Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Dress

As usual, something possessed me to make a dress for a party about 2 days before the event. Joann was having one of their 99¢ pattern sales, and I am not allowing myself to buy more fabric until I have scoured through all the stash, so the net out of pocket was 99¢.

I wanted something tropical, for some reason, so was happy to find some vintage printed cotton in the stash. I would guess it's from the late 60s or early 70s, but I can't say for sure since I bought it resale some time ago. It also has a strange stain-resistant coating, according to what was printed on the selvage, which sometimes made it slightly slippery while sewing.

The print is so gloriously busy that it's difficult to see all the details, and there are some good ones. It started off as Butterick 5132, where you can see the big tucks across the front and the gathers on the shoulders. Of course, I made a lot of adjustments to it (because why would I ever do something the way it's supposed to be done?), beginning with that infernal rear zipper. As a single woman living alone, I vowed to never again voluntarily install a back zipper if there is any way I can avoid it. (No more rear zippers! Ever!) I thought about going with a side zip, but ultimately decided to do an invisible zipper down the front, with mixed results. I had already intended to wear a big orange flower on the dress (I know, what a seemingly random thing to plan ahead of time) and it's a good thing because there is a big of an awkward gap there. Plus, of course, I used bias tape to edge the neck opening rather than the facing as designed. Part of that was laziness, part of it is my abiding love for bias tape.

I also had to open the arm openings an additional 2", which seems quite a large amount to need to add. Otherwise the sleeves were too tight on my upper arms. I considered skipping the shoulder gathers and just letting the self-sleeves come down a little longer, but when I did a test with the elastic on the shoulders I decided that I really liked it better with the gathers.

If the ties are cinched too tightly in the front, it makes for some kind of sticky-outy action on the hips from the fabric folding over toward the front. Not a big deal, but an interesting complication.

If I were to make this dress again -- and I'd consider it, although I have 5439393 other dress patterns on deck -- I think I'd want to go with a somewhat softer fabric, perhaps a jersey. And I'd recut those damned arm holes before building it.

As it is, it's definitely wearable. I wore it to a friend's holiday party, as planned, but with slim black slacks and a black zip-front sweater. I know, I made a point of making it out of a tropical fabric and then heavied it up with the black, but you'll just have to trust me that it actually looked pretty good that way. I can certainly imagine wearing it this summer without the extra stuff, or hmm maybe with some light green capri-length leggings. Well, there's another project for the list...

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