Wiggly Peplum Dress!

What comes first– the pattern or the fabric? It’s an age-old question, really (no, it’s not)! Me, I go to Mood Fabrics in NYC armed with a plan and a pattern every month, with a pretty decent idea of what I’m looking for, but I’m invariably assaulted by a beautiful fabric of a completely different variety and end up leaving with her! It’s a pretty good bet that if I come in looking for gold brocade, I’m probably going to leave with fuchsia voile. This fabric was no exception! I had completely different plans for this month’s project, but when I saw this Nanette Lepore neon-green, cotton-blend houndstooth, what was I supposed to do?Β  Leave the gal behind?Β  No way, Jose!

green cotton peplum dress

The drawback to buying fabric on a whim is that it often takes me a while to decide what I want to make! I had my heart set on a little romper or two-piece playsuit, but finally talked myself out of that when I realized it would literally NEVER step outside my closet. So then I settled on By Hand London’s Charlotte skirt for its suuuuper wiggle-a-bility. But then I thought about how much fabric I would have left over, so I decided to make a peplum top, too! Fun, right? Only, I dug through my notions and I only had a 22″ zipper that matched, and that was enough rationale for me to make a dress instead of separates. This seems RIDICULOUS now that I think about it, but let’s move on. So, I opted for the Charlotte skirt bottom, with the ruffle, and the bodice from Vogue V8511 (OOP), which I’ve made once before, which is KIND of like a skirt with a peplum top.

green cotton peplum dress

This became one of those projects where I couldn’t stop tinkering with it! I fitted the skirt like a glove and felt super hot until I figured out that I couldn’t sit down in it! Whooooooops! Obviously I should have realized that if I wanted a REALLY wiggly skirt, I should’ve followed BHL’s recommendations and used a fabric with stretch. I have to say that it took two days of contemplation before I let out the seams! I kept thinking through scenarios in which I could wear this dress and not have to sit or climb stairs (cocktail party!). But these scenarios all ended in my mind with me toddling around on heels, trying to get into a cab at the end of the night without sitting down– disaster! So the seam ripper was the only way to go! But then I felt TOO frumpy, so I took it in a bit more between the hips and the waist. But then I STILL felt frumpy, so I took it in from mid-thigh to hem, leaving the extra room I needed in the seat area intact. THEN I fidgeted with the length, pressing up and down different hem lengths. Crazy!

green cotton peplum dress

The dress is fully lined with rayon bemberg, which feels awesome! I hemmed it with rayon seam binding, which was really fun to use. I love the pink paired with neon green– it makes me feel like a secret watermelon (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?). It’s not very subtle, but then again there’s nothing subtle about this dress! I laughed because when my mother-in-law saw this dress, she remarked that it looked like a dress one of her Barbies had in the ’60’s (only her dress was a classic white). I do feel a bit like a Barbie doll or something in this dress– it’s not a very serious outfit. But it’s fun to wear. If I made this again, or just the skirt, I would take some of the volume out of the peplum and lengthen it so it hits a little lower on the hips to sort of fake an hourglass figure more. As it is, it makes me feel kind of thick around the waist, which isn’t really the goal. But I love this fabric so much! It’s unusual and really fun to wear.

green cotton peplum dress

Now I want to know– when you’re sewing, do you choose the pattern first, or the fabric? Are you seduced into impulse purchases, or do you stick to your plan in the fabric store? Be honest!

green cotton peplum dress

Editor’s note: I just checked, and we still have some of this Nanette Lepore cotton at Mood NYC and possibly at Mood LA as well. $18/yd. Contact the stores to order: NYC 212-730-5003; LA 323-653-6663.

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Comments


  • oonaballoona
    May 30, 2013

    YOU AWESOME SECRET WATERMELON BARBIE!!! i love this, and the story behind it. the heels, the fun, the fluff, the fit, fantastic!! (and wouldja believe i’m working in neon green right this minute?)

    for me, it’s a stroll through the aisles seeing whatever i’m currently obsessed with in every bolt (coughmaxidress) and then getting it home and agonizing. i average 50/50 original instinct/go AWOL.

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      OOOOOOOH, I’m so excited to see YOUR neon green creation! Yay!

  • cindy
    May 30, 2013

    Awesome! I love it!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thanks, Cindy! πŸ™‚

  • Jaime
    May 30, 2013

    That really is a good question! I buy fabric all the time on impulse, but I usually know what I would do with it. I also buy patterns with the kind of fabric in mind, but don’t always have it on hand. I think for me, the idea comes first- then I spend hours searching for just the right fabric and pattern.

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      That makes sense– that you come up with a whole idea, then just need to dig up the pieces to put it together! Cool!

  • Peter
    May 30, 2013

    It looks wonderful — and what a great color on you!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thank you, Peter!

