The “unexpected results” dress


The Facts:

  • Fabric:  Heavy black cotton (almost canvas), B&W houndstooth from an estate sale or charity shop ~ $2
  • Pattern:  Simplicity 6865 from Etsy = ~$4
  • Year:  1969
  • Notions:  zip, bleach, hem tape = ~$3
  • Time to complete:  around 10 hours?  More than it should have, due to unexpected results
  • First worn: November 27th
  • Wear again?:  Yes, carefully!
  • Total cost: ~$9

This was supposed to be last week’s B&W creation, but I guess you can see that it didn’t fit the brief. It also started out very Mod before it turned much more 2012, but I’m hoping it’s still ’60s enough to pass for this week.  Here’s the story:

I really, really, really wanted to make a Mila Hermanovski-style blocked dress for the Black & White challenge.

Well, that was my original plan.  When I unfolded my black fabric, there was a huge pale discolouration across the centre that took up too much of the fabric to cut around (you can see some of the white ghostly streaks in the first photo).   I thought about going out to buy some black fabric, but one look at my overflowing stash convinced me to work with what I have.  Maybe I could turn that problem into a design feature?  I thought that perhaps some daubs of bleach would give me more deliberate looking white streaks.  Enter one bottle of bleach, 30 minutes in the bathtub and then lots of rinses in cold water, resulting in:

Oops.  Those splotches aren’t white.  I did like the effect, but the B&W hounds-tooth wasn’t working anymore, so I recut another front section and left it unbleached.  After washing and drying, I lamented the fact that the fabric had frayed so much – my serger kicked the bucket a few weeks ago and I haven’t had the chance to have it serviced yet, otherwise I would have serged all the edges to keep them intact.  Hmm….but I like that unexpected effect too.  I decided to bind the neck and arm holes to finish them cleanly, then I stitched two rows of straight stitching along the hem and picked at the threads until they frayed even more.

I LOVE the result, but the fabric was definitely weakened by the bleach.  Between the weak bleached spots and the unravelling fabric, I’m not sure how long it will last.  I’ll wear it, but it may not last until the time that I finally get around to making that black, white and hounds-tooth version I originally planned.  Now that I look at the photos, I think I like the more exaggerated bleaching on the back, so I may attack the front of the dress with a bit more Javex.


 ps.  I know I swore I’d try to get outside for some better lit photos this week, but dudes!  It’s -10C with the windchill and it’s snowing!  I’m not taking photos in a sleeveless shift in that kind of weather. So I put on the flash and tried some Tempest-style ’60s poses.  Maybe next week for the winter challenge I’ll make it outside.  Maybe.






Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.