Sew La-Di-Da Vintage “1952 French Gypsy” Dress

This is my entry into the ‘Dresses’ category in The Monthly Stitch’s ‘Indie Pattern Month.’ If you don’t know already, The Monthly Stitch are hosting four weeks of sewing contests, aimed at encouraging us sewists to sew using patterns from independent companies. This is my first time entering. And in the case of this dress, I’m very grateful for the deadline of this contest. Because if it wasn’t for that, this dress may have turned into one of those UFOs (Unfinished Objects) lingering in the cupboard. It took what felt like forever to make! More on that later.

For now – here she is…

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

As the title suggests, it’s the 1952 French Gypsy dress by Sew La-Di-Da Vintage. I was given this pattern for my birthday back in February and I thought now was the perfect time to sew it up!

Vintage pattern

I spent ages choosing a fabric. I wanted something with a French twist to tie in with the pattern. But for various reasons including time running out fast and the fact that the pattern calls for 3 or 4m [I actually used 3.2m of 45″ wide fabric] I ended up ordering some anchor-print fabric I had my eye on in Minerva. I also ordered 4m of navy/white stripe polycotton as a backup. As you can see from the photos, I’m glad I ordered the backup. After ordering the anchor print, they emailed to say it’s out of stock. GRR.

Of course the stripy fabric is very French – and also very ‘me’ with it’s navy blue! So I think it worked out well. The only negative is that it is very cheap and very light. It wasn’t the easiest fabric to handle – well, it would have been OK if it didn’t have stripes that I was trying to match up.

As you can see, the sleeves can either stay up on the shoulders or down, Bardot-style. I think I prefer shoulders up.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress - sleeves off shoulders

I feel like I should hang a string of onions round my neck! And wear a beret!

Let’s talk about those stripes. Check out how perfectly they match up on one side seam of the skirt.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

But unfortunately the other side totally doesn’t match up. I couldn’t cut the piece so that it would match on the side as well as the back. So I opted to match it just at the back, which I considered more important.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

I hope you can see that the stripes are also matched around the sides of the bodice, and sleeves.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

The stripes were one of the things that made making this dress take what felt like forever. I’m not sewing with stripes again in a hurry. At least not with a flimsy fabric like this. My God, don’t they slip out of place all the time? I re-sewed the back seam with the zip at least five times. And it’s still not 100% spot on.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

The neckline is bound with bias tape threaded with elastic, and the armholes are just bias tape (although it’s constructed in a funny way to how I would usually do it). The tape is slipstitched in place on the wrong side, giving a nice finish. I made the bias tape using plain navy cotton.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

I like the poofy sleeves!

But what I don’t like about this binding part is the join at the back; how it works (or rather, doesn’t work) with the zip. I ended up with this:

sew la-di-da before it's finished

Hmm. As far as I can tell, that’s how it’s meant to be according to the pattern. But I can’t leave it like that! So I added a hook and eye. This helps, but I would rather the zip was right at the top! It’s impossible to fasten the hook and eye by myself.

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

On that note, I must say that this pattern is not for beginners. It’s a good pattern all in all, but some steps are not all that clear. For example, there is no mention of gathering the sleeve hems; no notches or anything. There is no mention of cutting interfacing until you get to the stage of sewing the interfaced piece in. They kind of explain how to cut the bias tape, but not clearly enough for beginners. There aren’t consistent reminders to finish your seams.

But it was rather nice to sew from a pattern aimed at intermediates. I understood what I was supposed to do, so that’s saying something!

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

I was really good and made a muslin of the bodice instead of diving straight in. This is for a contest, after all! So I’m really happy with the fit. I took a chunk out of the centre gathered upper bodice – I needed to gather it quite a lot to make it fit and there’s a limit to how much fabric you need! – and 2cm out of the lower bodice. The only stupid mistake I made because I just didn’t think about it was that I didn’t take the 2cm out of the front skirt panel too. So I had to create a few tiny gathers in the middle to make the panel fit. I don’t think it’s too bad – you can barely tell – but it’s not how it’s meant to be! Must remember this in future!!

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

Considering the fabric cost £2.99 a meter, I’m really impressed with how well it suits the dress. It’s comfy, and it’s light and swishy. The circle skirt works really well with it.

