It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Maxi Dress! aka The Offbeat Creative Process in Action (K Tilton Dress, Take 2)

If you've followed my sewing process for any length of time, you already know that I don't do well with starting and sticking to an actual Plan.   Nope, I'm more of a "here's where I think I want to go but Oh look where that path leads and oh my what is THIS and oops that didn't work let's try over here and oh my what about THAT? and"...well, you get the picture.   I rarely end up where I think I wanted to go when I started.

As is the case with Katherine Tilton, Butterick 5881, Take 2.

Take 1 was here - not too much of a deviation from the original pattern; just a few alterations and embellishments along the way - enough to know that the pattern had loads of creative possibilities!

Originally, I bought 3 linen fabrics that I thought would be perfect for this pattern.   This was a deviation from my norm right off the bat.   Buy a pattern, and then fabric specifically for that pattern?   Seriously, this is SO not my MO!   I buy a pattern because I love something about it, and have some vague image of what I can do with it.  I buy fabric because it feels fabulous on my skin, or the print just wows me, or (in a fit of practical groundedness) I think it will go well with something I have in mind, or will fill a hole in my stash.  I bring it home and wash it and stash it and let it simmer and at some point it jumps up and says "Me!  I'm ready!  Use Me now!"

Did I use the 3 linens I bought for this pattern?  No.   And I probably won't.  I'll just have to wait for them to jump out at me some  time in the future.  Hopefully.  Maybe.

Instead I found fabric in stash for Version #1.   I  LOVE shopping my stash!   I love HAVing a stash to shop in!   I love finding little scraps that are the perfect print to match something and JUST big enough to fill a hole in a color-blocked item - you simply can't find that sort of magic in the overwhelming stacks of a fabric store.  :)

For this version I also used stash fabrics.  I had found several rayon prints in the closeout bin at Piedmont Fabrics a couple of years ago - SO cheap I bought them all!  Combined with a cotton scrap, and a bit of leftover linen from the previous dress, I had some matches I liked :)  I wanted to try a maxi-dress, and there was plenty of fabric, so I lengthened the underdress by 15".  I kept the lower circumference the same, so I lengthened it somewhere below the hip, and adjusted the side seams  accordingly.   I also lengthened  the overdress skirt by about 3", in the same way.

I was really hoping that the drapey rayon would give a sleeker look but it's having a hint of the muu-muu here...

Side View:   Not awful, but not so flattering, really....
Note:  The side seams had not been sewn up yet (because I wanted to insert pockets), 
and I realized that a bit of a side slit might be fun :)


So I thought I would try giving it some shaping around the midriff with some darts.  This involved matching up the 2 layers (underdress and overdress) exactly...not such an easy task!   But I played with it a bit, basting in some darts, an at one point I tried it on inside out....
...and realized that, with a bit of unpicking on the side seams to finish them differently, I could actually have a reversible dress!

I finished the side seams and hems with a narrow hem, topstitched down.   I also went ahead with the midriff darts, but I only put them in on the "underdress", which is now the reverse side.   

Serged side seam:

Turned under and top stitched:

I installed side seam pockets in the same way I did on the original dress, by attaching the opening to the front of the overdress skirt, and patching the other sides of the pocket onto the reverse dress.  This means that the stitching of the pocket shows when the dress is worn reversed, but being black....well, there are advantages to black thread on black fabric...

Then it was a matter of deciding whether to put on the faux placket (again, the stitching would show on the reverse side).   I did it anyway.
And whether or not to put buttons on.   I wanted to use some cute vintage cut buttons, but was concerned that they might bother my skin when it was reversed.  They didn't, so I put them on.
And then it was a matter of installing the neck binding so that it would look good on both sides!   Binding, stitching in the ditch, and having the fold of the fabric precise so that the top stitched side looks perfect is so NOT in my realm of perfection!   Yet.    And of course, I wanted to use black thread on a tan fabric.  (see me rolling my eyes?)   I ended up topstitching the outside, and hoping that the stitching would be buried in the black fabric on the reverse.   It almost worked.   I could have unpicked the offending stitches - I still could, I suppose.   

But I didn't.

And I probably won't.  :D

In my usual meandering way, finally reached the finishing point!   And I have a dress that is really quite versatile :)
The Casual Look:


Dressed up a bit:

Pockets!

Reversed and belted, for a completely different look.

This was a 4-hour project that took me 4 days, but I'm happy with the results :-)

I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, maxi-dresses rock!   I remember wearing them a lot when I lived in Hawaii - maybe we'll have some lovely weather this summer and fall, and I'll be able to get a lot of use out of this dress.   Perhaps even another one?

Are you a maxi-dress lover?  Do you dress yours up and/or down?  Wear them all year, or only in the warmth?

36 comments:

  1. I love your style! I wish I was tall enough to look good in a maxi. I think they make me look like I'm wearing my mother's clothes. I usually wear mine just above the knee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sherril :) You may be jealous that I have a couple of inches on you (barely!) but I would love to feel good wearing a skirt just above the knees. My Mother had beautiful, shapely legs. My Father had stocky, chunky legs. Guess whose legs I inherited?

