Saturday, September 13, 2008

A favorite dress lives on

Over the past two weeks, I've been refashioning one of my all-time favorite early-90s dresses into two new pieces of clothing. I wish there had been digital cameras back when I used to wear this dress, because my memories of it are so happy: I wore it to my nephew Sam's 1st birthday party (he's now a sophomore in high school!), and I wore it a lot when my husband and I were teaching in SW Oklahoma. My students thought I was very bohemian (though I don't think that's the word they used....). I bought it in a deadhead shop in Colorado Springs during a short stint teaching at Colorado College (where I also got my degree). It was a knee length sundress with an empire waist.

The dress has been too small for me since before Astrid was born, but I didn't have the heart to give it away, and I felt sad every time I saw it hanging in my closet. Now that it's a top and a little jumper, I can see (parts of) it all the time.

I used the skirt to make the top for me. I drafted the pattern myself: it has darts in the front and side panels, so that it's loose but not shapeless, and it has plenty of room for my tummy. I used scraps of store-bought bias tape for the neck and armholes (I didn't mean for the bias tape to show in front, but I was too tired to rip it out when I noticed my it's now a design feature.) So far, I've worn it to work with my favorite black, bias-cut crepe skirt. I've been drafting/altering test versions of Kwik Sew 3338 to wear underneath this blouse (and others--now that I have a pattern I'm happy with, I'll make more of these woven tops--I have a couple more batik dresses that I'd love to rework).

The top part of Astrid's dress was the bodice of the batik dress. I took out about four inches from the center front, and made two deep tucks near the shoulder-blades. With scraps from my blouse, I appliqued fish onto the cotton/lycra skirt, and I added rick-rack seaweed on the back. Carrie's applique tutorial at Whole Cloth Designs showed me how to use freezer paper to make appliques lie flat. I was able to keep the binding on the armholes and neckline in place, so the whole thing was very quick to put together. This was good, because I decided not to be lazy about the hem: I fused it with Stitch Witchery and used a double needle so it would be really neat. (I usually just zig zag the hems on Astrid's knit clothes--doing it the nice way takes me twice or three times as long.)

I have one of my extra-special chest colds right now, so I've promised myself that I'll be very sedate sewing, and *definitely* no cleaning (last weekend I scrubbed the dining room floor--it took three hours....). I'm going to sit, embroider, and maybe paint a bit with Astrid. Oh, yeah, and cough a lot.


Anonymous said...

Can we see photos of the finished piece when you are feeling better? The fish and seaweed sound lovely. Take good care!

CouponAlbum said...

Love this two piece new dress!! It's color combination is really fantastic!! She looks pretty!!