Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No Ordinary Dress…Frances Dress from Green Bee Patterns

"Where's my dust rag, Ethyl?"
Every woman has her own version of "You're never going to see me wearing that again!" clothing. As styles come and go, what we wore years ago that we thought was so chic may now seem hopelessly frumpy. Some of us are just not the vintage type, and others like our very own MJ, totally embrace both vintage and historical clothing design.

Since we've been moving toward adding dresses this Funky Fall to our garment planning, we found this Frances Dress from Green Bee Patterns. Some of us (Laurel!) were uncomfortably reminded of a vintage "house dress".

Note: a house dress was a type of simple dress worn informally in the mornings at home for household chores or for quick errands. The term first originated in the late nineteenth century to describe at-home garments designed for maximum practicality and usually made from washable fabrics. 

Perhaps the photo of the Green Bee's Frances Dress (the name even conjures up a "busy bee") reminded some of us of something our mother or grandmother may have worn, with it's classic chambray trimmed with red print example.  But I love our independent pattern designers and I was undaunted - I saw something about this little dress that was going to work for me, especially for work days here at the store.


We chose a soft brown cross-dyed cotton for the main body of the dress and a tribal inspired cotton print for the trim.

I love choosing cottons for a dress - they are lightweight, easy to care for and wearable even in the fall, paired with a light sweater if necessary.  But the best part of cotton fabric is that it's SO EASY to sew. As we started putting the dress together, it became clearer to my own little skeptic seamstress (Laurel, frowning: "Looks like a house dress, Zan...") that it was going to be adorable.

As a sewist you are always going to be confronted with buttonholes - not every dress or shirt is going to have a zipper. The only way to conquer buttonholes like the 8 (count 'em!) on this Frances dress is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE using your machine's buttonhole setting. Use the fabric that your actual garment is made from in order to get a true picture of your finished buttonhole. Make sure that your practice buttonholes are long enough for your buttons to go through first. TEST IT!

Most button-up pattern designs come with a paper buttonhole guide.  You can use the guide provided or mark your own...as long as you space them evenly, it doesn't matter. With this dress, Laurel started her first buttonhole at the bottom of the dress front placket - the goal was to make sure that the buttons at the fullest part of the bust didn't cause an unflattering/revealing gap.

She made the first buttonhole and then marked and sewed each successive buttonhole as she moved upward on the dress, spacing them evenly. Sewing on the buttons is done in the same manner, from bottom to top.

This is definitely NOT a house dress!!

Let's make another one, Laurel!

Creatively Yours,


  1. okay, but let's see you make one out of one of those old-fashioned floral prints like Ethel is wearing!

  2. well maybe I will! thanks for reading my blog and glad you see the humor!

  3. But those floral prints were often reused flour sacks. . . .

  4. Doesn't she look like school teacher? Sweet!!!!!

  5. I'd rather see more of us in house dresses running errands than in PJ pants!