The Hokey Cokey Dress

You put the left seam in, the right dart out

In, out, in, out, you sew it all about

You do the hokey cokey and you bodge the hem

That’s what it’s all about!

Want a reet good laugh? Go to your local park with a camera and tripod on a sunny Bank Holiday. My god, you’ll make new friends! People are fascinated. I took my tripod out of my pannier and a man stopped dead in his tracks to watch me ERECTING THE TRIPOD. That’s how interesting photography is to other people.

So this is the Style 2667 dress, made from a vintage pattern bought for £2 and fabric bought for £6.60 from The Textile Centre, Walthamstow:

The best thing I can say about this sewing experience is that it’s over. Phew boy, I can’t say I enjoyed making this dress. Kerry has this same pattern and Colleen remembers it from the first time round. Is it Eighties, Colleen? It looks it to me. Colleen wisely warned me about this skirt and breezes. Dust off the nice knickers, ladies!

Okay, so why was this so tricky? It’s that ruddy bodice. I made two toiles, the fitting was so difficult. I still ended up taking in darts and side seams on the final make like there was no tomorrow. I didn’t even bother trying to adjust the upper chest because a bodice with drawstring ties at the shoulders doesn’t leave much room for accurate fitting in the upper chest department.

This is a reversible gingham, so I used the small check on the bodice and the huge check on the skirt. I did my best to match up the rows of stripes at the skirt seams, but by and large accurate matching was just impossible – I think because this very breathable and loose weave was more than a touch prone to stretching and distorting.

I think this fabric is double weave. It’s two thin layers of fabric melded together. I believe it may be similair to the fabric Handmade Jane recently used on her gorgeous blouse:

The reverse of Jane’s blouse is camel with blue rabbits!

Hemming this skirt nearly tipped me over the edge. There was nowhere to put the excess on such a distinct curve and I was making a real bodge job. There has to be a way, I thought, hotfooting it to the computer. Thank you, Gertie – not for the first time in my life! Lovely Gertie supplies this video tutorial for hemming a circle skirt. Bless her – she’s clearly stuck behind an ironing board in a cramped New York apartment. How lovely of her to go to so much trouble for an idiot in Walthamstow. Now, I love my hem and am curious to make one of those circle skirts with the horsehair braid. Wheeeee! I bet it’s so much fun to wear.

Close up of hemming the circle skirt

I really recommend this patchwork foot for if you want an accurate line of sewing. You can just see that there’s a little metal ‘wall’ guiding the foot along the edge of the fabric.

I think that, against all odds, I’ve managed to make this dress a success. But we really weren’t singing from the same song sheet. I swore blind I’d never use this pattern again but I might be tempted to change my mind. As I wandered past the play area in the park I heard a toddler calling: ‘Look, Mummy! That lady’s wearing a pretty dress.’

On some steps. This picture’s an homage to Dolly Clackett!

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33 Responses to The Hokey Cokey Dress

  1. Ashley says:

    You certainly are wearing a pretty dress! I love it 🙂
    I don’t know it is with people and cameras, but they love em! You should see them when I take my polaroid out with me. Or my diana mini that looks like a toy camera (it is really, yes.) I’ve gotten some very funny looks! lol
    Ashley x

  2. Lisa says:

    What a gorgeous dress , I know what you mean about hemming a dress like that . I actually hide from patterns like that . Maybe I need to learn .

  3. molly says:

    I like the two sizes of the check! although I’ve never heard of hokey-cokey, in the US we call it the hokey-pokey

  4. Katie says:

    Ah, from the mouth of babes… It really IS a pretty dress! It sounds like the fit was a bear, but your end result is utterly fabulous. I love the big/little plaid contrast. So fun!

  5. Roisin says:

    I LOVES it, Karen! and steps are where it’s at for outfit shots, clearly!

  6. ooobop says:

    Its lovely Karen. Well worth the fight if you ask me! I think the cleverest part is that you saw past the boring 80s portrayal of the dress and made a much more spectacular version!

  7. Bold Sewist says:

    It’s lovely! All the bodice toiling was well worth it – it fits you beautifully! And I love the combination of the two plaids!

  8. Suzanne says:

    You did a great job-it beautiful! Now that you’ve gotten thru the difficult sewing parts, you can make it up again quickier and easier.

