Last-Minute Holiday Sewing

by Erin on December 21, 2006

Marian Martin 9112

I'm not. Doing any last-minute sewing, I mean. (Especially not for my sister Kate, if she's reading this.) But if I did have to make a holiday dress (for myself) at the last minute, I would want a pattern like this one, from Vintage Martini. It looks SO EASY; and if you made it up in a nice bright cotton velvet with a little lace or satin bit at the front, it would be just perfect. Right? And those little bag pockets look just like presents, anyway.

Of course, the minute I put on a velvet and/or satin dress I immediately am handed 1) an unwrapped, briefly sucked-on piece of hard candy; 2) a cup of hot cocoa, upon the acceptance of which I am bumped into by either a wildly gesturing adult or a screaming and running small child; 3) a drippy canapé involving either grease or capers or both; 4) someone else's wet coat. It never fails. Which is why I have a lot of velvet and/or satin fabric which, Schroedinger's-cat-like, is neither dead nor alive as long as I don't sew it up.

Although I want to say that this should finally be the year I make myself a green velvet skirt. I could be drafted as a last-minute elf fill-in, right? And if I make it with pockets I can always chip the stuck-on hard candy out of them later.

Do you have a holiday dress? Where are you going to wear it?

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Ladygrande (Texas Marie) December 21, 2006 at 3:53 pm

What a lovely pattern! Have Happly Holidays, Erin!!Marie from Texas


Ladygrande (Texas Marie) December 21, 2006 at 3:54 pm

Now, what are “happly” holidays, you ask? Well, that’s what happens when you are trying to get out of the office FAST!!!!!


Susan December 21, 2006 at 4:02 pm

No holiday dress here, but that one’s very pretty! I know what you mean about certain fabrics beginning for a disaster!


erin is nice December 21, 2006 at 4:11 pm

i’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and even though i don’t sew dresses, i love it!a weird random coincidence: my name is also erin, and my sister’s name is kate.


john December 21, 2006 at 4:20 pm

nope, I don’t have a holiday dress – even if i did i don’t think there is anywhere in this tiny town that i could wear a dress-i get plenty of looks just wearing clogs and a beret-


Anonymous December 21, 2006 at 4:30 pm

just clogs and a beret?


floribunda... aka Julie December 21, 2006 at 5:00 pm

Erin, I love your blog! I used to have a small collection of vintage patterns but I seem to have sold them on ebay a few years ago — otherwise would send them to you immediately… My favorite holiday thing is an emerald green silk long shirt that I wear over a black knit top and black pants. Haven’t worn an actual dress in years!


Moonwishes December 21, 2006 at 5:48 pm

I have a brand new Christmas bib apron to wear for Christmas. Just made it a couple nights ago. I have a red velvet skirt and a top that has some kind of sprakly stuff in it that spreads where-ever I go–church, couches, etc. I can always tell where I have been on Christmas!


Anonymous December 21, 2006 at 6:34 pm

Wow, from gifty pockets to Schroedinger’s cat in less than 2 paragraphs! Merry Christmas, Erin! (And I wish you were my sister so you could not sew me a present.)


Anonymous December 21, 2006 at 8:13 pm

Hi erin,I don’t remember where I read that aprons are now a fashionstatement. Velvet dress, satin apron?????Just a thought! ! ! Marcia in New York City.

Reply December 21, 2006 at 8:19 pm

Gosh, since when did a size 16 have such a tiny waist?!


Well Rounded Dresser December 21, 2006 at 9:25 pm

My Holiday Dress is a black velvet skirt, worn with black tights and ankle boots that zip. On top I drape a lovely confection of multi color velvet that over a black lacey camisole. This cleverly transforms my apple into something lovely.


nora December 21, 2006 at 9:46 pm

I have a dark eggplant velveteen empire-waisted wiggle dress that has become a sort of winter-party dress (because when else could I wear it?), and a full-length, sleeveless column dress that is made out of a sort of white-and-silver lame herringbone pattern fabric (which, naturally, gets pulled out for things like my birthday, halloween, and theoretically New Year’s Eve–though I rarely stay up for that one lately, much less go out). Heck, if it weren’t to serve the needs of the dresses, I might never go to parties at all! But they make it easier.


