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!


Gorgeous dress!

Your dress is adorable. I am a big Julia Child's fan - what a score for the cookbook! I'm curious...I just learned that the early versions had instructions on cooking baguettes on asbestos tiles (before it was discovered that they were dangerous). Is that in your copy?

Wonderful dress.
If you want to know if fabric is 100% cotton, cut a small swatch, stick it on the end of a straight pin and light it with a match. If an ash remains it is 100% cotton and if a hard little knot remains it is not 100%.

This dress is too adorable! Tomato soup is my favourite, especially with alphabet noodles. Yum.

Oh, that's a cute dress! But I'm mostly JEALOUS of your find of a vintage Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have been on the lookout for one several years now since I first read Julie & Julia. It's hard to find one in a used bookstore, and Ebay is overpriced, and I'm just not much of a garage-saler. So good for you. I would love to have one!

Such a lovely red dress!! And I love that you had the special trim saved. Very special, indeed.

Do you know what I like about you Alicia, more than anything else? You always stay true to who you are. You don't have to sew with the latest and greatest designer fabrics. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not attainable for all of us. You stick with your sweet calicoes and ginghams and at times, dusty old patterns and make beautiful clothes and quilts. Thank you for reminding us, that crafting and sewing doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. And, that sometimes, the old-fashioned way is the best.

Oh Beautiful!

That little red dress is perfect!!! Oh, isn't it so fun getting ready for your little girl!? When we were in the "wait" for our Russian little girl, I had the best time decorating her room and being an artist, I painted her things instead of sewing ( my sweet mom helped in the sewing arena!)... I painted a little girl on the inside of her armoire... it's like the "secret painting".. and I painted a big bright whimsy version of St. Basils in Moscow. There is something extremely special about the wait time. It's the nesting of excitement without the morning sickness! I hope you love these days as you prepare for your little one! It's such a joy to see your handmade creations for her! She has no idea what fun and creativity await her in the Paulson family!

Wow... it's beautiful and you'll look fabulous in it. I'd look like... a tomato. :) I was just thrifting this morning and found some fun old crochet books. Just going to browse now that I've got my daily e-browsing finished! :)

Ok, this one is by far my favorite yet. Brutally cute.

that dress is great, and i even like the is not usually my favorite. i have a little girl who all of sudden will not wear anything but dresses. i feel like i need to jump on it and make her about a thousand dresses before she decides dresses are for the birds, which could be as soon as next week. i, however, am faint of heart, so will need to find some American pattern i can modify. Thanks for sharing these, they are great inspiration. i want to see the whole wardrobe!


Susie Sears Taylor says: March 04, 2010 at 10:51 AM

The dresses are getting cuter and cuter every day! Now, when the call comes that the Paulson baby is ready to come home you will be ready....or not...maybe your angel will bring you and Andy a boy or twins or, or, or....whatever the outcome, your sewing machine will be begging for mercy with all the fun you are and will be having. Remember this, car keys CAN be flushed down the toilet.

Jessie Heninger says: March 04, 2010 at 11:04 AM

so so so cute I am so jealous of your talents (and your getting to sew for girls, all boys over here not that I would trade them) You should get the children's book chrysanthemum the little clothes the mouse wears in that book remind me of this dress so much. Thank you for bringing me inspiration and joy each day!!--Jessie

Sparkles in the chimney....please tell me this is a Sleeping Beauty reference. Because EVERY time I watch that movie (and it is often) I think, Miss Alicia would LOVE this....the colors, the cottage, the beautiful backgrounds, and did I mention the colors?? So lovely.

Now, if this is NOT a Sleeping Beauty reference, then I insist that you go out and grab this dvd right away. You're going to need it anyway. :)

I have to say that I admire those who thrift. I just can't do it. Not in my blood I guess. But I am always so impressed as to what is found or made from thifting. This dress is possibly may favorite thrift shop goodie to date. I love this simplisticness of it- stunning!

CUUUUUUTE! What a lucky little girl.

I love your thrifting story. Reminds me of when I was heavy into Fire King Jadeite and went to a big antique show. I elbowed a woman all the way to the Jadeite booth...only to find out she was elbowing me for the Beanie Babies in the booth next door! Ha!

So pretty ~ love the red and the trim is perfect! All of these little dresses are so sweet ~ baby girl will be very well dressed!

Oh my goodness. This is amazingly lovely... thank you for sharing!

You are going to have the most adorably dressed little girl around!!

You DO know that she'll turn into a 9 year old who refuses to wear anything even faintly girly or flowery, dont' you? :) I say this as the mother of a 9 year old who wears ONLY black; my little Emo girl. Sigh.

Elizabeth says: March 04, 2010 at 11:35 AM

You are making all the dresses I wish I had had when my Isabella was a wee one - they are beautiful.

You are tooo Cute! They are all beautiful. Your sweet angel will be so lucky to have a wonderful, talented, strong woman in her life.

alicia -
you are on fire! isn't making things for your kid(s) so much fun?!

Oh that is a cute little dress. Great finds you got there. I need to give them a try on one of my outings.

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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.