Sewing The Rockabilly Dress from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

One of my many sewing goals this summer was to sew something out of one of my three sewing books by Gretchen Hirsch. Each of these books contain a wealth of sewing how-to information as well as a wardrobe, complete with patterns. These books are great and I use them all the time as reference books when I'm sewing. Until now, however, I have not sewn any of the patterns included. The main reason for this is because unlike the traditional tissue paper patterns, these need to be traced before use, and it was more work than I wanted to do. But, it seemed a waste to have all these lovely patterns and never use them, so I figured it was time to jump in.

 
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I chose to make the "Rockabilly Dress" from "Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book".  There are some fantastic dresses in this book which can be mixed and matched. This means you can use the skirt from one dress and the bodice from another to create a whole new design.  I had the perfect fabric for this dress; a seersucker cherry print that I found at a thrift shop.

 The "Rockabilly Dress"

The "Rockabilly Dress"

 One of the pattern sheets from the back of the book.

One of the pattern sheets from the back of the book.

Since I have never sewn these patterns before, I reluctantly decided I should make a muslin first to make sure the fit was correct.  I know this is important, but I hate sewing the muslin; it always seems like a lot of extra work and they never seem to fit the same as the final dress anyway.  This time I opted to sew a wearable muslin, using fabric that I found at Goodwill for $2.00.  That way, if I messed up the dress I wasn't wasting money and if it came out okay, I would have a bonus dress.  The muslin went together very quickly.   The original pattern included puffed sleeves, but they were a bit too small for my arms and I didn't have enough fabric to make new ones, so I decided to leave them off.

 The wearable muslin dress

The wearable muslin dress

The fit was pretty good, but I wanted to make a few adjustments before moving on to the final dress.  I felt that bodice was a bit tight and the waistline was too high for me and I wanted a slightly fuller skirt and larger armholes, so before starting on the final dress I made the necessary adjustments to the pattern pieces.  I'm new at altering patterns, but these adjustments were fairly easy to do.  I liked the sleeveless version of the muslin, so decided to to the same for this dress.  Instead of the sleeves, I drafted sleeve facing, which I've never done before.   

 Fabric ready to be cut with the altered pattern

Fabric ready to be cut with the altered pattern

The skirt of this dress had pleats which I have also never done before.  I decided on a fuller skirt so had to adjust the pleats from the original pattern.  They weren't too difficult and I was happy to add a new sewing skill to my repertoire.

 Forming the pleats in the skirt.

Forming the pleats in the skirt.

The dress neckline has facing that appears on the outside of the dress, trimmed with rick rack. I decided to use mini pom-poms for trim instead, as I thought it would be a bit more fun.  For buttons on the front, I found some great plastic buttons with a printed gingham pattern.  As luck would have it, this pattern matched the background of the fabric exactly.

 The bodice with mini pom-pom trim and plastic gingham buttons.

The bodice with mini pom-pom trim and plastic gingham buttons.

I'm very happy with the way this dress came out.  It is really comfortable and I am happy with my decision to lower the waistline and leave off the sleeves.  I'm glad that I made a wearable muslin as well.  Even though it is a but more snug than I would like, I do wear it almost as much as the cherry dress and the darker colors mean that I can wear it into the fall as well.  

I really enjoyed sewing from this book. The instructions were very clear and even though I had to trace the patterns first, the entire dress took only a few days to complete.  I would definitely make this dress again, but may try some of the others in the book first.

 
 Posing in the back yard in my new dress.

Posing in the back yard in my new dress.