comments: 160


PATTERN: From Girls Style Book (Japanese), ISBN #978-4-579-11181-7
VIEW: G (modified to add pockets from View E)
SIZE: 100cm (about a US size 3-4)
FABRIC: Cotton lawn from Goodwill, with vintage bias trim

A couple of weeks ago on a rainy afternoon, Andy and I were at the Goodwill bins (the bins are like the Goodwill outlet store) together. We go to Goodwill together a lot. Usually it's incredibly relaxing to paw through the aisles at Goodwill. Occasionally it's extremely exciting. Such was the case on this particular afternoon, when every time we turned around we spotted something good. I found five or six different two-yard lengths of various vintage fabrics, including this delicious tomato-soup red cotton lawn (at least, I think it's 100% cotton — there might be a bit of polyester in there, because it doesn't wrinkle very much). The fabric pieces were spread willy-nilly throughout the bins. I felt pretty excited about it all, because at the bins you pay by the pound, something like $1.49 for the first ten pounds or something. All that fabric was very lightweight — I doubted it even weighed a pound. I was ready to call it a day.

Then, suddenly: the unmistable cover of a vintage copy of the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, lying on top of the ragged heap of books in the book bin. To know me is to know that I never move quickly. But I'll move for a first edition. This time: Picture a manatee that's been stung by a bee: I zoomed toward it as if propelled, feet hardly touching the ground, and snatched it quickly from the bin. People continued to throw books every which way. (The bins are not for the thrifting faint-of-heart. Seeing all of those practically destroyed books is painful.)


I danced a jig over to Andy (who was holding, as usual, a ginormous electronic keyboard). "Loooooook! Tenth printing, August 1965!" The spine and back cover were damaged, but the pages were just fine (though speckled with forty-five-year-old splashes of red wine). "Psych!" said he. And then he proceeded to find me five other 1970s embroidery books and pamphlets that I'd never seen before. All in all, a very good day at Goodwill.

Whenever I get fabric at Goodwill, I always wash it on hot and dry it immediately, and then frequently I do it again, just in case. When the fabrics were done and folded, I saw that the tomato-soup red one was exactly the same color as that delicious tomato red of the title box and fleurs-de-lis on the cover of MTAOFC. I LOVE that red. It's the red of geraniums in the windowbox of a French kitchen window. It's the red of the perfect shade of lipstick you can never, ever find (because you're not French). It's the red of Julia's bouillabaisse, speckled with thyme (p. 52). Oh, did I have a dress in mind!


I've had the Japanese craft book that included this pattern for a couple of years now. It's one of my favorites to look at; the styling is lovely. Like the Goodwill bins, sewing from Japanese craft books is not for the faint-of-heart (as there is rarely any English in the book), but the effort can be so worth it. If you are comfortable with the basic steps of dressmaking, you will probably be fine (?). With all of these little clothes I am making (even the ones made from American commerical patterns), I trace all of the pattern pieces for a particular size onto Swedish tracing paper first (so that I never cut up the original pattern, and can use it again when I want to make a different size). With Japanese craft-book patterns, the pattern pieces for several different dresses (and sizes) are printed on top of each other, and you need to look very carefully at what you are tracing, as it can at first appear quite a tangle. You also need to remember to add seam allowances to the pattern pieces, because they are not inclued. (Also, as you can see by the sizing, all measurements are in metric.) This dress was extremely simple — only three separate pieces, and a straightforward construction. I added the pockets from another little top in the book. I love little patch pockets like that, especially on something so A-lined and flat.


I've had this vintage bias trim in my stash for many years. I've been saving it for just the right thing. It was in its original packaging and originally cost 60 cents! Love that. It's also 100% cotton. I was thinking about how it will wash, or whether it will shrink a lot when washed, since I didn't pre-wash it. We'll see. I attached it at the neckline entirely by machine, stitching it first to the wrong side of the dress, and then folding it over and top-stitching it on the front. I should've left the red-threaded bobbin in place when I did that. I cut the back piece on the fold and left out the zipper, instead making a 6" slit from the neckline down and finishing it with a continuous placket. I don't like zippers, and I never have any on hand, anyway. Then I made a button loop with embroidery floss, and stitched on a little button. Et voila! Bon appetit!


pockets are always appreciated. Very lovely.

