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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Li'l Ole Lady Dress Gone Wild

Sometimes a project just turns in to 'one of those things', aka "What was I thinking?", then "Can this even be saved???"

My initial issue here was one of fabric choice - I bought this circle/dot jersey from Emma One Sock a couple of years ago.  I loved the swatch, but when all the yardage arrived, all I could see was "little ole' lady" (henceforth known as LOL) fabric.   But hey, it was EOS fabric (translation = not cheap) and I was determined to find something I could use it for.  I kept interviewing it...almost hiring it....but it never quite made the grade.  

Enter Marcy Tilton's V8813.  I saw Barbara V's super cute version up close and personal, and pictures of several other successful versions, and thought this could be a great dress to help me overcome my long-standing Dress Aversion - funky, edgy, comfy, creative potential...what's not to like?  So I finally hired the LOL, combined it with some navy modal, and I thought "Yeah, this will work".  It looked like it was going to take longer to trace and cut than sew - super easy!  I got it mostly sewed up, and thought ... "Huh.   We no longer have the LOL dress, we have the LOL bathrobe!" 

Not the look I was going for.

Enter some of Marcy T's silk screens, and I thought "Yes, I can save it with this!"  I seriously wish I was one of those talented people who can really visualize the completed project in their mind, but I just ain't.  I'm a go-with-the-flow person, and I just have to watch it unfold and figure it out as I go.  In this case, I watched it unfold...and flow...and go...and fold up...and flow some more...and nip and clip....and rumple...and.... well.  You get the picture.

I really couldn't bear to take pictures along the way, so we'll just jump to the end result.

The construction:  Gratefully riding the coattails of those who have gone before me, I took the wise advice to do the gathering on the center front piece BEFORE sewing it on to the front side pieces.  Doing the gathers AFTER sewing it all together was, imho, the silliest possible advice in the pattern instructions!  I did the gathers themselves per the pattern instructions, using a zigzag over a length of perle cotton, then pulling up the gathers - easy peasy!

Mostly I followed all of the other instructions, which were very clear, very thorough, very good.  Until, of course, I completely stopped following instructions.

I cut a Small, and ended up bringing the V point of the neckline up about an inch.  I also took the side seams in by about 1" on each side (for a total of 4"), from the bottom of the sleeve to the top of the pocket, tapering at each end.  I used the View C pockets, with a contrast lining and faux piping.

The Embellishments, etc.:  I really should have taken shots of the bathrobe stage.   Really, you would SO agree with me that it looked like a bathrobe!  I hadn't sewn the center strip (the LOL) on when I started silk screening - thank heavens!  It's really hard enough trying to manipulate the fabric flat when just a few seams have unflattened it!  Dixie wrote a recent post with an excellent tutorial on her silk screening methods.  I aspire to her artistry, but meanwhile, I'm is a brief description of what I did, and the tools I used:

This was the last piece I screened onto the dress.
I used Marcy T's Riffle design, which is in place on the fabric,

a syringe to draw up the paint,
A squeegee (this was a larger one that I cut to size),
the paint,

and a touch-up brush.
What is not seen is VERY important - a bucket of water to place your screen in
immediately after using it, so that it doesn't clog up.
(ask me how I know that this is VERY important....)

Everything is laid out on a large plastic sheet on the floor, but the sheet really should be larger than this to catch the drips from the water bucket.
I drew up the paint in the syringe, and squeezed it out -
you can see the largish bead of paint on the left of the screen.
Too much is better than too little!
The squeegee is ready to push the paint through the screen as you pull the squeegee across.
I'm still learning how much pressure is required, but I'm discovering that more pressure is  good - I started with a tendency to not push hard enough.
After the paint has been drawn across the screen.
You then lift the screen off the fabric by lifting one side of the screen,
holding the fabric down,
and try not to make a mess of things.
The results.
This one wasn't too bad :)
After you let the paint dry, set it with a hot iron, and it's done!
After this I sewed in the center front piece (LOL), and assessed the situation.

It was now looking sort of like a hip, Asian version of the LOL bathrobe.    Still not ready for prime time.  I tried various shoes on with it.  No help.  I tried to manipulate the pockets in about 79 different variations of gathers and buttons and folds and stitches.   Some versions sort of worked, some not so much, but what was NOT working was the baggy pockets as designed.  In this fabric, in spite of the updated direction I was moving in, those pockets still screamed bathrobe! to me.  

The length.  Aha!  The length!   Too long on my vertically challenged bod.  I also just wasn't crazy about the uneven hemline - it wasn't until I took another look at the pattern pictures and realized that it's supposed to look like that ... I guess ... but it wasn't working for me.   Evening out the hemline meant, basically, cutting it WAY off grain.    Oh well, whatever works.  I tried trimming it.   Still too long.  Still uneven.

At this point, I figured, if it wants to be uneven, just let it be so, and embrace it.  Did I mention that this was a late night sewing session?  I was, without doubt, getting goofy.  You want uneven?  I'll give you uneven!  My version of embracing the unevenness was to do a serged rolled hem, stretching the kerfluvvin out of the fabric as I fed it through the serger, and I got the ultimate in wavy unevenness!

I had already decided on the pocket solution at this point, which was to stitch a fold in the center of each pocket and add buttons, completely changing the shape of the pocket opening and, I think, a better flow with the rest of this dress.   I used 4 unmatched clear, cut plastic vintage buttons from stash.

And called it done.  And fun!  And functional  :)

Well....not totally done, because now I need some new shoes, since nothing I have seems to work well with this dress (except maybe boots and leggings for Fall wear).   In the meantime, I have what I would call a fun knock-around-the-house playdress that could be dressed up a little and taken out to dinner, or funked up and taken out to a fun, arty event.   It's definitely comfy to wear; I worked through my LOL issues and now I can just have some laughs :)  (I  do have more of the LOL fabric though....what to do, what to do......)

