Have you ever seen a dress and had it stop you in your tracks because it is simply perfection? I stumbled across this photo of Miss Victory Violet in a Miss Candyfloss dress and was overcome with severe dress lust. Of course, the photo is from a couple years ago so dress isn’t in current production and I have yet to see one show up for sale secondhand on eBay or any of the other sites. So, I did what any self-respecting home sewist would, I set out to recreate a similar one.
Let me tell you, finding tartan with fuchsia and aqua that doesn’t look like it belongs on a child is not easy. Most were in pastels tones or featured dark brown in the pattern which is not the aesthetic I was going for. I did find one that was a close match to the fabric print Miss Candyfloss used but it was a stiff cotton meant for outdoor purposes. I don’t think even a gallon of fabric softener could make that into a comfortable dress. Finally, I stumbled across this cotton shirting by Marc Jacobs. The site I got it from, http://www.SewBaby.com, only had 3 ¼ yards on clearance for $3.20 a yard. Which is a steal! I have browsed the internet to see if anyone else had some left to sell and it seems I found the last bit of it. The fabric is 60” wide which means 3 ¼ yards will work for quite a few patterns.
Which brought me to my next task, finding a pattern that was reminiscent to the dress my heart desired. I searched through my pattern stash and narrowed it down to Butterick’s B6412. This is part of their “Patterns by Gertie” line. I own most of her patterns because Gertie makes some of the best vintage reproductions designs out there. This pattern hit all the main dress features I was looking for: ¾ sleeves, circle skirt, and a sweetheart neckline. The Miss Candyfloss dress has a sweetheart cutout in the bodice that gives a little peek-a-boo cleavage as well as an adorable bow that sits above the cut out. B6412 doesn’t use a cutout for the sweetheart neckline and the one on Gertie’s pattern is a bit lower cut than the Miss Candyfloss dress, but I’m not scared of showing some cleavage. I asked my hubby his thoughts on the dress before I started cutting anything to see if he thought I should try recreating the cutout. But he liked the pattern as is… I shouldn’t be surprised, I can’t imagine a day when he will tell me to make a dress with less cleavage.
My last decision before I got busy sewing was whether to keep the button detail or go with bows. As cute as the bow detail is on the original dress I was leaning towards the buttons. I thought 4 small bows on the bodice might be a little too much and I didn’t want to make bows for the sleeve cuffs if I did buttons on the bodice. The buttons at the bust are 7/8” as that is the biggest size my Joann’s had. I used the kit that comes with the pusher and mold to help cover the buttons and boy does it make a difference. The buttons on the sleeve cuff are ½” half ball cover buttons and the package I got does not come with any tool so getting the fabric to cover the button and tuck into the back was a pain. I ended up hand stitching around the outer edge of the fabric putting the button cover in the middle and then pulling the stitch tight to scrunch it all up before placing the back on and snapping it all together. The kit came with enough pieces to cover 6 buttons but I ruined 2 before I figured out my trick. So, in case you are struggling with covering buttons you might want to keep this in mind.
I got my lining fabric from Joann’s and used their Country Classic brand of quilting cotton in an aqua color that matched my plaid fabric. They had an anti-static lining fabric in a similar color but the price difference was night and day. I got 4 yards of the cotton (it is only 44” wide) for $12 after coupons were applied. The silky lining would have been about $40. I haven’t had an issue with the lining and outer shell of the dress sticking to each other or with static, but I did spray anti-static spray in between the layers and on the inside of the lining. Since I wear a petticoat everyday this is part of my standard procedure because even satin linings sometimes cling to my petticoat.
So, what size did I cut? The skirt of the dress is a size 16, because it is a circle skirt I don’t have to worry about my hip measurement (which is 49” in case you are curious). The bodice actually uses a couple different pattern sizes. My waist measures between 30.5” – 31.5” depending on the day so I cut a size 16 at the waist which fits a 32” waist. That way I have some room in case I decide to eat all the pasta while wearing this and I can always cinch it down a bit with a belt for a tighter fit. My bust is 44” at the fullest part and I usually grade a pattern up to a size 18 to accommodate, which was no different here. The one part I did have to drastically alter was the sleeve and armscye (armhole on the bodice where the sleeve meets). I have chubby arms (16” circumference) and my arm size fell into the size 22. There is a significant difference from a size 16 to a size 22. I cut the sleeve in a straight size 22 and on the bodice pieces graded the bodice sides up to a 22 right near the armscye. I also had to grade the top seam a bit to make sure the armscye would be big enough.
