The “Mondo was Robbed” Dress
Fabric: Repurposed skirt from theater sale – $15, turquoise fabric, black fabric – $1, houndstooth fabric – $.50
Patterns: Bodice, Simplicity 3398; Bolero, Simplicity 4474 – $1
Notions: invisible zipper, $2.50; embroidery floss
Time to complete: 25 hours
First worn: March 2011
Wear again? YES!
Total Cost: ~$20
That my dress is called The "Mondo was Robbed" dress dates its start exactly to October 28 of last year. If you're unfamiliar to that reference, Mondo was a finalist in last season's Project Runway and lost to the Chiccos-designing Gretchen. His inspiration for his final collection was Mexican circuses and the Day of the Dead and he made use of great black & white prints with bits of turquoise and pink for contrast.
The skirt – a black and white skirt that I bought from a theater in the East Bay that was selling off its costumes –was to be the foundation of my garment. Other than a couple hats, I hadn't found anything particularly worth buying. While I waited in line I saw this skirt in the hands of the woman in front of me and immediately fell in love with the print. When the cashier told her it was $15, she put it down and I snatched it up. I really wonder what production this skirt was from!
The skirt sat in my stash for months before I decided to give it new life as a Mondo-inspired dress. As soon as I knew I was going to make a dress, I cut the skirt into one large piece of fabric. For my original dress, I used Simplicity 4693 for the bodice. As an attempt to add the color to the dress, I sewed a band of turquoise to the bottom of the bodice before attaching the skirt. Unfortunately, I didn't take in account that adding the fabric would make the torso way too long. And, because I hadn't shortened the skirt (I wanted to preserve the existing hem), the hemline fell way farther than I would want to ever wear.
I never got as far as adding the zipper in the back, so it remained unfinished. In this picture, I simply pinned the back to see if I even wanted to continue. I didn't want to continue and it never made it to The Sew Weekly.
Fast forward to last week. I knew that this dress had to be my UFO for the challenge. The skirt had so much potential and I knew exactly what I had to do to make it work: shorten the skirt, change the bodice, introduce more color and, well, just finish it.
For a bodice, I decided to go with Simplicity 3398. Enamoured with the result of my "Eat Local" dress, I decided to add piping to the neckline. Due to the stiffness of the piping, I had to really anchor the facings to the bodice. But since this was a solid color bodice, any stitches would be visible. I said "who cares?" and simply machine-stitched the facing down.
Well, "who cares?" turned into "I care!" and I was very unhappy with the result. Not ready to abandon this dress once again, I decided to do a blanket stitch around the neckline. When that didn't look good, I looked online for other straight embroidery stitches and found the fabulous herringbone stitch! What began as a solution to fix something seemingly ruined, turned into my favorite detail of the dress!
Of course, knowing me, I had to make the project even more complicated! So I decided to make a bolero to go with the dress. I knew I wanted to incorporate houndstooth since that had been another Mondo staple during the season. For the bolero, I used Simplicity 4474 (the dress part of the pattern was my Christmas dress) and made it up in black with houndstooth lining.
The flower on the bolero was made from the fabric I cut from the skirt to make it shorter. The belt is simply a fabric belt I borrowed from a vintage store-bought dress.
I absolutely ADORE this dress. This may be my favorite dress I've ever made. It just shows that perseverance can really pay off!