Work In Progress: Gray Ruffle Dress

by Erin on June 2, 2008

gray ruffle dress

So this is what I worked on this weekend. I'm not *thrilled* with it, and so I figured I'd put it up for your comments.

What's wrong:

– the skirt was originally about 3" longer, which was WAY TOO LONG, Texas-compound long, but I'd already sewn on the ruffle, which meant I had to take it up from the waist. Which meant resewing the seams on either side of the center front and back piece (had already put in the pockets, too, so I didn't want to resew those seams).

– I wanted to match the darts with the center front seams so I had to ease the front into the skirt and so it wrinkled. I think if I stay it with some twill tape it will stay stretched, but I haven't done that yet.

– I thought I was ready for an elegant gray dress, monochrome and understated and all that, but now that I have one I think it needs some color. Where? I could sew middy braid around the neck and hem … or, you know, I could just wear a yellow cardigan over it (which is what I'll probably end up doing anyway).

The weirdness on the right-hand side of the picture (left-hand side of the dress) is from pinning it — I haven't put in the zipper yet. Nor have I sewn down the sleeve self-facings.

This dress came about because I (shock, horror!) managed to LOSE the pieces for this pattern:

Mollie Parnis pattern 1338

I don't know where they went; all I know is that I can't find them. Arrgh.

So I took a six-gore skirt from a pattern I had NOT lost the pieces from (McCalls 3036, which I don't have a link to right now), did some rudimentary math and some pattern-piece surgery, and put together the skirt. Then I just slapped on the bodice from McCalls 8858 again.

Here's a few more pics:

gray ruffle dress

gray ruffle dress

Anyway, am I not thrilled about this dress because it's inherently not a thriller, or am I not thrilled about this dress because I had to do too much fussing with it? (Actually, the more I look at it the more fun I think it will be to wear, if I try not to overthink it too much. And if I finally wear a solid-colored dress, perhaps I could finally wear some of the colorful jewelry I've collected …)

Thoughts?

{ 115 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 7:39 am

I think it’s the color, but if I were you, I’d bite the bullet and remove the skirt. Then I’d rip it out and start over so it lays the way you want. Then, I’d sew some bright red soutache around the neck, front and back. Red and grey go well together. Then I’d add the same soutache to the ruffle hem.

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Zigzag Baby June 2, 2008 at 7:44 am

I actually like it… I think it would look great with a red belt…

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kharma June 2, 2008 at 7:48 am

I would personally vote for either lime green or 60′s mod orange piping (or just a nice addition of bias tape to take my normal method of trimming) around the neckline and sleeves. Add coordinating belt/sash at waist and it is awesome. The pockets could be handled in the same manner.Electric blue could also work, but I am less fond of that contrast with grey than the previous other two. That way, you get a pop of color that outlines the construction without making the dress busy when it was originally supposed to be understated. Then it’s just understated with highlights.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 7:49 am

The model on the pattern seems to be wearing a crinoline. That, combined with your general joie de vivre, would carry this off just fine.

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sweetpea June 2, 2008 at 7:53 am

Honestly, I feel the severity of the upper part of the dress fights with the ruffle. I think if you put in cap sleeves instead that might soften the whole thing–and then made a little belt (or cumberbund) out of a great remnant-something with a blue or green in it to tame that grey a bit. It could be gorgeous. Or orange piping – I like that!

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Beth June 2, 2008 at 7:53 am

I think what makes the ruffled skirt work is the original bodice…v-neckline with center front seam is sophisticated and a nice complement/contrast to full skirt with ruffles. Maybe that’s what makes your version of the dress seem less than thrilling and more prairie girl gone, well, grey. I really love the skirt AND the color and think that next time you could totally rock it with a rethink on the bodice. In the meantime, a colorful cardigan and some killer shoes makes all things right again….

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celaine53f@comcast.net June 2, 2008 at 9:08 am

It so needs a red polka dot belt! With a gorgeous buckle!

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Callista June 2, 2008 at 9:10 am

I like it the way it is. Add some nice bright shoes and jewelry and it’ll just make them pop. It’s hard to tell when it’s not on a person.

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Little Hunting Creek June 2, 2008 at 9:11 am

This dress cries out for Smart Accessories! Yellow or red and white shoes, a colorful necklace, a bright jacket or sweater, a thin belt… Cute colored buttons? Piping? You’re right, it does need…Something. When you find that something, you’ll know it.

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Jessica June 2, 2008 at 9:12 am

I think the color is very nice, but I like gray. This dress might be the perfect backdrop for any number of fun accessories!

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Toby Wollin June 2, 2008 at 9:18 am

I think you hate it for two reasons – one, that you had to ‘make do’ in terms of trying to recreate something that you had a picture of and KNEW you once had the pattern pieces for. A lot of sweat and anxiety invested there, I think – disappointment already. Then, you have this grey thing going, which I think might have worked if it had been made in something like dupioni – something that had some light-playing-off-the-surface thing going for it. So, I can understand your feelings of disappointment. There is part of you that wants to throw up your hands and resort to the ‘plastic bag at the back of the closet’ thing. I’m with celaine53f – this baby needs a wildly colored belt – she likes red polka dots. I’m thinking that if you are going to go with the yellow cardi, then I’d go with a wide yellow stretchy belt with a yellow patent buckle. Or red. Or fuschia. Or make an obi sash out of some way crazy plaid (as long as one of the colors is grey or black)dupioni and put the bow smack dab in the front. I would not invest another minute in trying to ‘fix’ the dress – that’s like what my mom used to do with cutting my hair and I used to end up with super short hair which was STILL uneven.