Oh and by the way, I did cut the lower bodice panel to have the stripes running vertically, on purpose. Just to break it up a bit!

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

I didn’t take the easy option for this challenge, did I? Totally new-to-me pattern (and pattern company). Lightweight, stripy fabric. Time pressure; big circle skirt to hem; handsewing. But I did it! Hooray!

Sew La-Di-Da French Gypsy Dress

Phew. Well done for getting to the end.

Now to think about what to make for next week’s ‘separates’ challenge!

Beth x

P.S. Hope you enjoyed all the photos – my daughter and I had a fun photo shoot as she’s STILL off school with chicken pox! Don’t  ask why I chose the bit of the garden with no grass, though.


38 thoughts on “Sew La-Di-Da Vintage “1952 French Gypsy” Dress

  1. Pingback: Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle… [Eliza M Vintage – Eva Wiggle Dress!] | The Monthly Stitch

  2. Pingback: Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle… The Eva Wiggle Dress! | After Dark Sewing

  3. Morning! Not sure how I missed this post – I saw the one one TMS. The stripes are just my cup of tea, and not a spot in sight! But by the sounds of it you’re not a convert. They really suit you and it was a tricky pattern to be doing with stripes so I hope it’s not put you off using them again😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s OK! You don’t have to read both! But thanks! I will use stripes again just not on flimsy polycotton. I should mix it up a bit to please you! Not all my TMS makes are spotty but they are all blue and white which is funny!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Coordinating Outfit – Meringue & Plantain | After Dark Sewing

  5. Your dress is gorgeous and I love the change of directional stripes on the bodice. I bought this Sew La Di Dah pattern at the London Olympia along with the ‘1950’s Rose’ (from the same company) which I’m about halfway through it at the mo! Looking forward to making this one now I’ve seen yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So I swear I could hear the old timey French music as I read this., with the Eiffel Tower in the background and a mime trying to make his way out of an invisible box. Very French looking. I think I would have given up on the zip after the 3rd try, your persistence paid off. Tres cute. Good luck with the contest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha you have a great imagination! Oh yeah, I sewed a zip in with the stripes matching perfectly, then found it was too short!! Then tried again about 3 times with a longer one. That was not fun! Merci beaucoup!


  7. Wow! This dress really flatters you in terms of the colour, scale and shape. And the fit is really excellent. You should be so pleased with yourself.

    I wonder why so many of these Indie people stick bias tape on everything – it is not an easy technique, and its really hard to get a good finish (as you showed with the back neck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, you’re too kind. You do need something to hold the elastic around the neckline, although I don’t know why you can’t just make a casing!


    • Thank you so much. Matching stripes won’t be something I do again in a hurry – I could have made it in half the time if I didn’t have to bother with them! You’re not missing out!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, me too! Ah it’s not as complicated as it looks. There’s a lot of gathering but overall it’s pretty simple with only a few pattern pieces!


  8. Pingback: “Sew La-Di-Da” 1952 French Gypsy Dress | The Monthly Stitch

  9. Well you really did set yourself a challenge with all those stripes! You did a good job though. I’ve just finished a dress in cheap fabric (free actually) and those stripes do move. I have the sides matching although that was easy to do with the pattern I used (Deer and Doe’s Reglisse) but one side of my bodice doesn’t match. I’ll just pretend I bought it in a shop if anyone asks 😉
    I have had this French Gypsy dress pattern for a while now but haven’t got around to making it yet even though I bought the fabric at the same time. I have made one of her other patterns – the 1940s one with the fitted bodice and sweetheart neckline – can’t remember what it’s called now – and I remember having quite a few problems with the instructions being ‘minimalist’. I parted with a fair amount of money for the pattern at an exhibition and some of it was missing! She sent me a replacement but I seem to remember she was quite hard to contact. Also, to my annoyance, the pattern I chose was given away free with a sewing magazine very shortly afterward. I’ve never worn it as it’s too big!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I like the look of the sweetheart neckline one. Shame it’s too big 😦 But you should make the gypsy one seeing as you have it and the fabric!!
      I don’t know what possessed me to use stripes! But I do like the finished look so it was worth it I guess!


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