The “Flag” Dress

The Facts
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.

Hey, get out of here, please!

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.

Author

Lee

Lee Fulton is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.

15 Comments

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  1. Very cute! I love the pattern and also I like how the cut the sleeves on the bias. It makes the dress very interesting to look at.

  2. I have this pattern and still haven’t made it– I need to move it to the top of the pile! Good work.

  3. Nice work Lee, looks great on you.

  4. What a cute dress. I like the bias side body section – so flattering

  5. You do these cute dresses so well and they look great on you.

  6. Hey! I’m in your post :) I really love this pattern (even though when I did it it took me literally the whole week to make it), I like it better with the sleeves, like you’ve got it. Yours is really darling.

    • Thanks and hope you don’t mind! That’s reassuring to hear that this pattern takes a good while, not just for me. I’m not sure why exactly. I guess just because there are a lot of pieces. I prefer the sleeves too.

  7. Pretty dress, I love the sleeves. One to add to my list to do next year once I’m no longer pregnant and chubby!

  8. That dress is so cute!

  9. “I pledge allegiance to the DRESS….”. Yeah, much better than the original classroom chant. Great work, Lee. An adorably patriotic frock…and especially cute with your signature boots.

    • Ha! Yeah, I don’t know how the lot of you can manage the (admittedly lovely) heels. I’m sticking with my flat boots, sandals, and sneakers.

  10. Thank you thank you!

  11. You really know what you like to wear and I love that, you have your very own style. Another gorgeous dress and fab interpretation Lee.

  12. Loving this pattern! might be one to add to my list! Looks so great on you.