The Not Beige Experiment | Veronica Darling


SW_dodgypattern_103 SW_dodgypattern_103The Facts

Fabric: Red Cotton Drill type stuff, $4 a metre from Lincraft, but joined the stash 2009
Patterns: Simplicity 8189, 50c
Year: c. 1977
Notions: Vintage Buttons, free, Handmedowns from a friend's Granny's stash
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: March 2011
Wear again? Yes! I think it's really fun and practical!

Total Cost: ~$8.50

My sewing pattern stash is varied and kinda large, and if you took a peek, you'd pick up at least 20 patterns and push them in my face and ask, 'WHY? Why keep this awful thing!?' and then we'd laugh and laugh. My friends and family give me a lot of leftover or random patterns and I have bought some weird patterns from the op shop, just because they're strange or different or 'just in case' I need to make something with a funny puffy forearm sleeve thing. As I haven't yet drafted any of my own patterns, I do feel the need to hang onto these weird patterns until I learn how to do it myself!

For this week's Sew Weekly theme, I took about 20 of these funny & ugly patterns and asked Husbie which ones he hated the most. He found 3 of the worst ones, shuddering and feeling sick after choosing them! I settled on this Simplicity (E.S.P standing for Extra Sure Pattern – and it's a VERY good first sewing pattern FYI! Heaps of instructions!) because my first thought was, 'I bet this could look great in anything but beige'. My 'Not Beige' colour at hand was this red cotton drill fabric, that I got heaps of because it was cheap when I made a friend a mini dress a few years back.


Everything was straightforward enough, as the pattern cover says, the E.S.P part makes you go slowly, and 'extra sure' that things will work out. I resized the skirt before cutting, about 2 inches for my height, then travelled along the instructions with 'extra sure' care, and determined to do everything just like it said.

SW_dodgypattern_105 I took the time to double top stitch the front panel, back panel, shoulder straps and waistbands, as the pattern told me and at the time I felt like pulling my hair out! But I'm pleased with how professional it looks now, and it's very sturdy I guess!

For this dress isn't lined, and made from thicker cotton drill, I decided to overlock all the edges, but use the straight stitch for the seams, and iron the overlocked seams flat. Once again, reading through the Sewing Circle discussions, I noticed you guys were chatting about Seam Finishing, and thought I'd make the call when the fabric demands it. This thicker fabric really loves being ironed and looks superb with the top stitching. If I'd overlocked everything, it may have not ironed out as smoothly, and the little old overlocker might not have liked so much bulk to chop up as well.

YES, how much have I learnt this year already from you guys already! YAY! But I don't know if you noticed, but I just wrote a sentence about how cotton fabric 'likes being ironed'… I *am* a true seamstress these days! LOL!

Once I'd sewn everything together apart from the buttons and button holes, I tried it on (as best I could) and it looked AWFUL. The brighter colour still didn't make it look nice, and even though I'd resized the skirt, it was still almost to my ankles! It was extreme modest dressing, and I felt very dowdy.

Luckily I slept on it, and with Husbie's advice to cut it short and to add black buttons, I'm super happy with the transformation of my Not Beige Experiment! Perhaps that's a rule to test, if a pattern cover is in beige, choosing Not Beige fabric could make it wonderful?

SW_dodgypattern_110 If you can see in the smaller photo of the pattern (above near the 'facts), the back of the packet shows the layout of the dress, so it's pretty much a wrap dress! One waistband loops through one side to button up so the back skirt pieces are double layered.

I really love the larger black buttons, the shape of the (much shorter than the pattern) skirt and of course the pockets! Everytime I make something with pockets I get so excited!

 Just to add, the white shirt isn't handmade, unfortunately, and I stole the 'top button done up' look from my friend who wears cute tunics all the time over shirts like these! It's a light cotton stretch material FYI, and if I had the time, I would have tried to make my own undershirt. Perhaps next time! This pattern was only for the tunic afterall!

And here's my pattern re-enactment!



Veronica Darling

Veronica Darling has been sewing well for about 4 years, blogging for 5 years and smiling for over 33 years. In 2011, she joined Mena's Sew Weekly in sewing through the year, and in 2012 will keep challenges slightly smaller in scale.


