Apparel · Dresses & Skirts · Sewing

Hey There, Scout!: I Finally Get My Vintage Plaid Dress

Hi! Happy Fall, y’all!

I am excited to share my latest sew, mainly because it’s been waiting in the wings for a long time due to several reasons: One, I’ve found my perfect fabric, but have not found a perfect pattern to make something out of, and two, I’ve since found the perfect pattern, but have had a fear of starting it. Does that make sense? I’m fearful with my pattern because it’s so perfect for my fabric, but the sewing part just intimidates me. I don’t know where this irrational fear comes from. I’ve been seriously sewing for over two years now and have grown in skill exponentially since then. My pattern is totally in my experience range, so it’s not like I’m learning anything brand new. It honestly happens a lot of the time and sometimes it deters me from sewing more because of it. I dunno. Maybe I just hype myself up because I’m such a perfectionist and hate failing at anything. Maybe I just need to get over it. Maybe I just need a slice of Milk Bar Pie (Sorry. I seriously just got distracted because I receive alerts from Milk Bar enticing me to order a yummy treat and I just got a text as I was typing that last sentence.)

Oh wow, enough of that tangent. I said I was excited, and that does not sound at all excited up there.

Attitude adjustment. I have finished sewing a Gertie Patreon exclusive: The Scout Dress!

This dress is a vintage style 50s fit and flare with a button down front and a double collar. The poof sleeves have a very cute keyhole and button closure at the cuff. The bottom is a very full, pleated circle skirt. The best detail about this dress is that it is named after Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Super book nerdy. Super cool.

I first joined the Gertie Patreon a while back, when the Scout first debuted, and as I’ve said, stayed away from starting it for a long time because I felt intimidated by it. Well, over a year later, I’ve faced my fear and knocked it out of the park! The best part is that I got to use my Kaufman plaid flannel that I’ve been saving for even more years to make this, and now I finally have the vintage plaid 50s dress that I’ve always wanted and needed in my life! So without further ado, let’s get into the Sewing Deets for the Scout Dress by Charm Patterns.

The Pattern

The PDF pattern printed and matched up well for me. All notches and dots aligned nicely during sewing. It’s nice that Gertie gives a guide for which pages to print for each pattern piece so you can save paper and ink and print out only what you need. It would have been nice if I had payed attention to this detail earlier on and not been the bonehead who printed out EVERY SINGLE PAGE. Good grief, Gilly.

Size & Fit

There is another reason why I was so hesitant to start sewing this dress. I’ve sewn other Gertie patterns in the past, and have not had the best experience with them. I’ve had issues with both sizing and fit for her patterns, and since I wanted this particular dress to be absolutely PERFECT, I made sure to make some toiles first. My main issues with Gertie patterns personally are in the bust, back, and waist area. I’ve found I always have to tweak and grade those areas and it is not always consistent from pattern to pattern. For the Scout, however, Gertie has since modified her whole sizing scale and also added cup sizes, which—yay me!—made fitting much easier this time around. So, new sizing put me at a size 10B, and graded out to a 12 in the waist. Pleasantly, the fit was perfect with my toile, so that gave me the confidence to cut into my flannel.

The Fabric

I first purchased this Kaufman plaid on the beloved, now defunct, (sniffle…whimper…curse you, Amazon!!!) I loved the color scheme with all the browns, tans, and greens. In general, I love Kaufman fabric and use it frequently in sewing, so I wasn’t surprised when I received my yardage and it was Love at First Sight. For flannel, it has a really nice feel and weight to it—not too heavy or thick, and is wonderfully soft, yet sturdy. It sews beautifully, but frays horribly, so serge/overlock early-on and asap.

The Sewing Directions

Directions for sewing are on PDF and are worded only. No illustrations are present, which I don’t really like, but it’s a personal thing because I’m such a visual learner. They are clear, for the most part. I feel some steps are a little lacking in detail and could use a bit more explanation. I actually took photos of each step as I was sewing so I would have my own little illustrated reference for future sews. What is FABULOUS about the Scout Dress directions however, is the sew-along video that is accessible to you if you are a Patreon subscriber. It is a great complement to the instructions, and I followed along throughout the whole sewing process.

Personal Sewing Notes

  • One big change I made to this dress was to swap the pleated circle skirt for a gathered one. Although I really didn’t need to scrimp on fabric because I had more than enough to work with, I went with a gathered rectangle skirt anyway to 1) save the hassle of having to pattern match my plaid at the seams (the skirt on the original pattern is split into 7 pieces to achieve maximum fullness– and also cause a headache for those who choose to do the skirt this way and pattern match) and 2) save my sanity at having to cut 7 more pattern pieces out during the cutting process. (I hate the fabric cutting process. Boring!) If you decide to do a gathered skirt instead, Gertie made a very handy (free!) skirt hack tutorial on the Charm Pattern blog.

Look at those tightly packed gathers!

