Hot! My “No Doubt” outfit

The Facts

Fabric: Red poly plaid from stash
: SImplicity 2549 & 3673
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 1 zipper, 1 yd. pleather and studded “ribbon”, 48 safety pins to replace the original ones that rusted
Time to complete:  3 hours
First worn: August 2012
Wear again? Most likely but in the fall
Total price: ~$14.00

“Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I’m exposed
And it’s no big surprise…”

Didn’t you just fall in love with Ms Gwen when you heard that song? The opening of “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”, that shot over the water into their apartment? Oh yeah… (nods her head to the tune running through her brain)

My daughter LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Ms Stefani. I can guarantee you she’s got every song memorized, she studied every look and most of the major ones I made for her : ) From the iconic red patent dress on the cover of “Tragic Kingdom” to the yellow pleather and zip pants, the plaid punk pants with back skirt, to the red 50’s dress she wore to the Grammy’s in 2001, we hit ALL the highlights. I fully expect, if and when she decides to get married, that we’ll be dying silk in gradient shades of pink. And since I’ve already channeled Elton John why not go the Ska-punk route? I love plaid, especially red plaid. No Doubt recently appeared on Good Morning America and while Ms Gwen’s outfit of red chiffon top and strange elastic-front waisted pants just made me say “Whaat?” I really liked Tom’s plaid shirt/jacket. I knew we had some plaids in the stash so I dug a couple out and was totally jazzed to find what I “thought” was 2 yards of 60″ red plaid WITH LYCRA!

That was my first mistake : ) There were many, many others…

Where I started out and where I ended up…man… I started out using Simplicity 3673. Four pieces plus facings if you don’t line the bodice, what could be easier? Here is where mistake #1 occurred, and keep in mind that every single mistake I made were mistakes someone who hasn’t been sewing for very long would make. I have no excuses: a reason but certainly no excuse. Did I measure the fabric? Nope. Did I have 2 yards of 60″ fabric? Nope. More like 1 1/2 yards of 48″ fabric, probably bought at Michael Levine fabrics in the mid 90’s for punk pants. Either that or left over from another project but either way I didn’t discover I didn’t have enough to make the pattern as seen on the envelope until I had cut out the front skirt piece. I went to place the back pattern piece and oh…look at that…it doesn’t fit! Fabric not wide enough, isn’t enough length to move things around!

OK, don’t panic. Because of the lycra there is quite a bit of stretch so I can cut a smaller size and be fine, if I had paid attention I could have split the difference in the length and only be off 1″ instead of the now 2″. I’m on the shorter end of the scale so I figured that’d be ok. WIth the sick realization that I didn’t have as much width as I thought I now discovered there was NO WAY I was going to be able to cut out those top pieces. Not without a LOT of piecing and let me tell you, the whining that started in my head about having to piece something actually made the logical part of my brain laugh. I pulled out my go-to top with Simplicity 2549, thinking that those triangular pieces had a chance of fitting onto my scraps. It was close, very close and there was piecing. I nicknamed the top “Frankentop” (that thing has more pieces than a bucket of chicken) because each piece has at least one join. I didn’t have ANY fabric left for facings so I used basic black poly cotton cut on the bias. My original plan had been to sew the bias pieces on and then turn and top stitch so they wouldn’t show. When went to iron the stitched on pieces I liked the way the black outlined the top, broke up some of the plaid-ness going on and gave some definition to the shapes.

Mistake number 3 or so was judging the project mid-way through. I was already grumbling about the piecing, then I tried on the top late at night, over my t-shirt and sqeeked “yikes! I look like I’m wearing plaid scrubs!”. I threw the top on the mannequin and went to bed.

I resolved to JUST FINISH. Does everything have to come out great and wonderful? Yes NO. I also really wanted to make the jacket but every day for the last week has been 100 degrees or more, not exactly the kind of weather that motivates one to work on a jacket. Then I remembered I still had a nifty jacket I made for a show some years back, I wanted to use the sleeves and attach them to the plaid loveliness I had in mind. Just as I decided the jacket I had would be fine I was asked to do a very special project so it seemed like divine intervention…just use what I had, “done is beautiful”.

Aren’t these paintings cool? They’re on a Chiropractor’s office building!

The jacket was originally made for a (dreadful) show called “Rock and Roll Twelfth Night”, the whole thing was a combination of Renaissance-meets-Rock’n Roll. Let’s just say that Cal Shakes does a great job of setting Shakespeare in alternate times/universes, DVC does not. The director asked that each character have an element of Shakesperian fashion with modern so I made this jacket out of Ultra Leather for the Johnny Rotten-ish character. The sleeves safety-pin on instead of traditional lacing, and the whole thing is trimmed with zipper instead of piping. Jeffrey Sebelia, who won season 3 of Project Runway, used this same detail that Tim Gunn thought was so cool…a good five years after I did : ) You could also say “it’s a small world” that Jeffrey, who I actually like, has designed for Gwen Stefani.

