A Sneaky Peak of My First Summery Sewing Project

Apologies for the radio silence last week but I had a really crappy week. I won’t go into it because it was all work related but needless to say I was a very happy bunny when 5pm hit on Friday. I had a weekend of sewing planned, something I hadn’t done for nearly three weeks and I was itching to get behind the sewing machine again.

At the beginning of the year I made a few sewing resolutions, things I really wanted to focus on over the year. My main one, and one that I have been exploring not just in my sewing but in my vintage purchases too, was to choose different colours. My wardrobe seems to be filled with lots of red, navy and blue and sprinklings of white and green and I was getting bored with it. I’ve already managed to add lots of lovely burgundy (which you can see in previous posts here), as well as a few bits of brown (which I really need to get photographed), purple and green but this weekend it was on to my first yellow garment (I have others planned!).

1940s dress pattern

I bought this gorgeous 1940s dress pattern from Rebecca at Kallie Designs on Etsy just after Christmas and I instantly knew I wanted to make it in something really summery. It would be perfect for the 1940s events I tend to go to over the summer but I also wanted to style it in a way so it could be worn as a 1930s depression era look. I came to the conclusion that it had to be floral and it had to be yellow, what could be more summery, and it had to be cotton to give it that handmade look, so I set about finding the perfect fabric.

Yellow floral cotton fabric

After ordering tons of samples, none of which were quite the right thing, I finally found this beautiful fresh lemon yellow cotton. I instantly fell in love with it but then spotted that Heyday! were producing their gorgeous Fleur dress in it and I was suddenly torn between buying theirs or making my own. In the end the handmade one triumphed, mainly because I’d decided I wanted to add ric rac to it. The pattern mentions it as an option for the design but I also often see other sewing bloggers, such as Becky at Back to Blighty, using in their work and it looks so cute.

In the end I bought the fabric from C & H Fabrics and not from the original supplier of the sample because they had on it sale for £3.49 compared to £6.95, plus their delivery cost was cheaper. It’s a fabric shop I’d never used before but I was very pleased with the service and it arrived within a couple of days. The fabric itself is lovely, a good weight for cotton as it’s not too stiff and not too sheer, although I probably will need to wear a slip underneath for modesty’s sake.

First Toile of Yellow Dress

My first toile (mock up) had quite a few issues that needed sorting out. The neckline was too tight for me. I know they used to wear them tight up around the base of the neck but this style doesn’t suit me all that much, so I took about 3/4 of an inch out of it for comfort and style. The gathering just under the yoke looked a bit odd when I put it on and I knew it would look better if it was moved further in towards the corner.

The centre front had too much fabric in it which made it look really bulky at the front, like I had a massive chest. That just wouldn’t do! The top section fitted absolutely fine but the skirt part from the waist down was far too tight and needed letting out. I used an original 1930s skirt pattern I’ve used a few times to get a better shape and fit, but made sure I kept more of the fullness of the dress pattern at the bottom.

Second Toile of Yellow Dress

There were so many adjustments to make that I decided it was best to make a second toile and it came out really well, despite the fact that I’d sewn the front yoke on incorrectly with the left side sitting over the right one. I also added the sleeves this time. I was unsure if I was going to use the ones from the pattern and had thought of doing a more floaty sleeve, like the one on this dress, but once I’d sewn them in and tried it on that idea went straight out of my mind. I love the small amount of puffiness in the sleeve heads and it certainly adds that 40s look.

The only adjustment I had to make on the pattern before cutting it out in the proper fabric was the overlap of the front yoke. I hadn’t shaped this very well when I removed the excess I didn’t want and so the neckline formed a gentle point. I made sure this was a proper round neck before continuing.

Sneaky peak of 1940s yellow dress

And here’s a sneaky peak of the dress so far. I honestly couldn’t resist showing you now rather than waiting for the big reveal because I just love it so much. Every time I walk into the kitchen (where I do my sewing) I look at it and exclaim in a Rachel from Friends manner when she shows everyone a photo of her new assistant Tag, “It’s so pretty!”. I love the ric rac edged pockets and the cute white bow, it’s like nothing like else I already own.

It’s only pinned to the dummy as the front and back aren’t joined and the yoke has just been placed on. Before sewing the yoke on I’m going to add ric rac along the bottom edge both on the front and back and possibly the edges of the sleeves, although I’m not sure if that would be over the top. The pattern suggests press studs at the side seam at the closure but I’m going to add a zip for a more secure finish. Press studs terrify me that they’ll come unpopped at the most inopportune moment!

I’ve not got a lot left to do as the the gathering and adding the faux belt was probably the hardest. I cannot wait to get it finished so I can wear it, all I need is some sun. And of course I will definitely be doing a photo shoot to show you it in all its glory!


Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


  1. Pretty fabric – I’m sure your dress will be lovely.
    I used press studs on my 1930s skirt despite misgivings & I think it’s the fit that makes the difference. I was sure I wouldn’t like them but I do & I’ll use them again – especially useful as I have a vast collection of 1970s ones.
    I’d definitely recommend giving them a try.

