I’m not much of a dress wearer. I grew up wearing dresses and skirts. Went to school in them and began my career days in this staple. But when my career took me into the Information Technology field, dresses became impractical. You see, I never knew which day I would need to crawl around on floors; or get the ladder and stick my head in ceiling and my bum in peoples faces. Much as I liked dresses, they became impractical to wear and slowly but rather permanently disappeared from my closet.
I did find that a dress in the summer was one of the coolest ways to clothe myself. I don’t mean kewl, I mean temperature wise I felt most comfortable on hot days if I wore a cotton blend, sleeveless, but long dress. Where pants keep your flesh insulated, a dress allows for greater air circulation especially around the “good china”. A long dress, in addition to concealing some less than perfect grooming (i.e. when did you last shave?) also flaps around creating a little air circulation. So despite the disappearance of dresses from my work wardrobe, a few remained to be worn during summer’s heat.
I purchased CLD Pattern pure and Simple Top I think in 2009 and made a top immediately. I knew it was a winner as soon as it slipped over my shoulders to test the fit. I made several more. The following year, I purchased CLD’s My Hearts’s A Flutter especially for the top. It too was a winner but for some reason started me thinking about dresses and wondering about drafting a dress similar to the PNS top. In the meantime, I’ve made some effort to understand more about drafting and had the wonderful epiphany that designers start with their version of a TNT and morph it into the next design. Even better, cmarie12 shared her method of using her TNT to create a new design.
So I took my TNT summer dress Kwik Sew 2599 and laid it on the cutting table. I covered it with tracing paper and traced it in orange. Then I put the corresponding PNS pattern piece on top and lined it up with center and shoulder seams. I traced this in green. Finally I smoothed the side seams and trimmed my tissue. Even following in the footsteps of someone so talented, I hesitated. Yep I did. I pulled a fabric out of the stash that should have been donated long ago. I’m sure it was from an old WFO purchase. The colors are peach, baby blue and a dull green. It’s a print, I think they were aiming for something reminiscent of lilacs or hydrangeas printed on thin cotton blend. It might have been intended as a quilting cotton. But I can assure you that the quilters would have had nothing todo with it. It’s too thin and not 100% cotton. I probably had a blouse in mind, but that never manifested. Use as a muslin to test both a new garment and a pattern drafting technique seemed like a very good solution. And the result?
Well, the PNS is a great top and this way to draft patterns is an excellent technique. Sewing this garment was really, really easy. First I’d already sewn it several times before. It’s just longer. Secondly, I decided to use contrasting, commercial, bias-tape to finish my neckline, hems and back vent. My garment appears to need a sway back adjustment. I know that is a result of the way I blended the side seam along the back. There was about an inch difference between the two patterns. I chose to blend to the PNS line when the KS would have given me more ease. In the future, I will choose to blend for more ease. I can always take a little more out. Can’t easily add any more this time. But it’s the dowdy factor contributed by the fabric which has disappointed me. If not for the contrasting binding, I would think it was an old rag instead of a new dress.
I hung it on Mimie just long enough to get my camera set up. When I returned I knew immediately I had to do something with styling or this would be a total loss. I went upstairs and grabbed a couple of pairs of shoes, 2 garments to serve as top layers, a belt that I do wear and a hat. I’m often seen with a hat during the summer.
My final opinion is mixed. With the belts (excepting the side view in which the belt is slanted up over my tummy), and shoes, the dress improves enough to be wearable. With the hat and the wraps added there are only a few photos that are unattractive.
Let’s get something straight right now. I am not nor am I trying to be 20-something years old and size 0,1 or 2. I am officially a senior citizen, even if I don’t feel that way most days. I am also quite plump. In fact I’m proud to state that my RTW dress size is a 14P down from an 3X. I am retired and comfortable with my status. I am more casual and so is my wardrobe. So if I look like the other matrons on the block, it’s because I am one of them. I can honestly look at this slide show and say, there’s only about 2 really bad shots. I should definitely wear the dress with accessories. (Be sure to see the slide show from the start.)
Will I make this again? Absolutely. I will correct the ease issue and future versions will be made of much more attractive and higher quality fabric. I can see not only more of this version but also a mid-knee version in my future.