My Grandma Bertha dress

The Facts
: 4 yards linen, 2 1/2 yards from stash, had to purchase 1 1/2 more yards to make sure I had enough
Pattern: Vogue 2960
Year: 1954
Notions: 1 zipper, interfacing, 9 self-covered buttons all from stash, belt
Time to complete: ~3 1/2 hours
First worn: May 2012
Wear again? Definitely!
Total Cost:
$10.65 for fabric, $4.36 for pattern for a total of $15.01

When I saw this challenge in the list I knew immediately I wanted to make something like my Grandma Bertha would have worn. She was my dad’s mom, the one who taught my mother’s Girl Scout troop how to make circle skirts (you can see I come from a long line of radical females!) and eventually taught me how to sew. Sewing is like breathing to me, it’s just part of my soul and who I am. I sewed my way through junior high, high school and college, I sewed my way back to financial health after my first husband went rogue and I’ve sewn everything from Greek chitons to yellow patent leather Gwen Stefani pants for my daughter. You name it, I’ve probably made it or made a conscious decision NOT to : )

Now I work at a job where wearing something like this isn’t really going to raise any eyebrows. And I work in an office, not a shop underground that is prone to flooding and has widely variant temperature changes. Dresses are quickly making their way into my wardrobe and I’m pretty happy about that!

Me, my Grandma Bertha and Wendy the dog

This is me around 9 months of age, my mom thinks it was Memorial Day weekend. In this photo my grandma is one year younger than I am right now. She taught sewing for a living, believed in dressing “correctly” all the time (I’m pretty sure my habit of wearing jeans to work would HORRIFY her…or she would have embraced the change and worn them too!), and if you can’t tell from my blog, she believed in setting a “correct” table ALL the time, even if we were eating macaroni and cheese. You just never know who might stop by and heaven forbid if  there were no spoons on the table… I can guarantee you she has a camisole and half slip on under her dress or a full slip. A lady NEVER went without! She loved purple, which was pretty radical at the time, and I don’t remember her ever NOT having something purple on her self.

She also had a pretty cha-cha shoe collection, I have one pic of her in a lilac colored chiffon dress with super full pleated skirt and dyed-to-match shoes. I’m sure Michael Kors and Issac Mizrahi would be horrified but that’s just too bad. I thought she was wonderful and she would let me wear her shoes if I didn’t get them wet : )

When I saw this print many months ago I bought a random chunk just to have, a concept I’m sure one or two others might understand : ) As soon as I saw the pattern and that voluminous skirt I bought the extra yardage just to make sure and yes, I needed all of it. Too bad you can’t really tell I’m wearing one HUGE petticoat! A friend sent me her old bridal petticoat so I just cut 16″ off the top, re-gathered the pieces and put on a new waistband. That extra heavy netting and layers of gathered nylon make one really big pouff. It wasn’t until I saw the pics I realized I should have put on 2 petticoats! The purple hat with the rose on it is vintage as are my rhinestone earrings

This dress was easy, easy, easy to make! I looked at the very low cut back and raised it up about 3″ so I could wear a bra and not worry about something showing. I did NOT make the bound buttonholes down the front! One thing I’ve learned through the years is that my boobs and button front dresses aren’t friends. I just tacked the fronts together and stitched on the buttons so they’re not functional. Instead I inserted a zipper up the center back and called it good. Now I can get in and out easily and I don’t have to worry about gap-osis, pulling or popping a button.

. The only problem I had with this outfit was the darn belt! I did eventually get the belting that was inadvertently left out of my bag back in February but now I’ve put it somewhere so safe even I can’t find it! I covered another belt of mine with some purple silk close to the color of the shoes. I’m sure my grandmother would have approved : ) The dress is super comfy, I feel pretty (oh so pretty!) and if the weather keeps up like it is you’ll be seeing it on BART very soon…

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