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Jab June 2, 2008 at 9:21 am

Beautiful! I would buy it!

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Lydia June 2, 2008 at 9:22 am

I agree with the color complaint. Ruffles were not meant for gray. At least not *that* gray. Brightening it up with a cardigan or belt will certainly help–as might ditching the little V detail of the neckline. Too much whimsy in the wrong place, I think. The bodice in the original pattern was striking, but not whimsical. Does that make sense? Best of luck. My sewing mojo was not in attendance this weekend, either. Very annoying.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 9:24 am

I think a cardigan with a pattern would look great, as well as colorful pins or a great necklace, bright flats, lots of ways to dress this up. I like it. It will look smashing on you, I promise! From Karen S.

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Nora June 2, 2008 at 9:28 am

My sewing mojo is off lately, too…I do my best sewing when it’s warmer, and it’s practically been knitting weather. That said, I think a yellow cardie, red shoes and a red belt and beads (or something) will totally resucitate this. I personally like the contrast between the ruffliness and the seriousness of the gray. Another thought would be to sew a few brightly colored rows of ricrack, at the hem and around the neckline, “midcentury Mexican” style.

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Summerset June 2, 2008 at 9:29 am

Perfect canvas for wild, bright accessories. Where’s that yellow purse?

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astrojen June 2, 2008 at 9:32 am

Texas compound long……Erin you are so funny!!

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laura June 2, 2008 at 9:39 am

My two cents worth…. rip the skirt off (practicing perseverance and patience). Add rickrack (the color of your choosing) down the 2 center front seams and possibly around the neck edge. Remove the ruffles and reapply the fabric as large inverted pleats. Wear with a thin buckle belt to match the rickrack and matching cardigans and flats.Laura

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 9:41 am

I too like grey and I think it’ll look lovely as is, once finished and accessorised (shoes, jewellery, cardie). I like the slightly serious top, serious colour, combined with the soft, playful ruffle of the skirt. Any one of your ‘object of contention’ summer short-sleeved cardies with that will look fab! Personally, I’d go for a soft orange, but yellow would look lovely too.

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Latter-Day Flapper June 2, 2008 at 9:43 am

I’m not quite seeing it yet. It’s not saying “Texas compound” to me but it’s kind of whispering “Mennonite-inspired”. Not that there’s anything wrong with Mennonite dresses, but it seems that that was not the look you wanted.Is it too big for the dressform, or is it supposed to fit like that? I think its bagginess is spoiling the effect, but that might be a problem that goes away on its own when worn on a proper human body and with a crinoline.

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libby June 2, 2008 at 9:47 am

I’m with your instinct about yellow. It screams for it. I see a wide sash: yellow with big white polka dots, your cardigan, and, if I must get up on the petticoat soap box, give that ruffle the support it deserves and find/make a yellow petticoat! It doesn’t have to be enormous, but show off that ruffle, Girl, and the inherent silhouette of the design.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 9:57 am

add a couple of internal bustles to the skirt near the hem. it will take it out of texas compound land and turn it into something you might wear in SoHO.Don’t add rickrack or anything cute in a contrasting color. Yoiu may want to add a bit of texture or interest to the bodice or change the neckline a bit. add color with jewelery or with a cardigan.

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cindy June 2, 2008 at 10:04 am

Hi Erin- I am the same way with color—I love it and can’t get enough, but I have to say I do feel good wearing a neutral,sophisticated color dress now and then. I love the dress and think I am going to run to Vogue for some grey! I might not like it as much if it didn’t have the ruffle, but i think the steel grey and ruffle is the perfect combo. As for the length, I think you could get away with it a little longer and wear with cute sandals. If that doesn’t work, how would it look with a shorted ruffle?

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Helen June 2, 2008 at 10:13 am

A thin yellow belt, preferably patent leather.

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Chris June 2, 2008 at 10:14 am

A very narrow scallop ruffle along the sleeve openings, methinks.

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Jen June 2, 2008 at 10:17 am

You know, Erin, the first thing I thought was that this dress is screaming for some yellow. But nominally, so that you can also do the cardigan and/or other accessories.You’re not going to like hearing this, but I think also part of the problem is that the ruffles at the hem aren’t deep enough. The dress doesn’t need to be longer, but the ruffles need to be deeper; probably about half again as long, and a little lining with a bit of netting attached for a make-do crinoline wouldn’t hurt underneath.For what it’s worth, I love the color grey that you chose. A lot of grey is just blah. This at least has some interest. If you even just put the tie at the waist in bright yellow, I think it would make it fabulous.

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Emily June 2, 2008 at 10:18 am

It wants piping on the bodice, in a color. It also wants piping to define the skirt panels. I like the belt ideas. This dress is austere enough that a bright belt would pop. It probably needs to have belt and jewelry coordinated and vaguely matchy.The crinoline idea is also good. The skirt looks somewhat saggy, and it just doesn’t suit the style of the dress. It would be less serious if the skirt had the fluff needed (plus, that would show off the piping).