Anonymous December 21, 2006 at 10:42 pm

I’m making a holiday dress, only the last finishing left. I think it’s kitschy in a good way, but a lot of people would probably hate it. It’s the ‘Retro Butterick’ wrap dress with the front in a green fabric with little Christmas-tree twigs and Christmas-tree decorations printed on, and the back is the same green with tiny gold dots. White satin bias tape round the edges. I’ll spend Christmas with family, so it will probably only get worn in my parents’ house./Monika


sarah from Oz December 22, 2006 at 3:26 am

I have a frilly party dress that is black, off the shoulder, with a twirly skirt and built-in hot pink petticoats, which is the default to wear to a last-minute-invitation cocktail party tomorrow night. That is, if I don’t get over-excited and decide to try to make a last-minute black wiggle dress with 3/4 sleeves and a midrif band with red piping. Which would be lovely, but a lot of last-minute crazy stitching…


Lisette December 22, 2006 at 6:37 am

No holiday dress. I feel very sad now, I am making a new striped dress that is directly attributable to spending too much time here! I Love It!


Anonymous December 22, 2006 at 6:40 am

Happy Holidays to my favorite, highly talented, eloquent, stylish, funny blogger who makes every day a little more enjoyable….Best wishes from Henriette in Denmark


Anonymous December 22, 2006 at 8:04 am

Alack, alas, both my party dresses are now too big for me. I tried them both on while prepping for my Department Holiday Party and they were both baggy in the back and waist. I wound up wearing an old off-the-rack vintage 60’s number that I haven’t worn for ten years. It’s great to be that size again, but I did love those other two dresses…–Lydia


Becky O. December 22, 2006 at 8:23 am

I think that size 16, may just be a modern 10…?If so I would love it.For all your afore mentioned reasons of drippy, sticky and sogginess, I choose skirts and tops for the Holidays. I can reappear with “new” outfits if the kid-do’s are extra lovely.Black wool circle skirt, funky tights and a top to somewhat match… I like RED to match my cheeks after a few : )Here’s to more daylight, Happy Solstice ~ Becky


ladiva52 December 22, 2006 at 8:27 am

Merry Christmas Erin,Even though I do sew, my current holiday dress in a vintage 1940’s black velvet with a sweetheart neckline that someone else home-sewed. Previously it was a sewn-by-me black windowpane wool with vintage mink cuffs that I had picked up at a garage sale. I miss being able to stuff my carcass into that one.Karen


S. December 22, 2006 at 8:37 am

It’s adorable, I wish you were my sister, not sewing me a dress ;)I have several holiday dress options a few of which I’ve posted on my blog. Feel free to vote your fav.


john December 22, 2006 at 10:28 am

just clogs and beret ?well,no.sweats in between the head and the feet !


htwollin December 22, 2006 at 10:37 am

My new holiday love is this one courtesy of Isaac Mizrahi and Target. replaced the belt (blech) with a black with multicolored polka dot scarf.


RoseCampion December 22, 2006 at 11:19 am

Just out of curiosity, what’s a wiggle dress?


Kate December 22, 2006 at 11:48 am

No new dress this year but am working on a new hat and what better to wear with a hat than a dress? Am wearing a black scoop neck stretch velvet 3/4 sleeve, mid-calf dress for dinner, dancing and fireworks on the Bodensee this year for New Year’s Eve (Silvester). K Q:-)


Kate December 22, 2006 at 11:49 am

P.S. A wiggle dress is a dress with a straight (or pencil) skirt. Think Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot and you get the picture. K Q:-)


Anonymous December 22, 2006 at 11:57 am

merry christmas…love your blog


Kate IS Reading December 22, 2006 at 12:34 pm

I am pleased as punch with the awesome orange cord skirt I was lucky enough to “assist” my sister in making over Thanksgiving! But I will be eyeing my packages suspiciously Christmas morning…My holiday outfit will include a stripped skirt–think mattress ticking but in red and gold–with a spangly beaded fringe from Anthropology (no sewing from me until I get a non-closet sized apartment). I can still wear open toed shoes to Christmas Mass if it’s in Florida, right?


