Salme Olsen Dress

Real talk: I’d like to be one of those people who posts extensive reviews/photos of every finished garment, with a thoughtful recap of the alterations and sourcing information. I know these are useful. I search for them ALL THE TIME. I want to see what people of different body shapes/sizes look like in a pattern before I try it. (Or, to be more specific, I want to see what someone with MY body shape/size looks like in a pattern before I try it.) And even apart from the Greater Good argument, I happen to enjoy browsing my archives for notes/photos to remind myself of what I made. It’s lovely to have a personal record.

BUT: updating this blog is one of my lowest life priorities. I only post when I’m excited about something. Or when I have a stack of about 6 finished books and I force myself to photograph them and write reviews.

What I’m trying to say right now is that I am REALLY FREAKIN EXCITED ABOUT THIS DRESS.

(Facial expression does not properly convey excitement. Trust me, it’s there.)

First, it’s got that whole “early 80s summer loungewear” vibe that is one of my particular weaknesses. (I’ve mentioned Red Oaks on Amazon recently, but seriously, if you have an affinity for 70s/80s clothing you will want to watch it for that alone.)


Second, I’ve been trying to nail the perfect neckline/armsyce/strap for a loose drapey tank top, which has been fairly elusive. Either they’re too tight around the back, or too floppy at the clavicle, and I’ve yet to find the arm curve that sit’s close without pinching. I thought I was as close as I was going to get with the last test version – made by comparing a composite of every pattern whose bodice fit I love with the straps of the Seamwork Adelaide. And then Salme releases this free pattern, and I make it without any alterations, and it fits like magic!*


*One of these days, I’m going to take a pattern drafting class, and a well-drafted pattern will no longer seem like magic to me. But until then, I actually enjoy this trial-and-error+magic approach to sewing.

Okay, so what will you (or future me) want to know about the construction of this particular version?

-Pattern: Salme Olsen Dress
-I cut a straight size 16. (I think. The bust measurement would have been what I tried to match, knowing that this was the only place where it would sit snugly on the body.)
-The fabric is a cotton lawn (maybe this), which was very sheer so I lined the bodice with the same fabric and found some matching lining in my stash for the skirt.
-Since I was lining the bodice, I hid all the seams inside the two layers, using the fabulous order-of-assembly from the Sallie Jumpsuit. (I’m sure there are other great examples of this assembly, particularly the enclosed strap seams, but I’d been trying to conceptualize it myself for a while and it hadn’t made sense until I followed Heather’s instructions.)
-Because of the above assembly, I didn’t use the bias binding. And the straps are narrower than they would be with binding.
-I basted the skirt layers together, then attached them to the outer bodice. After that, creased the bodice lining, stitched most of the way around, then added an elastic casing, AGAIN using the Sallie Jumpsuit as a reference, because it was so intuitive (and because I love to see that little ruffled tunnel).


-I french seamed the skirt layers (and, doh, even french seamed the bodice sides, which I now realize was unnecessary). This used to feel like SUCH a burden, because I was an impatient sewer who wanted to finish garments IMMEDIATELY so I could wear them, but I’ve slowly become more patient and now the french seaming is a habit.**

**I am still an impatient sewer, but I now break sewing into multiple sessions instead of just one. I try to stop just before the point-of-no-return, so I can make finishing choices with a fresh head. Also, I don’t let myself compromise, no matter how excited I am to wear the finished product.

Oh man. That was so boring. Useful information, but SO BORING.

How do I feel about this dress? IT IS AMAZING! This is not the first time I’ve tried to bring my 80s summer loungewear dreams to life (see: this chevron situation made with quilting cotton which I still love with my whole heart even though I don’t wear it in public; the Seamwork Catarina which was VERY close to successful, but I need to be honest about my willingness to wear a strapless bra for more than 2 hours a month), but I think this might be the first time I’ve done it SUCCESSFULLY.


The first night I wore this, I felt both casual AND sexy. This is a dress I would wear to a picnic or on a date. I am DEFINITELY packing this (or another version in a different fabric) for my Paris vacation.

The only change I’m going to make for the next version: add those little bra-strap securing tabs. I’ve never attempted that, but I love this dress so much, I think it’ll be worth the extra effort.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s