My “Napa and the Pirates” dress

The Facts

Fabric: Vintage black and white marlin-printed cotton from stash
Pattern: Vogue 8812
Year: 1940
Notions: 1 red zipper
Time to complete: 3 1/2 hours
First worn: June 2012
Wear again? Already have : )

Total Cost: ~4.32 for pattern

I was SO looking forward to this weeks challenge after last week! I even had a mini vacation planned out with my daughter – take a day trip on Saturday up to Napa where a friend would do our hair; have brunch or lunch, do some pics, shop in some vintage stores and maybe stay for dinner. Sunday was the annual Pirate Festival in Vallejo that is a must-attend every year if only to see old friends and buy a new mini hat : ) Oh the plans we make…

I was on top of things Sunday. Had the dress cut out and ready to sew. Monday I had another project come up that pushed everything aside so I didn’t get back to my dress until Thursday. As far as construction this pattern is a breeze. There are a few things that I changed/would change in the future. First, I lined and interlined the lower bodice pieces. Unless I missed something in the directions they only have you cut one layer of fabric which may be fine for someone with better abs : ) I like feeling secure and held in there! I shortened the skirt by 3 inches and then put in a 2″ hem so for those of you who are of”average” height check the length. This was a vintage piece of 36″ wide goods so I had NO room to mess up and those few inches made the difference between squeaking by and being comfortable with the layout.

In the future I wouldn’t gather the top piece they’re calling the “bra” all the way around, I’ll stop it at the side and finish the edge off. I see no reason to have the back pieces with the gathering since they tend to puff out and make it look like gravity has taken over more so than it really has : ) I will also get a second set of hands to help fit the top, trying to pull it around and mark it myself meant I was almost 2″ too big when I went to put in the zipper.And why a red zipper? Because I thought I had a black one and couldn’t find it Saturday morning, an hour before we were supposed to leave. I did have a red one so in it went and it’s really not the worst thing I’ve seen…lately…

We started off in downtown Napa after hair appointments. We LOVED the HUGE lights in front of the Post Office. This pic is from my daughters Instagram experiment. We had to do something when our regular camera got too hot and stopped working briefly. Why would that be?

That’s why : )

And it was still raising, it hit 105 as we were finishing up around 4 pm. Seriously, it’s only like this a handful of days each year but this was one of them.

And just let me reiterate, that was 102 IN THE SHADE, as in where I’m standing!

There is an actual river that runs through the town of Napa, it’s rather small and this time of year a bit sluggish. We went down there anyway on the off chance it was a tad cooler.

Cool (as in nifty, not temperature!) kinetic sculpture behind me, no shoes on the feet. It not only wasn’t cooler, it was probably more like 110 taking into account the reflected heat! You’ll notice I’m in the shade. We tried a couple pics in the sun but since one of my best friends’ husbands describes my skin color as “two shades darker than milk” we vampire-type girls tend to stay where its shady whenever possible.

This may be the most telling pic of the day:

We stopped in at a major celebrity chef’s home goods store and crashed in the big comfy club chairs. A picture says a thousand words…

We did *briefly* go into Chef Morimoto’s restaurant (one of the original Iron Chefs) but we took one look at the enormous ancient table for tasting parties and knew there were too many zeros to the left of the decimal point for our budget.

There were no thoughts of further meals or shopping, we beat it back to the relative comfort of the air conditioned car, passing this piece of public art:

Curious about how to do the Cha Cha Cha? You can learn right here. In the sun, and the heat…

I did say there would be pirates, right?


When my daughter was very young we worked at a fencing booth at the Renaissance Faire here in Northern California. I had my fill of breathing in clouds of dirt, fencing in 100 degree heat and giving up three months worth of my weekends so I stopped working there but we still keep in touch with the people. Every year during Father’s Day weekend a group of historical re-enacting nuts decided to put on a Pirate Festival on the edge of the Bay in Vallejo. It’s fun, irreverent and if you need to let your inner pirate self out every once in a while this is the place to do it : ) We went a-visiting.

Isn’t my parasol cute? Perfect accessory to my dress.

I promised my daughter she didn’t have to dress up (full pirate regalia is layered and then there’s all the weaponry..) and there was shade and breezes off the bay : )

This pattern gets an A+. It was comfy, moved well, once I had the top fitted just right I wore NO BRA and didn’t feel unsupported. I did wear a pair of  cotton-lycra shorts underneath in lieu of a slip. They allowed me to move and not get sticky or sweaty in places that shouldn’t be, if you know what I mean : ) I wore this dress for 2 days straight and am looking through my fabric stash for a suitable candidate to make another.

If I go on another “vacation” this is at the top of my list of things to wear!

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