  • liza jane
    May 30, 2013

    This is totally a Barbie dress! I love it. Definitely a showstopper in this number!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thanks, girl! πŸ˜€

  • carolyn roemer
    May 30, 2013

    In 50 years of sewing I have been through this process so many times. I especially like the one about changing the whole idea to go with the right color and length zipper.
    Usually shop for fabric first. If I like the fabric I’ll struggle with the pattern until I get what I like.

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Hahaha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes through this process trying to decide what to make! I have a printed linen that I bought last summer that I’m STILL trying to decide how to use! Silly!

  • Amanda S.
    May 30, 2013

    Well, I do not have access to fabulous fabric stores, so when I enter JoAnn’s for a pattern, I usually leave with just that. The dress is really pretty on you!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      I’m a browser even on the rare occasions that I make it to Jo-Ann’s! I don’t think I ever go in looking for a specific pattern. πŸ™‚

      • Amanda S.
        May 31, 2013

        Well, with my three kids in tow I usually look online for the patterns I want so I can pop in and out. I just meant there’s not much there to tempt me. It’s a whole lotta polyester.

        • Ginger
          May 31, 2013

          I can see why you would want to come prepared when you’re traveling with your entourage! That’s really wise. I have many childhood memories of being bored in Jo-Ann’s while my mom shopped. πŸ™‚

  • Laura
    May 30, 2013

    This is so cute!
    I always start with the pattern. I usually have a fair idea of what fabric I want, but sometimes I go off plan because I find a fabric that’s so perfect.

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thanks, Laura! Choosing a pattern first sounds like a good way to stick to a sewing plan. Sometimes I get distracted from making things that I really want or need because I don’t choose fabric that works for the patterns in my immediate queue!

  • Lori
    May 30, 2013

    I love this, Ginger, you look great, better than Barbie. I use to have the pattern first and then never could find what I was looking for – so now it is fabric first then pattern.

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Heeeheeheeheee! That makes sense– finding the best ways to use the fabric that’s available to you! I bet it keeps your stash pretty minimal.

  • Kacie
    May 30, 2013

    Secret watermelon! hah! This dress is so bold and fun – I love it! You’re absolutely right, there’s just no way anyone could expect you to leave that fabric behind. It’s just too AMAZING! I’m 50/50…I either find a pattern that I love and can never find the right fabric for it, or I fall for some fabric and just can’t decide on a pattern. My pattern and fabric locators are star-crossed lovers. Your combo is a match made in Heaven though!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Ugh, it stinks when you can’t match patterns and fabric together! But everything you make is so cute– you must strike the right combination eventually!

  • Sarah Gunn
    May 30, 2013

    Adorable, Ginger! You wear this look well πŸ™‚ To answer your question……. the fabric comes first when I shop on a whim. Always!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      I can tell, actually– you always choose the loveliest fabrics!

  • Sandra
    May 31, 2013

    I really like that fabric – beautiful dress

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thank you, Sandra!

  • Wendy
    May 31, 2013

    I tend to sway both ways. Sometimes I hoard fabric without any specific project in mind, sometimes I have the pattern in my hand and I go for fabric for just thΓ‘t pattern…
    I really love the color, and I adore wiggle dresses! I’m not really a big peplum-fan so I think this dress would look better without the added ruffle taking away attention of the great shape of the dress, but since you have a great figure, it works on you.
    You are one great-looking watermelon/barbie (whichever you prefer) in that dress!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thanks, Wendy! I’m on the fences about peplums myself– honestly, I’m pretty sure that in twenty years, people will be laughing at them the way we laugh at leisure suits now! I don’t really think the dress is improved very much by the peplum, but it was fun to try something a little different.

  • Erica B.
    May 31, 2013

    This is such a great spring dress! I love the color!

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Thanks, Erica! πŸ™‚

  • Lauren
    May 31, 2013

    Whaaaaa this is awesome! That color looks amazing on you, as does the shape of the dress (and YES to the peplum. The peplum is the best part, boo to anyone who doesn’t agree haha!).

    I usually have my pattern picked before I get my fabric, but occasionally the fabric does come first (and then sits on my shelf for forevs while I figure out what to do with it!).

    • Ginger
      May 31, 2013

      Hahahaha– I can totally relate! I have more than a few pieces of fabric that I bought on a whim sitting unused while I ponder their fates!

  • Amy
    June 3, 2013

    Another peplum! I remember the Ginger that wasn’t so into peplums, but I’m glad that Ginger has changed her mind! What a fabulous dress!

    • Ginger
      June 6, 2013

      Hahaha, I’ve been swayed by the trend! πŸ˜€

  • anne jewell
    June 4, 2013

    fabrics seem to have voices that call to me.

    • Ginger
      June 6, 2013

      I know the feeling!