I rescued my maxi dress, folks! I took everyone’s advice (thanks, Insta friends!) and shortened the sleeves. I also hacked off most of the bottom, and turned this into a wrap top.
Maybe the best part? The pleats at the waist give this (as a top) a flirty little shape. Yay for happy accidents! I also got to wear a lace bandeau I made. In this case, “made” is a bit of an exaggeration. I bought some 6″W stretch lace and sewed the ends together to make a tube top shape. Easy peasy!
Here’s how this fabric went from souvenir to fugly dress to actual wearable garment:
I bought the fabric a year or so ago in Germany. It’s nothing special, just a drapey poly/cotton of some sort from the department store. (We had about an hour to shop for souvenirs. I booked it to the fabric section and raided the clearance table. Normal sewist travel behavior, right?)
Once I got it home, I could not figure out what to make from this. First off, it’s ivory. I don’t really look great in ivory. I’m rather, as they so delicately say, pasty. I should’ve made a top to begin with, but you know how it goes. When you have enough yardage, you get the itch to make a dress.
This garment is really a case study in what happens when I don’t have a clear vision for a project and strike out anyway:
After realizing how comfortable and wearable maxis are, I think, “Yes! Sleeveless maxi! Perfect!”
Then it turns out I have enough yardage to cut sleeves and I think, “Yes! Sleeved maxi! Perfect!”
And on and on and on. I’m proud of my ability to be flexible, but it doesn’t make for the most enjoyable creative process. I much prefer bringing a vision to life from the ground up compared to repeatedly recalculating and redesigning in an ad hoc way.
A few notes on the original construction. I made the following modifications:
- Extended the dress to maxi length
- Narrowed the sleeves
On the reworked top, I trimmed the length to approximately 8″ below the waistline. I also hacked the sleeves back to just below elbow length. Both edits were shocking easy to make, and I’m glad I wasn’t afraid to pull out the scissors and get to hacking.
Finally, a few notes on the pattern:
I’m a bit surprised this is a labeled “very easy” pattern. While there is absolutely nothing in this dress a beginner can’t do, when you put it all together, it’s a lot of steps and a lot of details. I was certainly over it after the 16th pleat.
The pattern came together well. I mean, I was as slapdash as possible while making this, and it still pulled together.
The sleeves are pretty wide as drafted. I don’t recommend making them as super-skinny as I did, but if you’ve got chicken arms, maybe baste the sleeves and try it on first.
The instructions have you hem the skirt before attaching it to the bodice. Seems like a bad move since hem lengths are not a one-size-fits-all affair. Consider an alternate construction order to try on the dress before finalizing your hem.
The wrap v-neckline makes a very deep V. Maybe a bit of elastic on that front seam might help. As is, this is not a weekday-friendly neckline out of the envelope. Don’t forget your safety pins and camis, people.
All in all, I was hoping to be wowed by this pattern, and I’m not. I don’t like the way the pleats shape the bust. Standing up nice and tall, it works, but at the slightest slouch, everything starts to look really droopy, and the neckline (already low) blouses out.
I’m still on a mission for the right wrap dress pattern. In the meantime, I have an adorable top, and the remaining skirt fabric waiting to be remade into something else.