For the past two years, I’ve sewn myself a new Valentine’s Day dress which I love wearing no matter what the hubby and I have planned that year. So far we’ve drawn inspiration from vintage greeting cards and Katy Keene comic books but this year, Valentine’s Day is a little different. This year I’m embracing Galentine’s day so I wanted to create my ideal romantic date outfit. It’s a nice change to be able to sew something just for me and not have any restrictions; I had three things I wanted my ideal dress to have; sleeves, pockets and a big bow right on the front of the bodice. So here we go, it’s time to sew another vintage valentine’s day dress.
Sometimes I like to brainstorm and get inspiration for a seasonal project ridiculously early; for this particular project, I found the fabric in June. It’s an odd time to go brainstorming for Valentine’s day but I think because my Instagram feed is full of cute autumnal outfit, most of which include plaid or tartan, I started looking for similar fabrics. If you remember back to around that time last year, I was also starting to plan sewing a pinafore which I needed a tartan fabric for, it was at the same time that I started looking for unique colour combinations. With pink and red being my favourite colour combination, I’ve been wanting a pink and red tartan or plain for quite a while and it just so happened that I found some on Etsy. It was a no brainer and I absolutely could not resist buying a few meters and harbouring it in my stash until the next February rolled around. This red and pink plaid is a polyviscose fabric which is a mixture of polyester and viscose. It has a similar feeling to wool, but can be produced for much lower costs, it is often used in country wear and kilts. You can find the fabric here.
With the fabric selected, and it now being an appropriate time to create a romantic outfit, I was finally able to browse my pattern stash and pick my project. I knew I wanted something with a big bow at the front of the bodice; I wanted to make a similar dress last year but it just never worked out so come valentines, it was time. I had a few patterns in mind but I knew I wanted sleeves which greatly affected my selection. Some of the patterns I had were low cut at the back, had no waistline or were just a bit too small meaning I would spend a fair amount of time adjusting the pieces to fit me which I didn’t have the time to do. At the end of the day, I decided to choose the vintage pattern Simplicity 3845 which came out in 1952. This pattern has two dress designs, one with a square neckline and big puffy sleeves, and the other, the one we will be making, has a high neck with a tie up bow collar.
As with most vintage patterns, each pattern comes in just one size. My particular copy of Simplicity 3845 was a size 16 which gave a size 34-inch bust. Even though I have a 38-inch bust, I find that vintage patterns are quite roomy and easily can be made smaller. My 28-inch waist should comfortably fit in this pattern but I can always make adjustments later if needed. As mentioned above, I wanted my dress to have sleeves and pockets and unfortunately, Simplicity 3845 didn’t have either. However, I decided to add the sleeves from pattern Butterick 6018 (piece 7) and the pockets from pattern Simplicity 1419 (piece 9). The joys of sewing mean you can alter your creations to fit you and I honestly got a bit tired of all my pattern reviews stating that I wanted pockets so this time, I’m just adding whatever I want.
Sew, let’s get started. After cutting out all the pieces I needed in my fabric, I noticed that the dress has no lining or really any facing (at least for this dress variation), so please keep that in mind if you’re making this pattern this dress for yourself. Like most patterns, we started with the bodice. The front of the bodice was made of two front pieces which both had angled double darts to create shape. The back bodice piece had top darts which you are required to add in yourself but it was easy to do. With all the darts added, I then went ahead and rolled the hem of the v opening at the top of the front bodice. This creates a little slit but is mostly covered by the tails of the bow. After attaching the front and back of the bodice along the shoulder seams, I also attached the sides of the bodice together but left a gap down one side for the side zipper. As this dress has a bow collar, a back zip wouldn’t work very well.
I decided to add the sleeves at this point which was pretty simple. After cutting out the pattern piece, I sewed down the sides, overclocked the edge and then sewed in a rolled hem. I used a double row of basting stitches along the curved top shoulder edge which I used to help gather and adjust the placement of the sleeves. The sleeves fit really well and I think I could have easily made them slightly shorter but regardless, they looked cute. It’s worth noting that in between most steps, I made sure to overlock the fabric as this type of weave tends to fray. Overlocking just prevents fraying in the future, adds strength and cleans up the edges for a more professional finish.
