Sewing, What I wear

The Goddess of Small Happinesses Frock

I have a small mountain of finished projects to photograph and blog about, which is a good thing, of course, but still slightly daunting!  Still, every mountain starts with foothills, so, one photoshoot and blog post at a time, I will make it to the top.

Today I’m aiming for Mt Olympus with a chiton-y, goddess-y frock.

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock thedreamstress.com2

I made this simple frock all the way back in November.  I  keep coming back to  the 1920 Vionnet Chiton dress  in my sewing, and finding more ways to play with the basic  concept.  It’s such a clever dress idea, and it really works.

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock

This dress is a great example of how incredibly, and unexpectedly, flattering a dress made from a simple rectangle of fabric can be, especially with some helpful pattern placement.

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock

It’s doing all the right things for me: emphasising the curves of bust and hip, creating the illusion of a really small waist, lengthening, and hiding a bit of tummy squidge.  I’m currently battling the squidge, which has slowly been creeping in for the last few years, so looking this good is definitely a happiness (judging by friend’s reactions, it’s pretty impressive in person too, though Mr D asked, rather suspiciously, “What culture was that inspired by?” the first time I wore it, which is his way of saying “I think you look weird”.  He got given the “please reformulate your opinions on my dress” look.  And he has.  Smart man.).

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock

My only tiny quibble with the flattery factor of the dress is the length.  I wish it was just  three inches longer, so it  covered my knees.  But it couldn’t be, because there wasn’t any fabric, because the fabric is also a happiness.

The fabric is a very lightweight wool twill.  It showed up at The Fabric Store last winter, and I saw it and loved it, but it was very expensive, and I wasn’t sure the colours were good on me, and couldn’t think what I would make with it.  Then a student brought some into class, and I love it even more.  Then I had an inspiration of what to make with it (this), and rushed off to TFS to buy some…and it had all sold!

Oh, wailey wailey!

Then my student, who’d heard that I hadn’t managed to buy any, brought her fabric  back to class and offered to trade it for a class fee, as she’d decided that while she loved the fabric, she’d never make anything with it.

Oh, happiness!

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock

As I didn’t get to choose the length to buy, and only got what my student had, I used the full length of the fabric in making the dress.  Providentially (that’s another happiness!) it was possible to make both the horizontal and vertical  stripes  fall right where I wanted them: right down one bust and leg, and across my low hip.  On the back of the dress the horizontal band runs across my upper back, so if I wore the dress backwards it would be on my high bust.

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock

There was a long length of extra width, which I turned into a scarf: perfect for wearing with a 1920s wool crepe dress and long cardigan on an autumn day.  Using every bit of fabric in a project is definitely a happiness!

So is a successful photoshoot.  Late this  evening, after we’d both been working like mad all day, Mr D announced that he needed to go to the hardware store to pick up a bunch of DIY stuff before it closed.  Would I come along and advise on the right sort of nails and sandpaper etc. to get?  Mumble, mumble grumble.  OK, I’d come, but only if he’d do a photoshoot after.  A favour for a favour.  Fair enough.  So I rushed to get dressed and do my hair.

The hardware store is really near one of my favourite beaches, definite photoshoot material, but on the way to the store I noticed a cool wall cover with billstickers with poetry all over them.  So we stopped there for photos.  And then wandered into a tiny skate-park nearby, and found some cool fences and and a bit of wall, and ended up with a very successful set of images.  And even Mr D admitted he’d had fun!

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock

And for the final small happiness, because I like a good bit of serendipity;  I’d originally intended to name the frock after the ancient Greek goddess of happiness: Eutychia.  But Eutychia really is a dreadful name.  It was only after I’d named the dress and written most of the post that I remembered that the Roman equivalent of Eutychia is (of course) Felicitas.  And if Felicitas is the goddess of happiness, than a small happiness must be…Felicity!

Felicity the cat

Oh, happiness!

The Goddess of Small Happinesses frock


  1. A stunning frock with a spot-on length, and gorgeous photos. Thanks a lot for mounting St. Olympus 🙂

  2. Natalie says

    Wow, what a handsome dress! The fabric was just made for the pattern. Thanks for sharing!
    Natalie in brr-chilly, snowy Ky USA

    • Thank you!

      I’m SO pleased how the fabric and pattern came together – I was so worried about ruining it!

      Stay warm! We’re definitely revelling in summer down here, but in six months time I’ll be following pictures from your area feeling extremely envious 😉

    • Thank you!

      It’s good to feel glamorous – I’ve been spending a lot of time up a ladder, paintbrush in hand, painting the outside weatherboard of our house. Or, even worse, in full suit & mask scraping old paint. Being able to dress up is definite morale booster.

  3. Amy Ingvoldstad says

    Love the pattern placement on this! The fabric seems really dreamy and flowy as well..

    • Thank you! The fabric is very lightweight, and has relatively good drape, so it’s moving a fair bit in the Wellington breeze.

  4. I have a stack of large scarves and shawls I’ve been meaning to turn into something wearable. You’ve inspired me!

  5. Love it! The fabric turns up the volume to 11! just perfect! I’m a sucker for 20’s frocks, but I’m over the moon for this look because of the fabric! Well done.

