For those unfamiliar with an Antipodean Christmas, let me start by telling you it’s rather the opposite of the cosy, fireside White Christmases enshrined by greeting cards and carols; the festive season in Australia is celebrated in blazing sunshine and 30+ degree celsius heat, with kids playing cricket in the back yard, and the adults sitting around on deck chairs in the shade sipping chilled white wine, preferably on the beach or poolside. I have experienced some wintery Christmases in my time, and while they are beautiful and magical and cosy, I wouldn’t give up my summery Aussie Christmas for anything! For one, it means that it’s pretty much always guaranteed to be warm enough to be able to sew vintage-inspired sundresses and have it be warm enough to wear them…
This festive make was very much a last-minute impulse on my part – I really had no idea of making anything to wear on Christmas at all until about four days before! But once the idea had occurred to me, I was absolutely determined to do it 😛 Fortunately, not only did I have the perfect pattern and fabric to hand, I had also managed to complete my Christmas sewing on time – there was nothing standing in my way. So on the 21st I cut into this gorgeous vintage fabric I bought on Facebook a few months ago – tiny bunches of orange and golden-brown flowers printed on to white cotton eyelet. I’m not sure exactly how old it is, but it’s quite a narrow width, about 80 cm I think, which I believe puts it about midcentury – but if you know better than me, please do share! In any case, it was the perfect fabric for this dress: summery and Christmassy but not too Christmassy – I still wanted to be able to wear it outside the festive season haha. Given that it was a fairly fine fabric and it’s covered in rows of eyelets, I decided to underline the whole thing (except the ruffles) in white cotton lawn.
The pattern I used was Butterick 4685 – a pattern for an off-shoulder top. I chose view C, and shortened it to the waistline marking + seam allowance, planning to add a gathered skirt. There was a fair bit of hacking involved with this – besides shortening the length of the top, I also decided I didn’t wan the sleeves under the ruffle, so I left these off. To compensate for this and to give a slightly more flattering fit, I added elastic in to the underarm seam allowances. The skirt is a simple dirndl-style, 2 x my waist measurement and gathered down to fit the bodice waistline, and the bottom ruffle simply 2 x the hem line of the skirt, gathered to fit.
I assembled pretty much the whole thing on my overlocker – given the loose fit and elasticised waist and neckline, I wasn’t too worried about the fit being irrevocably off. The hems on the ruffles were done with the rolled hem finish too! I think despite a fair bit of unpicking being involved (I experimented with one or two very unsuccessful methods of attaching the elastic at the neckline), I still had this dress done in only a few hours – it was completed the morning of the 24th, a few hours before I wore it to Christmas Eve at my auntie’s!
I really love how it turned out – I think it looks a bit more 1940s-esque than my usual 50s aesthetic, and it’s slightly more streamlined and less fabric hungry style has actually meant it’s gotten a bit more wear than my 50s skirts and dresses this summer! But it still has a very classic, vintage-y look; I think it was my sister who described it as a Sound of Music dress, and given the clothes in that movie are love and life (excepting Julie Andrew’s clothes at the start), as is the movie itself, that’s a compliment I’m more than happy to accept! 😛
Hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and break, no matter what the weather where you live 🙂 I’m definitely already looking to my next summer holidays and break, and my next round of me-made pressies (still to be posted!) – who else did a me-made Christmas this year?
Until next time,
Miss Maddy xx