Meanwhile, I'm happy with what I've got.  I'm wearing it now, and it might just stay on all day :)

Not the most figure-flattering piece,
but I'm going for comfort here, and in that mode, it fills the bill nicely :)
Random thought = Shoes.  I should write a post about shoes.  Not because I know a lot about them; more because of what I DON'T know!   


Andrea said...

Jilly, I love the dress, and think it looks great on you! The silk screening really adds something special to the dress. It's funny you brought up shoes, because when I saw the first picture, I thought about the shoes I ordered today. They are perfect for this dress, in a casual way, and so comfy.

Here is the link: I have the hibiscus color - sort of coral. They are the #1 most comfortable shoes I own for my needy feet. Today I ordered navy, black, and bark (brownish).

Zappos is great - free shipping both ways. I am positive you can find some shoe love for your fun and funky dress.

Jillybejoyful said...

Those are kind of cute. And I love Josef Seibels...I'll have to check my local dealer and see if they have them to try; thanks!

ElleC said...

I giggled all the way through the post and will probably giggle all night. Thank you.

PS-I like it.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the adventure...because my day had been a bit dull until this moment. I love the finished look on this dress, the screening...well actually the entire project is inspired Jilly. Perfect dress for hot days, it looks so cool and comfortable and the color is soothing. Another plus is that I feel like I was in your sewing room when the inspiration happened. Sweet inspiration I need some to rub off on me:)

Carolyn said...

It looks utterly fabulous to my eyes, quite stunning! I love all the extra details, the screening... inspired!! You may have felt like things were not going smoothly, but the end result is absolutely Wonderful!! :) I completely adore the pockets too, sheer genius!

luckylibbet said...


kbenco said...

It looks wonderful. The embellishment and the fabric combination are gorgeous, and the dress looks floaty and original. I love it. It is interesting to read about all your decisions along the way, you are very creative.

Jillybejoyful said...

Several of us shorties have made successful (I think) versions of this dress. It's just...a I say, go for it! I just know you could make it work for you!

Jillybejoyful said...

Tit for Tat...your posts always make me giggle! :D

Jillybejoyful said...

Aw, thanks Lynne! It's always great to hear that I've helped brighten someone's day :) :) :)

Jillybejoyful said...

Any praise from you is delicious dessert, thanks Carolyn! :D

Jillybejoyful said...

Thank you :)

Jillybejoyful said...

Creative....or desperate.... ;-D

Sew-4-Fun said...

Fabulous dress and great post! Thanks for the details on the screen printing because I have these same silk screens from MT. The blue dot fabric - so it wasn't just me! :) I bought this exact same fabric from EOS and like you I loved the swatch but when it arrived, oh boy, oh boy. Very much not the look I was going for. Unfortunately I couldn't make mine work, so mine is long gone but I love how you made your fabric work.

Jillybejoyful said...

Oh, I'm SO glad to know I'm not alone in my feelings about that fabric! Wasn't that itty bitty swatch just too cute, with so much promise? I say you were wise to get rid of yours....I should follow suit with the rest of mine...

Virginia at A Sewing Life said...

With all due respect to Marcy and those who have made nice versions of this dress, I have been unsure about the wisdom of this shape. But seeing your awesome interpretation, I have to change my mind. Very cool!

Lynn said...

What a great save, Jilly! Your interpretation is inspired.

Jean said...

Adorable dress!

Claire R. said...

ahh that pattern is taunting me! I bought it and could only imagine bathrobe!! Thanks for verifying!! But your creative solutions came out so so cute!!!! It's a fabulous stylish dress!!! Congratulations!! (PS Arcopedico has some really cute shoes!!)

Mary said...

It's beautiful Jillian. I carted the pattern and various fabrics to DOL and got loads of advice from ladies who had made up the pattern. I think a knit is more difficult, but so doable, as you have shown. Your work is inspired-and the silk screening is terrific. I love the blue solid and print together, and the design really highlights your beautiful face.

Audrey said...

You used a wonderful combination of fabric and embellishments for this dress. And it is super cute on you.

gwensews said...

Wow, nice job on the silk screen. I've always found it messy to do, and I know that it's my technique. Yours is really very clever, and the dress is so artsy-lovely.

Anonymous said...

You made my day...I love it!!! I bought that pattern about a month ago because it looked fun with the floppy pockets and uneven hem. :) Yours is so cute!!! You made silk screening look less difficult than I thought it would be. Going to Marcy's site now...maybe try it once.

shams said...

I love your dress, Jillie Be! I agree that I was unsure about that polka dot, by itself. But the way you mixed it and then pulled it together with your excellent use of silk screening - very nice! I experimented with silk screening a couple years ago and my results were nowhere near as nice. And I love how your morphed the pockets. A great dress! (Though I'm still not ready to get on the dress bandwagon. ;) )

jacquianne said...

wonderful dress and the instructions for silk screening make me want to try - I had thought it would be harder than that! I know have to have a look at that pattern!

Louisa said...

Helluva save, Jillian! I'd say that dress is very wearable as well as a fabulous art piece. I like all the changes you made to the original!

Dixie said...

Wow, this dress is terrific! You did a great job with the silk screens and incorporating the EOS fabric. I don't know why you think the dress doesn't flatter you. It looks really, really good on you!

Dave and Mary Jane Henley said...

Great save! I really like it. I just finished this dress. The first time I tried it on, my husband said, "Cute bathrobe." So I can relate. I've futzed with it until I'm blue in the face. My robe will make some very nice napkins. Once again I learned never to judge a pattern by the willowy models.