Friday, November 1, 2013

A Plain Dress

I haven't had much time or inclination lately to do a lot of sewing.  But on Wednesday I got the bug, and I had a free day.  So I made up a dress I've been thinking about for a long time:  a lengthened version of the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress I've made 3 times already (one of which I never even blogged).

When I made my last Girl Charlee order over the summer, I bought 3 yards of Olive Green Solid cotton/spandex.  My aim was to make a dress similar to one I had about 20 years ago (yikes!) and wore to death - just a simple, olive green, mid-calf length t-shirt dress.  This fabric was billed on the GC site as midweight, but of course it's not that heavy.  Can you tell I'm getting discouraged with their offerings?  So many times the fabrics I've received have not been what I thought I would be getting.  But I digress . . .

I read a lot of reviews before buying the Ballet Dress pattern that said the sleeves were quite wide. I  know that Dixie updated the pattern a while ago and slimmed them down.  But I decided to use the 3/4 sleeve pattern from the Renfrew tee, mostly because I had never bothered to trace the longer sleeve from the Ballet Dress pattern and the Renfrew sleeve was sitting there, ready to go.  I did walk the sleeve cap around the armscye before cutting, to make sure the two would go together, and it's a perfect fit!


To lengthen the skirt, I extended the center front and side seam lines by a lot - 14 inches, because I wasn't really sure how much longer I wanted it to be.  After the dress was put together, I ended up chopping off three inches, then turning the hem back by 1.25".  I fused Fine Fusible Knit Stay Tape to the hemline before turning it back, just to see how I liked it.  And it did give me a nice, firm yet flexible edge for hemming.  I chose to do a zigzag hem rather than coverstitch because I had a little bit of thread left from another project that was almost the same color.


The rest of the dress was constructed entirely on the serger.  The only other change I made was to lengthen the neckline binding like I did before, to 19.5".  I see in my notes from that dress that I ought to have increased my swayback adjustment, but didn't remember until after the dress was done!


The shape of the dress is just what I had in mind.  I only wish the fabric were a little heavier; it clings to all my lumpy bits and is more revealing than I'm comfortable with.  I chose the least revealing photo, and I'm wearing tights and a slip underneath:


Still, it's a good dress for layering with my knitwear, like this:


Outfit details:  SweaterEvie by Kim Hargreaves; belt:  Loft, old; boots:  Born Tatiana, old; scarf:  Vera Neumann, super old!


This is one of my collection of vintage Vera scarves.  I've probably got about 45 of them at this point.  I just love her artwork.  This one is quite large, and all silk.



Lately it seems all I want to do is knit, and I've succumbed to a bout of Start-it-itis.  But I did manage to finish something, and took photos today while I had this dress on, so I'll be sharing that one tomorrow.

Do you guys ever try to recreate garments you had years ago?  I usually shy away from any of the styles I wore in the '90s, but the original dress (from Tweeds mail-order catalog - anybody else remember that?) was such a simple shape, it's really pretty timeless.  I'd like to do this dress in other colors, if I can find some heavier knits to work with.


41 comments:

  1. I love how basic this is! Sometimes I feel boring for sewing practical stuff but it's just so good to have! It looks great with your cardigan :) I ordered from g.c once and was happy but I can't order from them anymore cos they put their shipping costs up to a ridiculous price. Sad!

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    1. It certainly will go with a lot more things than my usual busy prints! I'm trying to encourage myself to make more solid-colored items for that very reason.

      I think GC's shipping is high even in the US. And you don't get a free ship deal until you order $100, which is higher than a lot of other places. And which is also the reason why my GC stash is so large!

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  2. Aaah, excellent basic, and you're right, it's terrific as a layering piece. I adore that scarf -- gorgeous! I've noticed that GC has been doing a lot more fabric weight labeling on their stuff, which I do like -- because I agree, sometimes "med weight" or such means less than nothing! I have actually returned one or two pieces lately that I've gotten from them, because I wasn't satisfied with it when I got it... But I guess relatively speaking, that's not a very high percentage... ;)

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    1. Thanks, Susan! Until I can start working out again, I think it will stay a layering piece :-) Yes, those weight descriptions are so subjective. I started keeping a record of what I ordered so I could compare the pieces when I got them, and even in a certain category, e.g. mid-weight, there's a lot of variation. I have enough knit fabric to keep me going for quite a while, but I think once I've used it up, I'll try to only buy stuff I can touch first.

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  3. This is a great basic and I like the midi length adds a certain something! I just made a super boring black/grey knit tunic dress that I seem to wear 2-4 times/week. It's the best!

    I avoid Girl Charlee now after a bad experience - they sent me a fabric that was listed as "cotton" on their site but clearly had a high percentage of poly when I did a burn test. Getting them to admit their error was almost impossible. And it was very, very thin. It's a bummer because their stuff looks so cute.

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    1. I think most of the stuff you make is more wearable than what I make, because you use primarily solid colors! I'm learning . . .

      My main gripe has been with the thinness of the fabrics. But all those cute prints are so darn hard to resist! I'm sure I'll cave again at some point!

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  4. this looks like a great basic, and how fun to recreate a garment from the past! i haven't had much luck finding knits locally, and it seems GC has raised their prices. i keep scoping them out though... have you tried the fabric fairy website? a lot is juvenile-type prints, and i haven't ordered there myself, but i've heard positive things.

