Hot! My “Formerly Sorry Sari” dress

The Facts

Fabric: Purple poly crepe Sari, purple cotton for interlining, black cotton lining all from stash
Pattern: Vogue 8112 (again!)
Year: 1940
Notions: 1 zipper, 12″ square of buckram, millinery wire, bias tape & feathers all from stash.
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: July 2012
Wear again? Yes, once I fix the top

Total Cost: Free!

What I love about the creative process is the ability to start in one place, get half way though the journey and take a right into territory that was never even a consideration. When I originally planned out this challenge I was hoping to get a early start to the week, finish up by Thursday (since Wednesday was a holiday!) and have everything done by Saturday including photos.

Once again, didn’t even start until Thursday but I was confident!. I had made this pattern before and was going to do the top in an evening and then gather almost 6 yards of the formerly sad Sari, throw a petticoat under the whole thing for a twist on tradition. Ha! The Sari was in three pieces, there were wide swaths of color bleaching from being stored incorrectly and the crepe is thin, rather cheap and easily melted. I “was” going to sew some sequins on the top gathered bodice piece but it frankly just wasn’t worth my time and energy. I did cut the top 1/2″ higher than my previous dress and then somehow managed to make the gathered part too long! I did play with this on my mannequin, pinned it in place and EVERYTHING but somehow on me it gave me big puffy purple cloud boobs. It was bad…. I took it up at the last minute but will take the whole thing apart later and fix it properly with Angie’s help.

There is no petticoat under the finished skirt : ) As I held up the fabric to determine which edge should go where it struck me that I could mimic the soft pleats of the original Sari and maybe, just maybe, it would be cute. The skirt is a little longer than I would normally wear but when I cut the panels it was still with the intention of full and petticoat. I wasn’t sure how the pleating would work out, although after wearing it for the photos I was pretty happy with the feel of it. I still have the option in the future to take it off and gather it : )

Buddha or baby?

I will give whomever made the Art purchasing decisions for the city of Walnut Creek full credit for going for “different”. There are two fountains along Main Street that have recently been re-done and this one is in front of our bank : ) My thought was to do the photos around it as the gold would be a great background for my purple dress. Brittany hadn’t seen this one yet and let out an emphatic “What the….?” when she saw it. Of course, she HAD to know whether the nose had nostrils and I can now say with complete confidence that it does : )

We tried but the light wasn’t great but now you can get a feel for the scale of the thing…

I made another hat…

…just because I like hats : )  I had used this Sari as part of my Mardi Gras tablesetting last February and used the feathers in the centerpieces so why not have some fun? I took one of the left over motifs from the skirt and used it as the base and threw the feathers on before the cats found them.

Le hat sans cats : )

All in all I have to say this is a happy save. I took something that was in pieces, had some fade issues and made it work. Tim Gunn should be pleased : ) Lassez les bon temps rouler!

I’ve had several emails asking me about the outcome of the picture my daughter submitted to the county fair. I am ECSTATIC to say she won First Place in the Color Photo Division!  I swear I didn’t cry as we rounded the corner and saw the blue ribbon…

“For my Twin”

The quality of this picture isn’t great, Travis whipped out his iphone and snapped the pic quickly as Kate and I kept the vested volunteers busy. You can just see the ribbon behind her head : ) How else is my 92 year old grandmother going to see what Brittany did, right? I’ll get the back story up this week on RetroDeco if anyone is interested. It’s good : )



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


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  1. This is so beautiful and theatrical, you need to be riding about on a white stallion or something! Great save for sure, I’m certainly impressed.

  2. Love your headdress (and dress). That fountain is well spooky though!

  3. Love this, the pleats look lovely and I do think one of the real beauties of saris is in the pleating, so you totally transformed it whilst keeping it real too. I don’t think that sentence made any sense, blame lack of sleep. You realise I’m now going to have the phrase “big purple puffy cloud boobs” in my all day now? Well done to your daughter, yep we can see blue ribbon – that is fantastic! My daughter won the ‘nature’ category in our Arizona version. Such cool, talented kids eh :) Off to RetroDecoSettings now to read more.

    • COngrats to your daughter for HER win! Yes, I do realise you had “purple puffy cloud boobs” in your head, I STILL have it in mine and this weeks dress did NOT have cloud boobs. Maybe leaf boobs…

  4. Hi Loran, I really like the pleats on the dress, the fabric is beautiful and a great hat by the way! Congratulations to your daughter, that’s awesome!!

  5. A day of sewing in my future, yay! I always like taking traditional fabrics and making something not so traditional with it. this is a great pattern, bring it with you when we sew so I can take a wack at it.

  6. Great job Loran. You are amazing with fabric!!

  7. What a fantastic dress! I love the color on you and paired with that delightful little hat, it makes a most smashing ensemble!

    • Thank you Meg : ) I’m going to have to start inventing places and events to wear these creations. I don’t think I can get away with this one at work…

  8. Wow, great sari adaptation. The end result is really stunning! And, congratulations to your daughter on her lovely photo!

  9. Very pretty.. Love the color

  10. Beautiful colour, great idea about the pleats and- I’ve just returned from you blog- what a back story.

  11. What a great save! I think the soft pleats are more flattering than gathers would be. I love the little hat that you embellished with those feathers and the color of the outfit looks gorgeous with your red hair! Congrats to your daughter! She’s an awesome photographer.

    • Thanks Barbara : ) Isn’t great what our kids can do? I love my little hats, now I need to figure out a way to display them!

  12. This dress is so much fun! I wish I had the time to make hats. I used to wear them all the time. What fun i would have playing in your work room!

    • It IS fun Gina! I just can’t ride a bike in it but it’ll be great for some summer dinner outside. You are welcome to come play in my work room ANY TIME : )

  13. Ooooh…pretty! I especially like the way that you echoed the traditional sari wrap in the skirt, and I think the longer length is very elegant on you.

    • Why thank you Miss Dreamstress… I wasn’t sure about the length since I cut it orginally to go over a petticoat. I think the platform shoes help : )

  14. Yay cheers all round for your sari dress and your daughters win. You look so great in purple and you did a splendid job on the hat. You really are a wonder. Love it!

    • Thank you Kazz!! I do love the purple, that’s why I didn’t just trash the Sari years ago. And coming from someone that I consider a wonder that is a doubley lovely compliment, thanks : )

  15. Wow, this looks great on you! Love the skirt without the gathers and the cocktail hat. I’m afraid of those nostrils.

  16. I have to agree with you Lee, that head and the presence of nostrils is a little disturbing. Not that I would have put my hand in the water to find out but more to the point of WHY??? Ah well, if the purpose of art is to start a conversation they certainly succeeded with this! And thank you for the lovely compliments : )