  • The other change I made is the addition of belt loops. Since my dress is flannel and a whopping 4 yards of gathered fabric, this made my skirt a little bit heavy, so the belt loops are there to help the belt stay put and keep the skirt from pulling down too much at the waist. It was my first time making them, and it was easy, but I ended up having to hand sew them on because my machine just couldn’t handle the thickness of all the layers of flannel. The needle kept jamming and I would have had an absolute breakdown if my machine broke down before sewing on this dress was finished.
  • I changed the buttonholes to the opposite side, not because of personal preference, but because I managed to mess up the other end where the pattern says to place them. I had tried to sew the holes horizontally instead of my usual vertical way, but the needle kept getting in the way of the seam edge of the underfacing, causing it to get stuck and interrupt the flow of stitching. It was a disaster trying to seam rip and get rid of all that buttonhole thread! Thank God I hadn’t yet cut through the first one yet, or it would have completely ruined the whole dress for me! You can still see some of the outline of the buttonhole where it just became impossible to seam rip because the color thread I used is exactly the color of the brown background, and at that point I would just be poking holes in the fabric. Not good. However, when the bodice is all buttoned up, the visible threads are hidden. So, crisis averted!

The Fabric Covered Belt

It was my first time making a fabric covered belt and it was nerve wracking! That irrational fear started creeping up on me again, but I chased it away and just dove right into the process–and I actually enjoyed the experience! Again, Charm Patterns blog has a very handy dandy free blog tutorial for constructing a fabric covered belt to go with your Scout Dress. Tap/click here for link. Per suggestion on the tutorial, I used all the recommended tools for construction.

For the buckle cover, I used this one by Maxant, in a 1 1/2″ width. I used a C.S. Osborne grommet setter, and antique copper grommets for the belt holes. All were purchased through Amazon.

I pretty much followed all the instructions except when it came to the backing for the belt. The marine vinyl recommended on the tutorial was just to pricey for me, so I opted instead to double the heavyweight interfacing on 2 belt fronts and sew them together. I also added a band of Ban Rol, which is this very neat kind of interfacing used in constructing waistbands. It’s very sturdy, yet still flexible, and it really helped give the belt that extra bit of stability. It is actually pretty pricey as well, if you decide to get a whole roll, but I only needed a little, so I was able to find smaller sized rolls on Etsy at much reasonable prices for my needs. So I basically just sandwiched the Ban Rol between the two interfaced belt fronts and sewed a topstitch all around the perimeter of the belt. If you do it this way, make sure to keep the Ban Rol in place with basting stitches first, since it is a bit wobbly. I basted right down the middle and seam ripped them out after finishing.

Making the belt holes was a little challenging. I had to snip, snip, snip with my scissors in order to get the holes big enough for the grommets to go through, but it all worked out pretty well, and while my grommet setter didn’t come with directions for how to use, it wasn’t too hard to figure out after watching a couple of YouTube tutorials.

Constructing the belt buckle was easy enough. The directions are pretty straightforward, and I had fun making it. Sewing it all together was easy. I did have to hand sew the folded down part of the belt that attaches to the buckle because of the thickness of my flannel when it was folded.

I’m pretty proud of my belt! Isn’t it purrty??

My Finished Dress

Here she is! My finished Scout Dress:

Look at that FULL skirt! At first I thought all the gathering might work against me and come out too full, but it all came together beautifully. I don’t even need to wear a petticoat underneath. It flares out wonderfully on it’s own and is very twirly!

So, I think I may have gotten carried away with the buttons! Oh well, at least you know who won’t have any issues with gaping! ME! These are brown Corozo Nut buttons. They match perfectly, I think. You can see here where my pattern matching got a little bit off kilter because of the button front. It was pointed out by others that it isn’t noticeable at all when the skirt falls naturally into place, so I don’t worry too much about it. Excuse my inconsistent lighting between photos. It was gloomy and cloudy with occasional sun bursting through the clouds and back again to gloomy, so my photos are half in low light, and opposite in others.

Sewing both collars and sleeves gives me slight heeby jeebies, but I am really proud of myself how both came out. I originally didn’t want to do the poofy sleeves in the pattern, but I’m glad I did them because now they are my favorite part of the dress. The keyhole sleeve is really cute, especially with the button cuff. I did not sew a buttonhole for the sleeve. They are roomy enough for my arms to go through and move freely.

Mmmkay, can we just talk about my boots for a second!? I am in looooove with them! They are among the latest from B.A.I.T. Footwear, and they are too cute for words! They are inspired by classic western Roper boots and have just a little bit of Victorian edge to them as well, so its a well balanced mix of dainty and rugged. And isn’t the little scalloped flap detail so cute tho? It takes a bit of time to break them in, but they are getting there.

In case you are wondering: Yes, this dress has POCKETS!

Final Thoughts

I really lucked out this time with this pattern. Truth be told, Gertie patterns aren’t my favorite to sew with, just because for me personally, the ones I’ve already done have all been inconsistent when it came to fitting, and that kind of discouraged me from wanting to do any more. But as I said, with the Scout Dress, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make it. Everything about it really embodies that perfect “50s Plaid Dress” that I’ve always dreamed of owning. I’m so glad I was able to get the fit just right. And yah, I did run into some minor issues, but I was able to remedy them right away, and I couldn’t be more happier with the final outcome.

I originally wanted to wear this dress for Christmas, but I don’t know how much I’ll be able to stand it hiding in my closet until December! I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing it before then. Maybe to take family photos, or even just to vacuum the living room. Sky’s the limit, really…

Peace, Love, & Hugs,

2 thoughts on “Hey There, Scout!: I Finally Get My Vintage Plaid Dress

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