Mary Quant Minidress: The Beginning

Project 4, part 1 – British Fashion meets Hawaiian Flair

When faced with fabric like this, how could I not want to sew something fabulous?!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! Today begins the first project involving sewing an outfit completely from scratch. It’s not the first time I’ve sewn clothes, but I also don’t really have a lot of experience doing so. I’m really looking forward to the challenge! (As before, if you’re reading this in the order it was published – don’t worry! Project 3: Victorian Era Nightgown Restoration is still in progress. I await delivery of the supplies I need to continue, so I’ve begun work on this project in parallel.)

I actually bought the fabric a few years ago, intending to sew the Arum Dress by Deer & Doe. However, the styling on that garment didn’t quite do it for me, which is why the fabric sat in my project box for so long. When I decided to use it for the blog, I started looking around for more historically-inspired patterns, and when I found the Mary Quant-style Minidress pattern from the Victoria & Albert Museum I knew it was the one. I love British comedy; my dad Mark is a huge fan and he introduced me to classics like Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Mr. Bean, Blackadder, and Fawlty Towers as a teenager. Additionally, one of my great-grandmothers was British; she came from Birmingham by way of Tamworth. Her daughter, my late maternal grandmother Ruth, gave me a love of British culture from a young age – I grew up spending summers with her where she put on full “High Teas” and told me stories about her mother’s early life in Tamworth. Even now I drink Earl Grey every morning instead of coffee!

One of my great-grandmother’s teacups I inherited

The Hawaiian connection is a family one as well – my Uncle Paul and his brothers were born there (and one uncle still lives there), and he and my aunt usually go back every year. My husband and I have spent a lot of time on the Hawaiian Islands as well – our goal is to eventually visit every one! So both the design and fabric I’ve chosen are very close to my heart. (I’ll talk more about why I picked a 1960s pattern in the next post – England and Hawaii remain intertwined!)

Plus, look at these palm-frond buttons. They’re perfect!

Having decided on the pattern, I downloaded it, printed it at home, and spent some quality time hunched over my worktable assembling it. If I were a little more experienced I probably could have only printed the sections I needed, but I didn’t want to miss anything so I was willing to accept a little extra paper bound for the recycling bin after the fact.

A testament either to the excellence of the pattern or my improved skill – assembling this wasn’t too difficult compared to the last pattern I tried!

This pattern has quite a few options, and I decided on the sleeveless version of the dress with a keyhole neck (fastened by another one of my cute buttons!) with rounded pockets and a collar to match. I have fairly broad shoulders so I went with the largest size of the dress from the waist up, but scaled it down in the waist and hips as mine are narrower.

The final cut-out pattern pieces I’ll need for my dress!

I’m not 100% sure how that will work, but that’s what mock-ups, or toiles, are for! So join me next time when I cut out the plain muslin pieces and begin the process of dialing in the fit prior to cutting into my fashion fabric!

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12 thoughts on “Mary Quant Minidress: The Beginning

  1. Rae I didn’t know you liked doing high tea. I have friends that we get together for high tea.
    Your fabric differently has that Hawaiian flair. I love the buttons, they will really set your dress off nicely.


    1. Oh how fun!! Yes I love high tea – especially cucumber sandwiches! I have three recipes for them that my late grandmother wrote out and they bring me back to my childhood every time.


  2. This looks like it will be a fun project and a good place to start for sewing a whole garment, start to finish.


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