Marilyn Podoll says: March 04, 2010 at 08:52 AM

beautiful story and beautiful dress. You are so talented!! I'm still looking for "my" JC cookbook. It's out there somewhere...

I am SO HAPPY for you!! You seem so happy, and I love that. I left you a note on your Facebook, if you get a chance to look and respond I would really appreciate it. I'm just dying to send you a gift! The dress is just lovely...

awwww, what a sweet dress, darling in every way. I love the button loop.

Isn't thrifting fun? I recently found one of Julia's called The Way to Cook (1989). I was thrilled!

Egads! That is my dream, to find a copy of MTAOFC at a thrift store! My man and I are always on the prowl for one, we finally gave up and bought a new copy, but never knows what one may find out there!


yay! i just love love love this one! size 3-4! : ) the fact that it was rescued from the bins makes it even awesomer! i always wash on hot and leave out in the weather for a few days (and sage) items from the bins. just to be sure.

Red is one of my favourite colours and I LOVE this dress so much. Just spectacular (in a gorgeously simple way). I am so enjoying your little girl sewing right now. Really.

Oh, that is so sweet. And I love the color, especially with the trim with little flowers!
There's never anything too exciting at our goodwill. :(
I think when people move here, they've already purged their stuff before the move. But I'm really happy for you!

Bright, red, cheery perfection!!

Nita in South Carolina says: March 04, 2010 at 09:23 AM

That is the prettiest little dress ever!

Your little one is going to be the best dressed EVER! She is going to look ADORABLE everytime she leaves the house. How fun...coming from the mother of three boys who would have LOVED to have had a little girl to sew for! My mom always made my sister and I matching outfits, and our dolls as well. Enjoy!

you are making me want to rush off to goodwill right now! i know you hear it constantly, but i adore your blog. i've been wondering for a while what the story was in the baby department and was delighted to hear what's in the works. you are an inspiration in many ways and that's one lucky little girl coming your way!

I LOVE GOODWILL! I am jealous of your MTAOFC find!!!

I have that exact bias trim! I got all of my Grandma's sewing stuff when she passed away. The price on mine was 15 cents!!

Oh my Gosh, Alicia. I too just recently found a copy of the MTAOFC at our local Thrift Shop. I was so surprised when I saw it, that when I picked it up I got all tingly and was shouting with joy inside, but kept my cool on the outside so no one would think who is that crazy lady over by the books. LOL!!

Love your blog. You remind me so much of myself when my girls were young. I used to sew all the time and make all their clothes. Now I am a Gamma with a two year old little girl and your little dresses are inspiring me to start sewing for the spring.

Blessings to you and praying that your little bundle will find her way to you.

Nifty-thrifty... your joy is leaping from the page.

That dress is SO pretty. I'm with you on the first edition finds. Awesome.

Bookaholic says: March 04, 2010 at 09:47 AM

You have such a lucky little girl coming your way. :) She has no idea. :) Most of my daughter's clothes are hand-me-downs from friends or gifts from relatives, but it's sweet how she treasures the ones that are hand-made. I'd say "have fun getting ready," but you already are. :)

'That' red is my favorite color too! So happy to hear the news about your little one...I can feel the excitement radiating from your home all the way on the East coast (my home). Keep us posted.

This is going to be one very well dressed baby girl x

I love this! I'm so enjoying the gradual unveiling of these lovely baby clothes. As others have said, your daughter is one lucky girl, in her future wardrobe and most especially in her parents-to-be.

My Mom just sent me her 1967 copy of MTAOFC: I have it propped in the kitchen, cover facing out - love the look of it.

Did you know you can tape two sharpened pencils together then use it to trace patterns to make an exact 1/2" seam allowance? Easy.

Julie G. in Iowa says: March 04, 2010 at 09:56 AM

We were SO meant to be friends (even if only through the computer)!
I love-love-loved "My Life in France" written by Julia Child and her nephew, and am guessing you probably did too. I liked the movie and book "Julie and Julia" - they made me want to have a fab kitchen with all sorts of copper pots and gadgets.
And now I love-love-love the little tomato soup jumper. If only I were much, much smaller and had white tights and red mary-jane shoes....
Thanks for such a cheery post, Julie G.

delish! I love the trim!! inspiring as usual.


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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at