Gidget Bananas December 22, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Holiday dresses and hot chocolate — the potential for an unfortunate collision between the two explains why there are all those fancy apron patterns from the dress-wearing eras. It probably also explains the evolution of the holiday sweater. Who cares what spills on an moose/snowflake/Santa encrusted acrylic nightmare?


Liz December 22, 2006 at 2:02 pm

Alas, I don’t have a holiday dress because I never have a holiday event requiring one. I do however have a photo of my mother looking just a bit tipsy with a drink in her hand wearing a lovely Jackie Kennedy style holiday party dress — it was the early 60’s. She says it was one of two she had that year. The 50s and 60s must be the peak of great holiday dresses.


La BellaDonna December 22, 2006 at 2:53 pm

I have a perfectly lovely, perfectly flattering, red stretch velvet princess-seamed dress. It has a scoop neck, long sleeves which are not too tight, and a nice wide skirt that flares so it’s almost a full circle – and I got it for about $20, new.It’s a very special dress. Every. Single. Time. I’ve put it on, expecting to wear it to a party (usually, but not always, the office party), something horrible happens to me, and I don’t get to go to the party at all.


Anonymous December 22, 2006 at 3:53 pm

Monika, I think your dress sounds divine! I recently started sewing again and made myself a skirt using ‘Hiruzen’ fabric, which has sushi on a red background. Not exactly Christmassy, but red’s festive, right? I intend to wear it with a green top, green and black stripey socks, and hope to look like a demented elf. Spacey


Anonymous December 23, 2006 at 1:17 am

No time this year to replace my ususal spattered jeans and t-shirt with something more festive and elegant, but maybe for next year….


Claire December 23, 2006 at 10:35 am

Not a holiday dress, but I do have a tunic/pant outfit that I’m going to wear to the candlelight service at my church and then to a party on Christmas Eve. The pants are nothing special-a drapey jersey number with flared legs-but the tunic! Oh, the tunic! It’s made out of 2 meters of (silk?) red brocade with a gold and black pattern that my dad brought back from Singapore for me 2 years ago. Ever since then it’s been waiting for the perfect occasion, which happens to be Christmas. I made it up (very carefully, and with much tweaking of darts- can’t have Madonna nipples in church, no sir) into a classic Oriental top with short sleeves, a Mandarin collar, and slits up the sides, and it’s beautiful. Certainly a nice change from the frilly lace and velvet concoctions I’ve been wearing since the age of three.


ella December 24, 2006 at 5:05 am

A recently acquired stupendous 60s frock. Very well constructed hand-made job. In-built slip with lace overlay and sleeves, all in glorious, deep, red. Below the knee, scalloped edge hem and the best touch is a waist band/sash in red satin which hangs down in three loops at the side (basically I look gift-wrapped). It fits like a dream, and I like to thinks skims and clings in all the right places. It wasnt bought with Christmas in mind, merely at Christmas when I was supposed to have my mind on others…nonetheless its made its debut with much aplomb at a few cocktail soirees.


john December 24, 2006 at 12:10 pm

hhmmm, not sure that a fab with as much nap as velveteen would be good for this dress-it would give you a lot of color variation that might not be so attractive because of all the different directions the nap would be running-


ladykatya December 25, 2006 at 11:23 am

No holiday dress here – but I bought this pattern! Thank you! It’s going to get me back into sewing!!!Happy Holidays!


Anan January 22, 2007 at 12:58 pm

I wish I had been able to make a Christmas dress… I coulodn’t find a decent pattern though so I made a plain old a-line skirt in a synthetic moleskin fabric with the cutest pink with cream and red largeish flowers, and a cream blouse with a mandarin collar and 34 sleeves with cuffs below an inverted pleat…


Anan January 22, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Oops… Where did I wear it? Church. A whole ton. I could have worn it every day for the twelve days of Christmas but I didn’t. Last year I had a dress with a satin skirt… Of course I slipped on the snowy ice and went splat. My family doesn’t understand why I won’t wear it! It has a horrible water mark!


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