I learned a few things though in making this dress. I learned that gathering 5 3/4 yards of fabric requires hand basting, rather than machine basting. Trust me, it takes longer but in the long run it is easier to gather and control those gathers. And of course, I re-learned that you are never to old to make mistakes!
This whole experience made me do something I don't normally do: I went shopping for a dress. I just wanted a summer dress and I was out of energy to sew it. But of course you know what I found: cheaply made dresses that cost too much. I found one dress where I liked the style and the color, but it was crap. And still cost $ 70. That drove me back to looking at patterns and I found Simplicity 2360 which approximated the style of the crapily made dress. In addition, I saw a Ralph Lauren ad in a magazine of a dress that I wanted in a way that wasn't rational:
I can't find this dress for sale because you have to actually go to a Ralph Lauren store to find out if they will deign to let you buy it. I can't find a price on it either because if you have to ask, you can't afford it. I assume it is in the $ 500 to $ 700 price range as it is in their spring 2010 collection. And I assure you that I wouldn't pay that kind of money for a dress unless I was getting married in it.
So I am using the Ralph Lauen dress as inspiration, and I am combining it with the Simplicity pattern 2360 to come up with a summer dress. I ordered some wonderful pink Kaffe Fassett rayon fabric, but I decided to be smart about this and made a hopefully wearable muslin of this brand new pattern. I used a blue flowered rayon challis I had in my stash for several years. It was cheap, and I bought a lot of it, and made a summer dress out of half of it about six years ago. I was extra sensitive to the fact that this pattern requires very drapey fabric after the Horrockses disaster and rayon challis definitely fits the bill. I got this dress done last night and wore it to work today and Aimee took a photo:
I swear this dress is more flattering in real life than in this photo and I really like it. I like the lace, and the sash is from the prior 6 year old dress. The waist is elastic, and I've never made a dress with an elastic waist before. It was nice not having to put in a zipper. When I make this again in the pink fabric, I think I will made the elastic tighter, bringing in the waist more, and I'll make the version with short sleeves. I'll also take some of the flare out of the skirt, making it straighter and less A-line. This dress has a 30's aura about it, and without the sash, it is as comfortable as a nightgown. I'm looking forward to using the Kaffe Fassett fabric - it's rayon, but a tighter weave - no more challis for me for a while! Working with challis is like working with silk: a PITA to deal with, but lovely to wear.