Hello everyone! I’m very excited to share this make with you today — it’s a real favorite! I actually made it a couple months ago, while I was taking my blogging break, and am only just now getting around to documenting it.
But the inspiration for this dress goes back much further, to the beginning of this year. We had a very mild and pleasant winter in my part of the world — lots of warm days with low humidity, and sunshine for weeks on end. It was lovely. It also, as luck would have it, coincided with a stretch of time that I was without my bike, my main source of transportation. I work about 2 miles from home, so it was not a huge inconvenience to walk those 2 miles, but walking upwards of 4 miles every day gives a girl a lot of time to daydream! And what was I daydreaming about? Sewing of course!
Specifically, I was daydreaming about the kind of outfit I wished I was wearing to saunter down sidewalks in a crumbling southern city in the U.S.A., shaded by drooping live oaks and palm trees, heavy hibiscus bushes, oleanders, and fragrant jasmine and gardenia. It doesn’t take much for my brain to meander off to the romantic, the literary, and cinematic, and so I cast my leading lady for the movie in my head. She was someone who owned few nice dresses, or shoes, or hats, but each item was her dress, or her shoes, or her hat. The kind of objects that are as much a part of her identity and expression as her eyes, or nose, or hands. She was effortlessly feminine, and sensual, and she took her time walking across the uneven pavement, relishing the heavy scent of the southern greenery.
Essentially, she was me — or rather who I would like to be. So really not me at all! Ha!! But this was the dress she wore. A shirtdress. A dress that can truly take you anywhere. I don’t know if it’s magic, but since making this dress, every time I wear it, I do feel a bit like that fantasy woman. And I’ve received many compliments while wearing it, not necessarily only on the dress, but on me. And that’s the best kind of compliment.
So! About this fantasy dress! As soon as it blossomed in my brain I knew exactly what fabric I wanted to use for it — this American Beauty, Nightshadow Blue and Tinsel Digital Flowers Printed on a Viscose Woven from Mood Fabrics online (and speaking of romantic, literary and cinematic — how about that fabric name, huh?!). This fabric has a lot of similarities to rayon challis, which is one of my favorite fabrics to wear in the warmer months, although if I’m being picky, this viscose is maybe a touch denser in weave. But I treated it much the same. I cut it with a rotary cutter, used a small needle in my sewing machine, and made sure that all seams that weren’t enclosed in the design were finished on my overlocker to prevent fraying. Areas like the button band and side zip were all interfaced to give extra strength. These are all things that I do regardless of the fabric weave and fiber, though!
The real star of this fabric is the fun print, which looks like a cross-stitch or embroidery floral pattern. It’s slightly grandma-ish, but in a really fun way, and it gives this fabric way more interest than your standard floral pattern, in my opinion.
The pattern is Simplicity 1880, an out-of-print pattern that I’ve had in my stash for many years now. I actually made the cross-over bodice version of this pattern twice before, and one of those dresses – made in purple linen — is one of my all-time favorites and it still gets worn frequently. So when I was scratching my head wondering what shirtdress pattern to use to make my dream dress for my dream woman, it was a no-brainer when I pulled this one out from the bottom of my pattern drawer. This is a faux shirtdress, with the buttons only opening to the waist, and an invisible zipper on the side to get the dress on and off. The flat, notched collar originally didn’t appeal to me when I made this pattern before, but in this fabric and for this look, I adore it. I’ve also always loved this patterns’ gathered yokes, and pleats at the waist on the front and back, and I think the skirt is my ideal, hip-skimming 4 piece skirt. I just always feel so womanly in this skirt – I think it has something to do with the fall of the bias. Perfect.
One thing I agonized over on this dress was the buttons. I had originally planned on covered buttons, but the plethora of covered button kits I thought I had in my stash turned out to be a total fantasy. I had none. So I made a trip up to Houston to some of the big fabric stores there to pick out buttons, but they never seemed to be open when I thought they were! Aargh! Finally I went to JoAnn’s to buy more covered buttons and figured I’d take a look at the premade button selection, just in case there was something I liked better (and could save myself the fiddling about with covered buttons), and I came across these deep fuschia and black buttons that were such a perfect match I would have felt like an idiot if I didn’t buy them! I’m really happy I went with them. While I do think covered buttons always look classy, they would have gotten lost in this fabric, and these buttons really did seem like they were made for this dress.
Well! Rather a long post, but I wanted to share all my thoughts behind this dress. I wear it at least once a week and always feel like a dreamier version of myself in it.
Do you ever come up with a character in your head, and then make the clothes to suit them? It’s like the adult version of playing dress-up!