Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Almost Free

Remember these? 

I lived for many years in Austin TX. At the time, every woman I knew had 3-4 of these. Little girls had them too. Perfect house dresses. Brand new in bright colors, they were pretty enough for many occasions. Just right for Austin in August. You just had to go to Mexico to buy them.

This one is worn and it is tight in the shoulders and bust. I cannot get rid of it. Look at that bright embroidery. The fabric is probably a very inexpensive cotton, and it is faded to white in some places. It was made by machine. The embroidery is hand-sewn. Can you see the smocking that gathers the dress to the yoke? How much more I appreciate that now!

I remember the vendor calling out to me as I tried to walk by - "almost free, lady." I am glad I stopped and bought it. I probably paid too little.

Some years back while attending an ASG conference I had a chance to visit with the owner of I have been a big fan of folkwear patterns for a long time, especially, the Asian garments. 

I mentioned to Kate that they were missing a key piece from Mexico. It was this dress, known to me as the Mexican Wedding dress. She said that might be coming out in the future.

Recently while reading their newsletter I saw it. The Old Mexico dress, which can be made as a dress or a top. I ordered it immediately and began to think about fabrics I should use. Linen? Kona cotton? Silk dupioni. All would be gorgeous, especially with heavy-handed embroidery.

When it arrived, I showed my daughter. After all, she was born in Austin and returned to go the university there. I was certain that she would share my excitement.

She said the top would probably be OK, but the dress veered into mumu territory. Yikes! Mumu territory? That certainly punctured my little balloon trip down memory lane.

So I made it anyway.

Not a mumu. PJs. My new favorite PJs. 

Too big for a dress or a top - I'll size down when I try it again. The sleeves are not quite right. I will make it again. But not now.
wrinkled PJs

This is not my favorite pattern and it did not live up to my fantastical expectations. My daughter was right. But I used fabric I purchased for a song. And it aged in the stash quite a long time.

Almost free.


  1. I'm a UT grad and I remember these dresses very well:-). They were festive and comfortable in the Texas Summer heat. I could use one nowadays in the Houston Summer heat.

  2. Yes, we gals from California remember these dresses, too. Such carefree days and memories..hmmm...I won't go in to details!
    Love your stories, keep them coming!

  3. I still have several of those dresses, couldn't possibly get rid of them, they are so beautiful. But, I do think they might look a little muu-muu ish now on my much more mature figure....

  4. I remember them also. My mom would step outside the house to do something and I would cringe because they were...housedresses! She was going OUTSIDE in a housedress. Teenage girls are awful. :-) I love the folkwear pattern and love your new jammies.