The “Double Duty” Dress
Okay, might as well just say it right off the bat: I take awkward photos outside. This one is the best I could do. To be fair, I wasn’t quite ready for the camera when it snapped. On the other hand, I think this photo gives a pretty good representation of what I’m actually like in life, personality/behavior-wise; earlier today, I had to stand up and introduce myself in front of a roomful of people; I tripped over my water bottle. I’m trying to view it all as funny.
Fabric: Navy blue polka dot crepe, gift from parents = free / tiny piece of white lining of a similar consistency, probably $.50 from Scrap
Pattern: Butterick 3029 for the bodice, used a million times so it must count as free by now / McCall’s 4535 for the skirt, from Mom’s collection and used repeatedly = also free
Year: 1960s (B) / 1975 (M)
Notions: Zipper $.85 / Rayon seam binding $.25 / Button, reclaimed = free
Time to complete: A couple days
Sewing soundtrack: Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Fever to Tell) + OPB
First worn: Just for photos
Wear again: Yes
Total cost: $1.60
This was never intended to be my polka dot challenge dress–I actually made another one for that, but haven’t photographed it yet because it’s very hot weather, and we don’t have that any more. I know the rose photo maybe suggests otherwise, and today was I guess pretty okay for the end of September, but the actual polka dot dress is very hot weather. Trust me. Since this blue one fits that theme so well, too, though, and they were right back to back, I’m tagging both this time.
It’s not really a challenge for me to make things that are blue; I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I counted up and found that I had more blue garments than all the other colors combined. This was actually the only useable blue fabric in my stash–not because I don’t like blue, of course, but because I usually use it right away whenever I acquire any.
The fabric was part of a big pile of vintage fabric my parents gave me for my birthday last year. I’ve been saving it because it’s fancier than what I usually use–I think it’s crepe–and because I immediately knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, and I wanted the pattern to be just right.
Well, more than a year passed and I still hadn’t found the right pattern. Faced with this challenge, I decided I wanted to go ahead; I could put it together using patterns I already had. I actually wanted something very simple–a basic bodice with a round neckline, no sleeves, full skirt. Nothing fancy. Essentially, I wanted something that looked like a child’s party dress, only a little more grown up (relying on the fabric for that bit–think it’s passed?). The neckline’s not quite as round/deep as I originally envisioned, but pretty close.
Butterick 3029 and McCall’s 4535 are my two TNT patterns. I don’t make either of them straight any more, but probably at least a quarter of my self-stitched closet contains some element from one or the other of them. I know these patterns really well by now and have got them pretty much just how I want. Putting this dress together, I really realized how much extra time I spend redrafting new patterns to make them fit. It was nice not having to do that, for once.
Of course, the dress still took a long time because I put in a lining (something not called for in either of the patterns) and then kept redoing things. I used to not be at all a perfectionist about sewing. I think that as I’m getting better at it I’m becoming more obsessive; I think this might be the best-fitting bodice I’ve ever managed, but I still have things I want to pick out and redo.
I also put in a little keyhole at the back neck so I could get my head through (the pattern has a tiny neck opening and calls for a center back zip, but I almost always move my zippers to the side). This wasn’t part of the original vision, either, but I think it’s actually my favorite thing about the dress.
And I still, somehow, have more than half the original yardage left. That’s nice, too.