Red Gingham Wiggle Dress

Flashback Summer: Red Gingham Wiggle Dress vintage 1960s

Although you guys know I tend toward 1930s and 40s styles, there are some items from other decades that I just really love, like 1950s suits and--today's feature--50s/60s spaghetti strap wiggle dresses!

Flashback Summer: Red Gingham Wiggle Dress vintage 1960s

I'll be honest with you guys, this dress is an example of sewing therapy.  Since starting to lift weights to get ready for my upcoming Air Force training, my measurements have changed and a lot of my clothing is too small, particularly around my bottom half.  

It shouldn't have, but it bothered me.  On one hand, I'm proud to get stronger and I'm excited to see that my body can do more that will help me in the military.  On the other hand, I still have clothes from early high school because I haven't grown or changed enough to outgrow them until now.  Vintage pieces are no longer fitting me as well; my proportions are harder to find.  It is a mental shift in having to alter patterns in a new way as I sew.  I didn't realize how much pride I had in particular measurement numbers until they started to change.

Flashback Summer: Red Gingham Wiggle Dress vintage 1960s

However, I know that is dumb.  Particularly because my proportions are changing because I'm exercising more and getting healthier and stronger, this isn't anything I should be distressed about.  In fact, quite the opposite!  I should be proud!

Flashback Summer: Red Gingham Wiggle Dress vintage 1960s

So, I decided to make a garment that will fit my new proportions well and not hide them.  Cue the classic wiggle dress!  I had a junior petite pattern that, surprisingly, fit almost perfectly out of the envelope; just the bodice needed a few tweaks to keep the wide neckline from gaping, and I added some length to the hem. (More details at the bottom)

Flashback Summer: Red Gingham Wiggle Dress vintage 1960s

It makes me feel a lot better to have a dress I know I look good in hanging in the closet.  I have to remind myself that if clothes don't fit, my body isn't the problem.  The clothes are. {tweet this} So, as a sewist, my solution is.... make new clothes!  And, in this case, make them so you have something new to wear to your husband's school's Christmas banquet!

Flashback Summer: body positivity

TLDR sewing details

Fabric: (not exactly sure on fiber content) polyester-cotton blend gingham with a muslin underlining
Pattern: vintage 
Year: 1960s
Notions: side zipper
How historically accurate is it?  I'm going more for fun than accuracy, but it does look vintage! Just the polyester fibers might not be quite right
Any tricky parts to the pattern?  Fit is important. I actually treated this as a wearable muslin for an upcoming project, so there are some unplanned-for darts at the front and back of the neckline to keep it from gaping.  The next version won't have those!  
Did you change anything?  I added a bit to the length to make it below-the-knee.
Time to complete: two days
First worn: December 2, 2017
Total cost: Everything was from my stash, and both the pattern and fabric/zipper were given to me, so only a cost of time and effort!
Notes: This is such a classic silhouette, and I'll be making another more Christmasy version soon! I'll just have to adjust the neckline.

Outfit details

sweater: F21
shoes: vintage, from an estate sale
jewelry: gifted
belt: thrifted


  1. Such a lovely dress! Thank you for the reminder regarding sizing issues; I have a small frame which makes shopping difficult. Learning to sew has made getting dressed much easier, though! :)

  2. Beautiful dress! I always associate gingham with summer but this looks really festive. I'm sorry to hear about your fit issues now that you're developing bigger muscles - I empathise completely (why are arm holes so tiny?!) x

  3. I hear you about proportions changing. When I started lifting weights my shoulders, back, arms and ribcage changed so much - AWAY from the narrowness of vintage styles. I am still a 'pear' shape but my top half has evened out a bit. All my wiggle skirts dont fit anymore...definitely time to make new ones!!

    I LOVE this dress by the way! I want to make one just like it! But in a different coloured gingham. What is it with vintage patterns especially from the 50s and 60s that gape SO much! As I said before, I am not as narrow there anymore but necklines still gape. Its a standard pattern alteration for me to fix that. Maybe it has something to do with wide, straight necklines and the straps set far apart. I noticed that it really makes a huge difference where the straps are placed.

    1. Yay, you understand! I've outgrown my *favorite* leather jacket cuz of my shoulders and back widening out a little. So sad, but still a victory!
      And I've found necklines to be SO gape-y and wide in this era of patterns too. I ALWAYS have to adjust them! Straps do make a huge difference in how these dresses look.