June 12, 2009

The 4-Seam Dress

Dress shopping today for Lil' Bro's wedding was monumentally depressing.

I don't think there's anything I hate more than fitting rooms. Maybe it's the lighting, or the grungy floor, or that the stalls feel like bathrooms with no toilets. Dressing rooms make me feel icky and vulnerable and soft like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Unfittingly, nothing ever "fits" in fitting rooms. The dresses I picked out today were wrong, wrong, wrong. All spaghetti strapped, gathered bodice, empire waistline, falling at the knee. All were awful on me. Bold colors (orange, gold, brown) are supposed to look good on me, but in the fitting room, they just made me look green and washed out, like a sick alien.

So I left the mall empty-handed.

On the way home, my brain kicked into self-preservation mode: Can't not go to the wedding. Don't have anything in the closet. Guess I'll have to MAKE something.

So I did. Took less than 30 minutes. Already had the fabric, which I bought for gouchos I intended to sew two years ago.

The design I had in mind was inspired by Le Sac, which is actually the very same design used for pillowcase dresses, which I've made before for the girls. It didn't require a pattern. And with the non-raveling jersey knit fabric I had, it didn't require hems.

Four seams in all. That's it.
  • 2 side seams, leaving adequate length unsewn at the top of each side, for the arm holes (I left 9").
  • 2 seams, one across each top panel to form a casing for the ribbon, string, elastic, whatever.
To start, I cut the fabric to maxi-dress length, just to see how it looked. I didn't like it long, so I took off 6" from the bottom so it hit right below the knee. (I didn't throw that extra fabric away. I planned to use it as a belt later.)

Threaded a couple lengths of cord through the top casings, and Voila! Instant gathered neckline!

I experimented tying the belt just under the bust to form an empire waistline, and I tried it at the natural waist. For my body type, the natural waist looked best, so that's where I'll wear it.

I think I'm going to make more of these dresses. It was just too easy, and it's more comfortable than anything I tried on in the store today.

I really needed to feel good about something after the shopping fiasco. This wouldn't be the first time failure at the mall has sent me home to my sewing machine. It won't be the last.

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