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ties. June 2, 2008 at 10:22 am

I really like the dress, but i agree it could use a little colour … something like this maybe? http://www.ties.be/bloglinks/dress.jpgyou could stitch the shape of a necklace onto the dress instead of wearing a real one … makes it a bit more special …

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SE June 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

I agree with the above that the grey is fighting with the ruffle. It like it wants to a be a business square dance dress.However, a bright green wide sash would help a lot and/or lopping off the bottom ruffle entirely and making it more clean-lined, which is what I think the grey calls for.I have seen your videos and in person at the Caxton Club many years ago. I can’t see you in grey at all. If you want to try monochrome, I think a slate blue, chocolate, forest, or for fun a cobalt, would be better for you.

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Allison June 2, 2008 at 10:33 am

My first response was that it needed a brightly coloured belt or sash.

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Jen - The Alien Spouse June 2, 2008 at 10:34 am

Having been a devotee of bright colour all my life I found myself married to a man who loves drab. He somehow has convinced me about the beauty of charcoal grey.Personally I wouldn’t add in any colour to the dress itself, purely because this shade of grey will go with a yellow cardigan, or a hot pink belt, or an oversized turquoise necklace, or a duck egg blue shoe-and-handbag combo. It’ll be a great blank canvas as it is, and you will find it extremely wearable.I also think the rufles are fabulous, they lift the whole thing.

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the_lazymilliner June 2, 2008 at 10:35 am

You can alleviate the heaviness of the fabric with some yellow fabric paint. Scribble or splash it on for some newfound excitement.

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Laura June 2, 2008 at 11:08 am

Use white piping, or possibly a combo of black and white, so you could wear it with any bright color you felt like wearing that day. Could we see it with a crinoline? Perhaps the added volume on the skirt would help to balance the bodice.

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Kristen June 2, 2008 at 11:09 am

i certainly love it. it seems like you don’t have a love for belts – but a red belt and shoes with this, i think, would be fantastic. or some turquoise accents. my bet is you don’t like it because it’s not the pattern you had in your head, the one you lost the pieces to. love the dress for itself! :)

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 11:21 am

Yellow or red belt, sweater, jewlery and shoes, this dress needs a LOT Of spiceing up!Tru

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Alison June 2, 2008 at 11:34 am

I’ve always been a fan of embroidery as a way to spice something up. I think it would be cute with yellow finches perched on either side of the upper bodice, or a wiener dog stitched in place of a breast pocket. Even if that is too much work, there are lots of interesting patches floating around.I’m having a similar problem with a recent dress. It fits perfectly, but it is the exact color (a medium blue) and length of a hospital gown. I’m contemplating screen priting clouds on the lower part of the skirt, or stitching an anatomically correct heart on the upper bodice.

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cc June 2, 2008 at 12:17 pm

I would resist the urge to add color to the dress- you say you have fun jewelery, and we know you have a plethora of cardigans, adding color to the dress limits what colors you can wear with it. I”m seeing black with large clunky silver jewelry.I agree it needs a crinoline in the worst possible way. I would love to see it with a bright pink or scandalous scarlet peeking out from under it.Remember lapel pins aren’t just for lapels. Use a few to make a fun vignette on the skirt.

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Chantelle June 2, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I love grey, as a rule, but there’s something about the grey that looks sort of dark. Bright accessories (yellow or otherwise) will definitely brighten it up.I don’t think I’d add any coloured trim on this dress. I might add white or black piping or soutache braid up at the neck, around the sleeve area, and maybe along the seam over the ruffles. I say white or black (well, even a light shimmery grey or silver) so that it will still go with lots of colours but will subtly add some emphasis and focus. Honestly, I like this dress, and it seems like lots of other people do, too. I like that the ruffles are not too overpowering and I like the top. I don’t notice the wrinkles unless you point them out and even then those would hide when worn or under a belt.I understand why you might not like this dress, though – it’s in a colour you don’t normally wear, in a style that’s not exactly what you wanted, and although it captures some of the details of the dress you wanted, it doesn’t have quite all of the spirit of that original dress.I have several dresses that I’ve been unhappy with. One was a “wench dress” that was my first major pattern design project. I’d seen it somewhere and had to make my own. I went through a lot to get just the right fabric and notions. Then I wore it twice. I wasn’t happy with it either time, although people told me it was nice. I just didn’t feel my normal pretty, confident self in that dress, and I’m not sure that I ever will. That experience and others have taught me that some things, no matter how awesome they are in my head or how gorgeous they are on other people, will not look right on me. Before, I worked to finish them no matter what. Now, as soon as I recognize that I don’t love something, I put it away. Most times they stay unfinished although I have been known to go through the things I put away and to finish/fix them up and wear them.So I would understand if you just put this dress away without finishing it and I give you permission to do that :). If you don’t want to do that – and there are reasons not to – then you might think about taking a one-dress break from it. Go forth and make an awesome shirtdress in a fabulous fabric. Then come back to this. Fresh eyes can make a huge difference.Good luck!

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Erin,The worst construction problem I see is the gathering where you eased the bodice. This is not a place where easing is the answer. The fix is easy – just undo the front waist seam past the dart. Then take up the dart seams from the center only – that way the darts will still match the skirt seams. That will smooth it down correctly. I really don’t think stay tape will fix the problem- especially the way it seems to wrinkle toward the right side. I make my living doing alterations and I really think this will solve the bodice/waist problem.Janet from Alabama

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Wow. Erin, I love you, and… I really hate that dress. It’s saggy and baggy and dreary, and sad. I’ve loved every one of your dresses you’ve shared with us, but this one…one of these things is not like the others!-Sandra

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Cherie June 2, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I agree with having a longer ruffle (a proportion thing, the pattern itself shows a longer ruffle)and V-neckline. I see the neckline as adding to the austere feel of the dress.I also agree with the others that the waist seam needs *something*. And a yellow cardi, there you go!

