Illustration Imitation: Vintage Simplicity 5059 – aka – Fall Dress #1

As much as I hate to see summer leave, fall is just about my favourite season to sew for, the colours are just the best! Case in point:


I never get to do as much of it as I’d like (proper fall weather here lasts about 2-4 weeks) but I’m managing to do a little more every year.

Today’s make is my favourite piece of fall sewing this year!

I’d had this wonderful piece of sheer cotton for a while now. It’s another treasure-like find from the thrift store (which I pronounce Va-loo Villahge to make it sound hoity-toity). I’ve wanted to use it every fall since I got it, but wasn’t sure for what or how. It’s such an autumnal colour palette, but so lightweight I thought it wouldn’t work for fall weather.

Happily, I was wrong!

(full disclosure: these photos were taken over Thanksgiving weekend – that’s early October here in Canada – and it wasn’t quite mild enough to go around in short sleeves, I took my coat off for the photos)

(on another note: it’s kinda surreal posting these photos now considering there’s a blizzard going on outside as I write this)


This is the pattern I used for this dress:

Simplicity 5059 -frontc

I think one of my favourite things about making this dress was how reminiscent my fabric is of the pattern envelope art. Not the same, but they have a similar feel, don’t they? I think that’s super-fun! So much so that it’s contributed to an idea for some of my other vintage patterns – matching my make with fabric/colour of the envelope art! I initially got the idea about a year ago when I discovered that I have a fabric nearly identical to one on the envelope of another pattern. I wanted to make it last winter, but then Tree took over my life. (seriously.) I’m determined to make it this winter and possibly turn this idea into a little series-on-the-side thingy, just for fun!

Hm. If it’s a series it needs a name. What’s a good name for that sort of thing? Envelope imitations? Illustration knock-offs? Help me out here!


Anyhoo. I made a couple of modifications to this dress compared with the pattern. The main one, construction-wise, was to turn it from a side opening dress to a front opening dress. I dislike wearing side zippers and I like installing them even less. I’ve also always thought it odd to have a button-up bodice but actual fastening at the side. So how did I do this? It’s pretty simple, really (especially with a gathered skirt), just takes a little wrapping your head around it. Basically, I made the buttoned bodice front functional, cut a slit into the skirt front, sewed a wee little placket to it and aligned the edges with the bodice edges. Because the bodice overlaps so does the skirt, thus hiding the opening. With the skirt being gathered and this busy pattern it’s pretty much invisible!

I don’t know if this photo is going to help much seeing what I did, but here’s a close-up of the opening, with the edges outlined in the red:


The more minor alteration was to the collar. I wanted it more open, but didn’t think to change the pattern at all. So it didn’t lie properly if I left the top of the neckline open. My solution? Make a tuck in the collar itself and put a button on it to show that it’s not an accident, but a “design decision”. Ha. Fortunately I had lots of these wee buttons. You can see it on the right-hand side of the collar in the photo below:


Here’s a close-up of it:


To deal with the fabric’s sheerness I self-lined the bodice – as you probably already noticed – this also helped use up my yardage so I didn’t have an awkwardly sized piece of fabric left over too small to really use but too big to be useless.  Fortunately, the fabric’s pattern doesn’t come through noticeably.  On the bottom half I wear my black slip made from bemberg lining.  Hmm … note to self: I have some olive green/brown bemberg I should probably make another slip from to match this and other fall dresses better.


I made very few changes to the fit of the dress since the pattern was already in my size. I did find it pretty roomy through the waist once I was done, so I’ll just always wear it with a belt – which I was intending to do anyway. I think the only size alteration I made was to shorten the bodice by about 1″ – my usual modification for my short-waist-ed-ness.


This dress is super comfortable and needs only the belt to look smart and put together. I do love easy-to-wear pieces!




7 thoughts on “Illustration Imitation: Vintage Simplicity 5059 – aka – Fall Dress #1

  1. I love everything about this dress. The fit and the fabric suit you so well. It certainly doesn’t look too big, it looks fitted to perfection. That was a really clever idea with the collar, cute.


  2. Thank you! The lightweight-ness of the fabric really helps with making the looseness less noticeable. But if I wore it without a belt you’d definitely see the difference. Funny how such a little thing like just a belt can have so much impact.


  3. You are all blended in with the foliage and the trees. I love November in Seattle; it’s gold and red and brown, the autumn you guys get elsewhere. It’s such a lovely palette, for you as well. Hope your snow is manageable.


    • Thank you so much! One day I will visit the west coast! And no worries, the snow is always manageable one way or another – mostly because we don’t have a choice about it.


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