Last Year’s Cambie Dress

The dress I’m talking about today is not a new make.  I made it just over a year ago for the big bash my family threw for my Gramma’s 90th birthday (and she just turned 91 this past weekend – go Gramma!!).

This picture isn’t from the party (I don’t have any pictures from that – I really need to get some from my parents), but it is with my mom & Gramma (I actually call her grand-mamma all posh-like just for fun, she loves it) and I’m wearing the same dress – just with a little jacket I made this year to go with it.  This photo is from Mother’s Day this year.


You can’t tell very much about my dress in this photo, can you? heheheh.  And why am I posting about a year-old dress now?  Well, for one thing this blog is brand new and I really love this dress.  For another, I just recently finally got some decent photos of it.  It was shortly after my husband got home for a week of leave and he agreed to play photographer.  It was initially for another dress I’d just finish (which will probably be the subject of the next post) but I felt we were on a roll, despite the rooftop always being windy and making my hair look dumb, and he indulged me so far as to shoot this dress as well.

This was my first Cambie dress from Sewaholic.  I made the full-skirted version – though I didn’t use the actual skirt pattern piece.  When I make something full skirted (which is often) I tend to just cut selvedge-to-selvedge panels of fabric in my desired length + hem allowance.  I know you’re technically not supposed to use the fabric selvedges, but it’s just so easy!  Also – it’s how things were done in the 18th & 19th centuries (as I’ve seen in person many, many times) so I feel like there’s a pretty solid precedent there.

Anyway! So here is an actual, proper photo of my Cambie dress:


This fabric is a vintage 1960s silk dupioni print that I found – AT A GOODWILL STORE!!!!!!!  There was something like 4m there, and it probably cost about $5 or $6 for the piece!!!!!!!!! (I feel this find justifies as many exclamation points as I care to use).  I lived in Edmonton, Alberta for a few years for my Master’s, and I learned there were 2 great sources for thrifting  fabric – the Goodwill store in the south end and the Value Village towards the East end on Whyte Ave.  I got so many treasures from those two, however, this was probably one of my best-ever finds.  I decided I wanted a softer look so I pre-washed the fabric.  It wasn’t as crisp to begin with as most dupioni you get today, but this also made it washable (I hate drycleaners).  To give the bodice a little more substance I underlined it with white cotton, and then fully lined the dress with a white cotton/silk blend that Fabricland has been wonderfully, curiously carrying during the summers for the last several years (I believe it is 70% cotton & 30% silk, and it feels a-mazing!).  I made the lining skirt at least as full as the outer skirt to create a bit of a built-in crinoline effect.  You can see it just peeking out a bit in the next photo.


I finished the hem of the skirt lining with decorative scalloped embroidery stitches on my machine (it’s not an embroidery machine, but has a few of these).  I got the idea from one of Casey’s posts a year or two ago…let me see if I can find it…….Aha!  Found it!  As it turns out, there’s also a nifty little tutorial on neckline/armhole binding + piping in one!  Reminds me I also want to try that out.


Apart from not using the actual skirt pattern piece I don’t think there’s much I changed or needed to alter.  I shortened the bodice a little bit, because I ALWAYS have to do that and it’s just become automatic with me now.  I probably ended up curving the front bodice dart legs a little as well to fit the curve under the bust better – another thing I nearly always do now.  This is a really easy pattern to put together – like surprisingly easy for how pretty it is – and the instructions are very straightforward.  I made another Cambie this summer in a black embroidered cotton voile and I can see myself making several more, it’s just SUCH a great pattern!


The little jacket I’m wearing in the first photo is from this vintage pattern (the dress is totally cute too and I want to make it every time I look at this image):

Simplicity 1988 front

I used some aqua dupioni left over from a prior project for the main outer fabric, and then trimmed AND fully lined it with the remnants of the dress fabric.  I had JUST enough of the printed silk to eke the jacket lining and banding out of it and I’m so glad I did.  For some time now I’ve been in love with the vintage 50s/60s practice of dress and jacket/coat combinations where the jacket/coat lining is made from the dress fabric.  I just think it looks so chic and lux and this was my first chance to try it out.  My dream will be to one day have a formal dress/ball gown with jacket/coat/cape with matching lining, mmmmmmm.

