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!


This is adorable. I want to be your baby girl. Adopt me please ;)

Absolutement fantastique!

What a good day indeed! Love the image of a 'bee stung manatee' (you're so funny!), and 'the perfect shade of red lipstick you can't find b/c you're not french' -- so apt ;-)!
Adorable dress!
Blessings to you both with your adoption.

What is it with Electronic Keyboards -- I have a basement full of them. DH really only plays the upstairs piano
(thank God). Anyone want to buy a Yahama DX-21? Andy?

PS. Love the dress :-)

What a delicious post! I was recently telling a girlfriend of mine that I have never seen a copy of that book at the Goodwill. Score!!

And that dress is just perfect. The color, the button, the vintage bias trim. All perfect.

wow! amazing finds and beautiful dress. you had some great bin karma going that day!

i like the white thread! it's kind of wabi sabi

WOW! that is an amazing find! do you know how much those cookbooks go for these days since the movie?! awesome score! I love that tomato red color too and that trim is just perfect :)

The little dresses you're making are so adorable. Recently I was working out in the garage and opened an old cedar chest that I hadn't looked in for quite awhile. Inside were all the handmade clothes I made for our girls when they were little. Little smocked dresses, french hand sewn, appliqued, buttons out of ric-rac, two tiny tailored coats, shadow embroidery, etc. . . I couldn't believe all the work I had done. Maybe I'll start posting about them. Have you ever used Children's Corner patterns? There used to be SO many private label patterns out there for smocking, etc... My girls are now 22 and 25, it's been a long time.

Marguerite says: March 05, 2010 at 09:52 AM

yum yum

try New York Red lipstick by Chanel
x M

That little dress is so precious. There is simply nothing cuter than a red dress on a little girl! I love that is was the perfect project for your vintage bias tape. Meant to be!

I can feel the love eminating from these sweet little dresses.....Blessings....

Just wait to hold those dimpled hands that will be plunging into those pockets with all sorts of newly discovered treasures. Wishing you a precious Wait.

I HAVE THAT TRIM TOO!!! Also in the original packet and cannot bring myself to use it on anything yet. Maybe now I'll get inspired.

I love that red. The pattern is so adorable. I haven't been to the Goodwill in a while. I think I may stop by the one in my area this weekend. They usually have a lot of great clothes and furnishings. I've gotten a lot of good deals there. But, just haven't been shopping much lately - anywhere.

I adore that sweet little dress! I love the details; the button loop, trim and pockets. Just too cute!

This is so Posie!
I am glad that I will most likely not be having any children for a few years (still in school), but when I do, I know that I will have you and Andy for some great inspiration! =D you know how often I "think" I see a copy of MTAOFC at the Goody? I always have to tell myself that it's just a mirage...but, you, actually found it! Job well done.
serendipity on the tomato red fabric, btw. :)


Every single dress is even cuter than the one before. How is this possible?! I am so enjoying the fashion show.

R U kidding me! that dress is soo cute I can't stand it! a copy of MTAOFC! girl you are on a roll!!!!

That dress is just lovely Alicia. I think I have this book. You know I have never thought of this, but I would love to have a dress like that myself, in red no less!!

the dress is darling! i love when you find those great things, it's so fun! susan

I love this little red dress you have made! I am a child of the 70s, and one of the very first dresses I remember owning/wearing was a tomato red dress w/calico fabric on the bodice! Oh, how I loved that dress! I was probably about 4 or 5 when I wore it :) I love checking up on what you've been doing, every day or so, to see what else new you've made for your daughter-to-be! I'm so happy for you both!!!

I know how you felt; I can imagine the slow-motion picture of diving for that awesome book!!!! Thrifting can almost qualify as exercise some days!! great little dress. You do sound so happy in your posts lately! I would love you to see the outfit on my blog today
I made it out of 2 recycled Vera scarves (which I dove for at a thrift store) and a recycled shirt! Kathi

I love the dress, it is just so perfect in so many different ways. I also am so jealous you found that book, I love going thrift shopping to see what I can find.

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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.