Red Sheath Dress

Pattern: Butterick 2952
Year: early 60s (my first time sewing a vintage pattern!)
Fabric: 1.5 m Red Cotton-Lycra
Notions: metal zipper, for belt: petersham ribbon, eyelets, vintage belt buckle
Time: ca. 10 hours
Cost: about 15 swiss francs (around $18)

Crossed another Item off my Mad Girls List!

I started tracing the pattern on friday evening, cut out the fabric on saturday evening (and sewed some of the darts), and basically finished on monday (was too tired to finish hand sewing the zipper). It was an easy project, but I’m still a little surprised at how fast (for my standards) I was!

I didn’t make a muslin, and I only made 4 small alterations:

  • at the tracing stage: took 1 inch off the waist (an adjustment I always have to do)
  • after sewing the facing: lowered the neckline slightly (as my mom always stresses: “show off your collarbones!”)
  • after sewing the skirt: took about 1.5 cm off each side of the skirt, and the bottom of the bodice (so the skirt would fit), but not all the way through the bodice, because I had already sewn on the facings…
  • shortened the skirt to above the knee instead of below the knee




I also made the self-fabric belt! Followed the instructions (grosgrain petersham ribbon!) and used one of the belt buckles I got in Paris. I really like the tortoiseshell belt buckle, but as this was my first try at making a belt I made a few mistakes: didn’t know how to make holes for the eyelets without damaging the belt, ended up using an awl and screwdrivers… and I sewed the belt to the wrong part of the buckle! haha, I’ll just try again.

The fit isn’t perfect, but I like it, it’s a comfortable dress that isn’t too revealing, fancy or full of details. Good for accessorizing :) The fabric is a little annoying because it’s hard to iron. It turns darker when it gets hot, and that kind of freaks me out. What I like about it though: it isn’t see through, so I didn’t have to make a lining! I bought red lining fabric anyway, so I might make a slip from that… or use it on my next red dress :)

The seams aren’t properly finished on the inside, because I’m going to get that brother serger in the states and finish the seams after my trip. I know the quality isn’t great, but from reviews on amazon and comments on my last post (thank you!), it’s good for the simple things. I do plan on investing in a better one in the future (great motivation to get a job when I start studying!).

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20 thoughts on “Red Sheath Dress

  1. I just wandered over here from Casey’s Elegant Musings, and I had to tell you that this dress (and you!) is (are!) absolutely gorgeous. I love the simple styling you chose– the pocketbook and matching shoes and belt and pearls all add, rather than detract, from the big picture. :) Now I’m longing to make a simple sheath dress in a striking color, too!

    • Thank you so much :) I too feel like making one in every color at the moment! Just a nice “basic” without being boring :)

  2. Darling! So simple, yet so chic. And of course, you look beautiful in it. I just watched a foreign film over the weekend – Coco before Chanel – with Audrey Tautou and have to admit that this whole look reminds of the fashion in that movie. Just gorgeous, but not over the top or hard to wear. Really beautiful job! You look fabulous in red! xoxo, Sunni

    • Thank you :) I haven’t seen that movie but it’s been on my “to-watch” list forever. Need to get on that :) But I do love Audrey Tautou!

  3. I have joined your blog just recently and love seeing your creations. You are a stunner and the red dress is like icing on the cake. Very simple and very chic. Amazing!!!

  4. Who could think a simple red dress could be so fabulous!!! I think your idea of one in every color is a good one. The belt makes the whole look even better. Your styling is right on too.

  5. I just read that you may want to make a set of self drafted patterns for this style. Simplicity made a line of basic patterns in the 60′s that were slopers you could alter to custom fit yourself. There was one similiar to your red sheath. They were called “basics”. Others had full skirts, there were a-lines and princess line dresses too.

    • Thank you :) And yes I’m planning on drafting a few patterns, basically because I’m thinking of selling on etsy, so I’m not sure if I could use vintage patterns for that (copyright and all), but thanks for the tipp, it might come in handy someday :)

  6. This has got to be the most stunning outfit I’ve seen in months! And your shoes, oh my God, where did you get your shoes?! I found your blog and sew retro and can’t wait to see what you do next!

    • Thank you! :) I found them in Paris in a small shop, they were pretty cheap so they’re probably not great quality, I’ll just have to take care of them :)

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