I’m so happy to share this dress with you! It’s a dress that I not only love immensely, but one that means an awful lot to me as the fabric is not only vintage, but it is a treasure that I recently unearthed. A couple of months ago, I started going through some old trunks and footlockers of my grandparents that are stored out in our barn. In one, I found a treasure trove of mid-century fabrics, that were old curtains. Stored in the box was not only this Robin Hood fabric, but also yards and yards of a beautiful white and purple floral print and a gorgeous set of lace curtains with a butterfly and floral motif.
All of the curtains were made by my grandma and I assumed that the fabrics were from the 1960’s, as the footlocker was stamped “Spain” and as my grandpa was stationed in Madrid in the early 60’s, I thought that the fabrics also dated to that time. After showing the curtains to my mom, she remembered this Robin Hood print as curtains hung in their basement bar when they lived in New Jersey, which was in the mid-50’s, making it easy to date the fabrics.
The Robin Hood print is a cotton canvas made by Saison Happily Married Fabrics. This fabric was stored at the bottom of the footlocker, and after a soak and a wash, it was just like new. What a cool novelty print!
I unpicked hems and seams and went about figuring out which pattern to use for this fabric. I wanted to use a vintage 1950’s pattern with this fabric, and after much deliberation as I looked through my pattern stash, I chose vintage Simplicity 4667 from 1954, which I knew would work after many careful alterations as I had used it before to make my Rose Print Dress. And like Scarlett, I would soon have a dress made from curtains!
I chose view 1 for this version, with it’s sweetheart neckline bound with bias tape. I had to skip the gored skirt as I didn’t have enough fabric to make it. I also didn’t have enough fabric to cut out the full bodice, so I shortened it and cut a waistband so that I could achieve the full length of the bodice.
As this fabric was previously curtains, it was cut into panels and valances, and it was very tricksy working with it, especially with the directional print. I would have liked a fuller skirt, but I was working with limited yardage and rare fabric that I couldn’t replace, so I made do. I have on a slightly fuller petticoat with this dress than I generally wear, but I may make or buy a fuller and more cupcake-y one and see how it looks.
I used as many vintage notions that I could for this dress and went crazy adding bits of green all over it. I followed the directions to add bias tape (not vintage) to the neckline and sleeves. I used a vintage metal zipper, which I moved from the side (as instructed by the pattern) to the back and I added a hem band with rick rack and flat piping.
I made a belt to go over the waistband and used this matching vintage green buckle. Initially, I used a darker green buckle and wore this dress the first time like that as I couldn’t find a green buckle in the right shade at the time. I found the green buckle below at the Costume College marketplace and swapped the buckles before wearing this dress again.
The new buckle is slightly larger than the buckle that this belt was made for, but I think the belt blends enough with the busy fabric of the dress, that it’s not too noticeable.
I added the front pockets from the pattern, which I really love. They are large and easily accommodate anything you want to put in them. I seriously want to add them to every casual dress from now on.
In addition to the bodice alterations that I already mentioned, I enlarged the sleeves, did a swayback adjustment, and altered the bust darts.
I cut those enormous pockets with the scalloped edge, but it’s difficult to see with the busy print. I also added some more vintage rick rack.
I love how this dress turned out! It’s comfortable to wear and is not too hot, even though it’s made out of a mid-weight canvas. The print and the colors just make so happy when I look at it.
I had to buy some new rick rack for the hem as I didn’t have enough of the vintage green on the pockets for the hem. The hem band is a piece of fabric folded in half lengthwise and sewn to the skirt. Did I really need to do that? No. When I first cut the skirt out, it was too long. And then when I cut some fabric off, it was too short. Therefore, I fixed it by adding a hem band and sewed the flat piping between them as well as sewing on the rick rack.
My first outing with this dress was to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which I had been dying to visit. I then wore this dress later on that evening to Medieval Times, in which it was very appropriate, but oddly, no one noticed the medieval print on my dress!
- Dress: Vintage Simplicity 4667 (1954) in vintage 1950’s Saison Happily Married canvas fabric, made by me
- Shoes: ReMix Vintage Penny
- Earrings: Vintage mid-century
- Lipstick: Besame 1931 Carmine