240 Rosie the Riveter Sundress Version

Learn How to Turn Folkwear Pattern 240 Rosie the Riveter Overalls into a Summer Dress.

by: Cynthia Anderson

In honor of all the essential workers who are making personal and professional sacrifices in order to protect and support us all, through this challenging time, we at Folkwear, hope to inspire the "can do" attitude of one of our history's iconic women . . . Rosie the Riveter. We are happy to offer a tutorial on how to transform the 240 Folkwear Rosie the Riveter Overall into a dress for sunnier days.  I made this version (above) for Cari, Folkwear's wonderful Customer Service and Shipping Manager, and I am going to show you how to make your own in this post!  

Getting the most out of any pattern you invest in is always preferable. Learning how to look at a pattern and knowing how to create other options is often easier imagined than executed. Seeing the possibilities in a pattern and setting the challenge of making something new, is much easier when the foundation and options of the pattern are as tried and true as a Folkwear pattern. The Folkwear 240 Rosie the Riveter pattern already has so much to recommend it - the iconic overall, a flattering slack, the perfect classic shirt. Then there is the sweater, which could be knit in many varieties of yarn and colors. The options are endless. This pattern is loaded with "can do" possibilities.

Folkwear's 240 Rosie the Riveter overall pattern is a natural for a transformation to a snappy sundress for warm weather wearing. The versatility of this dress is also a plus.  Wear it with a tee or shirt or simply go bare and comfy cool! Make it long or short, full or slim.  

As a plus, nothing is lost in the dress portion we are about to make.  All the great overall details of the pattern, including the pleats, darts, and pockets will all transfer to the skirt portion.

Getting Started

To make the dress from the overalls, the bodice portion of the Overall version will  be made according to the pattern instructions, and the bottom portion (the Slacks part) will be the foundation for making the skirt. 

Find the your size and cut pieces for the bodice and waistband.  To insure fit, make a muslin and make any adjustment necessary.  

For the skirt part of the pattern, trace and cut out the size pattern you need for the front Slack pattern (Piece G) and back Slack pattern (Piece H), the front inset/pocket (Piece J) and the inner pocket (Piece I). You may not need the entire length of Pieces G and H, and may want to trace/cut from the knee area and up.  Also, leave extra tracing material on the seam edge of pocket pieces, J and I, because the skirt edge angles out and a little extra will be needed. See the illustration before cutting these two pieces out below.

Note: Size Large and XL are accidentally reversed on slack pattern pieces G and H. Be sure to follow the outline of the size you need.

When tracing off the pattern, be sure to draw all the markings that help guide the assembly. This includes all the notches, dart markings, pleat indicators, and the grain line. 

I find using Swedish Tracing paper, to be very useful material for this type of work. It's transparency makes tracing easy, it takes both pen ink and pencil lead well. It behaves a lot like fabric, which is helpful when making darts and pleats. It is durable enough to handle lots of pining and manipulation. If you trace your pattern you can keep it intact for future projects.  We have it available here

Planning and Cutting the Skirt Portion

Now, decide the length of your skirt and how wide you would like the bottom edge of your skirt to be. I want the width of my skirt to be a full a-line just about knee length, to ensure it will drape over the hips with enough room for cool comfort. So, I have decided to make my skirt 35" wide laying flat, and 25 inches in length. The Rosie waistband is at the true waist, so you can measure from there to determine your desired skirt length.

To create the skirt pattern, draw out a rectangle with one side the desired length of your skirt (in my case 25 inches) and the other side half of the desired width of your skirt (in my case 17.5 inches - half of 35 inches).  This will be used for both the front and back of the skirt, however the back of the skirt has an additional 3/4 inch seam allowance at the center back, as noted in the pattern.  A bit more seam allowance is added to make inserting a zipper easier. 

Place the both the front and back slack patterns on top of each of the paper or Swedish tracing paper used to make the skirt pattern. 


 Find the Center Front and Back:  To find the center back, draw a horizontal line from the top back edge of the slack pattern. Use the grain line as a guide. The line you are drawing should be parallel to the grain line. 

To find the center front, draw a horizontal line from the edge of the slack pattern center. Remember that a 1/2 inch seam allowance has already been added to the pattern at the center front, however, because we are cutting the center front of the skirt on the fold we will not need that 1/2 inch seam allowance. So, the center front line should be on the fold. The 1/2 inch seam allowance should be off the center front edge. See the illustration above. 

Add the pocket pattern pieces to the Slacks pattern to finish the shape of the Slacks front.  

Now you will  create the skirt shape.  For the front, use the pocket pattern pieces placed with the Slack front to help create the shape of the skirt. Line the three pieces up using the pocket curve and edges as a guide. See the illustration below.

Once you have pattern pieces G, J, and I aligned, draw a line from the top edge of the waist to the bottom corner.  Do the same for the back piece, going from the outer edge of the Slacks back to the outer edge of the rectangle.  See the illustration above. 

Transfer all notches, dart and pleat markings to the new pattern pieces, cutting the top of the new skirt pattern to match the top of the Slacks pattern.  

Now you have all the pieces you need to create a dress from the 240 Rosie the Riveter pattern!  

Making the Dress

Proceed with sewing as the pattern indicates. Assemble the front bodice and waist band and set aside. Assemble the right and left back bodice and waistband and set aside. Assemble the front and back bodice facings and the shoulder straps and set aside.

Skirt Front and Back

Use the Sewing Guide for Slacks provided in the 240 Rosie the Riveter pattern for reference as you proceed.

For the front of the skirt, assemble pockets and pleats as described in the pattern.  For the back of the skirt, stitch darts as indicated.  

Now assemble the front and back of the dress SEPARATELY.

Assemble the front of the dress first, by attaching the front bodice at the waistband to the top of the front of the skirt, with right sides together. Press seam allowance towards the waistband.

Assemble the right and left back sides of the dress, by attaching the back bodice at the waistband to the corresponding back skirt pieces. Press seam allowance towards the waistband. 

You should have one front dress piece constructed of a bodice, waistband, and skirt. You should have two (right and left) back dress pieces constructed of a back side bodice, a back waistband, and a back skirt. Insert your zipper and join the back pieces at this point (remember the 3/4" seam allowance at center back).  Press seam allowance open.

Put the dress together

With right sides together match the notches on the front and back bodice pieces, align either side of the waist bands both top and bottom, and match the bottom edge of the skirt. Be sure to pin and ease as necessary along the length of the skirt. Sew the side seam allowance and press seams to the back. Do this for each side.  You can finish the seams and topstitch them down for a faux flat felled seam here, if you like.  

Use the 240 Rosie the Riveter instructions to finish the bodice and waistband facing and and to add the straps to the bodice, as well as for all finishing work.

I hope you enjoy turning the Folkwear 240 Rosie the Riveter Overall pattern into a dress to be worn all summer long!  All it takes is a bit of inspiration and a "can do" spirit to encourage you to look at any pattern with fresh eyes and see other possibilities. Try using this simple formula in other pant to to skirt transformations.