I Am Sewing A Vintage Dress From Scratch! Part 1


Well it’s happened. After 15 years of not sewing a single garment, I am finally getting back in the game and sewing an entire dress from scratch! It all started when I was asked by Marigold at Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! to participate in her yearly “Summer Of No Pants” series. We met at the Alt. Summit back in January and I was thrilled when she asked if I would like to review a dress making course on Craftsy, specifically the Retro Bombshell frock. I took one look at the finished dress (seen below) and said “yes”. I had no sewing machine and hadn’t sewn in over a decade, but little details like that weren’t going to stop me. So off I went to get a new machine (OMG! Did you know they are now computerized!) and started watching the video tutorials on Craftsy.

retro bombshell dress 6

I immediately knew I was in over my head. Or so I thought. The dress has boning! Lining! Cups! I was kicking myself for not starting with something simple like a skirt or an apron. But after watching the first few video tutorials, I relaxed because the teacher is just that good! Now I happen to have a college degree in sewing. Seriously! Ok, well technically the degree is in costume design, but while I was at Boston University I made a three piece suit. I could handle a few bones. But it really is the fantastic videos and the sewing community on Craftsy that eased my mind and I got down to business.

retro bombshell dress 5

First of all I have never printed out a pattern before. The tutorial was easy to understand and I actually enjoyed putting it together. It was pretty much a simple puzzle and no more difficult than legos or Ikea furniture to figure out. I couldn’t find my regular tape anywhere, so I ended up using washi tape to keep the pages stuck together.

retro bombshell dress 4

Next I had to make a muslin of the bodice. The finished dress is very fitted so every piece has to be fitted exactly for it to look right. Plus the bodice leaves very little to the imagination and I am fairly modest so I didn’t want my girls to be hanging out. No Janet Jackson-like wardrobe malfunctions for me, thank you very much.

retro bombshell dress 3

After making the muslin I realized my girls were bigger than the pattern so I had to follow the marvelous directions on the video tutorial to drape the bust and then change the paper pattern. I found this to be the most exciting and challenging parts. It really helped to have a dress form, even if it was one I bought from Urban Outfitters. I strapped Edith into one of my bras and then reshaped the muslin patterns to fit my body exactly. To make sure I made the correct changes I sewed a second bodice (well, just the area that covers the boobs) and everything came out exactly the way I wanted it to!

retro bombshell dress 7

That is as far as I have gotten because I decided to order real vintage fabric via Etsy and it hasn’t arrived. You can see the two fabrics I purchased above. Which one do you think I should use, red or turquoise?  Part 2 will be up on the 18th of June and will cover the rest of the dress making adventure and hopefully I will be modeling my new retro bombshell dress! And now I have fabulous news! Craftsy is giving my readers and the readers of Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! a chance to win your very own Retro Bombshell Dress Class as well! All you have to do is enter the contest HERE and a winner will be picked on June 26th. I do recommend this course if you have both sewing and a bit of patterning experience. If you have never sewn anything before then this class is not for you. But if you have sewn a few garments and are looking to take your skills to the next level, then this is the class for you. 


  1. says

    I can not wait to see you in this dress!
    so brave to try this.
    cant not decide which fabric – just make two dresses – one with a wider skirt :-)

  2. Anna Vollmer says

    I think you should go with the turquoise. So many vintage style wiggle dresses like this are done in red. But I also agree with the commenter above, now that you’ve fitted the bodice the way you like you can always make 2 dresses, one of each color, and do subtle differences…add a ruffle along the bust, or add a halter style strap etc.
    Your diving into sewing is making me want to sew some more!I can’t wait to get back to sewing once my little one is here (only 4-5 more weeks, then a bit of postpartum recovery time!)

    • BethanyThe Glamourous Housewife says

      Congratulations on your impending new bundle of joy! I think sewing is a perfect thing to do while the baby is napping.

  3. says

    Wow, my hat is off to you- I’ve only made simple shift dresses for myself and this looks really challenging (in a good way!). Can’t wait to see the final dress.

  4. Andrea @ Mouse in My Pocket says

    I’m so glad you’re giving this class a try. I did this class a few months ago and love my finished projects – I started by just making the top and then I made a dress version.

  5. says

    First – I looooove your header images. The vintage pictures with graphic overlays are just gorgeous.

    Second – I cannot believe I’ve never heard of Craftsy! My Mom gifted me with a sewing machine for Christmas, and I just set it up a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been using it every few days since, and I think a few patterns from Craftsy just jumped to the top of my queue.

    • BethanyThe Glamourous Housewife says

      I had never heard of it either! But I am really enjoying my class. I would love to hear if you end up doing any of the classes.

  6. Kristin says

    I like the turquoise one too, very tropical feeling to me.

    I have wanted to take that class myself, hope I win :)

    Did you get a computerized machine? My mom bought me a New Home/Janome computerized machine last summer. It’s older, but it works great! It’s a Memory Craft.

  7. says

    That is brave and I’m looking forward to hearing how it turns out! It sounds like a great start so far though. I can sew straight lines for pillows and curtains, and that’s about it. I attempted a full apron a couple years ago and just about pulled all my hair out just doing that. :) I’m already impressed with what you’ve done!

  8. says

    How awesomely exciting! Love both of those cheerful fabrics – it’s a hard call, but I feel a touch more pulled towards aqua one – that colour is so you (and your blog!).

    Have a blast sewing!
    ♥ Jessica

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