The Last Pink (and Blue and White) of Summer

Sometimes the smallest thing can be the deciding factor in the trajectory of a sewing project.  In the case of this dress – my last dress of summer sewing – the buttons told me how to proceed.  There was some serendipity involved as well, which is often the case with my sewing, it seems.  

I purchased the very light and airy white and blue fabric from Britex Fabrics two or three years ago. When it arrived, I tucked it away to think about it.  Somewhere along the line, I purchased the buttons you see here, but not for this fabric.  (I rarely let deep pink vintage buttons get away from me if I can help it.)  Somehow the two – the buttons and the fabric – found each other and became best friends.  That was all well and good, except for the fact those six little buttons needed some help to bring out the fuchsia and orange dots sprinkled amongst the blue flowers on the white background.  Enter deep pink Petersham ribbon left over from holiday dresses I made for my granddaughters last Fall.  Somehow, although this ribbon was not a match to either the fuchsia or the orange, it worked!  I had my palette….

The interesting thing about the color of the pink ribbon is it seems to be the shade if one mixed the fuchsia and orange dots together. And yes, the buttons are very old!

I had decided to use this pattern again, but a longer version, with different sleeves.  

However – and doesn’t it seem there is always an “however” to muddle the plans – I only had six of those petite little buttons.  And theoretically I needed at least eight.  So – I had to get creative.  

I decided I could eliminate two buttons on the bodice if I reconfigured the front opening and collar.  Here is what I did:

  • I angled the front opening: starting at about 6 inches down from the neckline seam, I drew a line from the fold line to the center front line, ending at the neckline.   
  • This allowed me to shorten the collar stand (so it was flush with the front edge of the collar), thus eliminating the need for a button on it.  
  • I redrew the collar so that it would be most attractive either standing up or lying flat.
  • The original pattern had a self-facing for the bodice (as you can see below), so I had to make a separate, applied facing to accommodate the angle.  
  • The angled opening also allowed for the first button to be 6 inches down – meaning I could get away with two buttons on the bodice – if I used snaps at the waist (which isn’t a bad idea anyway.)
On the right above is my muslin pattern made from the original design. On the left is my reconfigured bodice pattern showing the angle detailed above. (My separate facing piece is not shown.)

Here is what the reconfigured collar and collar stand look like up close:

Two buttons on the bodice allowed me 4 buttons for the skirt, which was adequate.  I actually added a small snap 3+ inches below the lowermost button to hold the skirt together indiscreetly. 

Moving on with more changes:  the flowing nature of the fabric dictated a change in the tailored sleeves of the pattern.  I knew I wanted below elbow length with a little bit of fullness, but not too much. A narrow sleeve band seemed appropriate.  And then there was the decision where to apply the narrow Petersham ribbon on the sleeve bands.  Next to the seamline with the gathered line of the body of the sleeve looked best to my eye, so that’s what I did.  

I was fortunate enough to have enough of the narrow Petersham ribbon to put two rows of it at the lower part of the skirt.  These two rows of trim are absolutely essential for this dress to look balanced. 

Unfortunately I didn’t have my preferred blue shoes with me for these photos.

I should mention I underlined the entire dress, with the exception of the sleeves, with very lightweight cotton batiste.  I finished all the seams with Hug Snug seam binding.  

I like the bodice “angled” neckline and the reconfigured collar so much, I will probably use these alterations again sometime, even if I am not compromised by too few buttons!  

Without those little rosy-pink buttons – and without leftover trim from my granddaughters’ dresses – the white and blue flowered fabric would probably still be sitting in my fabric cupboard.  Instead, I was able to finish my summer sewing not only with more pink, but with a dress I really like!  


Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Sleeves, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, Vogue patterns

28 responses to “The Last Pink (and Blue and White) of Summer

  1. This might be my favorite of all those I have seen you make. A great look and a great fit.

  2. Wynne Bailey

    Cheers to ribbon and button inspiration! Such a pretty dress that you wear so beautifully! This piece has me clamouring to paw through patterns and notions for what to do with that still folded up in the cupboard yards and yards of black cotton eyelet from Paris that I couldn’t resist. Relishing your new frock and looking forward to posts of your fall projects… 🙏

  3. Caroline Beckenhaupt

    How did you get the two rows of petersham to lie flat on a skirt that looks flared or a-line?

  4. I love how you took a group of notions and fabric and turned them into a gorgeous cohesive unit!

  5. Mery

    From that pattern to your dress is a lotbof genius, creativity, talent, and surely some joy. I love that dress.

  6. What a lovely dress! Love that fabric, and how you’ve brought out the pinks! The new slanted collar and opening may appear on my dresses – what a great idea! Thanks for the post.
    I hope your MT summer has been delightful.😊

  7. Patricia Ross

    This is my favourite!!

  8. Such a lovely dress. The collar and neckline redesign is so face framing.

  9. It’s a lovely dress!
    I’m wondering why you lined it. I usually wear a full or half slip under summer dresses.

    • If I may comment, I always prefer to do the same thing with cottons like this with cotton batiste. I like the little bit of extra structure that this underlining provides. I like to trace all darts and other marks on the underlining and then it’s easier to sew the garment.

    • I lined it as the white and blue flowered fabric is almost like a batiste itself. It needed a lining to add substance and modesty.

      • Caroline Beckenhaupt

        Thank you for taking the time to answer comments. I’m going to try petersham ribbon on my next dress or skirt. I love that look. Reminds me of my mother’s dresses from the 50s.

  10. Joan

    Lovely print on you — that dress really suits you!
    Center front modifications are a great tip for future use.

  11. Peggy

    There is nothing prettier than a lady wearing a lovely dress and you do look especially beautiful in your creation. Congratulations on your edits to the pattern and adapting to your button shortage. You had a very productive summer. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish this coming autumn and winter.

  12. That was a very pretty dress and I sort of flipped thru some past creations and your sewing choices and fab are so beautiful classic and always. There is a new vintage pattern that I picked up from vogue for the slim slacks that you made w shorts and peddle pushers you probably would like also, don’t remember number and would have to go search it out but they probably would have it still. I don’t sew clothes anymore because they never fit me only if I make for my daughter or father…. Lol…. Now I just quilt and they always fit me….lol

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