    • You may have persuaded me to give press studs a go, but I think I’ll make my final decision once it’s ready to try on. My original 1930s feed sack skirt has nothing but press studs as the closure and seems fine, I just have visions of bending over wearing the dress and they all come open! xx

  2. I look forward to seeing the finished result! I had a ’30s dress that I put a zip in to replace the studs (with masses of help from a proper seamstress!), because the fabric was original, it put stress on it every time they were popped apart. I didn’t find the studs really popped open, but I understand what you mean about feeling more secure with a zip. x

    • Yes, I’m just unsure which to go for. I’d like to do press studs for authenticity but I’ve never done it before on a garment. Maybe this is the time to be brave! xx

  3. I can’t wait to see this in an outfit post when it’s ready, I love the cut and the fabric – and of course the ric rac which you just can’t go wrong with.

    • Thank you! I already know what I’m going to style it with, I’m just waiting for a fabulous new pair of shoes to arrive. xx

  4. That’s a lovely pattern and the fabric is gorgeous, so you are going to look amazing in that summer dress. Good on you that you chose to make your own. I wish I had your talent! xxx

    • Thank you Ann! It’s a colour I’ve never really worn before so I really hope it suits me after all this. xx

    • I thought you might like this one Kate because I know how much you like your detailing xx

  5. Hooray for ric rac!! Your dress is going to look amazing and I love the colour – so summery! I can’t wait to see this one finished! 🙂

    • Absolutely, hooray for ric rac! I basted it around the yoke last night and it looks amazing. Will spend a bit of time this evening sewing it on to the dress. xx

  6. This will be such a nice dress! Can’t wait to see it finished! Love the ric rac pockets.

    • Thank you! My white Miss L Fire Betty’s came this morning and they are going to look so amazing with it xx

  7. So darling, that print is wonderful! I can’t wait to see the finished project.

    • Isn’t it gorgeous? I just could not resist this fabric, I knew I had to make a dress out of it. xx

  8. Lovely fabric , can’t wait to see you in the finished dress , that yoke is such a lovely line , I need to inject some colour into my wardrobe , this inspires me to make something summery , especially if I might need matching new shoes !

    • Hehehe! I’ve bought new shoes to go with this, very summery of course. I can’t wait to wear them with it. xx

      • Oh you needed those to set the dress off properly ! Hope the sun comes out by the time dress is finished .

  9. Be still my floral print adoring heart, that yellow fabric is absolutely, completely gorgeous! What a marvelous find and choice for this classic, elegant summer dress style.

    Happy sewing and best wishes for a far, far better week this time around!

    ♥ Jessica

    • Thank you Jessica! Yes, it’s definitely better, not so stressful. Can’t wait until the weekend though to finish off this dress! xx

  10. I don’t even like yellow, but this heavenly shade can’t be yellow ~ butter cream? I don’t know, but I adore it! The fabric is amazing, and the pattern lovely. I really can’t wait to see the finished results! ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    • I’ve never really worn yellow before but this year I’ve started to fall in love with it. The yellow on this dress is a lemon sort of colour, very fresh and summery. xx

  11. Oh my gosh – you know I am LOVING this dress! Yellow! I’m so excited to see it on you, I bet it will look smashing! My next sewing project (after I eventually finish the 1914 dress I am making – which to be honest is draaaaging out so much!) is a pinafore style day dress from an original early 1940s pattern. I found some fabric in London last time I went, that is pale pink with yellow and blue flowers. Pink is a colour I don’t really wear, but as it has yellow flowers on it, I thought what the heck, let’s give it a go! Haa ha! xxxx

    • I think my gradual falling in love with yellow over the last year has been mainly to do with you and all your lovely yellow pieces, so thank you for the inspiration! Your new fabric sounds gorgeous and I cannot wait to see your 1914 dress. I’d love to venture into true Edwardian. I don’t wear pink much these days either, mainly because at my age I think it looks too girly. I do have a beautiful vintage 1950s dress in pink and green which I still love and wear every now and again, which does have a more grown up feel about it though. xxx

  12. ohhh that fabric is darling! I cannot wait to see how you style this dress.

    Liz 🙂

    • Thank you Liz. Well, of course, I had to buy a new pair of shoes to go with it! 😉 xx

  13. This is so lovely, really looking forward to seeing the finished article.

    I’ve used press studs in a side closure without any wardrobe malfunctions, but I did go for the belt and braces approach and added a hook and eye at the waistband – it also helped the whole thing to lie better.

    • Thank you! I actually went with the zip in the end. I like to tie the ties quite tight to pull in my waist, so in turn this would’ve put strain on the fabric where I would’ve placed a press stud at the waist. I’d hate to rip it just because it got too tight as I bent over or something!

  14. I hope you are having a better week, sewing is certainly a good way to cheer yourself up! Wow I love the dress, what a fabulous summery print and the pattern is so cute, the yoke detail, the gathers and those little puff sleeves are every thing I love about 40s patterns! I look forward to seeing the finished result! xx

    • Thank you Wendy! It’s all completed now and I absolutely love it. I cannot wait to wear it out, especially with my new Miss L Fire shoes. I just need some sun! xx

  15. What a fabulous tease picture! This dress is going to be so very pretty. Lovely fabric. I am a huge fan of ric rac, I think it adds a perfect finishing touch.

    • Thanks Kate-Em! I’m so glad I added the ric rac, it looks fabulous. I can’t wait to get it photographed and show you all. xx

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