Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Prisoner No.101/2012

Once again I have been seduced by pictures of skinny models, exquisite make-up, smooth hair, professional photography, exotic and colour co-ordinated scenery and excellent styling.  A very plain shift dress with centre front and back seams, deep V neck, side seam pockets closed with zips, knee length and dropped cap sleeves. The model looks tall and elegant, simple yet stylish, cool but sizzling! And I thought if I make that dress I too will look like that and live her life in the tropics.
Let me introduce you to dress 101 from Burda May 2012. Yep, I told you, I traced one already so there will be loads more! Two patern pieces this time - can't be that hard and I'm really pushing my personal styling preferences by selecting a non-existent sleeve and slightly above knee length - my goodness!

The wonderful cross weave organic cotton arrived from Ray Stitch and I cut into it straight away to make this dress. It was a little more lightweight than I anticipated and thought this dress need a fabric with a bit of upmpf or at least body. But I really wanted to use the cross weave so I resorted to some couture techniques to pull it off. 
Firstly I bought some nude coloured lawn cotton and underlined the whole dress. This added that extra body that I needed without the extra weight of a full and separate lining. 

Fraying was a bit of an issue with the cross weave, so I cut the underlining pieces larger, folded the extra seam allowances over the cross weave seam allowances and zig-zagged in place for a mock Hong Kong finish. I've cut facings for front V and sleeves and hand stitched them all in place.

One of the benefits of underlining is that you can sew to the lining and no stitches are visible from the right side at all.

And what have I ended up with? - A smock that a woman prisoner wears!

Shapeless, bland, plain and a costume for Prisoner Cell Block H

So I threw a bit of colour matching lace around the neck to see if this would glamourise the smock, but no, it just looked like Bea dressing up for a parole board meeting.

If you know how I can style this up please please send me advice. The shell fabric is really lovely and is actually a bit bluer in real life than in these pics so I  don't want to sacrifice it. If you have any ideas about how to resurect this I'd be so grateful. I've spent so much time and thought in construction that - 
 I'm dammed if I'm going back inside.
Thanks for reading. Ruth


  1. What about slicing it at the waist and adding a tighter fitting midriff band that the dress skirt and bodice could be gathered to? If you used a double knit or a wide elastic you could make it quite fitted and still comfy.
    You've done such beautiful construction it would really suck to not wear it!

  2. Kicky fun belt? Perhaps an obi style? Something bright and frisky......

  3. I know just how you feel. I, myself, just finished making a top that I Really Like. It came out great with interesting details, etc. The only problem is, while it looks great on the hanger and fits me very well, the COLOR makes me look washed out and Blah... ugh!

    Your top, being very simple, should make a very nice basic layering piece. Just wear it under a jacket or cardigan in a color that suits you. And add a necklace or pendant. Problem solved. :-)

  4. CleverclogsMay 17, 2012

    Maybe a contrasting rather than a toning trim?

  5. A super simple addition would be to add a casing at the waist, a narrow one, maybe only 1 inch wide. Sew the casing on top of the garment and don't take it all the way to the side seams. Stop at about the princess line area, front and back. Make a narrow drawstring and run it through the casings. Tie on either side. Another idea to add to prttynpnk's idea would be to make the obi belt I posted using two neckties. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. The fabric is far too lovely to waste. The humor of your post is great.

  6. How about rolling the sleeves up a little and folding with band. And put a very wide waist belt on loosely or tightly. It would look like a shirt dress :) Good luck.

  7. Thank you all for your great suggestions. I really appreciate you giving up the time and expertise to give me advice. I'm at that stage where the thing has been bundled up and stuffed to the back of the stash box. I need time away from it and some serious thought as to the way forward. Thanks again. Live a little, learn a little huh?

  8. I don't know how many times I've sewn a garment forgetting who I am........ If it doesn't work as a dress what about shortening it to a tunic. I've found that works wonders on lots of dresses I'm ready to toss. Good luck!