioners skirt!)

On a gathered skirt like this they stick out to the sides in a very cute manner.

Kind of like the original pattern artwork!

The only slightly awkward thing about adding the Cambie slash pockets was that I also wanted a lapped side zipper, like I put in pretty much everything. Things around the pocket opening and the zipper lap can get funky if you do that combo, but it’s possible if you hand pick the zipper and your fabric isn’t too thick… I wouldn’t go heavier than medium-weight cotton.

I actually should have omitted the first ‘pick’ on the pocket as it closes off the very bottom of the open edge of the pocket as you can see below, but it’s no big deal.

I topped off the waistband with a beautiful vintage button. I was going to handwork the buttonhole but after the smeared polka dot episode, meh. I didn’t bother.

I’m going to live in this skirt this summer. Well this and several siblings of it that don’t yet exist but will. I’m loving dirndls right now. Patterns, novelty prints, plain… I better get sewing!

What will you be living in this summer?

outfit details

1940s dirndl skirt: made by me
1950s H Bar C western shirt: somewhere or other
Bakelite bangles and earrings: miscellaneous
hair flower: Ruth Nore Designs
bow flats: Mel by Melissa

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , ,

Golly, 18 Comments!

  • Beautiful skirt! I love the blue and white with the lemon yellow, you look wonderful πŸ™‚


  • Very, very cute! I love the whole outfit, including the mixed patterns.

    My husband used to run a screen printing shop…if the designs weren’t heat cured properly they’d start to come off.


  • I’ve never seen fabric prints smear like that! That’s so odd.

    The skirt is really cute, though! I really like the button you used,


  • I love dirndls too..I’ve already made three in the last few months! They’re the perfect everyday skirt & I love how easy they are to sew up. I love the polka dots & button you chose, very cute πŸ™‚



  • I love dirndls but sadly they don’t love me for EXACTLY the reasons you stated. The “ladies” and the short waist. No matter how high I try and hoist em!
    On you however m’lady, dirndls look darn good!
    Fave features which take this dirndl from ok to !!YAY!!: the standout pockets and that fab button!


  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! πŸ™‚ x
    Jo of


  • It’s good timing for you to mention the boobs/waist issue… I got a 40s novelty print (with little hats!) skirt of this cut for $2 a few weeks ago… and still haven’t worn it for those exact reasons. I’ll have to dig through the lingerie dresser and find my most “uplifting” helper, see if that fixes the silhouette. It looks great on you though, lucky gal! You button choice was perfect… all about the details;) And I’m sure no one will notice the polka dot smear, we are all our worst critics.

    xo Sara


  • Oooh, this is the perfect summer skirt…good work! Every time you mention your trip to the UK I get a pang of sadness that I wasn’t able to come meet you in London :o( Maybe we’ll get another chance to meet someday…fingers crossed!


  • Ooh, polka dot skirts! How I love them! Yours is so pretty and I love the pockets and vintage button. You must have the world’s greatest vintage button collection πŸ™‚

    I will be living in similar dirndl skirts and easy-breezy sundresses this summer.


  • Looks super comfy and its so pretty! Great job mama! xox


  • I’ll be living in my tropical print dirndle and teal print dirndle I’ve already made. I have tentative plans for a couple of others, but I am dithering between them and some other skirt pattern πŸ˜‰ I might need a few tops to go with them though- I kind of have a weakness for cotton prints and not many plain tops to team them with πŸ˜‰


  • Love the pattern play of the polka dots and the plaid, so cute! I didn’t even notice those wacky and fun buttons ’til you pointed them out. And, gurl, forget about those smeary dots! If ever you get bummed out sewing (or with life in general) just go read my blog and IMMEDIATELY you’ll feel better. And what am I livin’ in this summer, you ask? WELL, I did just get in the mail some amazingly adorable Michael Miller picnic fabric today. It’s washed and ready to be whipped into something soon. Looking forward to more of your dirndles!


  • Never have polka dots and plaid looked lovelier together. I just adore the bright, summery feel of this colour palette (yellow + royal blue = β™₯) and perfectly the two patterns jive. Great job on the skirt – and many thanks for the important reminder about a supportive bra shirts like that (I find the same thing rings true for me, too, with both button fronts and tees alike, even though I wouldn’t classify myself as very busty at all).

    Have an awesome weekend, hon!
    β™₯ Jessica


  • Lovely! I love the pockets and that button is fantastic! It’s my first summer living by the SF coast, so it’s shaping up to be a summer of sweaters and fog. It’s hard for me to imagine that it’s actually hot other places!


  • Very cute! I love the addition of the slash pockets. I totally agree on the needing to wear a good bra with these skirts. It’s easy to feel chunky around the middle with all the gathers.


  • Gorgeous skirt and what a fun button! Sorry about the smear-y dots but you would never be able to tell if you didn’t, quite literally, point them out πŸ˜‰ I love that color blue on you and it looks super awesome paired with the plaid! Mixed prints for the win! <3


  • Lovely skirt – particularly love the pocket detailing and that fab button!


  • I love your website! I love your frank and honest advice and your tutorials are so easy to follow.


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