I added the cuff detail to the end of the sleeve and the ½” covered buttons. I measured the circumference of the sleeve end and then cut a piece of fabric that was 1½” longer than my circumference length by 3″ wide. I folded it in half lengthwise and then folded it in half width-wise. I stitched the two folded short ends together with a 5/8″ seam allowance. That way I would have my cuff then sewed it to the inside of the dress sleeve raw edge to raw edge. That way when I folded the cuff outside the seam allowance would be hidden between the cuff and sleeve. I finished the edges with pinking shears. Hopefully the drawings below helps illustrate this better.
Once I made the necessary changes to the bodice pieces (I use the trace and cut method) I cut out my fabric and started sewing. This took me about 7 hours total from start to finish over 2 days. I did everything up to inserting the zipper and hemming in one go on a Sunday. Then finished the zipper, hem, and button details the next day. My main reason for leaving the hem until the next day was to allow the fabric to stretch on the bias so I could make sure to hem it evenly.
The belt I am wearing was self-made. I used a 1 ¼” buckle I had on hand and some extra belting material. I cut the belting to 1 1/8” and then used leftover lining material to cover it. Which I did by cutting a 35” by 2 ¾” rectangle of fabric. I folded it in half lengthwise, sewed down the side and across one bottom of my folded fabric with a ½” seam allowance. I turned the “sleeve” right side out and stuffed my belting fabric inside. I chose to top stitch along the outside edge on the length of the belt to keep the fabric in place on the belting. My sewing machine came with an eyelet tool and I used that to punch the holes and then a grommet kit to finish holes.
After I finished sewing this I did have to make one final adjustment. Due to all the pattern grading I did for my arms, the back of the bodice was a bit big so I added a dart on each side of the back neckline. I did this by putting the dress on inside out and having my hubby pinch the excess fabric and pin it in place once the bodice felt fitted. I sewed each dart (outer shell and lining together) and then pressed them towards the center and slip stitched the dart down to the lining so it would sit flat and stay as close to hidden as possible. I am a pretty new sewing clothes (this month marks my 1 year anniversary) so there is probably a better way to have changed the pattern for my arms. But this is the way I did it and honestly, I pretty much winged it. I know how to adjust for your bust doing an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) but I have yet to see a really detailed tutorial for grading up a pattern for your arms. If anyone knows of one, let me know!
As for my outfit details, the hair flowers were made by me. I used some leftover silk flowers from my wedding and hot glued them to pin curl clips. The necklace and bracelet are also made by me. I got the beads as well as the wiring kit on clearance from Joann’s around Black Friday. The earrings are something I picked up from Charming Charlie a while ago and my shoes are the same ones from my previous post. They are DKNY and almost a decade old, but these ones are somewhat similar and would go great with the 50’s pinup look. I am wearing 2 petticoats to really poof up the skirt and both of them are my favorite for different reasons (I’ll have a post all about it soon). The bottom petticoat is the Malco Modes Zooey in cream. The second one is the canvas underskirt from Pinup Girl Clothing. And to top off my outfit I am wearing my royal blue Glamour Seam stockings from What Katie Did.
Overall, the dress isn’t an exact match for the Miss Candyfloss one I have been coveting but I am happy with my version of it. I wore this while playing Christmas Elf last Saturday delivering the 500+ pieces of fudge I made for family and friend’s. My hubby dubbed it my Cupcake Christmas dress. But I think aqua and fuchsia can be just as festive as red and green for Christmas! Plus, I can wear this year-round without looking out of season.
I would love to know your thoughts on this dress, does it seem reminiscent of the one I was trying for? Do you struggle with a particular body part not “fitting the mold” like I do with my arms? Tell about it in the comments down below.
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a lovely holiday. If you don’t, then I hope your day was still filled with lots of love and laughter. This will be my last post of the year and I am excited to see what 2018 has in store. Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
~ Sewcial Dee