With that, it was time to move onto the bow collar. I honestly found this step a little confusing and as a visual learner, I couldn’t find any finished or close up photos of what the collar should look like. I started by sewing the ends of both bow pieces together leaving a slight gap which ends up being an open v-shape that aids with curving the bow collar around the back of the neck. With that done, I added a rolled hem to the longer ends of the bows. This is where my fabric choice became really important; this fabric is solid in colour on both sides as it’s a woven fabric, but if you are using a fabric that is a traditional cotton, parts of your bow may show the underside of the fabric once tied. It may be worth creating a lining if this will bother you. It was now time to attach the bow to the bodice, I began by pinning one edge of the bow along the inside of the bodice, sewing it down and then rolling the bow over to the front side of the bodice and sewing that down as well. It does mean that you can see the thread but I don’t mind and with my thread colour selection, most of the thread disappears into the fabric anyway.
With that, the bodice was basically done and it was time to move onto the skirt. I cut out four skirt pieces and created markings for the top pleats which I sewed down and pressed. After connecting the two front pieces down the middle and the same to the back pieces, I went ahead and added my pocket. I will be honest and say I had a brain fart and accidentally added a pocket on the both sides of the skirt which meant my zip wouldn’t work (it was quickly unpicked). To add my pocket, to the correct side, I started by pinning it facing into the main part of the skirt about an inch and a half from the top of the skirt and sewing it down on both sides. After and overlock and a press, I then put both pocket pieces together and sewed down the skirt seam and along the edges of the pocket. After more overlocking the skirt was finally ready to be attached to the bodice. This was really simple as there were no gathered to adjust and everything fit perfectly. The final steps I took in completing this dress were adding the zipper down the side and then overlocking and hemming the end of the skirt. With that, she was done.
Fit; This dress is so dreamy and I am kind of obsessed with it. I love the plaid, I love the bow and the sleeves and I really want to make this dress again but in a different fabric. As for the fit, she is still a little on the larger side but I think once I gain some weight back, she will fit even better. Like most of my creations, I need to take the middle back seam in about an inch but I think that’s all the adjustments I need to do. If I am to get picky, I think I might need to raise the skirt an inch or two but that might just be me feeling insecure at the moment.
I am really happy with this dress and think it definitely challenged me and expanded my skills. I think I did a good job attaching the zip and sleeves which are sometimes areas I am not overly confident in. Regardless, this dress also pushed my skills in that I’m not overly used to working with a woven fabric such as this but I’m glad I finally got to use one of my knit sewing machine needles.
If this is a pattern you have in your own stash, I’d definitely encourage you to try it yourself. The bow collar can be a bit difficult and some of the steps may need to be read out loud a few times but take it step by step and you’ll get through it. This pattern has encouraged me to make more dresses with frontal bows but it’s got me wondering if I should just find a pattern with a high collar and add a bow to it that I don’t have to tie. Sometimes I find if I have to tie my own bow, it can be wonky or lopsided but if I adjust my pattern, I can make the bow just another sewn-on addition. Don’t mind me, just brainstorming out loud.
I love this dress, I wish I lived somewhere where I could add a cute little cape to this outfit but for now, it’s perfect and I love it. This is so close to being my perfect date night dress; it’s sweet, romantic, ultra-girlie and I am still in love with this fabric. I do have a little left over fabric so I am thinking of turning it into a fitted pinafore but I will let you know what I decide to do with it.
As it is almost Valentine’s Day, I wanted to send you all a great big hug, lot’s of love and I want to thank you all for being such a wonderful part of my life. No matter who you spend Valentine’s Day with, even if you’re on your own, just know you are loved, worthy and an important part of this wonderful universe. I will see you all in the next post.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.