Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dreams come true in Blue Hawaii

I just couldn't help a little Elvis reference there, do pardon. I have felt a recent urge for tropical print, hawaiian inspired garments, and found this tropical print rayon challis and this shell print cotton several months ago and couldn't resist. I decided early on that I wanted the challis to make a maxi-dress out of, but wasn't exactly sure what style of dress I wanted to make. I knew I wanted something a little more structured than the standard columnar, knit maxi-dresses that are all over stores right now.

I finally got it into my head that it might be fun to use the Vogue evening gown pattern that I bought for absolutely no reason other than it was on sale and I loved it. I do not have a life that ever requires an evening gown, or likely will ever require one, so it was a silly purchase really, but what the heck. Now this pattern is definitely intended for something other than an unlined challis, but after mulling it over in my mind for a long time I decided to just go for it. I read a few reviews of the pattern before starting, and everyone seemed to recommend definitely making a muslin of the bodice at least before starting (something that I generally am very bad about doing). The admonitions of everyone else convinced me, however, and I whipped up a muslin of the bodice fairly quickly.

I had to take a little bit out at the side seams, but not much at all.

There was a bit of pulling happening at the sides of the back, but it looked like something that would fix itself once the weight of the skirt had been added, so I left it as it was and it behaved as I had anticipated once the skirt was attached.

The skirt and bodice were only basted when I took these photos, and I hadn't finished the closure or the the shoulder seams yet, but it's a pretty faithful depiction of how it looks all finished.

I'm really happy with it. The bottom shaping is wonderful (I just love godets!) and the challis is so comfortable to wear. The top is going to take a bit of getting used to, since I can't wear a bra with it and it's pretty low cut, but as long as I'm conscious of that fact while I'm wearing it I should be able to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. I'd really kind of like to make another one, perhaps in a solid color. I haven't had a chance to wear it anywhere yet, but it's just so comfortable and elegant feeling I'd really like to have another (because I really need so many more clothes, ahem). 

The second major dress project from the last week was a 1950s inspired sarong dress. I've been itching to make one of these for quite some time now and finally sat down to figure out a pattern. I actually began with the lower bodice pieces from the above pattern and adapted them for the bodice, drafting the rest of the pattern from there.

The muslin fittings for the bodice were progressing pretty well, so I went ahead and cut out my dress fabric, using the muslin as my lining and adding boning to the side-front and side seams for a bit of extra support.

Playing around with the bodice decoration.
I got the skirt worked out pretty quickly and got the body of the dress together and took a couple of pictures before I went to bed that night to see how it was going to look with the halter strap attached.

I had originally put a kick pleat in the back (out of habit mostly), but I ended up taking it out in the end since the wrap-nature of the skirt front kind of negates it's purpose.

I wanted it to be convertible, with a strapless, halter and stole (if that's what you want to call it) option, and I also added a faux hip tie to finish off the skirt.

I was a bit lazy with my zipper and put it in by machine (something I don't generally do anymore) and I do wish I had just waited and done it by hand, but oh well. I don't regret it enough to take it out and redo it. Before I use this pattern again (which I'd like to) I'll do a bit more adjusting on the bodice pieces. I'm not 100% happy with how they fit, but for a first go-round I'm okay with it; and now I have my wardrobe taken care of next time I'm hired as an extra for an Elvis flick. 


  1. that sarong dress is craaazy awesome! very alfred shaheen! well done on both!

  2. That sarong dress is gorgeous! Love it. I love the scoop back on the first dress too.

  3. Two beautiful dresses. I am always way to impatient to put in a hand stitched zip.
    Have you seen the disposable stick on bras, kinda like a big band aid. Just a little extra support for the girls.

  4. I love the long dress, so pretty! The sarong dress is such fun :)
    I always admire your excellent fitting.

  5. I've been DYING to somehow make a dress like your second one. Oh gee I wish I had your drafting skills because I NEED that dress!
    Goddammit I wish I could be better at sewing already - and have my own form!
    Maybe if I had that Vogue pattern it would be a start :-D

  6. Thank you all so much! And Khriste B, I've been contemplating getting some stitch in bra-cups to put in the first dress, just for that purpose.

  7. Really cute! Perfect summer dresses!


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