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Anna June 2, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I say sash! And I say mustard-colored! This may not be your style, but I think a sash that wraps several times around and ends in a bow at the front would be darling.

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Cookie June 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm

A simple gray dress is always welcome and useful! I can’t speak to the construction (except to echo that a deeper flounce, without lengthening the dress, would be graceful), but I DO agree that colorful trim would be jarring. And if you feel you were winging the construction, anyway, you might not want to call attention to it. I agree that white, black, soft silver or a lighter gray would be best. My first vote was white/cream, but the silver idea is intriguing, especially if this is headed for bright, jazzy accessories.

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RachelMM June 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm

I have a feeling that every seamstress has a basket full of garments that “didn’t quite work” for them. I know I do. If you think that a quick fix like adding a colorful belt and maybe some contrast along the neckline could make you love it and feel happy, then I would go for it. I’m just suspicious that you might continue along in this dress’ journey and still never pick it from your closet to wear. If that’s the case, put it in your basket, be refreshed, renewed and re-inspired to start again–either this project but probably more likely a new one.Best- Rachel

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vespabelle June 2, 2008 at 1:09 pm

The top and the bottom seem mismatched. The top is severe (severe grey with a high neckline say “I’m in power!” but the ruffle says, “oh, little ol’ me.” I think the two ideas can combine, but not in this dress. A v-neck would help balance out the mismatch between the top and the bottom.

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Jean S June 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I agree with vespabelle about the mismatch.thing is, I just don’t like ruffles, so maybe that’s the issue for me. Would a crinoline (suggested above) do the trick? or one of the many color suggestions that people have offered?or maybe…ditch this one and sew up a grey dupioni sheath dress…good luck!

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

sounds like the sewing gremlins paid you a visit…I think a hint of off-white piping at the neck would pop this dress. And sometimes taking the blasted ruffle off the right way to fix the length.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

sounds like the sewing gremlins paid you a visit…I think a hint of off-white piping at the neck would pop this dress. And sometimes taking the blasted ruffle off the right way to fix the length.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

sounds like the sewing gremlins paid you a visit…I think a hint of off-white piping at the neck would pop this dress. And sometimes taking the blasted ruffle off the right way to fix the length.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I second the person who said ‘Mnemonite’ (no offense to them, just their clothes). I think a grey dress is great. But not Texas-compound long, not with ruffles. Can’t you just take off the ruffles and hem it right there? As to color, I agree too that it could use some. But I vaguely remember reading something about you buying 15 cardigans in shocking colors, so I’d omit color on the dress itself, much as rick-rack might seem tempting (too Mnemonite also) and wear it with a cardigan, or really bright shoes and jewelry. I think it’ll grow on you..

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jgodsey June 2, 2008 at 1:59 pm

without the ruffle it looks like a hospital gown, with the ruffle it looks like a milkmaid apron.lovely color, should be more elegant, less frilly. loose the ruffle, add some black velvet or lace trim to the torso. add a patent leather belt.

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Myra June 2, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Erin, try a crinoline, I liked the silver idea someone else posted, so edge the crinoline in silver ribbon, add some silver ballerina flats or shoes, cardigan in cream. To make it 50′s, add some bodice embroidery or an applique, say of roses.

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Sami June 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm

You know, I agree with Erin that there’s something off about this dress, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Reading the comments was like a crash course in dressmaking – there are some wonderful ideas up there. I now know why I like some things about the dress (ruffles! full skirt! quirky!) and why I don’t like others (proportions are off slightly – would be perfect with deeper ruffles and / or a v-neckline). I learned how to erase those wrinkles between the darts on the bodice, how grey can be a wonderful neutral, and that even expert sewers have “meh” moments. Thanks, Erin, for posting this ‘un – I learned a lot.

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Claire June 2, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I have to agree with other comments about the color, but I think it’s the color combined with that fabric. If you were using a silk taffeta or dupioni the effect would be different and more elegant. I agree with adding some type of trim…yellow, electric blue, lime green, red. Something to make it pop.I also really like the original neckline. How about changing the current one to a “V”. I am partial to the style you currently have, but I think this dress needs more.I’ll be watching your progress as I think you can still make it work and it will look good.

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Cookie June 2, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Oh, yes….I DIDN’T want to pile more work on you, but the snug v neck pictured in the original sketch does give an “airier” feeling to the dress. I agree that’s the right direction to go in, if you can muster it, as it would counterbalance the skirt and color.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm

I love a good contrast of severe colour with soft ruffles- The grey is lovely, I just think it needs a small collar or some kind of grey-on-grey detail at the neckline to balance the ruffle detail on the skirt- plus punchy colourful accessories as above!-Sarah

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Beth B June 2, 2008 at 3:19 pm

I’ve started wearing petticoats under full skirts. They definitely make a huge difference. I say, try the dress on with a petticoat or crinoline, and then re-assess what look you want to achieve. There are a lot of good ideas here that could take your dress a number of different directions.Or, if you just can’t stand to put much more work and $$$ into the dress, you could finish it up as is and save it in case you need a somber colored dress for a funeral or memorial service.

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Change the neck – it’s too severe and wear some coloured jewellery. Other than that toss it out and move on, sometimes we think all our projects have to be raging successes. Remember the 10% rule?