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  1. Very cute – and so much better in red than beige. Love your hair!

  2. what a shocker of a pattern, how lovely it has turned out. Beauty and the beast! there is always something queit nice about pinifores though. x x x

  3. I absolutely ADORE this outfit! Hubby was right, it looks fab as a shorter dress and I love it with the white blouse! Your hair looks amazing as well! Fantastic and perfect for the winter months! Though I am not curious about the other two patterns your hubby picked as the most awful too! hehehe

  4. It is darling as a shorter dress. I did some topstitching too this week, and you’re right it can make a huge difference in the look!
    By the way, I think I have the men’s version of this pattern, also an ESP and it is for a beige turtleneck! Maybe everything in the ESP line that year was beige?

  5. AAACK adorable! husbie gets major styling points. that waistband action is glorious.

  6. You look adorable! The wrap action of this dress is fab! Well done you for looking past the beige!

  7. You look fabulous! Your outfit turned out very cute, and the styling is fantastic. Bravo!

  8. I agree, it’s an adorable dress, and you are adorable too! So darn cute!

  9. BWHAHA! Love the “re-enactment” at the bottom – and the whole post! That dress is adorable on you!

  10. I. Love. It. Fantastic! Changing the colour and the length was definitely the way to go. :)

  11. You and your dress are too darn cute! I inherited a few ESP patterns, and I feel by the title alone that I should be able to sew it just using MY MIND. Thanks for the seam finishing link. I woke up this morning wondering about that.

  12. Veronica, I love your styling and the way you can make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear” as my mother would say. Fantastic! who would have thought this pattern was redeemable!

  13. Patricia Austin

    This is fantastic! Funny how “sleeping on it” can have transformative effects. Love the color!!!!! It looks so great and fun!

  14. You had a vision – that is a gift. Loved it!

  15. Thanks Debbie, yep, SO much better in red!

  16. My Husbie felt sick just looking at the pattern! LOLZ
    I wasn’t sure if the pinafore look would suit the larger bust I sometimes have, but it does a good cover up!

  17. No Debi, you don’t want to see the batwing, high collared 80s dress pattern (and I can’t even remember what the other one was!). I’m kinda pleased he thought the beige one was the worst!
    Thanks for all your lovely comments! I’ve SO got to get ready for wintertime!

  18. That is hilarious! Beige for 1977 Simplicity!
    The topstitching, I’ve also discovered, makes the front panel stand up more, like make it stiffer… which is nice for the look.

  19. Thanks Oona! You’re a dream!

  20. I found it weird that it wraps from the back (the pattern is actually called a ‘Back Wrap Jumper’ – WEIRD) as it means more material is on your behind, but cut this short it doesn’t matter.

  21. Oh, and thanks Casey! YOU’RE adorable!

  22. Thank you Carrie! Very kind!

  23. Thanks Sarah! I couldn’t resist a bit of ‘cheese’ like the model’s smile!

  24. Yeah, I agree Sarah! The Not Beige Experiment was a success!

  25. Oh, babes I was thinking the same with ESP, I wish it was the MIND power one!

  26. What an appropriate saying for this week’s theme Helen! Thank you!

  27. Thank you Patricia, and walking away, out of the room, helps too. Sometimes a project is too ‘in your face’ and hinders your decision making!

  28. This is adorable Veronica! Love the shorter length and the styling, especially your gorgeous hair!

  29. Thanks Adey! Yes, the hair! I must wear it straight more often! xoxo

  30. My gosh, there are ROSES blooming behind you? *sigh* We’re still battling to get above freezing around here. :(
    I’m pretty amazed at how cute this turned out.

  31. Veronica! I absolutely love this. You look so gorg!

  32. Red is so fantastic on you – I’m so glad you didn’t choose beige, but I love your posing just like the model on the cover! Hilarious! Fabulous work, darling :)

  33. Thanks Erin! It’s autumn here (with some summer air still around) so that’s why we have the roses (in my Mum’s garden!) blooming!

  34. Thanks Bethany, you’re sweet!