Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Easter!

Don't bother telling me the title of this entry is two weeks late. That said, I grew up with two older sisters. I was the queen of hand-me-downs. My mother even says that I helped my sisters pick out their clothes because I knew I'd end up with them eventually. But my mom always made sure that, even though the bulk of my wardrobe was previously-worn, I got a few new things of my own every year. At the beginning of the school year, I'd get to pick out a few new things (including the all-important first-day-of-school outfit, which I usually also wore on the also important Picture Day). I would also get a new dress for Christmas and another for Easter. These, combined with whichever clothes in the big bags in the basement happened to fit, gave me quite a nice assortment of school clothes and church dresses to wear all year long.

I've tried, with varying amounts of success, to follow the tradition over the years. I do generally start every school year (when I'm in school) with a new outfit, and I frequently make myself a new winter dress in time for Christmas and a spring-summer type dress for Easter. This year, I decided I wanted an Easter dress. I had all the fabric by the Friday before Easter, so my plan was to wash it at my parents' house (the fabric is all 100% cotton, so pre-washing is a very good idea), then cut it out and maybe even start sewing while the rest of my laundry was being washed. I did get the fabric (and the rest of my clothes) washed, but a combination of other things coming up and my inherent laziness prevented the project from going any further that day.

Finally this weekend I ironed all the fabric--four different pieces--and started cutting out. I decided to use one of my favorite patterns (the one from which I previously cannibalized a sleeve piece) but with, as usual, some changes.
The v-shaped neckline is somewhat precariously low in its plunge. I wanted to fill it in a bit, but am not a fan of the dicky look. While brainstorming different options, I realized that the crossed-over bodice and wide midriff faux-sash reminded me of a kimono and obi. Since I had been wanting a dress out of a Japanese-type print anyway, I knew what I could do to raise the neckline a little. Kimonos are worn with several other light robes underneath, with the layers arranged to show neatly at the neckline. Therefore, my plan was to mimic this look.

I selected a purple fabric with a Japanese-style floral print reminiscent of the decorative washi papers I've used to cover boxes and eggs. In addition, I got two plain purple fabrics, one a light purple and the other a pinkish purple, and some white cotton.
As I was cutting out the pattern pieces, I primarily followed View C, which has the sleeves I wanted and is all one fabric. However, I cut the midriff section and tie ends out of the light purple. I mostly sewed the dress according to the pattern directions, with two exceptions: before overlapping the bodice pieces and basting, I cut (well, tore, actually) strips of the pinkish-
purple, folded and ironed them, and zig-zagged the unfinished edges, then sewed them along the front panel edges with 1/4" showing. This was done in order to add a contrast color, highlight the crossed-over nature of the bodice, and begin filling in the neckline.
1 5/8" from the top of the piece, I slanted the strip down to meet the shoulder seam which would be sewn at 5/8" from the top.

Also, although the pattern directs to lap the right side over the left, I switched it to left over right, after checking several images of Japanese women in kimono to see which way is correct for that look.

From this point, I proceeded as normal. After the dress was complete, I cut (well, tore, again, since that's the easiest way I know to get woven cotton into even strips when I don't have a pattern piece) strips of the light purple and white. I measured and placed the light purple so that a bare 1/8" would be exposed, and also tapered it toward the shoulder line in placing. The white was exposed 3/8", and also carried around the back of the neck.
These changes resulted in the point of the neckline being raised a full 1 1/4", while looking intentional and designed-in (dickies always look a little last-minute and unthought to me, which is why I wanted to avoid that solution). Also, the layered neckline allowed me to use a fabric that is really a little to yellow for my skin tone, because the final white layer is more flattering to me. he end result is a fun dress that I have made my own--and that I can bow in safely!
Oh, and I also used leftover fabric to make a head sash. In these pictures, I've tucked up the tied ends.


Giggles said...


I think my Easter dress was a few weeks late last year.

I made a v-neck cross over dress like that two years ago and I just re-drafted the pieces so they were two inches higher I think.

La Beq said...

Yeah, I thought about just redrafting the pattern piece. I may end up doing that the next time I use this pattern.

shannon said...

I especially like the information about kimono here, and the in process pictures.

Summer said...

Hi Beqi:) I found your blog after doing a quick Etsy search for bobbin lace. I've had fun reading your blog and look forward to following your adventures:)