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Beth June 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm

I’m not a fan of gray (hi, 4 years in all girls catholic high school wearing gray skirts every day for those 4 years)- so that totally clouds my judgement- but not a fan of this dress.

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Karen June 2, 2008 at 3:43 pm

My vote is for not touching a thing. Put it on, go through your closet and try it out with every accessory you have, especially the ones that have been waiting for the right dress to go over! red, yellow, green, orange, multi-colored plaid or florals – there are so many opportunities! I really like it as-is, I think the ruffles are a bit subtle, and that keeps it from looking too much like an apron or a square dancing costume.

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Eileen June 2, 2008 at 4:33 pm

I really like the dress…..so vintage. Maybe just a bright color belt with it, and a short cardigan?

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sixties sewer June 2, 2008 at 4:33 pm

I love gray. I make a lot of clothes from gray. I don’t think that is the problem here and I don’t think ruffles fight with gray either. I have had the experience of developing hard feelings toward a dress that wouldn’t cooperate when I was sewing it. I have, for example, a beautiful, linen dress from a DKNY pattern that I have never worn because the fitting issues were so difficult.All that said, maybe you would be happier with a wild belt or different belts, buttons in bright colors as trim on pockets or at the seam line where the ruffle starts. Something funny and unexpected in the gray.I like this dress very much and it is so not Texas compound.

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Ruth June 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Maybe it’s just the weather here–but that fabric just doesn’t seem frivolous enough for the pattern. It’s all “I’m a serious-work-day don’t-mess-with-me-Bubba” type and the pattern is “How ya’ll doin sweetie”. Start over and see if you can’t adapt the fabric to a different pattern with a little more school marm look.

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Rachelle June 2, 2008 at 6:27 pm

I actually like both the pattern and the grey you’ve chosen, but I know what it’s like to be disappointed, and how that can suck the love from a project.I’m not sure if you’re into wearing a crinoline, but I think that a moderate crinoline and a REALLY loud belt would make all the difference in the world. I’m thinking lime green. Like this;http://www.prettygirlrodeo.com/pictures/8725.jpgor maybe even this;http://www.kimssouthwestcreations.com/store/images/belts/lm-grn-kppy-w-blu-cryst.jpgNormally I’d shoot myself before I’d wear belt number 2, but with a slightly poufy, ruffled grey dress and a bad attitude, I think I could do it.

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S June 2, 2008 at 6:30 pm

I love it as is, I think it’s really chic and alternative. Having a simple neck line balances out the ruffles imho. I like the idea of accessorising with bright cardies or jewelery too, rather than ‘committing’ to braiding etc.To each their own etc. etc.

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velvet plaza June 2, 2008 at 6:31 pm

suddenly I am seeing this dress with a big zebra print belt — or snow leopard stripes

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Irishlullaby June 2, 2008 at 7:00 pm

I really like this dress. Whizzed through comments and can’t see the. what seems obvious, compliment to this dress. Its PINK. It wants a baby-pink fitted cardigan. No belt please. Pink lipstick. Keep it all soft and chic.

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Nadine June 2, 2008 at 7:41 pm

It’s beautiful. Love it as is.

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Kathleen June 2, 2008 at 7:51 pm

I think it’s the proportions that are off-putting. I’d be working the top sleeveless (maybe even cut back armholes) and close-fitting. My vote would be then to leave off trim & accessorize big time.Very interested to see what you do. Cheers All!

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fourkid June 2, 2008 at 8:40 pm

This has been a great blog entry – I agree that I have learned so much from it – and I love all the great opinions. I am fortunate to have 69 others ahead of me and glean from all that wisdom. I agree – the fabric is beautiful.The proportions are off – the ruffle needs to be deeper and the neckline veed. I would leave the color to the accessories only (love the idea of a baby pink). And I really love the tip on how to pull in some of the fullness from the inside of the dart.Reality – if you don’t love it now – it will probably sit in your closet for long periods of time – I would finish it up – and if it doesn’t turn to love for you – donate it to a thrift store.

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jessica June 2, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Erin,I actually think the ruffle needs to be shorter. It’s looking a bit dust-ruffly and heavy. I think a shorter ruffle paired with a yellow cardigan would make this a super cute dress.

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Jean C. June 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Well, you know, it is dark… but what if instead of the dark belt you were talking about… putting/making a pretty yellow belt to go with it and you said that you would wear a yellow sweater with it… take the sweater along and match up colors to either buy or make a belt? Don’t over think it… this way you can use whatever color you want with it. It will look great!You can always shorten from the bottom a bit if it’s too long… make the ruffle shorter if need be. Sometimes it’s hard to tell until a person has it on. But, the dress it’self looks fine. Good luck! Jean

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2monkeys_mom June 2, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Gray and Ruffled are not two things that you tend to see in the same garment. Not sure if that’s the dichotomy you’re going for (like the camo circle skirt?). I might just need to get used to it.If you were thinking about making this dress again… I think this dress would be great in a fun, summer popscicle print or gingham. Also think that red piping (or ric-rac?) in the collar/neckline would be fab.

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Angel - Having a Nemesis June 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm

You know, at first glance I wasn’t thrilled with it either and immediately started thinking up ways to touch it up with sewn bits of colour. But the more I think on it….I love the steel gray solid. I myself, if I possessed any sort of talent with a sewing machine, would add a darker gray piping along the tops of the ruffles. To clash against the ruffles in a sort of industrial “look at me being ironic” way. To make the gathers really stand out and put more emPHAsis on something that normally wouldn’t be a focal point.And then I’d revel in all the accessories. The bright red patent leather skinny belt with multicoloured bangles and patent leather shoes. Or a pair of sheer bright orange tights and a pair of funky sneakers. Cream knitted half-gloves that always pop up on Etsy when the weather gets cold, a knit shawl or scarf, a pair of ribbed cream tights, and a pair of lovely worn-in boots. But that is just me :)

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Shay June 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm

A petticoat! I’ll bet it will look miles better with the proper underpinnings.and red accessories, as Angel suggests.