    • Thank you! I thought I should go all-out with goddess hair for this dress. It did get me a few strange looks in the hardware store though: it’s not your usual picking out nails and carrying paint get up! 😉

  6. It is both beautiful, and cleverly done. As you say, the placement of the pattern of the fabric really makes the dress. I also agree that it would look still nicer if the skirt could have been a few inches longer, but it’s still a great dress!

  7. Elise says

    My favorite dress, the Vionnet dress! It certainly IS neat how a simple dress can turn into so many looks. As a pear-shape, the line on the hip was initially scary, but looks much cooler than a high-bust stripe would look. That dress looks to be flattering on so many body shapes. And wool voile is one of my favorite fabrics. Neat to see it out and on a dress.

    Regarding dressing in public, the husband and I have veto power on each other. Sometimes, however, you just have to override the veto and educate.

    • Thank you!

      Mr D & I don’t really have veto, but we do tend to listen to each other. In this case I’d just been told how amazing I looked in the dress by a bunch of friends, so he didn’t have a leg to stand on 😉 Shortly after his dubious comment we met up with a friend whose fashion sense he loves, and she said “OMG, have you realised how hot your wife is” So he changed his mind! 😉

      • Elise says

        It really is a lovely dress–and JUST the right placement of the stripe: a few inches up or down wouldn’t have been nearly as lovely. Obviously, your friend knows, too. Bwahahaha about the education of your husband.

        Vetos are nice if, like us, they are rarely used. We have different tastes in everything, but respect the other person’s expertise, so go along with the other person’s decision…unless.

        We are very lucky to live in a time that celebrates equality in relationships, aren’t we? We get to have all the fun of the clothes of different time periods, without having to deal with the ugliness.

  8. Lynne says

    Because it is fine wool, that lovely dress will do so many things in just about every season. I see happy layering happening. Day, evening, whenever. It is indeed a happiness. And the sandals are perfect.

    • Thank you! Wool is an excellent fibre. We’re so lucky to be able to get such high quality wool so regularly in NZ! And the sandals are a happiness. I wish I’d bought three pairs so I could stockpile them! 😉

  9. Claire Payne says

    I love it too. If this was a rate the dress I would give it 10/10.

  10. I’ve been reading your blog for years but have never commented before. But this time I just have to because I LOVE THAT DRESS SO MUCH. I think it’s my favourite thing you have ever made.

    • Welcome! Thanks for coming out to say hello – especially when you are so fantastically nice about it! Thank you SO much! Goodness, favourite thing ever! Much, much appreciated, and hopefully I can inspire you to comment on more items 😉

  11. Have to agree with everyone else – this dress is a knockout! The proportions are absolutely spot on and the pattern does exactly all the right things.

    • Thank you! I’m tickled pink that you like it – you’ve got such excellent taste and such an eye for detail and proportions!

  12. So, so lovely. Happy to have found your blog and looking forward to more beautiful creations!

  13. The dress is DARLING! While also being chic, of course. It’s a wonderful piece, and you look fantastic in it.

  14. This the most gorgeous dress I think you’ve ever made! And with your hair up like that, you can definitely see how the 60s looked to the 20s for inspiration. 😛 It’s gorgeous, you look gorgeous, your hair is amazing, I love it all!

    And it’s wool? Be-still-my-heart, I was sure only silks would get that gorgeous.

    • Oh wow, thank you!

      If you are interested, my hair is side-parted, put into a single braid (with ribbons woven through the braid), and then wrapped around my head. The braid isn’t long enough to go all the way around, but the extra ribbons help it to wrap and tuck back into itself. Then I wrapped a pearl necklace, and added a few decorative pins – which don’t really show in the photos anyway.

  15. It’s just gorgeous! Such beautiful colours, and it’s so flattering. And so glamorous.

  16. Deanna says

    You look gorgeous! That is a fabulous dress. It is lovely how everything worked out just right. I almost can’t believe Mr. D. asked what culture it was inspired by. 😉

  17. What a lovely dress! At first I thought you must have done some very intricate piecing to get that horizontal stripe… But it seems the fabric was just made for this!

  18. I particularly appreciate your conversations with Mr. D (who does, in fact, sound like a smart man!). 🙂 I can also fully appreciate the creeping of tummy squidge… it’s so sneaky at showing up and so much harder to get rid of then to gain! And the dress is quite flattering on you, though I’m not sure I could pull the style off myself. Also, I love your accessories with it. I enjoy those shoes…


  19. I have to confess something. The title makes me think of “Goddess of Small Things Stuck in Drawers”. Only in a much better way!
    And it all together looks absolutely fantastic, your hair, your shoes, and the DRESS. It is an extremely serendipitious dress, by the sound of it. The placement of the stripe really is perfect, and the colours are so beautifully golden and silver to enhance the special quality of it…

  20. Hayley Wilson says

    Oh that is droolworthy! Do you have a pattern or tutorial for it???

    PS you should really publish a book of your patterns 🙂

Comments are closed.