I love the look of this Kwik Sew nightie—but I have a sinking feeling it would look less glamorous in reality (and it takes a LOT of fabric)

Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow is on a tent-dress tear right now. And she’s making it look good. Off-handedly I commented that she’s making me think more seriously about the whole shape and the several vintage patterns I have that use it, when I’m really not sure about the shape on my actual body. Of course she said she’d love to see one made up. Wait, you mean I should actually SERIOUSLY think about this?

Sleepwear again, but the version on the left is a pretty basic pillow-case dress.

Well, I haven’t gotten that far, but here’s what a quick trawl through the pattern stash turned up.

Here’s a sort of half-pillow-case.

This 90s McCall’s might be a good woven option—it would be perfect in a soft rayon, with the bust dart for a nice fit through the bust.

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore McCall’s old Carefree pattern line? All the cute and sweetness. I love the sleeves on the short red version. As far as I can tell, this one is shapeless with the tie extending from the bottom of the V neckline to tie under the bust.

This John Kloss  (Wait, better yet, here’s a whole post on Madalynne about him) Butterick pattern is probably my favourite in theory—fitted through the bust and then flowing free below. The maxi version looks especially yummy. I worry about those cut-in shoulders on my actual body, however—I tend to not actually like that look when I see it on me. I do love the long slit at the throat, though.

I guess this one is not actually a tent-dress—I’d call it more of a babydoll. I’m totally seduced by the Carefree cuteness again, though. I’ve had the fabric for this one picked out for years…



Filed under Sewing

10 responses to “Tent-ative

  1. As someone who learned to sew in the 70s: those clothes are designed for qiana and other slinky nonstretch knits. The last one is a lightweight woven poly/cotton I’ll wager. Otherwise, you are not wearing a nightgown, you’re wearing the bedspread.
    Or at least I was.

  2. Bernadette Williams

    Kwik Sew 993 would be economical in a Tricot fabric, which comes in 108″ widths. Nightgowns, slips and negligees of the 60s and seventies were usually made out of nylon tricot.

  3. Lynsey

    There are some fab patterns there, I’m loving the McCall carefree and Butterick throat split would look amazing sewn up in a floaty fabric

  4. LinB

    Those patterns are lovely — but the only one that comes close to what the Sears & Roebuck catalog used to describe as a “tent” dress is the last one, the McCall’s 3957. A tent dress does NOT fit at all closely anywhere except at the neck and shoulder and sleeve. It flares away from the body at all other points, leaving no bust definition — and certainly no waist definition! You never need darts with a true tent dress. Hem can be surprisingly huge in circumference. If you made a tent dress in a stiff fabric, you could stand it upright on its hem and it would look exactly like a tepee. Well, like a tepee with sleeves and a neckline, anyway.

    A tent dress in navy or black was the uniform imposed on females of girth by the fashion industry, for many decades. This was true for elementary school girls and great-grandmothers.

  5. Pingback: This is (not) a tent dress.  | Tanit-Isis Sews

  6. I made that McCall’s 3562 with the ties. It is easy and lovely… I it got worn to death and then donated. It would be gorgeous in a rayon…. I have some waiting for summer. I think you are right about the Kwik Sew… nice in theory but if anyone could pull it off….

  7. Just catching up with blog reading when I saw that red dress on McCalls 3652. I was not particularly a good seamstress but I was in my 20’s, young and tall and that dress was a knock out on my when I wore it to my friend’s wedding. Led to some interesting years with a slightly older man….she said with a nostalgic smile.

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