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I have an idea... June 2, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Rework the bodice. Cut a deep V in the back like in the original drawing. I think the balance is off as someone else suggested. Fake that bodice in the drawing, girl!

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Anonymous June 2, 2008 at 11:12 pm

In that cotton fabric, it needs more texture. I’m seeing applique or “chenille” (rough edged bias) in matching grey trimming that dress. Conversely, it would be interesting with flowers appliqued on it cut out of brightly colored shiny vinyl. I think there was something like that in BWoF about six years ago and it was very cute.

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john June 2, 2008 at 11:33 pm

i would fold it up and put it in a box and not think about it for a while.then in several months i would open the box and put the gray dress into the goodwill bag-a gray dress needs to be made of a fabric that has some life to it-this fabric looks like it died several years ago.since you can pull off color and numerical prints and yellow cardigans i wonder why you want a gray dress

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Purl Buttons June 3, 2008 at 5:10 am

A RED cardigan would be nice…and shoes?

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Ai June 3, 2008 at 6:01 am

My first thought was to add a (white) satin sash, and a (white) applique lace collar.Something similar to this , this, or thisAlthough I’m thinking more of an isosceles triangle shape (pointed down).The other comments about keeping neutral colors (maybe contrast gray or black in this case) so you can still accessorize, make a good point though.

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annie June 3, 2008 at 6:21 am

I’d change the neckline to a V as in the original pattern, and perhaps reduce the sleeves so it is sleeveless, reaching to the shoulder.Then, as someone else suggested a wide sash, perhaps tying in the back, in a bright color, yellow or turquoise, perhaps. That sash could be removable so you don’t have to commit to color.I think the skirt is very nice, but needs a more simple top with a less modest neckline. The modest neckline and the ruffles is the combo that still screams texas compound (very funny, by the way)Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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adriennesarmoire June 3, 2008 at 7:51 am

I like it very much. Perhaps longer sleeves, 3/4 length and colored jewelery, depending on your mood. It also would look great with a same fabric shawl matching the ruffle at the bottom to tie to together. Too much is too much; I would not add any more ruffles or anything else to the dress. Keep it simple to diversify jewelery and perhaps jackets/shawls as needed. A slight bit of fullness from a petticoat, but not very much.

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 7:52 am

How about making several collars from remnants of the gray? Like a gray ruffled v neck overlay that actually extends to the waist of the dress and can either tuck in a belt or, with long ties, wrap around the waist to hold the collar down and act as a sash? That way the dress stays gray, you can wear all your colored cardigans, shoes and jewelry. Another collar could be gray but a wide collared tailored deep v neck that also reaches the waist and tucks into a wide black leather belt with great buckle? Janie

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Cindy June 3, 2008 at 7:57 am

this blog entry is causing a stir. i love the ideas! last night i made an a-line skirt with a beautiful black eyelet with black broadcloth lining. i added a 3 in. ruffle. I folded it in half so i didn’t have to hem! It is adorable! I would go with a shorter ruffle on your grey beauty. it is a nice touch. thanks for the inspiration! please post pic when you are done.

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 9:03 am

I second John.

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Rachel June 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

I agree that the bodice seems “wrong” for the dress. Flirty on the bottom, old maid librarian on the top.Now, as far as the color–I like it. Can’t wear it myself, but I like it. I would personally either do the embroidery trick one of the pp suggested (in a multi-color design to tie in your many possible accessories), OR nothing at all, and rely on the accessories to put the color into it…Sorry you lost those pieces, btw.

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 10:13 am

This is a very dead looking grey. (Possibly because of the photo/flash/lighting?). Anyway, The bottom is too ruffly for the severity of the top half. The problem as I see it is the grey is not a “ruffly” color, but also the whole design reminds me of, um, the prison dresses in old movies. (Or quite possibly, the old commercial with the Soviet women parading out with a beach ball, or a flashlight, all wearing the same dress “beachwear, nightwear”).I think a dress of this color would be more inclined towards the Jackie Kennedy one piece shifts (streamlined, and short, and all one piece, as opposed to piecing it all together at the waist.)

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 10:19 am

You must rework the seam at the waist. Pressing is a must on all the seams, and proper undergarments. The proportion of the skirt ruffle to the skirt is all wrong. It looks about 8inches, it needs to be twelve, with the 4 inches added to the top of the ruffle not the bottom. It needs a white leather belt, some white/grey spectator pumps, a small white clutch/bag and of course white gloves.

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The Rotund June 3, 2008 at 11:27 am

I am kind of amazed by the severity, not of the dress, but of some of the comments. You must do this, you must do that. When, in all actuality, you must only do with this dress that which brings you joy.Personally, I am trying to imagine how this dress looks ON because stuff never hangs on a form the way it does on a person. I agree that the top seems kind of severe but I think a brightly colored cardigan would mitigate that contrast. I’d look at this dress as a blank canvas manner of dressing – I’d pull it out when I had fantastic accessories that I wanted to take center stage instead of focusing on my actual clothing. I’d pull out my loudest strappy platform sandals and my bright cardigans and maybe even some very exciting brooches.

