Monday, September 21, 2009

Dress #1 // Refashion #9

Dresses have been on my mind for awhile now. It's hard for them not to be; all of a sudden they've exploded in popularity, and, frankly, ever since shirt dresses started creeping in to stores a couple years ago, I've been eyeing them with a mixture of desire yet distaste at the shoddy construction/cheap materials/ridiculous prices of the ones I've seen and liked. I admit, ever since starting to sew, I've become tremendously picky about clothing.

Of course, dresses are also a bit intimidating to make. As I mentioned to Rita in one of our many crafting exchanges, there's just so many fit issues with dresses that you don't have with skirts! So I started off real easy. Cheating, really.


Yes, it is a dress! It's one of those 'hey look, I'm a dress disguised as a skirt/shirt combo!' kinds of dresses, which I have also been crushing on for awhile now. The 'skirt' is made out of some DS Katie Jump Rope fabric that I've been dying to make into a dress for ages. I also tried my hand at a custom fabric-covered belt for the first time with some really gorgeous persimmon linen I had in my stash. If I could go back to Joann's and buy another 4 yards of this stuff [on 60% sale, ahem], I would. It's a really deep, vibrant, luscious color. However, I am probably going to have to redo that buckle. A bit of shoddiness there.

And all those fit issues re: dresses? Well ... ahem ...




Tada!!! That's right. Totally refashioned. This is one of the first items of clothing I ever thrifted. When I spotted it, I loved all of the detailing -- the handstitching on the collar and cuffs, the fabric covered buttons, the seaming in the waist and bust. And yet I've never worn it more than once or twice each season. I think I felt self-conscious that this shirt made me look fat. Which it probably didn't, but I felt that way, you know? Plus the sleeves were an awkward length on me.
So I cut out 2 rectangles of fabric and pleated them at the waist, sewed them on, and voila! Well, throw in a couple pockets [more pockets!!! I'm sold], and the DS fabric is pretty lightweight so I lined the skirt, which meant I then sewed in some grossgrain ribbon at the waist to reinforce the waist seam. The original shirt had a side zipper so I kept that in and just attached the 'skirt' so that it opened at the side as well. I also chopped off the sleeves and finished them with some bias-cut leftovers from the skirt, to tie the whole outfit together.



Here it is from the side. Mom, please don't say anything about my posture, I cringe enough as it is whenever I see this photo.

Also, this is really subtle, but one thing about vintage dress patterns like the ones I loosely modeled this one off of, is that the pleated/gathered skirts often look best with some sort of crinoline beneath them. I didn't want a total costume effect, so this is what I came up with:




I think this is slightly pushing it in terms of using all fabrics from the same line, but the ruffle does peek out when I sit down, so maybe it's a good thing I got a bit obsessive there. Erg. Anyways. I made my ruffle ~1.5 times as wide as the bottom hem so as not to get too much poof, then attached it directly to the lining. Hence the need to reinforce the waist seem with ribbon.

The skirt moves really nicely around me when I walk, and I think the 1.5x ratio is about perfect for a 'modern' take on a 50's look. I finished off the bottom of the ruffle with a ribbon hem, technique found here, and really like the way that looks. I'm going to have to incorporate that into more of my garments in the future.


So yeay! I'm hoping the weather swings up just once more for me to wear it again this fall. Or maybe I'll layer it with boots and tights and keep this one going for a couple more weeks. But I do love it immensely, much more than any shirtdress I could have bought in stores.


Handmade, it is so satisfying sometimes.

12 comments:

Zonnah said...

Very cool! I love how you made it puff a bit :)

Handmade Librarian said...

Welcome to the world of dresses! I love it--especially your idea for constructing a minimal puffy petticoat. I'm going to have to try that on my next full dress!

Stephanie N. said...

Thats so cute! It's a great idea because you can get the look of a tidy tucked-in shirt, which personally I find impossible to achieve without tucking my shirt into the waistband of my underpants. Or there are those shirts built like leotards with crotch snaps, which have always scared me.

Antoinette said...

OMG, that is beautiful! Well done, Jessica! I love it.

koala brains said...

I love your dress! I agree w/ Stephanie N, gives such a neat tucked look which I can never pull off.

瑛翹 said...

cute!!!

Rita said...

cute cute so cuuuuuuute! ok, i'm done... nooo, you look so cute and your whole outfit is so cute cute cuuuuuute! ok, now i'm done :)

Miss Prickly said...

I think this counts for three refashions! Well done. You've given me some good ideas.

Erin said...

Super cute...thanks for such good explanations of what you did...I love the petticoat.

Malea M and J Designs said...

Wow! I adore the little surprise of the lining! So cute.

julie k said...

This is a really great idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

Tania Ho said...

I love it ! And that petticoat .. wow :)