The “Flag” Dress
Fabric: about 2 1/2 yards cotton, $30 (terrible exchange rate) from Frau Tulpe in Hamburg, Germany
Pattern: Simplicity 2591, View A
Year: contemporary (2009)
Notions: invisible zip, 2 packages navy bias tape
Time to complete: Many hours. I’m slow and embarrassed to calculate.
First worn: Sunday for photos.
Wear again: Yes! Spring can’t come fast enough.
Total cost: about $35
Artwork: Flag, Jasper Johns, 1954
Many inspiring works of art came to mind for this challenge, but the translation into a wearable garment, and from materials I already have, eluded me. Just a couple weeks ago I was standing in front of Jasper Johns’ painting, Flag, at MoMA and thinking about seeing an image of it for the first time in middle school art class. Then I was going through my fabric and the penny dropped with this cotton I picked up last summer in Germany while visiting friends and family. It’s tiny navy and white gingham in a wide stripe pattern with soft red and turquoise woven accents. Not only does it resemble the flag, it has a Southwestern, Americana feel.
For some reason it reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, a private home he designed and built in the late thirties a couple hours outside of Pittsburgh, not so far from where I grew up. Funny that I had to go all the way to Hamburg to find this fabric that seems so American to me. Amy Adams wears a darling dress in a similar fabric in last year’s Muppet Movie. I couldn’t find a good image of it, but for her theatrically sweet clothes alone the movie is worth watching. This Simplicity pattern has the same sweetness factor, as well vintage, vaguely 50s style that suits the Flag painting.
I made a wearable muslin of this dress without the sleeves last year, although I wasn’t thinking of it that way then, so I was able to make many little adjustments to the bodice. The fit and the sewing in general are so much better in this dress! I’ve come a long way, a good feeling. It did take forever, though. Those woven stripes want to unravel, so I finished most of the seams and hems with bias binding, pretty much tripling the sewing time. I originally planned to insert piping along the front seams of the bias-cut side front and pocket pieces, like Lisette, but I forgot. I cut the sleeves on the bias too, because with stripes I think it looks cool and I don’t have to bother matching them.
Adey used this pattern a couple times last year, with lovely results, and I agree with her that it is a dream to sew. I’d love to have another go at it, maybe in a solid color and incorporating some kind of embellishment.