Hello, fabric enthusiasts! I’m Tanya from the sewing blog, Mrs. Hughes. I love vintage fashions and wearing retro dresses, but I tend to stick with the “fit & flare” silhouette. I stepped a little out of my comfort zone with the Colette Phoebe — a 1960’s style shift dress/jumper. I wanted to add a detail to this dress without changing the pattern design and its retro style, so I decided to sew a button-on-belt and share how I made it with you.
I’ve seen this belt detail on vintage shift dresses, but I’ve also noticed it on vintage coats as a functional belt that buttons on the front. This belt, however, is just an embellishment that turns an otherwise simple dress into one with an interesting focal point.
You don’t need any specialized tools to make this belt – basically a ruler, a seam gauge, a measuring tape, a marking implement, pins, needles, thread, fabric, buttons and of course, your pattern.
Following the directions, sew up the Colette Phoebe, version 2. I made mine with a few adjustments: added 3” to the skirt length, swayback adjustment, and a slit on the neckline as I found it a little too restrictive. I made this dress with Robert Kaufman linen from the Caroline Friedlander collection.
Decide where you want to place your belt and measure for the length and width that you’d like your band to be. I decided to place mine on the waistband, centering between the bodice and skirt. My dress is a size 20/22, and my belt is 12” long and 3 ½” wide.
Add seam allowances to your measurements and mark your belt measurements on your fabric (double thickness). I added ½” seam allowances to mine, marking a 13” x 4 ½” piece.
Now that you know what size you need for your belt, cut out two pieces.
Place both pieces right sides together and pin.
Sew them together, leaving a small opening. I left mine on the bottom. Make sure you have a big enough gap to turn the piece to the right side.
Trim the seam allowances and turn the belt to the right side. Use something with a pointy (but not too sharp edge) and make sure the points are turned out nicely. Press the belt band.
Hand sew the opening closed. I used small stitches and made them more visible on one side then the other, so the “better” side will be on the outside of my dress.
Place and pin the belt on your dress to ensure you like how it looks. If you’re not happy with the size, you can always go back and make another band.
Figure out how many buttons that you want on your belt, mark where you want them, and sew buttonholes. If you prefer to sew your buttons directly on to your belt and dress, skip this step. You can also topstitch the edges of your belt at this point if that’s your preference.
Pin your belt to your dress. I marked the centers of both my belt and my dress to make sure I had it centered correctly.
Sew your buttons on.
Voila! You have your button-on-belt and a truly vintage detail on your Phoebe dress and it takes your simple dress up to a new level.
Thank you to Harts Fabric, Robert Kaufman and Colette Patterns for this awesome project!
By Tanya Hughes (Mrs. Hughes)