Yeah….I really need to make one of the dresses from that vintage pattern.  And more Cambies!

15 thoughts on “Last Year’s Cambie Dress

  1. Why hello there fellow Canuck…I’m visiting via Wesewretro. Your Cambie dress is beautiful, as are you, but what really impresses me are your historical dresses. Absolutely beautiful! The attention to detail is exquisite. Very interesting career choice you are making. Bravo!


    • Hi Sue, thanks so much for your kind words – and for stopping by! I hope you’ll visit again- what you see here now is only the very beginning! I have some big projects coming up in the near future, both historical and vintage-inspired that I think are pretty nifty.


  2. I’m visiting from England. I love your dress and the jacket combo is lovely. The colour really suits you. My version is much less elegant ….. Pink flamingoes!


  3. Hi! Absolutely lovely dress, found your blog via SewRetro, and now what I am wondering is where did you get those shoes? Because they too are just beautiful and since I can’t buy the dress maybe I could at least get the shoes…:)


    • Hi Pia, thanks for visiting! The shoes are L.K. Bennet. I bought them when I was in the UK for several months last fall/winter. They are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought (they weren’t even on sale!), but I’m very glad I made the investment. Since they’re still relatively recent, it may just be possible they’re still kicking around.


  4. Love the dress! It fits you so well and makes you look really polished. That fabric is to die for! I wish I had your luck at the goodwill. In my hometown (I also live in Canada!), there’s never anything good there.

    I love how the Cambie can take on lots of different prints. Yours is so classic! My first try was a floral motif too, but much louder than yours! It was supposed to be more casual than it turned out to be. I’m wondering if the gathered skirt is the culprit here. What do you think? Can this version of the Cambie be made more casual? I’d love to know your opinion!

    I hope you post more pics of finished garments because you clearly have amazing skills! Keep the good tips coming! (using selvage for a gathered skirt= genius!)

    Ooh… and can we see more pics of that lovely jacket? 🙂


    • Hello to another fellow Canuck! Thank you so much for the lovely compliments! I think the Cambie dress will always turn out a very pretty dress (I just don’t think it can help it, lol) but I would imagine that something like a solid colour cotton might give it a more casual look – ooh, or what about gingham? Or chambray? There are tons of Cambies out there that other people have made, I bet you could get ideas from their’s as well. I thought about the lack of other pics of the jacket, unfortunately I totally forgot about it when we doing the photos. But I could probably take some quick shots of just the jacket itself – thanks for the suggestion! And I do hope to be posting lots more stuff, I’m pretty sewing obsessed, lol.


  5. Having seen the dress & jacket in person, I can confirm that the fit is exquisite and the colour perfect for your hair and skin tones; I would love to see this in a soft burnt orange with a chocolate brown jacket or even a green jacket – if the colour is right. After watching you sew up a storm for these many years, you still amaze me! Mom :o)


  6. I can’t even tell you how gorgeous this Cambie is! That fabric is an amazing find. i really really need to make my Cambie, I’ve had it muslined for a while now but just haven’t gotten round to actually making the real thing 🙂


    • Thank you so much! And you really do need to make it up, it goes together like a dream – and if you’ve already muslined it, you’re so much of the way there! I really love the way the bodice + shoulder straps/cap sleeves goes together. Writing this post made we want to make another, lol. I started following your blog recently, your work is all so lovely.


  7. As a Jane come lately have you made any more Cambies yet? I only discovered this beauty last week and have been scouring the ‘Net ISO different ideas and styles since. Not an hour ago my DD agreed to purchase a pattern for me . . . YAY!!! Did I say, “Yay”! I was wondering how oh how I would obtain one.

    I’m going to scour your blog for I have reason to believe we may be shaped SOMEWHAT alike. I know it’s difficult to tell from photos but you may have mentioned your size somewhere if I look. I mention this because I am a little hesitate to make the full-skirted version because of my size but YOU look great. Plus, a part of me wants a crinoline while the other part is saying to that part, “Girl, stop, you are too old”. So, my next move will be to try and find out if there was indeed an age cut-off for the wearing of crinoline in the 50s.

    Thank you for this blog post.


    P.S. I would also like to discuss a WP theme question with you. I’ll try and find an email for you on your blog. 🙂


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