Hot! The “Autumnal Muslin” Dress

The Facts

  • Fabric: raspberry knit jersey (stash)
  • Pattern: McCall’s 6612 ($1.99 sale)
  • Year: 2012
  • Notions: thread (stash)
  • First worn: October 3, 2012
  • Wear again?: Definitely
  • Total price: $2

Okay, folks. I originally made this as a wearable muslin (my first muslin ever) to test out the changes I would need to make in order to use a woven as a lining for my planned contribution to the Western Wear challenge (picture the fabrics I used for this skirt as this long cowl neck dress). It would have been awesome, I’m sure of it. But the last time I thought I was clever enough to use a woven fabric for a knit pattern I realized too late that I wasn’t. So rather than go that route, I did something else for the Western challenge. And time constraints being what I knew they would be this month (church work day, silent auction fundraiser, writing conference out of town, finishing a short story and submitting it to a contest, trip Up North, running a 5k, etc., which is why I sat out last week [though, I also didn’t have a UFO to work on]) I made this muslin out of a color that sorta-closely resembles the Pantone Fall 2012 color pink flambé so I could also use it to fulfill a challenge. I feel super clever about this.

Even though the words “fall palette” evoke in my mind gorgeous earthy tones (of which maybe one or two are represented on Pantone’s palette) I will try to get used to the idea of pink for autumn. Anyway, it is comfy, flattering, easy to travel with (wrinkle-wise), and, with a jacket or sweater, it works nicely for the beautiful fall weather we’re having. In fact, I kind of love it. A lot.

Three pieces in the pattern (front, back, cowl) made this sucker come together lightning quick. I love wearing good knits (not the lame, flimsy, el cheapo knits most RTW clothes seem to be made out of these days) and making knit things is really a cinch, even without a serger. This knit was probably purchased in the 1980s and lived for decades undisturbed in a cupboard. It was part of a large haul of fabric that came to me at a pittance because its owner was moving into a nursing home and her daughter was trying to empty out her sewing room. At that time I got 13 lengths of fabric for $75 (including the fabrics for this suit, this coat, this shirt, this dress, this dress, and this shirt). Then several months down the road, she gave the rest of it away and this is what I got for free, almost all of them lengths of 2 yards or more:

I realize to the more colorful of you this all looks supremely boring (look at all that grey!) but I was needing more solid colors at the time and I’d say 1/3 of these are suiting and/or wool that would be pretty pricey new. All this free fabric came to me after I made my vow to not buy any fabric in 2012 beyond necessary lining fabrics (with a proviso that I would accept free fabric). So now, as we near the end of 2012 and the end of that vow, I have so far sewn nearly 40 things–all from the stash–and yet my stash is bigger than it was at the beginning of the year! Things I made from these free fabrics include this skirt, these shorts, this dress, this dress, this cover-up, this vest, this top, and the lining for this skirt.

So, thank you, Sew Weekly, for helping me put a dent in it. But I suppose that sometimes a stash finds you rather than the other way around. :)

We took photos Sunday at Potter Park where the trees are beautiful and the river is lazy. The boy wanted in on some. And something occurs to me as I look at this picture of my son and I singing “Doofenshmirtz holding a bu-uck-et!” (from Phineas & Ferb): the boy is more than half my height now. And I am tall. And he is four. *sigh*


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


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  1. LOVE the color of your dress – a great change from the usual burgundy, berry, aubergine colors of fall! The cowl neckline is flattering, especially on a long dress. The number of items you’ve sewn from your stash is truly impressive and motivating.

  2. And he is adorable : ) I think Erin gets the prize for using someone else’s stash the best through the year!! Although I’m sure there are others that used what they had as well you’ve made some pretty awesome outfits for F R E E. I, too, didn’t really consult the Autumn pantone, I went my own way. Thanks goodness you did too : )

  3. What a great dress! It’s “sew” wonderful that you have such a great stash of fabrics to work from. I too, have more in my stash than at the beginning of the year. I think you are right, fabric must just find us and not the other way around. Great looking little man at your side too.;)

  4. Love your dress , the color is great for the fall. And your son is adorable.
    COngradulations on the free fabric.. Happy sewing.

  5. That looks like one exceedingly comfortable garment. I’m impressed at your stash-busting.

  6. That is a gorgeous color, and so lovely that it came together easily for you! Well done!

  7. This gotta be one of my favourite colours for fall! Lovely!

  8. I saw the fabric treasures on the drafts page last week, and I was wondering about the story behind it. Wow, what a great selection! I had a similar experience when I first started sewing: I went to an estate sale for a dressmaker, and took home 4 garbage bags full of wools, linens, and vintage synthetic prints for $40. I’m still working my way through…

    It’s a beautiful colour and a good wardrobe staple. In fact, there are a lot of knit maxi dresses with belts, jackets, and big cozy cowls roaming around Montreal these days, so you’re right on trend.

    Oh, and I feel your pain re: the boy. I have a just-turned-7-year-old that can no longer snuggle under my armpit, and my 3.5 year old is up to my waist. I’m going to be yelling UP at them in no time.

  9. Just fab Erin, that colour is the business and I really love the cowl neck.

    Talk about the best fabric score ever! and to get to use a lot of it for these challenges is even better.

    Your little man is a cutie. My daughter 14, is almost as tall as I am and my son 11 is not far behind, it’s crazy how time flies they used to be out of bed before me now I have to jump on them and lick their faces to get a reaction.

  10. What a great dress, and what a lucky score with that stash! Such lovely fabrics for building quality wardrobe staples.