Bookish Willow dress

So it turns out that due to a combination of being away in Beijing for 9 days, and then getting sick after getting back, I’m a bit behind on my blogging. Oops! I have great plans to catch up with it all though, so as an advance warning, I’m hoping to try and put up a post every day for the next couple of weeks until I’ve caught up. 🙂

To begin – my Sew Weekly challenge creation from a couple of weeks ago. I actually finished this on Friday just been, but haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet, so here it is!

The Bookish Willow Dress

Bookish Willow dress

The Facts

Fabric: Approx 2 metres of ‘Bugs in the Undergrowth’ quilting cotton, $6 from Spotlight
Pattern: A summer uniform tunic pattern, maker unknown, about $6 from TradeMe
Year: According to the person I bought it off, this may have been from Auckland Girls Grammer School in the 1940’s. There are no date markings at all, so I can’t really tell. Anyone got any ideas??
Notions: 60cm invisible zipper (~$4 on sale), D-ring belt buckle ~$3 from Spotlight
Time to Complete: 4 hours
First Worn: To yum cha with my lovely friends Nik and Christina!
Wear Again? Yes! I like this dress a lot. 🙂

Total Cost: Around $18.

My inspiration for this dress was from the TV Series . I’ve always loved Willow – such an awesome character! She’s a bit geeky, a bit quirky, a bit girl-next-door, always smiling, and has the cutest weird little geeky outfits! What’s not to love?

I’ve always been particularly fond of her outfits in the first few series, when she’s still a bit of a geek. I choose the dress she was wearing in this image as my inspiration for the week’s challenge – a bit geeky, a bit schoolgirlish, but also rather cute (in my opinion!).


And what better way to translate this than to use an old school uniform tunic pattern?!

In a nod to the stronger side of Willow that develops later in the series (when she becomes a powerful witch), I used this awesome ‘Bugs in the Undergrowth’ quilting cotton I managed to get at Spotlight at a super-awesome sale a while back. It’s got native New Zealand bugs all over it – creepy and cute all at once! Snails, weta, geckos. Brilliant, I say. Here’s a close-up so you can see them a bit better:

Bugs in the Undergrowth fabric

I love the tunic pattern I used for this as well. I was a bit nervous about using it at first, as the instructions are utterly terrible, and there was no mention anywhere at all as to what the seam allowance was! I took a punt and assumed it would be the standard 1.5cm allowance. Which thankfully turned out to be correct! The pattern itself was surprising large – I graded it up one size to my size, and then had to take it in by slightly more than one size. Guess they didn’t want high school girls to wear fitted dresses back then. *shrug* I’ll happily make this pattern again, only with a couple of changes:

  • Add 1.5 cm onto the shoulders as it’s a little bit too short in the shoulder for me and rubs slightly under the arms as a result (I let it out as much as I could, but it could have done with another centimetre).
  • Don’t adjust it for my size. I’ll just make the 32 inch bust pattern next time, as I had to adjust it down to about that anyway.

Anyone got any ideas about when this pattern was from? Here’s the cover for it:

Vintage summer uniform pattern

And here’s the fun pattern instructions I got to work with. (Admittedly I looked at them for a while, turned them around a few times to see if they made more sense upside down, then ignored them.) This single page includes the instructions for both the tunic and the blouse. Nowhere does it mention seam allowance. The numbers don’t relate to the diagrams at all, really. And the ‘see page 2’ part is simply a small and not particularly helpful cutting guide. I feel very sorry for any mothers who had to make this up for their daughters who weren’t reasonably confident seamstresses! :-/

Pattern instructions

Despite being a bit late with this weekly challenge (guess that’s what going away on holiday does to your timeframes!), I’m pretty happy with it. I love it that the dress has pockets, and I think it’ll be great in winter with a long-sleeved top underneath, and in summer as well. Yay for versatile dresses! And I’ll think of Willow and the awesomeness that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer whenever I wear it. 🙂

Steve took these photos on our way back from having yum cha brunch with our lovely friends Nik and Christina. They’re taken outside the Wellington Hospital, which oddly enough has palm trees planted outside it. Because Wellington is, of course, tropical. Not. They make for an unusual scene in Wellington city, having a row of these things planted outside the new hospital, that’s for sure! It was a typical windy Wellington day (sorry Meg – Chicago has got nothing on Wellington when it comes to wind!), hence the squint into the headwind, haha.

11 responses to “Bookish Willow dress

  1. I really love this dress! The fabric is awesome and I love the take on an old school uniform! I’m so tempted to make some school uniform inspired outfits now!

  2. Pingback: Me Made June days 2, 3 and 4 | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  3. Pingback: ‘Nature’ wardrobe challenge | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  4. Pingback: Scrap Bustin’ Tuesday – Blossom Bunny | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  5. Pingback: Self-Stitched September days 16-20 | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  6. Pingback: Dressember 2011 | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  7. Pingback: Looking forward, looking back (a.k.a. 2011 and 2012) | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  8. Pingback: Bugs and a bird | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  9. Pingback: The “Bookworm” Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  10. Pingback: Using up scraps | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  11. Pingback: I made a quilt top?!? | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s