Sewing the perfect dress: Floral print vintage cotton shift

I made a dress. And it is perfect.

It's not perfectly sewn. In fact, I made plenty of mistakes along the way. It's a bit too short, it pulls at one shoulder, I didn't finish the seams, you can see my hem stitches from a mile away and there is a hole in the front seam.

But it is still perfect.

It is perfect because I made it, myself. It is perfect because I didn't ruin this beautiful fabric or break my mother-in-law's sewing machine (although I came awfully close). It is perfect because I can actually wear it. It is perfect because I actually like it.

It is perfect because this morning I walked into the post office and the postmistress said, "What a nice dress!" and I said, "Thank you, I made it myself!" And I was beaming, after that, for about an hour.

It was perfect to put this dress on today, this everything-blooming-at-once, humid, breathless spring day, with white shoes and pink lipstick, and walk out the door, free and easy as you please.

I wore this gold necklace, which belonged to my grandmother, because I have been thinking of her a lot as I worked on this dress. I have been thinking of her, too, as I unpack more of the little girl clothes that my mother saved for so many years in her attic, waiting to see if there would be a granddaughter to pass them along to (my sister has two sons).

And I think about her when I look at home-sewn clothes from the 1960s and 70s and wonder: What kind of woman sewed this dress? Who was she? Was she happy? And I think about all the things I have sewed in to this dress: songs, worries, spring afternoons, the chatter of my daughter in the background as the sewing machine whizzed along. And I feel like I will always see those things when I look at this dress — this dress that is perfect to me.

Fabric: Rummage sale ($0.25)
Pattern: Salvation Army ($0.25)
Notions: +/- $3


  1. Gorgeous! And is that piping along the neckline? Well done.

    1. Yes, piping! I was basically done with the dress and then decided, "This clearly needs piping on the neckline." Because why stop when you're ahead.

  2. I love this post, and that dress! It IS perfect, for all of the reasons you stated, and honestly I bet nobody will notice the errors except you! That fabric is so, so beautiful. You inspire me to sew more!

    1. Thanks!! I am on SUCH a sewing kick lately, it is really satisfying to me right now. Although now I am turning into a total fabric/vintage pattern hoarder ... I may have to do a giveaway later this month.

  3. I absolutely love how you're glowing in your beautiful, homemade dress! I've always wanted to make my own dresses and skirts, but I've had the hardest time finding fabric at a decent price.. not even in thrift stores :(! Do you know anywhere to get fabric at a good price?

    1. I always look at thrift stores and rummage sales - that is where I get literally all my fabric. It is tough, but I have gotten lucky lately! Look at linens, too - I am working on a post now about a dress I made out of a lace tablecloth! And I have big plans for an old bedsheet, too :)


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