The “Gabby and Papa, Sittin’ in a Tree” Dress | Sarah Gabbart
Fabric: Seersucker ($7.98 a yard – 3 yards) from Fabric.com and navy/white stripe ($6.98 a yard – 1/2 yard)
Pattern: Simplicity 3964 – Built by Wendy
Year: c. 2006
Time to complete: 4
First worn: May 2011
Wear again? Yes
Total Cost: ~$27
I'm a lucky person to have so many strong women in my life. My mom, my grandma, my mother-in-law – each of these women is beautiful, unique and amazing in their own unique ways. From my mom I learned to not let people push you around and to always send a thank you note, from my grandma – the importance of getting to know people no matter where you are (or what language you speak) and my MIL has taught me the importance of kindness (she's a super nice lady) and instilled in my the joy that comes from celebrating the heck of holidays, complete with matching napkin sets, wonderful family rituals and tons of delicious food. Like I said, I'm a lucky girl!
When faced with the prospect of picking one of these ladies to imitate, I had a tough time choosing. The decision came down to what photos I could find and what outfits were wearable in my everyday life (red sparkly shift dress my mom wore when she sung in a concert? Probably not going to wear that as much as I want to…). Thankfully, I found one of the coolest pictures in our family history – my grandparents (nicknamed Gabby and Papa) sitting under a tree at Lake Whitney from the 1950s.
My grandpa is shirtless (if you knew him, you would know he rarely wears a shirt – so this is not out of the ordinary) and my grandma is looking as beautiful as ever in white dress with a striped bib on top. They look so happy and relaxed – like they were enjoying a sunny afternoon together, swimming and working on their tans.
This picture was taken after my grandfather returned from the Korean war and before they had my mom, so we're thinking around 1953. Gabby was just embarking on what would become a 55 year career as a journalist, back in a time where there were not many women around a newsroom. She started as a secretary – taking dictation for the publisher – and retired a few years ago from her post as the Family Editor. For over five decades she was part of people's lives, dilligently recording their births, weddings and wonderful moments for the local newspaper.
I feel lucky to have her as my grandma – she's amazing.
For my 2011 version of this dress I went straight to the fabrics – seersucker for a wearable summer weight – and a heavier striped cotton to make the bib. Fabric.com came to the rescue when a trip to Jo Ann's caused me to come up empty handed – everything summer was very picked over!
The pattern was another story – I searched high and low for a pattern with a bib front that I could use. Nothing at Jo Ann's that fit the bill, so I decided to draft one myself. After 1/2 day of swearing and being disappointed, I stumbled on a patter in my stash - Simplicity 3964 – that had exactly the look I was going for! I amended the bib top a bit to make sure the stripes looked right (I made the bib into one piece, instead of three) and opted to construct the bib by pressing under the edges 1/4" and topstitching it on to the body rather than the way suggested in the pattern. So glad I did both of these things because they made my life much, much easier!
After completing this dress, I 'm ready for my own day at the lake – complete with shady trees, my shirtless husband and breezy summer fun!