      Delete
  2. Oh my, I love this dress. You nailed it. Absolutely nailed it. Best version of this pattern I have seen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brilliant making it reversible. I haven't jumped on the maxi bandwagon yet. It usually takes me until the style is out of style to get up the nerve to try it :). Yours looks great! ~Teri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure I can visualize you in a maxi dress - you're so tiny, and your style is so uniquely you! Maybe if you did a really elegant, layered look with unusual touches that fit your style. But then, I couldn't see myself in a maxi dress either, so who knows?

      Delete
  4. what a GREAT dress. Love that you made it reversible--such a coo! You look wonderful in both dresses. Love your creativity. Can't wait to see what you sew next.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is a super dress and it is so YOU! Have fun wearing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I need to be invited to a fun summer party lol!

      Delete
  6. Oh!!I want to be you :-) That is really great Jillian, and I love the salwar kameez look to it. If you do a #3, leave the slit and add some pants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to look up salwar kameez - it rather is, isn't it? (in very muted colors lol!) I actually DID leave the slit, but I realized that you can't see it in any of the pics. And I could wear it with pants in cooler weather :)

      Delete
  7. Jillian - you just get better and better. I think this may be my all-time favorite of your pieces. And it is perfect on you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thank you Martha! It was you who put me over the edge into making up this pattern sooner rather than later :)

      Delete
  8. Am I the only one who noticed this? In the pic by the door "Dressed up a bit"---at first I thought you wearing a Chinese coolie hat with that great dress, then I realized, that, wow, it's a halo! No wonder you're looking upward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol Gloria! I admit that I noticed it too. And decided I kind of like it ;D Maybe I should take more pictures there....

      Delete
  9. I'm speechless. You made this into the coolest reversible garment I've ever seen, like something out the old Threads crazy outfit challenges (remember, some thing along the lines of..."make a garment that can be fashioned into a parachute as you sky dive into Dubai and then change it to evening wear in five minutes for a foreign service reception before you skateboard back to your hotel that evening.") The fabric combinations are so artistic and the darts really improved the shaping. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOLing at your visual!!! And I'm terribly honored, thank you!

      Delete
  10. Another fabulous creation! I would like to spend a few hours in your brain some day--it appears to be a most fascinating place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my....no one has ever said that before - I would be very frightened at the thought of spending time in my brain, and I have to do it all the time lol! Sometimes it's fun and I like it there, but only regular meditation keeps from going a bit crazy lol!

      Honestly, I would love to be a fly on the wall in your studio, and just sit and quietly observe how you come up with some of your gorgeous creations :)

      Delete
  11. I love your creations, hey are always so YOU! This obviously is not some generic copy, but something you made for yourself, with the creative process going the whole time. Every time I look at your blog I'm re-inspired, and I remember that it was a review you wrote on PR that started me sewing my own real (not costume/period) clothing.
    Amazing creation, as always!

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are having fun with this pattern - and great success! This one is just beautiful, I love your creativity in styling it as a maxi and as reversible. Well done, Jilly! And yes, I wear maxi dresses, all year, every chance I get :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. you've elongated it and its willowy and wonderful on you! Another piece of lovely textile art.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You epitomize what home sewing is about, Jilly, one of a kind creations that scream unique style! I am not that creative, and I am envious of your rambling creations. You always end up at the perfect place. Lovely, practical garment!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Very nice Jilly. Love the fact that it can be restyled. Oh, and I did notice that oolala slit on the side. Work it girl!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love it with the darts. Your fabric choices are genius. Love that you made it reversible. Very clever.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your planning and purchasing process is exactly like mine! I always feel a bit disorganized, but the way you describe it the process sounds artistic. This dress is beautiful, and so flattering! I can't imagine better fabric choices.

    ReplyDelete
  18. How fun -- the reverse style is just as nice, maybe even better, as the belting gives it a nice fit. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love this -- especially the reversed look. I have a pattern for a maxi dress, and I love the way they look, but I'm not sure I can amend my usual style (jeans/shorts and a t-shirt) so that I don't feel 'dressed up' when I wear them. We shall see.

    Beautiful job, as always :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think Marci and Katherine Tilton encourage developing your own look from a pattern. Love what you ended up with :) I've always wanted to dress like this but just can't pull off the look like you!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh my! So fabulous! You look great, Jilly. Now I want to make a longer version and I haven't even made the shorter one yet...

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes maxi dresses rock! I agree with Louisa...this dress is fabulous and I want to make one too. Your idea of copying/cutting out the pattern pieces is great!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a thrill to see you used fabrics I designed for The Batik Butik when I owned that company!!! Just for fun I'll tell you about the designs... The gingko leaves were real leaves I scanned and then played with in CorelDraw in Bali back in about 2008 or 2009...a huge seller for me! And the Bird of Paradise was something I drew in a Singapore hotel using the patio door as a light box! That was in 2010 I believe. You've done a marvelous job mixing the fabrics and your dress is very clever. You made my day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How VERY cool to hear from you, and hear the story! I made a blouse from a fabric using a smaller gingko design (yours too, perhaps? Very similar to the larger gingkos) and loved it so much I tried to find more of the fabric, to no avail.... So I was thrilled when I found this batch in the end-of-roll bin!

      You made MY day - I just love a bit of history to go along with the things I enjoy so much :)

      Delete