The Hundred Dresses: Day 1

So as y’all might already know, I have a new book coming out next week. It’s called The Hundred Dresses, and it’s all about dress archetypes. (It’s illustrated by the amazing Donna Mehalko.)

The book was inspired by the Eleanor Estes classic, also called The Hundred Dresses — and probably the #1 question I’ve gotten about my “Hundred” is whether it’s about dresses I’ve sewn myself. “Oh, no,” I said, “It’s about classic dresses, like the Flapper and the Airship Hostess! Anyway, I’m sure I don’t have a hundred dresses …”

And then I went and counted.

So it turns out that yes, I do have a hundred dresses that I’ve made myself, if I dig deep into the archives and also include some poor neglected “someday I’ll fix this” things that have never seen the light of day. So for the next hundred days, I’ll be back to posting a literal dress a day.

Ready? On to day 1!

stripe McCalls 3528 front view

This is McCalls 3528, and yes, it is very, very moire, isn’t it? Don’t look at it too long. It’s also extremely bulky, because it features GATHERED BOX PLEATS. Yep, there is a LOT of fabric there. (The fabric is a nice heavy shirting, not sure where I got it from.)

stripe McCalls 3528 front view

It looks like I might have not gotten the nap right on this one either, because the light hits it differently, depending on which side you look at. Oh well. The stripes match okay — that’s the important part, right?

I haven’t worn this very often because it’s a teeeeeensy bit big in the waist and the thought of taking all those pleats out, re-balancing them, re-GATHERING them, and then putting the dress back together just makes me want to lie down and take a nap.  It would be less work (or at least, FEEL like less work) to make it all over again from scratch, especially since the fabric (or a facsimile thereof) isn’t that hard to find.

So that’s Day 1, Dress 1! Stay tuned for more!

Alcatraz Dress

So this pattern:
McCalls 3528


Turned into this:
Alcatraz Dress

(For this picture I dragooned my husband into taking it. He’s easier to persuade to take pictures, but the pictures aren’t as good because — insert “awwww” here — he thinks I look good in every picture, and so is not motivated to take a lot of them. Thus the weird expression and weirder hair in this one.)

I made the sleeveless version, which right now in the office is showing off what, in my childhood in the south, we called a “farmer’s tan.” The Keds are gray, the belt is a super-cheap one from Amazon, I’m wearing my default Swatch, and the sweater is a J.Crew “Jackie” cardigan. The cardigan is my favorite part, since the gray of the sweater and the gray of the dress stripe are EXACTLY the same — that’s so hard with grays!

The fabric is (I’m pretty sure) from last year sometime … I thought I had a picture of it, but perhaps at the time I didn’t think it would need one. It’s a charcoal gray and just-barely-off-white stripe. It’s shirting, and heavy for shirting but light for cotton, which is why I decided to attempt this dress in it. As you may have seen in the pattern illo, the skirt is BOTH pleated and gathered. Crazy! (It’s like that moment of revelation I had — I must have been about seven — when I realized that you could totally put BOTH caramel and hot fudge on a sundae.) It was a little more difficult to gather than I thought; the bulk of the pleats (you have to pleat first, then gather) plus the resistance from the tightly-woven cotton conspired a bit. I ended up having to run separate gathering threads for each of the four skirt panels (there’s a center front and a center back seam, lost in all those stripes).

The stripes on the bodice match exactly, or close enough. (I ripped it out twice before I got to “close enough.”) The pattern calls for something like five yards of 45″; I think I got away with 4 of 54″, helped by making the sleeveless version, shortening the bodice by about an inch, and cutting five inches off the bottom of the skirt (it was super, super long). I also discarded the armhole facings in favor of bias tape; the neck is self-faced. I added pockets. (Do I even have to add “I added pockets” anymore, or is that a given?)

Oddly enough, this is actually a little big on me. (I made the 36 bust.) I love it, though, so I’m going to look for a similar dress (maybe with a leeeeetle less skirt?) in a B34, to make in a stripey seersucker. Links appreciated. 🙂