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Zoltar Panaflex June 3, 2008 at 11:54 am

Either you can redo the skirt, or add something. If you finish it without adjusting it – will it end up in your closet – unworn – because every time you touch the shoulder, you’ll be reminded of what you thought of doing – and you’ll flip past it – never wearing it – because it’s not “done”.

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Dottie June 3, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Reading this comments has been hilarious and very helpful. Here are my thoughts to add to the many thoughts.1.) After looking at the original pattern picture, it looks like the ruffle is much longer/wider than your version. So perhaps making the ruffle higher–like starting at your mid-thigh or so might take the “Hee Haa” out of the dress and add more “New Look” glamour along with a crinoline.2.) And I second the idea of a bright colored belt. Yellow seems to be a popular choice. But I think a shocking pink might be nice too. Anyway good luck and I always always appreciate when you share your work with us.

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Emily June 3, 2008 at 12:10 pm

I am kind of amazed by the severity, not of the dress, but of some of the comments. You must do this, you must do that. When, in all actuality, you must only do with this dress that which brings you joy.So true.I think the severity of the dress is influencing people’s thoughts. It’s not an obvious Erin dress either.If you’re having a hard time envisioning a garment on a real human, there are some tricks. It’s often easier to imagine an artist’s sketch of an outfit than a photorealistic image. For getting an idea of what a garment wants, this is often just fine. Your mind’s eye fills in the right underwear, accessories, ironing, and trim.’course, when the dress and wearer have very different personal styles, you then end up with conflict. Then it’s time to start editing the mental image, since in a fight between dress and wearer, the wearer wins every time. Often I find adding a particular style of trim will force a garment into suiting a person better. (I was so sad when I realized the dress was almost done and the rickrack insertion trick would be a giant pain to do… it’s a very Erin sort of trim, and it’d help take this dress down a peg. Piping was the next Erin-ish trim I could think of, and it’s not necessarily the same level of pain to do.)

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Jean S June 3, 2008 at 12:40 pm

and another thing….this has really helped me think about color, esp. near the face (MY face, to be precise). Lots to think about!

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Cookie June 3, 2008 at 12:42 pm

since you can pull off color and numerical prints and yellow cardigans i wonder why you want a gray dress >> There are many different events that dresses go to, and not all of them are the circus. Sometimes you want something subtler, but still on the bright side. A simple gray dress livened up with colored accessories is a handy variation. Or what if you simply HAVE to go on a blind date with someone you’re not interested in, under protest? The same gray dress can be matched with a knitted black shawl wrapped around the head, black boots, no lipstick, and mittens. You see? It’s paid for itself.

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

1. Bright accessories. Don’t trim it, as then you’ll be limited in the colors you can wear with it.2. A crinoline!!!! or a petticoat (in a color? maybe swishy red taffeta?) with horsehair braid along the bottom.3. Avant-garde black accessories.

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San Antonio Sue June 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Hey, Erin, Pitch it! and consider it a lesson learned. Go find the pattern you really want to use and send this one to the Texas Compound! (My husband always says that if you learned something from the experience, it doesn’t matter whether you actually keep or wear what you’ve made.)

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 2:10 pm

i love the whole idea of this dress; that the top is nice and bussiness-like, and the bottem is ‘fun and flirty’ because of the ruffles~! but the product now, seeing it- well, it definetly could use the cap sleeves, like somone said, and the bright and nice assessories- and then it’s perfect! good job!

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Cookie June 3, 2008 at 2:58 pm

We were talking about redingotes a few weeks ago, and I found another picture of one. This, unfortunately, appears to be the ugliest example in captivity, and I would not suggest it as being truly representative. Though sleeveless, it does, however, lean in the redingote direction. But…it’s scary.http://momspatterns.com/inc/sdetail/14978

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Angel - Having a Nemesis June 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Oddly enough, I don’t look at the comments as severe. I think that a lot of the conspirators looked at the dress the same way I did.”What would I do if this was my dress and I wasn’t happy with it and didn’t know why?”I actually think this is a *fabulous* entry. It is extremely interesting to read what people would do were it their own work to “finish” it. I propose a new series. What Would You Do? Showcase creations that are missing…something. And let us all see what sort of creativity we can individually rock :)

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mickey June 3, 2008 at 5:12 pm

I’m not sure how much or even why, but when I look at it I’m seeing eyelet on there. Somewhere.Somewhere in all this was the type of fabric used mentioned?

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Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Many of these comments have mentioned various elements that need to come together to complete this project. THIS is a party dress! I see you at a dinner party, the gray looking sedate and elegant, with candlelight glinting off of your silver jewelry. Then, a playful flash of colorful crinoline when you get up to dance or even just walk across the room. It would be great if you could change the top back to the one on the pattern – I really like the way it fits across the armhole. And of course it should be pressed, maybe even starched. The idea of *darker* accessories is great – a simple black wrap or scarf of some kind for that chilly night air. Maybe even black jewelry. This isn’t bland – gray is a color, and not just for sad or serious occasions. I agree with Angel that these are not severe comments. They’re honest, and just because someone doesn’t like the dress or know what to do with it is no insult to you, Erin. Also like Angel’s idea to post a What Would You Do? series but it would might take up too much of your blog! Angel, why don’t you start it and I’m sure I’ll have a contribution any minute now. If it had existed a month ago it might have saved the blue blouse I sent to dust rag heaven – ha! Great post, Erin! It has been educational and encouraged us to use our creativity. Can’t wait to see a picture of you wearing this at a party!Dawn(conspirator name-Lexie Madison)

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askpauline June 3, 2008 at 9:48 pm

I would dye it black, add a crinoline in a fabulous bright color, and put on some heels and a bright thin belt. I think the problem is the fabric isn’t peppy but the design is. Plus it cries out for a thin belt.I like the proportion of the ruffles. My mom made herself a disco outfit not unlike this in the ’70′s. It was all shiny brown ruffles in some kind of nylon.

