comments: 160


PATTERN: From Girls Style Book (Japanese), ISBN #978-4-579-11181-7
VIEW: G (modified to add pockets from View E)
SIZE: 100cm (about a US size 3-4)
FABRIC: Cotton lawn from Goodwill, with vintage bias trim

A couple of weeks ago on a rainy afternoon, Andy and I were at the Goodwill bins (the bins are like the Goodwill outlet store) together. We go to Goodwill together a lot. Usually it's incredibly relaxing to paw through the aisles at Goodwill. Occasionally it's extremely exciting. Such was the case on this particular afternoon, when every time we turned around we spotted something good. I found five or six different two-yard lengths of various vintage fabrics, including this delicious tomato-soup red cotton lawn (at least, I think it's 100% cotton — there might be a bit of polyester in there, because it doesn't wrinkle very much). The fabric pieces were spread willy-nilly throughout the bins. I felt pretty excited about it all, because at the bins you pay by the pound, something like $1.49 for the first ten pounds or something. All that fabric was very lightweight — I doubted it even weighed a pound. I was ready to call it a day.

Then, suddenly: the unmistable cover of a vintage copy of the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, lying on top of the ragged heap of books in the book bin. To know me is to know that I never move quickly. But I'll move for a first edition. This time: Picture a manatee that's been stung by a bee: I zoomed toward it as if propelled, feet hardly touching the ground, and snatched it quickly from the bin. People continued to throw books every which way. (The bins are not for the thrifting faint-of-heart. Seeing all of those practically destroyed books is painful.)


I danced a jig over to Andy (who was holding, as usual, a ginormous electronic keyboard). "Loooooook! Tenth printing, August 1965!" The spine and back cover were damaged, but the pages were just fine (though speckled with forty-five-year-old splashes of red wine). "Psych!" said he. And then he proceeded to find me five other 1970s embroidery books and pamphlets that I'd never seen before. All in all, a very good day at Goodwill.

Whenever I get fabric at Goodwill, I always wash it on hot and dry it immediately, and then frequently I do it again, just in case. When the fabrics were done and folded, I saw that the tomato-soup red one was exactly the same color as that delicious tomato red of the title box and fleurs-de-lis on the cover of MTAOFC. I LOVE that red. It's the red of geraniums in the windowbox of a French kitchen window. It's the red of the perfect shade of lipstick you can never, ever find (because you're not French). It's the red of Julia's bouillabaisse, speckled with thyme (p. 52). Oh, did I have a dress in mind!


I've had the Japanese craft book that included this pattern for a couple of years now. It's one of my favorites to look at; the styling is lovely. Like the Goodwill bins, sewing from Japanese craft books is not for the faint-of-heart (as there is rarely any English in the book), but the effort can be so worth it. If you are comfortable with the basic steps of dressmaking, you will probably be fine (?). With all of these little clothes I am making (even the ones made from American commerical patterns), I trace all of the pattern pieces for a particular size onto Swedish tracing paper first (so that I never cut up the original pattern, and can use it again when I want to make a different size). With Japanese craft-book patterns, the pattern pieces for several different dresses (and sizes) are printed on top of each other, and you need to look very carefully at what you are tracing, as it can at first appear quite a tangle. You also need to remember to add seam allowances to the pattern pieces, because they are not inclued. (Also, as you can see by the sizing, all measurements are in metric.) This dress was extremely simple — only three separate pieces, and a straightforward construction. I added the pockets from another little top in the book. I love little patch pockets like that, especially on something so A-lined and flat.


I've had this vintage bias trim in my stash for many years. I've been saving it for just the right thing. It was in its original packaging and originally cost 60 cents! Love that. It's also 100% cotton. I was thinking about how it will wash, or whether it will shrink a lot when washed, since I didn't pre-wash it. We'll see. I attached it at the neckline entirely by machine, stitching it first to the wrong side of the dress, and then folding it over and top-stitching it on the front. I should've left the red-threaded bobbin in place when I did that. I cut the back piece on the fold and left out the zipper, instead making a 6" slit from the neckline down and finishing it with a continuous placket. I don't like zippers, and I never have any on hand, anyway. Then I made a button loop with embroidery floss, and stitched on a little button. Et voila! Bon appetit!


It's such a beautiful dress! I just love it.

I've never heard of Swedish tracing paper but I do something similar so I don't have to cut into the original pattern. I use the same paper that doctor's offices use to cover the examining tables. The paper is pliable but also strong. It also doesn't roll up on itself when you cut a piece off of the roll.You can buy a large roll of it for less than $5. I don't remember where I read about using this for pattern tracing but it works very well.

I'm a pawer of fabric and clothes at Goodwill, too! I was recently given a copy of MTAOFC -- by my husband for our 19th anniversary... which is almost as good as finding it on top of a pile in at Goodwill.

quilterlee says: March 08, 2010 at 08:51 AM

J'adore la petite robe

This has to be the cutest bias ever - well, I've seen some pretty ones around in the Liberty shop, but yours is just the cutest of the moment!!

eek. cutest ever! i want one, please. my size...

ps i love the bins, too...found one of miss m's cutest dresses there (already made, of course :)

Where do you get your swedish tracing paper? that sounds so much better than using wax paper, such as I have been doing.

THAT is the sweetest dress I have ever seen. Just fabulous.

Oh you lucky girl, I wish I would find a copy while thrifting ... but I live in Germany, so for sure I won´t find it here. I loved the movie (Julie & Julia), you too? Since I saw it, I use so much more butter. :)
Did you cooked anything of the book yet? Boeuf Bourguignon? Or that Chocolate Cake?

A few days ago I read the happy news in your house! WOW I´m thrilled and so happy for you. God bless you all! My little girl is two and a bit - I can tell you, there will be nearly no time at all for sewing ... BUT it get´s better. :) And when that little person slings her arm around you, and you have her warm breath in your face and that sweet voice whispers "I love you" - oh your heart is so melting away and you remember that you can so much sew, when she is all grown up, has cool friends and mama is so out. :)
Sory for that huge comment. LOVE it here, you know. Your shiny personalety makes the world brighter. Even through the internet.

And these blueberry muffins - would you mind to share the receipe?

You two are going to have the most adorably dressed little girl in existence. I love love love all the clothes you've made for her, particularly this one!

melissa says: May 27, 2010 at 07:25 AM

Oh my goodness. This is lovely- I adore the combination and how it matches the book! Your talent is just ridiculous. It's inspiring me to rev up my machine right now & (try to) sew for my little girl.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.