Let me just say this about Ultra Leather – it’s made by the same people who brought us Ultra Suede. Never buy it. The suede is fine,  it’s just fancy felt, but it wears & ages well. The Ultra Leather does NOT age well, as is evidenced by the fact that the jacket was melting and shedding on me as we took photos! I’ll put some detailed pics on my blog soon so you can see the sadness. Just means I need to make another : ) Use pleather, it ages better. I had to replace most of the safety pins, they had rusted over the years. The really big ones that hold the sleeves on are called blanket pins, a few were missing. I asked my daughter if she had any of them, we were in the fabric store heading to the notions aisle when she said “No, but I used one of them to pierce my belly button.” WHAT??? Thank goodness she did this a decade ago and I only found out now! Is it still pierced? No. She outgrew that phase : ) Some things a parent just doesn’t need to know.

We tried several different looks with the basic dress. This is my “tough girl” look complete with red and black patent leather Doc Martins. My daughter has solid red ones with yellow laces like Gwen wore on the “Tragic Kingdom” album cover but the day before we took these photos she went to the Russian River and canoed 10 miles, getting a delightful sunburn and mild heat exhaustion. She stayed home Sunday in Oakland, where it was about 80 degrees, instead of coming out to our 98 degree day, so I only have black laces : (

These are my Naughty Librarian shoes : ) They look better with darker tights but considering the heat this was as good as it got in the hosiery department.

This is the ad that inspired my plaid…

And this is my version of the “Tragic Kingdom” cover! We decided to hike the skirt hem, show off the legs a bit.

Since the dress really did need a zipper I decided to try the exposed zipper trend:

It works for this outfit but I doubt I’ll do it again. No, the plaids don’t match vertically, I just didn’t have enough fabric. I made sure to match everything horizontally as best I could. When the studded “belt” is on it’s not as noticeable.

We also took some pics on a brick pile down the street from Angie’s house but those pics are a tad risque : ) I’ll put one up on my blog if you really want to see it. Let me just preface those pics with “I didn’t know I still had it in me” Heh, heh….



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. Aaaaah! This is AWESOME, I LOVE IT!

  2. Love the exposed zip and I love ” No Doubt”.

  3. Ah, what an adventure. I love your mistake #3–judging in the middle of a project. I have definitely done that! Despite the long road to the finish, I like the result.

  4. I love that after all of this, you still ended up with a garment you would wear again! Now that’s a win!

    I do the fabric mis-measure thing all the time, mostly because I assume that the pattern envelope has added an extra 1/4 of a yard to every 1/2 of a yard you actually use, which is true – 90% of the time. That other 10% is the very devil.

    And you probably don’t want to hear this, but I think I had 1/2 a yard of that exact fabric, but gave it away less than two months ago because I don’t do poly and lycra (I cannot believe you could pose and look that cool and composed in poly-lycra, with stockings and boots on, in 95 degree heat!)

  5. Giving ‘ol Gwen some competition in the bad ass department I see. Love the dress! This winter I hope to address the plaid deficit in my wardrobe. I saw lots of great ones the other day-can’t wait!

  6. I can empathize with your journey through this sewing project. I’ve certainly cut out pieces only to find that i should have laid out all the pieces before cutting. I’m impressed with how well you pulled it off though. I think you really did a fine job–“made it work” as Tim is fond of saying. I really like you album cover redo!

  7. So sorry you had so much trouble..But proud you prevailed in the end.And still got the dress.Congradulations.. Love red plaid too.. Happy sewing.

  8. Hey Loran, fantastic, I love the short version, looks hot and show off the games!

  9. Not enough fabric – my worst nightmare! Looks amazing! Love Gwen, there’s not one else like her, so much style. Well done x

  10. I LOVE No Doubt! You know why you are so rad Loran? Because you look good in everything you make and you pull off every genre. Your confidence is radiant. I did a Gwen inspired outfit as well, but your’s is SO punk rock! LOVE IT!

  11. Love this. You look so cool. Being able to make stuff like this is EXACTLY why I started sewing for myself….I haven’t got to where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there. I used to go into Hot Topic and want to wear everything but most of their clothes don’t even fit my big toe. I was also a big fan of Gwen’s Harajuku Mini clothes when they first came out in Target (they don’t seem to be as big and bold as when they first came out) and thought it a crime that only kids got to wear such cool stuff. I’m amazed you made such an amazing dress with all the problems. You’re so fab. Heading on over to your blog now because I really want to see the shoulder details on that jacket and the zipper piping….

  12. Dear Loran, just read you blog. You are a truly amazing person. Words fail me, so I left you a message about everything going on over there.

  13. YAY! Your exposed zipper is PERFECT! Great job on the whole dress though, Loran!

  14. I’m glad you didn’t give up Loran she turned out great after all the trouble she caused you. Love the album cover and zip. You look fantastic!