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The Rotund June 3, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Oh, I don’t think disagreement by its nature has to be severe – but there IS a whole lot of “if this were MY dress” going on and, en masse, it reads rather severe to me. I actually think the variety of offered solutions are awesome. It was just the “you MUST” sort of phrasing that caught a snag for me.

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/anne... June 4, 2008 at 12:07 am

I know I’ve been working in the finance industry* too long when my first thought was – ‘Texas Compound? Some sort of interest rate I haven’t heard of yet?’.I have one I-really-think-it-needs-it, and a few suggestions. But it’s YOUR dress, so :-)First, I think it needs a much lower neckline. Scoop, square, sweetheart, vee, whatever you like – it’s currently strangling that poor dummy.I’m not fond of the sleeve area either – for elegant, I’d consider snug bracelet-length or slightly shorter; short and maybe fitted for a cuter look.My first thought was applique a few large splashy flowers, maybe 6-8″/15-20cm across, scattered around the skirt, and maybe one or two smaller ones on the bodice. Maybe one could overlap onto the ruffle. Oh, and short sleeves.Then a wonderful reader suggested black velvet. Yes! Bind the neck with the velvet, and the bracelet-length sleeves, maybe some velvet-covered buttons down the front, and a velvet belt or tie around the waist. A big pouffy underskirt, peeking out from the hem, edged with more black velvet, and maybe a hint of silver. Elegant, grey, and ruffles!*Four weeks. Far, far too long.

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Anonymous June 4, 2008 at 3:55 am
raq June 4, 2008 at 4:47 am

i LOVE this dress! i think it’s because of its simplicity and the ruffles! it’s a great piece to layer that’s for sure. time to bring out the colourful accessories!

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Angel - Having a Nemesis June 4, 2008 at 12:15 pm

What a good idea Dawn! Some coloured crinoline underneath would take this dress to another level. I really like the darker accessories and then leaving the crinoline as the only splash of colour. *swoons with all the possibilities*I’d totally do a What Would You Do? series….but I don’t sew and it would seem a bit dishonest. Also…my blog is a bit of the, well, foul-mouthed variety ;) Maybe I’ll just set up a new blog entirely purely for that? Heh. That’d be fun!

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lilymarlene June 4, 2008 at 5:33 pm

It needs a big petticoat and a bold belt. Then it will be perfect….

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Claire June 5, 2008 at 5:49 am

Ooh, you just inspired me. I’ve had a vintage pattern on my mind for ages (my first!) but I was waiting for the perfect fabric to come along before I would make it. But grey is a great idea! It can be complemented with pretty much all other colours, and I’ll just make it in a simple cotton like you’ve done. Thankyou!

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Linda June 5, 2008 at 6:03 am

I like the dress and like what you did to make the ruffles. The color just seems dull from what I usually see you post/wear. I think your idea of colorful jewlery will make this dress “pop”. I really like the style.

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skyethebard June 8, 2008 at 8:02 pm

For an elegant-but-funky look, I think a simple pearl necklace and then 40s-inspired yellow shoes and a matching bag would be awesome. I know the current trend is to not match your bag and shoes, but matching them would further carry across the vintage theme. Good luck!

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La BellaDonna June 11, 2008 at 12:12 pm

I think one of the things that Gives Us Pause is that it isn’t an obvious Erin Dress; and I do have to say that one of the suggestions about not trimming the dress “as then you’ll be limited in the colors you can wear with it” made me laugh. Not our Erin! I do think it wants Erin Colour: a wide bold belt (I think obi-style works attractively with kimono sleeves) and perhaps a crinoline to match? I think it wants more life at the hemline, and would suggest a row or two of nylon horsehair: one where the ruffle joins the skirt, and one at the hem of the skirt itself. If you are going with the Colourful Cardigan, I would suggest a narrower belt than an obi-style, but still go with the Colourful Crinoline. I do think a deeper neckline in a plain V would help.As it happens, I had a grey wool skirt with a ruffle about same width as your skirt, and I wore it to death, literally. After about 20 years, the fabric had worn to translucency! I wore it with virtually everything, at least three times a week, and loved it with black, but then, grey is right up there in my personal palette!

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Erin June 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I ended up wearing it with a skinny black leather belt, an orange cardigan (more mango than Valencia), and orange watch, and blue eyeglasses.And I ordered five more yards of the gray to try it again with a different bodice!

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Medinga June 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm

very cute! i love the dress very much! I love vintage very much, and that dress is gorgeous! Have a great day!

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Anonymous September 3, 2008 at 6:41 am

I think that the dress is a wadder, frankly. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who makes them. What I might try is to take horizontal tucks in the skirt to shorten it, Little House on the Prairie style. Then I would goth it up or wear it as a costume for Halloween. Elle Macpherson might be able to carry it off as a serious garment and look great, but us mere mortals will not. Don’t flog a dead horse.

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