  9. Eleanna says:

    It really is a beautiful dress! And I love the use of two sizes of check.

  10. Sarah says:

    It’s a lovely dress and I think well worth the effort!!

    S x

  11. Dibs says:

    I love the way you rock the two prints. The contrast it really good. All in all a VERY pretty dress. Its amazing how some projects look easy, but are so frustrating to sew right? But you did a really good job here, the fit looks perfect.

  12. Kerry says:

    The dress looks great! Perfect for Spring/Summer. I love that you used two different sizes of check for it. Sounds like a pretty tricky make though, am glad I have others things in the queue before that one…I’m also keen to try the horsehair braid technique soon too.

  13. Stevie says:

    Looks great Karen! Well done for percevering it really does get annoying when you have projects like that! I need to find me some reversible material!

  14. Alessa says:

    Pretty dress, indeed! The fabric looks lovely and I love how swingy the skirt looks! 🙂

  15. Karen it’s beautiful – a tribute to perseverance! The bodice looks an incredible fit, but you know I know what a pain & a struggle those darned patterns can be if they just don’t fit straight away! Style 2667 – vanquished! Well worth the effort & the photos are so cute 🙂 What every bank holiday should be like- sunny days in the park feeling super girly!!

  16. Jane says:

    Oh I love it Karen, I especially like the two types of check and the twirly skirt. It’s a perfect length too, well done. It’s great seeing the patterns we were looking at on the train coming to life! x

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Oh it’s gorgeous. So springy. I love the doublesided fabric and I love how you decided to use it. 🙂

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, and I don’t see anything wrong with the hem. What was wrong with it???

  19. Tilly says:

    The toddler was right – it’s gorgeous! Worth the two muslins, but then again that’s easy for me to say, all I have to do is admire it. Interesting that you took your tripod to the park. I was thinking about doing that this week but I think I’m too embarrassed. Maybe I could go at 6am when there will only be a jogger and a tramp or two…

    • A certain amount of bare faced cheek is certainly called for! Busying yourself fiddling with the camera gives you something to do as you wait for people to walk past but I also decided to just refuse to be too embarrassed, even when I had quite an audience at one point. I did expect someone to tap me on the shoulder and ask, ‘Are you the vainest woman in the world?’ I was desperate to explain to people, ‘It’s for my blog! I HAVE to do this!’

  20. lizajane says:

    So lovely! I think using both sides of the gingham was a fabulous idea. Looks like the perfect dress for a summer bbq.

  21. Kat says:

    I was trying to figure out what the hokey cokey was then I realised that we just call it the hokey pokey here. Love the dress! The 2 different checks look great together.

  22. eva marie says:

    You look like a million bucks!

  23. CHECK-you out if your lovely dress (get-it? LOL!)
    Despite the painful construction I bet you’ll wear this loads over summer!! 🙂

  24. Opps! I meant to say in your lovely dress (not “if” your lovely dress … dur!)

  25. Roobeedoo says:

    Ah… Lloyd’s Park… sigh…
    Ooh – you should totally make matching shorts to wear underneath, cos then you could tuck your dress in the legs and spare the blushes when you are cycling!
    Um – did I say I think it’s great? Especially the fit of that bodice!

  26. Carly says:

    This is lovely Karen, the two checks work perfectly together, and it looks like you got a great fit. I don’t think I’d have been brave enough to put those two checks together, would have been too full of self doubt, but hurrah, you did and it’s genius!


  27. Amy says:

    Wow, it looks so great! Worth the battle with the bodice, and braving the rude staring people 😉

  28. Geogrrl says:

    It came out well! That was the view I meant to make, and never got to. Also, I have wide shoulders and ribcage, and have to accommodate them, so I didn’t experience the problems you have. I do recall that that hem was a beeyotch, but I don’t recall what I did to get around it. I think that I pressed a narrow hem in place in sections, easing the curves, and basting it down before sewing it. Circle skirt hems are not for the faint of heart or impatient. Another trick is to run a basting thread around the edge to “gather” it, but that didn’t seem to work well for me.

    I made it when I was, what? 15? 16 at most, so it would be late 1979/1980.

    The skirt is wonderfully swishy, and you feel pretty in it. It also looks very pretty. And definitely wear the nice underwear with this one.

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  31. Sassy T says:

    Love this I almost want to go bike riding. Maybe one day, am more of a walker


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