Posted on Friday the 6th September 2019 by The Unfinished Seamstress
I’ve been planning this dress for ages, and dithering about it. Do I style it retro, or more modern? In a crisp lawn, or a drapey viscose? For the height of summer, or able to make the transition to fall. As you can see, I’ve gone for the latter option of each little fork in the road. It still really works, I think, and shows how different a pattern can look with a simple change of fabric.
The pattern is the last in my tour of Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses (I’ve made them all now except for the Boatneck Dress, which doesn't appeal to me at the moment), The Patio Dress, in the book, it’s styled two ways: first, as a classic Patio Dress with long sleeves and trim galore, straight out of a 50’s square dance; second, as a short sleeved floral day dress. I prefer the short sleeves, but I felt like I needed to dial down the girliness in my fabric choice if I was going to be comfortable with the volume in the skirt and the 50’s silhouette.
This contemporary Spot Print Viscose Fabric
ended up being perfect. It has a lovely drape, which again, tones down the silhouette (especially if you skip a petticoat - more on that in a bit), but also moves beautifully. It catches air even as I walk, and a good twirly skirt just makes me happy.
It’s also a fantastic price, which is helpful when the yardage requirements simply specify “several more yards for the skirt”. I ended up getting a bit too much in the end, but this skirt does eat up fabric like you wouldn’t believe. It would make a great Wilder Gown (by Friday Pattern Company), if you’re looking for something affordable, but right for the pattern as well. Or indeed, a Simplicity 8637
If I make this again, I’m buying a ruffler foot, but all that gathering was worth it in the end. I’m not as in love with the bodice as I am with the skirt, and part of me was tempted to just whack a waistband on it. But this will be a nice layering piece for autumn, because it works just as well with a cropped cardigan and wellies. The only major change I made beyond fit adjustments was to change the zipper from a lapped zip in the centre back seam to an Invisible Zipper
in the side seam. It seemed less fussy to me - I honestly love the simplicity of a simple invisible zipper, and they are my favourite to install. I know vintage purists generally prefer lapped zips, but I am no vintage purist.
Speaking of vintage purists, if you DID want to style this differently, a simple change of underwear (and shoes, obviously) would do most of the work. Since I have a little of this fabric leftover, I’m considering making a matching petticoat for the option of more volume, but generally I prefer life without mid-century foundation garments. Call me crazy.
But I do still love the dress. And we get to choose how much or how little of the designer’s aesthetic to take on board for our lives. Because sewing is magic.
Thanks for reading.