Monday, 19 February 2018

Another vintage birthday

Without realising it, I've gone  vintage for my daughter's birthday dress again. The sixty year old tutu for her sixth birthday has been followed by this very Brady Bunch-esque dress for her 7th birthday.

Note: She hasn't watched a single episode of The Brady Bunch but intuitively chose the Alice role for modelling her dress and insisted on a wooden spoon and mixing bowl as props.

In the middle of my lycra sewing I had the sudden hankering to make something in a nice, crisp cotton. I had already cut out a birthday leotard for A, but couldn't resist surprising her with a dress too.

The pattern came  to me via my aunty Yvonne, and I'm pretty sure my cousin Narelle, who would have been a size 6 in about 1977 would have worn this dress. And I'm pretty sure I would have been jealous of it.

It's a single size pattern and so I was keen to use it while I could and be damned if she didn't like it.

The fabric choice was a no brainer :)
It came to me from @topbikephysio 's mum who was clearing out her old piles of fabrics and I suspect it matches the vintage of the pattern.

The pattern has some lovely bust darts - an amusing first for a size six dress - that add a little shape to the A line shift. The neckline is oddly constructed, using two bias strips, one as a facing and the other almost like a mini neckband. I'm not sure it wouldn't have been easier to use one wider bias strip, but the seam around the neckline does help it to behave, so it was an interesting exercise even if it's one I'd never bother repeating.

The button placket on the front is purely decorative and so there's a 7" invisible zipper in the back to open and close the dress. Again, I seriously considered ignoring the pattern and cutting the back dress on the fold and doing a proper button placket (like in this tutorial I wrote). But there's fun to be had in following old patterns, even when the zipper instructions are as brief as "sew zipper in back opening. Follow instructions given with zipper."

I didn't have enough fabric to bother with pattern matching anywhere, but then my faux placket came out being so nearly, but not quite matched. I had to dig out the remnants and cut another placket that would be quite deliberately mismatched. The buttons were some little white plastic ones with tiny etched criss cross markings on them that suited the dress well.

The instructions also gave no indication of hem length. The sleeves were, I think, marked with a 1&1/4" hem allowance, but the skirt hem just said to turn up as desired. I'd been nervous about the dress being very "vintage short" so I added a 1&1/4" hem to the original pattern length and used that as my hem allowance.

I think it's adorable, and thankfully she seems to be genuinely pleased with it. It may not be the first dress she will reach for, but I anticipate it will still get a bit of wear. Well, I hope so, 'cause it's incredibly cute on.

Pattern: Butterick 4042 - vintage out of print (but here's a size 8 on Etsy)
Size: 6 (breast 24") single size pattern
Fabric: Vintage poly/cotton
modifications: Added 1&1/4: hem length


  1. it is a super adorable dress. I think the colours are so lovely and vibrant my daughter would have loved it too! Lovely Birthday surprise. How lucky zippers come with the instructions! haha

    1. THanks Jenya. The shape is really sweet. Curiously, the vintage zippers I scored form the same sewing room clear out did NOT have instructions, yet modern ones do. Glad I learnt to sew zippers from a good pattern writer!

  2. Gosh, this is awesome! And she's so much cuter than any Brady ever was. Don't suppose there's anything Brady in the works for P?

    1. Aw thanks Marisa. How much fun would it be to make a full Greg outfit, with beige polo neck and check wool flares. Oh, don't encourage me! If only I wasn't so strict about Book Week not being TV/cartoon/comic/character cross over Week...

  3. Ooh, what a dress. And all of a sudden she looks older and if I may say, 7!! What a great age and a dress.

    P.S. I like this attitude which says that I am making it whether she likes it or not. I am going to be following in your footsteps soon.

    1. I've started giving the kids pocket money Asmita, and if they want to dress themselves they can save up and buy any clothes they like from a shop. If they want free clothes, they take what comes! :)
      She has shot up all of a sudden and I have to remind myself that she is quite "little" still (and prone to the tired and crankies)

  4. A bright, fun dress and love the props.

    1. Thanks Sharon. It really is a very cheery dress!


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