A Summer Dress

Summer is quickly slipping away, but before it does, I will share one quintessentially summer dress which I made back in July.  It ticks off a number of features which make it “Summer Seasonal”:  it is sleeveless, it is a bright color, and it is linen.  

I found this vintage piece of Moygashel linen a few years ago on eBay. Always a pushover for vintage Moygashel, I purchased it, not quite knowing what shade of green it would be. I was expecting a lime green, but when it arrived it was “lime green meets mint,” a color reminiscent of the early 1960s.  Actually, not just reminiscent – an actual survivor from that period of time.  The width of the fabric was only 35” which was a dead giveaway that this fabric is from the early part of that decade.  Shortly thereafter, Moygashel began to be woven in 45” widths.  Fortunately I had three yards, which compensated for the dearth of width.   

To keep with the early ‘60’s vibe, I decided to line it in pink.  Although I usually line linen with a cotton batiste or cotton/linen lightweight blend, I decided to treat this dress a little bit differently.  I do not often use Bemberg for lining, usually preferring silk, but this lovely, time-tested 100% rayon lining just seemed to be the right choice. (Why?  I knew the seam allowances of the bright green  linen would not show through the tightly woven Bemberg lining, AND it would be a comfortable, lightweight and slinky fabric with which to line a summer dress.)  I ordered what I thought would be a medium pink, but when it arrived, it was more of a very deep rose.  What to do?  I hemmed and hawed, I thought about ordering a different hue of pink, I even thought about abandoning the pink idea and just using a white crepe de chine I had on hand.  Why I was agonizing so much over the color of the lining had to do with my thought if the dress turned out well, I would enter it in the County Fair. I knew not everyone would “understand” such a deeply contrasted lining.  But not wanting to waste money and fabric – and time! – I finally decided just to go with the dark pink, shown a few pictures below.  

I used this sheath dress pattern again, as I am so fond of the double shaping darts in the bodice front and the real kick-pleat.  

The sheath dress pattern I like is the one on the right, underneath its matching plaid coat.
Not just a slit, but a real kick-pleat!
Here is the kick-pleat on the inside of the dress.

I underlined the dress in silk organza so that I could eliminate facings and have an invisible application of the lining.  (The silk organza underlining gives one a base upon which to tack and secure stitches which do not show on the fashion fabric.)

The neck and armhole edges are stay stitched by machine close to the seam line, then clipped and tacked in place by hand to the silk organza underlining.
Here is one of the side seams, clipped and then also tacked in place by catch-stitches.
A beautiful lining hides all those interior stitches and seams.

I surprisingly found a zipper which was almost a perfect match to the green linen, and I did a hand-picked lapped application.  

Once I had the lining fell-stitched in place around the neckline and the armholes, I under-stitched those areas in waxed and ironed white thread.  (I used white to quiet down the deep pink!) Using this technique keeps the lining in place.  The under-stitching is attached to the silk organza underlining only, not the fashion fabric, as explained above.

I used Hug Snug rayon tape to construct the strap holders.

To complete the early 1960s’ essence of this dress, I can pair it with a vintage ‘60s’ Guillemin scarf, also found on eBay.  The pink in the scarf doesn’t match the pink lining, but since the lining does not show, it only matters to me (and now all of you also know this little fact!)  

So how did I do with this dress as an entry in the County Fair?  It was awarded a Red Ribbon in the Adult Division, which was lovely.  The day was “saved” however, when dresses I made for my granddaughters each won Blue Ribbons (and one of them won Best of Division).

(Those of you who follow me on Instagram @fiftydresses have seen this picture already…)

Good Summer memories, all of them.    


Filed under couture construction, Linen, Linings, Mid-Century style, Moygashel linen, Scarves, Sheath dresses, Uncategorized, underlinings, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

29 responses to “A Summer Dress

  1. Andrea Birkan

    Congratulations Karen! Your dress is beautiful! Your workmanship is spot on!

  2. Carolyn Woods

    this is a beautiful dress – and it fits you so very well

  3. Sheila Moller

    Love your interpretation, the colors really work. I also appreciate your thoughtful illustrations of your interior structure. It really is a delight and I hope to begin using these techniques. I’ve been thinking of a linen jacket but could not picture organza underlining and lining. Thanks a bunch.

    • Thank you, Sheila. I rarely use silk organza as an underlining for linen, but this dress seemed to be a good candidate. I think a linen jacket would benefit from a silk organza underlining – it would give it a gentle structure. I used silk organza as the underlining for a linen coat – and it worked like a charm. Hope this helps!

  4. Wow! This is incredibly chic. I cannot express how much I love seeing all your construction details. Inspiring! 💚💖💚

  5. PatB

    Beautiful dress and your scarf completes the elegant effect. Thank you for showing your process. Inspiring.

  6. Janet Thornton

    Love the green colour! A beautiful summer dress.

  7. Dianne

    Absolutely love this, the fabrics, the colors, the dress and the scarf! Perfection!! 💕💚💕

  8. It’s beautiful! Very Summer-y with the green and pink, and looks great on you!

  9. Your construction process for this dress is why I love seeing your creations. I want to sew the way you do and only hope that I can emulate what you do. Thank you very much for the photos and your thought process. You’re an inspiration. Your granddaughters are adorable and lucky little ladies.

    • Hi Peggy! My granddaughters were quite excited with their blue ribbon dresses. It was a fun exercise to enter the Fair. I really enjoy the process of sewing with couture techniques – worth the extra effort, for sure.

  10. Really stunning combination of colors. Congratulations on the ribbons. Your granddaughters are adorable.

  11. Mery

    I saved reading this until just now as a treat for myself. I’m glad I did because the treats just tumble out of it like a bag of candy. I love the green. I love the 60’s. I love, love vicariously enjoying your couture process. And even better was getting to share the fun with your family and the community. Congratulations on the winnings too.

  12. Marguerite

    Congratulations! Beautiful dresses for you and your granddaughters! Ribbons are well deserved. Always a treat to see your inside work. The scarf tops your dress off nicely. And I think I am spotting some Ferragamos also (?)

  13. Teri Nelson

    Your workmanship is impeccable and oh so inspiring. Wonderful blog. Thank you for sharing your passion and talent for sewing!

  14. Charlene Reis

    Are you interested in vintage patterns from the 1950-1960’s. I have a lot that I’m go to sell.



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