Talking with Turtles 60s Mod Dress

Dress details

This project is in honor of my turtle friend that I met last weekend (more details later in the post, if you’re interested).

I used McCalls 2390 (one of the patterns from the free batch I received) from the 1960s, a vintage thrifted double-knit and buttons from G Street Fabrics.

The total cost for the dress was about $4.

I altered the neckline, added a bit of width to the hips, and shortened the hemline.

I know that the color and geometric pattern on the dress is not an exact match to the turtle’s shell, but I associate the project with that turtle. Probably because of the yellow markings and the fact that a dress is sort of like a shell.

Yes, I somehow managed to screw up the armholes (one is bigger than the other), even though I measured everything meticulously. I didn’t even realize it until looking at these photos. Oh well. Mistakes happen, and it’s an easy fix.

Despite the dress being made from a double-knit–which usually equates to stuffy–it’ll probably get a lot of wear this summer. It’s pretty breathable for a double-knit. Now I have an excuse to buy another pair of shoes, too. I could use a pair of dark blue shoes or, even better, yellow shoes to go with the dress.

Am I crazy for talking to turtles?

Here in Southern Maryland we come across a lot of wildlife, and last week I made friends with one of my favorite creatures.

A majestic and wise looking wood turtle.

He looked like he had logged a few years, but he was unafraid and pretty amiable.

As long as I was talking to him softly, he didn’t go in his shell while I inched closer to snap photos. So, I shared some of my secrets with him, knowing they’d be safe.

He was surprisingly affirming. Plus, turtles aren’t judgmental. I could tell this old guy anything and he wouldn’t flinch.

Me: “I have an embarrassing nervous habit.”

Turtle…let’s call him Wilfred (That one’s for you Sarah, if you’re reading. :)): “Don’t we all?”

Oh, by the way, in my head this turtle sounded like Ben Stein.

Me: “No, this is something really weird. I mostly grew out of it, but occasionally I do it subconsciously…I play with my eyelashes.”

Wilfred: “So? I hide in my shell when I’m nervous.”

Me: “The last piece of chocolate Alex was just looking for…It was me, I ate it.”

Wilfred: “I know, you have chocolate at the corners of your mouth. So what’s the problem?”

Then, I decided to really test his ability to remain unwavering.

Me: “I may have unwittingly eaten one of your cousins once when I was in China. I didn’t know what was in the soup. I thought I should apologize.”

Wilfred: “That’s it, I’m out of here!”

I think I blew the chances of him coming back to visit from time to time.

Does anyone else love turtles as much as I do? They have an air of wisdom about them, and they offer endless fodder for metaphors about life. The one characteristic of turtles that always sticks out to me is their tenacity. For everything in life they must be determined and hopeful. After all, it may take an hour to go less than aΒ  quarter of a mile.

I look at the turtle and wonder, why can’t I have that much resolve in my life? Pardon the pun, but a “slow and steady” mentality does not come easy to me. It’s the reason I sometimes burn out or injure myself when I start a new exercise routine, striving for immediate results by jumping in too hard and too fast. It’s also the reason I usually steer clear of crafts like knitting and embroidering. So, I commend all you tenacious turtles out there!


I’ll have a post coming up about the “costume” I plan to wear for the Warrior Dash next weekend. The Warrior Dash benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am raising money on behalf of St. Jude, and if you would like to help, you can make a donation here. Any amount helps to make a difference. If you would like to make a donation and enter a raffle for a dress sewn by me, please see this post. Thank you for considering helping the children of St. Jude!

  1. Laura

    May 12, 2012 at 8:36 am

    so cute!…..let’s find the shoes!

  2. Talking with Turtles 60s Mod Dress

    May 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

    […] This project is in honor of a turtle friend that I made last weekend (more details on my blog). […]

  3. Heather Lou

    May 12, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Love this! 60’s shift dresses are the best. And cute turtle.

    1. Becca

      May 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks! I agree. I’m really growing fond of 60’s shift dresses.

  4. GA

    May 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Go with yellow shoes!!! Love this post. I thought you named the turtle Sheldon. Has Newton met him yet?

  5. GA

    May 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Go with yellow shoes!!! Love this post. I thought you named the turtle Sheldon. Has Newton met him yet? having trouble posting this.

    1. Becca

      May 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      I agree. Yellow shoes would be perfect. Newton doesn’t normally care about turtles. He gets bored because they go in their shells. πŸ™‚

  6. Sarah Lewis

    May 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    You will have to explain the name Wilfred cuz I didn’t understand “Don’t we all?” Nice to have a friend you can tell your secret to and know he won’t tell anyone!!! LOLOL

    1. Becca

      May 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Haha. Sorry. I should have put a last name. I meant Sarah Hunter. She had commented on one of my photos on faceboo and asked me to name it Wilfred. Sorry to confuse you. πŸ™‚

  7. Anne

    May 13, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I love turtles. And G-street fabrics!

    1. Becca

      May 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Awesome! So I’m guessing you’re near the D.C. area, too? G Street Fabrics is wonderful. I only wish I could get up there more often.

  8. Lauren

    May 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I don’t think I would have ever considered that pattern based on the artwork, but your finished dress looks soooo good! It’s really flattering & cute!

    My best friend’s beagle (who I’m dogsitting this week :)) is named Turtle, and I definitely have been talking her floppy ears off all week hehe. I wouldn’t consider her patient, though – especially once her nose gets going lol.

    1. Becca

      May 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Thank you so much! I saw the pics of Turtle on your blog. So cute!!! I love beagles, just as much as I do Jack Russel Terriers. The one down side to beagles is that they are known barkers, but I’m sure your best freind’s dog is well-mannered. I talk to Newton frequently during the day, which he loves (he’s always cocking his head back and forth trying to understand what I’m saying :)). Dogs are just so easy to talk to, and it’s fun to have them around to keep you company.

  9. Korey

    May 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I absolutely love the buttons along the front of this dress and the back of the last one. So creative and unique. Both dresses look smashing. I love the turtle pics too. Growing up right near a lake I saw them often and recruited a few as temporary pets over the years.

    1. Becca

      May 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks, doll! For some reason, using buttons as design elements has really been on my mind lately. Turtles are so much fun. I just had never really encountered any around other places I’ve lived. But I’ve seen several of them since moving here.

  10. Molly

    May 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Your post reminds me of a book I once bought for a friend. Sadly I forget the title but it was about looking at life from a tortoise’s perspective – lessons humans can learn – similar kind of philosophy to what you touch upon here. She thought it was a great book (well, of course she’d say that).

    1. Becca

      May 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Sounds like a cute book with some wisdom in it. πŸ™‚

  11. MIchelle

    May 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I guess I’m a turtle cuz I love, love , love to knit. I am currently working on a lace shawl that I think I have knit backwards as much as I have knit forward, because I end up dropping a stitch somewhere. I don’t give up because I love the challenge of lace knitting plus it’s so delicate and pretty.

    1. Becca

      May 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      You do love to knit! And I often get to reap the benefits. I love all of my Bluechelle hand knit goodies. πŸ™‚ I would have given up long ago on a project like the lace shawl you described. I agree that it is very pretty. Maybe one day I’ll get into knitting. Sigh.

  12. Courtney

    June 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Love the dress! Where did you find the pattern? I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making a dress like that for a long time!

    1. Becca

      August 24, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Thanks! I actually acquired this pattern from a lady who was giving away totes full of patterns for FREE(!) on Craigslist. There were only about thirty patterns that I liked, but it was no problem to take the rest to the thrift store.

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