Want to make explosions happen? Once you’ve learned to read a simple pattern and have a few garments under your belt you can also start to mix and match pattern pieces. Please enjoy my tips and tricks using a couple 1950s pattern pieces to make a beautiful bohemian prairie dress.

I created my design in Procreate, studied it and then broke it down into simple pieces. The dress consists of a fitted princess bodice, 1860s large gather sleeves with big cuffs, gathered skirt, gathered ruffle, ties and lace.

Other than the fitted bodice of this dress the rest is a series of rectangular shapes. A princess line  bodice is a common staple in female garments so I dug through my patterns until I found my size and the look I wanted.


I found the perfect size 12, 1956 McCall’s 2329 pattern. Sizing has really changed over the years but I will save vanity sizing for another post.

A follower on Facebook gifted me the most lovely pink Jacquard satin fabric along with three garbage bags full of other goodies and a note attached that said, “Throw it out if you can’t use it.” It looked to be about five yards of 60″ wide fashion fabric. I also had a ton of vintage lace in 2″ wide strips that I have been sitting on since the early Sew Dayton years.

If I wanted to recreate this dress and not buy any supplies I knew I had to top stitch all the pieces of lace together on the bodice. I pinned and topstitched it on very well. Please remember nothing is ever perfect. My lace is definitely a little off but I’m over myself, so who cares.

Once the front and back bodice was complete, still with no sleeves tho, I prioritized what I needed fabric for to make a long skirt with a ruffle. I knew five yards was not going to be enough fabric and that a sacrifice was going to have to be made. I measured my waist to below my knee, added an inch seam allowance and ripped my fabric. Yep, ripped my fabric to that measurement. If possible always rip instead of cutting fabric when you need strips of long pieces. Sheers, cottons, silk, chiffons and many other fabrics rip straight on grain. Meaning they will not come out wonky or uneven, which can happen when cutting.

Unfortunately, all that was left were the scraps from the bodice for the sleeves. I sewed them all together to make whatever sleeve length I could get and rolled with it.

Now this dress is magically zero waste!

Before putting in the zipper I fitted the dress many times. I was impressed the sleeves came out as long as they did and I didn’t mind there was no tie because the dress doesn’t need it.

Word to the wise, if you wear this dress to work and you sit in a rolling chair you could have problems but you probably already knew that. I rolled over it all day long last week!!!

I have started calling these dresses “LANDFILL DRESSES” because I believe I have saved them from a landfill. I wish I had time to save more.

Modeling is the beautiful Philomina Darko Majestic

Behind the scenes~

Interested in learning to start making clothing? Check out my upcoming class.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!




Tracy McElfresh
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