Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Dress That Tried Not To Be

dressin up week

***Don’t forget about the Shabby Apple dress giveaway! Wednesday is the last day to enter!***
Wow. Today’s post has taken a lot of work to get here. First, I decided to try and knock off this jacket that I saw in a boutique in Delaware back in April.

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But my attempt didn’t turn out too well. I think I’ll let it sit for a few months and see what I can do with it.

Then, I tried to make this dress from JCrew.


I just couldn’t get the gathers to sit right, and after looking at other pictures of the listing, I realized I don’t think I could have ever made it look like it does on this mannequin. If I’d just seen the pictures of it on the model, I probably would have never pinned it.

So after ripping out stitches twice (and serger stitches at that!), I went back to my clothing pins and remembered this dress from Anthropologie.


Anthro no longer carries this dress, but thanks to this post from Effortless Anthropologie I know that it cost $118. (WOW!) But switching the styles this late in the game couldn’t be easy, of course. I couldn’t get the drape to sit right, but I liked the addition of the knots at the shoulders. With a few tucks, I finally reached the point where I liked this dress.

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This dress it different from my usual style, so it took a while to figure out a few ways to wear it.

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I liked the addition of a belt. And since fall is approaching and we’ve had a couple of gray mornings, I thought I’d give a cooler weather option a try.

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Adding the belt, a denim jacket and my boots turned it into a look I really like. Still a departure from my norm, but something I would probably admire on someone else and think was too “cool” of a look for me to pull off. Funny how we tell ourselves things like that, isn’t it?

At the point of attaching the top to the skirt was when I started having problems, so I don’t have pictures from that point on. But I can show you up until then and walk you through how I finished.

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I started by cutting the front of the bodice. I used a tank I like the fit of as my guide, but added several extra inches to the middle. Then I cut the back the same as the tank’s back.

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The back is on top of the front here. You can see how much wider the front is. For the skirt, cut two panels to the length you want, plus an extra inch for the hem and an extra inch for the waist band. Make them 1 1/3 of your width (that way you’ll have enough to gather for some flow but not so much it gets bulky).

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Sew the side seams of your skirt together (right sides together). I used my serger, but you can easily just use the knit stitch on your regular machine. Check out this post for tips on sewing with knits.

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Fold the waist band over an inch and sew it about 1/8 inch in (I used the knit stitch on my machine at this point). Leave about a 1 inch opening for you to feed the elastic in.

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Sew around the top of the band, this time not leaving an opening. Make sure the space between the two seams is wide enough to fit your elastic through. I used 1/4” elastic. I also didn’t need much space above the top seam since I would be using my serger. If you’re using your machine, just make sure you leave enough room to sew the skirt to the top without having to sew over the elastic. Using a safety pin, run the elastic through the casing. Then sew the two ends of the elastic together. Make sure that it will fit snuggly at your natural waist since you’ll need the elastic to add shape to a dress that can potentially make you look very shapeless. Close up the casing by sewing the 1 inch opening closed.

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Sew your top pieces together at the shoulders and side seams. To attach your bodice to the skirt, turn your bodice right side out and your skirt inside out. Line up the bottom edge of the bodice with the top of the waist band of the skirt, so they are right sides together. Pin together at the side seams first. For the back of the dress, you’ll be pinning it directly over all the gathers from the elastic. I didn’t pin the front since I knew I’d be stretching the skirt as I went. Sew it together, starting with sewing the back (because it will be easier). When you get to sewing the front, pull the skirt so it stretches to the length of your top. If the top is still wider than the skirt, just gather it a little bit as you go while you sew.
Finish off your neckline and sleeves. I just serged around the edges because I liked the idea of a more raw look. For the hem, I folded the hem up on the outside of the skirt (I liked the idea of it looking like a raw edged strip sewn around the hemline) and serged it.

For the knots, make two tubes of fabric, tie them in a knot, and wrap around the straps, and sew the ends together. My knots are not sewn in place because I like the idea of being able to change their positions.

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It was at this point that I realized the neckline just wasn’t working for me, so I folded it over and sewed two darts in it and then finally liked the way it draped.

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Then play around with it, find a look you like, and send me pictures so I can see it too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Parties I’ll be linking up with:


  1. It looks like you cut the fabric on the straight of the grain. Cutting it on the bias, which would require a bit more fabric, should give you the drape you desire. Nice job though. You make a lovely model. A friend and follower of Queenly Abode.blogspot.com (I do not have my own blog. I am an avid sewer though.)

  2. Cuuuute dress! And I just love those boots, where did you get them from?

  3. Love this! Great job sticking with it:) And I'm glad you did; I may have to knock this off for myself!

  4. This looks great on you! I would love to have you link up with Creative Me Monday over at The Southern Institute! You can link up through tomorrow. Here's the link:


    Hope to see you there!

  5. This is SO SO CUTE! And it looks easy enough for me to make...and oh so comfy. Not to mention your boots...oh my word. LOVE them! Great outfit.

    Id love for you to stop by DIY Diva Thursdays to link up! We party until Monday :)


  6. absolutly LOVE the dress with Denim and the boots-
    I am all about the "its cute on her, but not my style" however that outfit perfectly articulates how I wish I dressed!

  7. Love what you did with this dress. Think I might try a variation of this one myself some day soon.

    Really like the entire Dress Up Week section of your site.



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