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    1. I was surprised to find a lot of nice knits at my JoAnn's this week. I was able to keep myself from buying though, until I work my way through some of my current stash. But it's nice to know there are at least some local options. I'll check out the Fabric Fairy. You're such a bad/good influence!

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  5. I love that neckline, it's so neat! When I eventually get the Renfrew pattern (and yes, I must be the only person in the world who hasn't got it) I would be thrilled if my neckline turns out even half as good as yours! I haven't sewn at all recently - but I have been knitting away!

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    1. Ha ha, I just realised I wrote EXACTLY the same thing about the Renfrew on your previous post!! Short term memory loss or what?!

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    2. Hehehe! My secret to a neat-looking neckline? Iron the heck out of it!!

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    3. Good to know!
      -- stashdragon

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  6. I love the midi length! It looks perfect with your boots. I need more solids in my wardrobe and olive green is a great basic. I don't see any lumpy bits BTW, but the dress does look so nice layered with your sweater and belt.

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    1. Ha! You better believe I chose the one photo where the lumpy bits didn't show, LOL! They're there! I really like this length too - I really prefer this length when wearing tall boots. Has kind of a '70s feel I think!

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  7. This looks like a fantastic layering dress! I can understand why you would be frustrated with the weight of the fabric. I had a dress very similar to this ... er probably around the same time you did; it was a mid/heavy knit. It was fantastic. It's hard to compete with a memory. I think the dress looks great!

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    1. I think you've hit upon the heart of the matter: it IS hard to compete with a memory! I'll just have to make new memories in this dress ;-)

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  8. Ponte knit! You need some yummy rayon ponte knit! I recently chopped off a dress I made last fall and turned it into a top for exactly this reason - I felt like I was wearing pj's whenever I had it on (and not in a good way, more like one of those anxiety dreams where you show up to an interviews still in your jammas). But I hear you with the simple, classic dress that you can wear all the time. My latest make was a simple black cardigan (from ponte knit! you'll love it!!) and I've worn it every other day.

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    1. I DO need some ponte! Do you know where I can find some that doesn't feel polyester-y? I felt up the ones at JoAnn's the other day but they weren't what I was looking for. I have a bunch of dresses from Land's End in ponte, and they're 65% rayon, with the rest being a mix of poly and spandex. They are so easy to wear. That's what I'm looking for!

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    2. Yes - Ann has some lovely rayon ponte knit at gorgeousfabrics.com (and it's 15% off until tonight/tomorrow). I've also bought ponte from stonefabrics.co.uk (but only for clients as the shipping is steep). You might also want to try fabricmartfabrics.com. Oh, and I saw some nice subtle prints at Fishman's on Friday. I think the key is that there's more rayon than poly.

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    3. Awesome! Thanks, Lisa! I might have to stop by Fishman's this week!

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  9. This is such a beautiful basic and works so well with your skin tone.

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  10. Everyone needs some "background scenery" to show off their knits, and this is lovely on you! I love that you collect Vera N scarves - I have seen some beautiful examples on etsy and have been sorely tempted several times :) Yes, I agree on the GC quality front. I was so excited by my first order, but the second contained such flimsy fabric I wondered why I had bothered. Two lovely tops developed ladders in the knit and ended up in landfill long before their time :(

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    1. Thank you, Roo! I'm going to visit my mom in a couple weeks, and I'm hoping to visit some antique shops in search of new scarves for my collection :-)

      And I've had the same thing happen a few times . . . holes developing in the fabric after pre-washing. So sad when home sewing turns into fast fashion :-(

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  11. Lovely! A lot to be said for a basic dress!

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  12. Gail this one turned out super nice. I'm sorry to hear about the fabric. Fear of the unknown is one of the main reasons I have not ordered from Girl Charlee yet and why I usually stick to ordering quilting cottons because there are no surprises there, right?

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  13. I think this is lovely on you!

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  14. I love basic pieces and think this dress looks great on you! It's so versatile. Fancier projects are fun, but I think it's the plainer basic ones that get worn the most :)

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    1. Yes, I'm FINALLY coming around to your point of view! Too many items I've made go unworn because they're just too fancy for every day.

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    2. It took me a couple of years to come around to this way of thinking. Now, my problem is that I don't have enough fancy clothes in my wardrobe :)

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  15. I love the dress, but I really have to shout WOW, WOW, WOW - 45 Vera scarves? How wonderful!
    -- stashdragon

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    1. It is pretty wonderful! I've been collecting for about ten years. I got my very first one at a Goodwill for 25 cents! Looked it up and then got hooked!

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  16. It's a great layering dress! But, I understand the issue of fabric weight. I have a hard time ordering knits online. They're usually so different than I expect!

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    1. Thanks! Yes - I think it's partly to do with my own inexperience. But also, the description of a fabric's weight can be pretty subjective. I've noticed that my own opinion can vary day to day on a particular piece of cloth!

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  17. It's so much more than a plain dress. Definitely a lovely canvas you can easily do up, down and around. A great basic to have in your wardrobe. Can't ever have too many of those!

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    1. Yes, and that's exactly what I need in my closet! I have too many crazy prints that don't go with anything!

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  18. Super cute! I've got broad shoulders and hips (and only slightly smaller in the waist) so I look like a brick in dresses like this. Love to look at them though!

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    1. Thanks, Pam! I was wondering today if this would make a good Thanksgiving dress - it does have a fair bit of Lycra, LOL!

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