Shades of grey

I finished the dress today.

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 4.16.43 PM To be honest, I made life hard for myself by fiddling around with the pattern. I didn’t have enough of the Riley Blake Grey Damask print, so it had to be eked out with some nice french grey homespun. I didn’t think a couple of things through, with the result that the seams don’t quite line up at the side. But probably only I would notice that. I did indulge my passion for detail with topstitching and making the inner facings out of bits of the print fabric.

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 4.17.22 PM

I’m quite proud of how the pattern sort of lines up despite being desperately short of fabric!

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 4.17.03 PM

Sneaky facings and tidy topstitching

I looked around for other patterns that wouldn’t need carving up, but to no avail. I am a shortish person and have no waist. So dresses that have a fitted waist  aren’t much good to me. And I’m a bit too well-upholstered to look good in a slender shift dress. Something A-line that swings from the shoulders is usually best. I never thought I’d voluntarily wear anything A-line… My eternal perception is that it’s so, well, middle aged!

I had a wonderful dress once, which suited me beautifully, but it’s long gone. It was styled after the beautiful dress worn by the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman, the one she wears to the races with a straw hat. It has a waist, but it’s not fitted, the neckline is becoming and the skirt is gently flared and skims the hips.

I’d love that pattern, but it’s no good, no one has anything like it. What’s everywhere right now is the 1950s New Look, with closely fitted princess line bodices and wide gathered skirts and little detailed flaps, bows, collars or pockets. Doesn’t work on my body….

Anyway, this is a nice, simple, comfortable dress. You can dress it up with black accessories or down with flipflops. And best of all, it’s done.


49 thoughts on “Shades of grey

  1. It’s perfect. I’ve worn A-line ever since it first came in 50-odd years ago! I used to love the New Look, but you do need to be tall and slim to look good in it, and I am neither.

  2. tialys says:

    What a sweet dress – Iike the peek of printed facing inside the armholes.
    Look what I found for you. I’m sure a woman of your talent could manage to draft the pieces

    • katechiconi says:

      Wow, you’re a genius! And yes, I probably could draft one… I’d cut the neck a bit wider and lower and the armholes a bit larger than the photos in that post; she looks a bit trussed up compared with the photos of Julia Roberts. And once I had the pattern, I could go on producing it forever! Thank you so much!

  3. tialys says:

    My pleasure. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  4. ordinarygood says:

    This is so lovely. It has been stonkingly hot here for days and I have very little to chose from for 30C heat. Wellington is rarely this hot and certainly not day after day. Celi wove some magic with the weather while she was here for her wedding. I must look around for an A line dress to accommodate my “shape” these days…..
    Good luck with the pattern you are going to draft!

    • katechiconi says:

      In weather like this, it’s vital to have something that doesn’t touch in too many places! I’ll keep everyone posted on how the pattern drafting goes…

      • ordinarygood says:

        It will be great to see your results with the pattern drafting. I think we are about to get a big dose of humidity….but nothing like you live with. Your new dress looks cool and airy:-)

  5. This is a perfect dress, but I’m confused about the “new look” you talk of — what new look is this? how did I miss it? or do I already know something without realising it?

    • katechiconi says:

      The New Look, by Dior, was launched in 1947 as an antidote to WW2 austerity. Rationing had forced women’s clothing to be utilitarian and economical on fabric, and this first post war collection from Dior went the other way, with full, ballerina length skirts, nipped in waists and tailored bodies. It was and still is, a landmark of femininity, but you need a slender body and tiny waist to wear it successfully or you look like a pillow with a string pulled tight round the middle! I suspect you already know about it, but searching for patterns the other day, it was forcibly brought home to me that the style is being revisited with a vengeance, since I was scarcely able to find a day dress pattern without princess line seams, nipped in waist and full, longer skirts!

  6. The dress looks lovely.
    So good to be able to make a style that suits you. I rather despair of clothes/pattern designers and makers sometimes as they don’t seem to acknowledge that women are all sorts of shapes and not just what happens to be in fashion at the moment!

    • katechiconi says:

      I find it especially difficult that every single pattern company is doing the same with minute differences. Why can’t they make a point of doing something different from each other so there’s a range of choices. Seems a bit short sighted to me!

  7. Carole says:

    Love the print fabric you’ve used for that, and how you’ve used it as a facing too. It all looks lovely 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you! I’m a big fan of secret details, and while you won’t know the facing is pretty from the outside, I’ll know it’s there! The fabric is gorgeous, and I wish I could have had more of it, but I do have some nice scraps now, which will be appearing again at some stage…

  8. it looks lovely and fresh, just ideal for the kind of weather you have ! and with a necklace you are ready for a party !

  9. rutigt says:

    Beautiful dress! I love the fabrics. Guess you´ll look wonderful in it! Me, I´m only have secondhand (cheap and nice) or dresses designed by a Swedish Lady (Gudrun Sjödén, beautiful and expensive). Can only afford one dress per year 🙂 , but she is my favorite designer!!
    Gun, Sweden

  10. catrinmanel says:

    Great dress! Looks fab!

  11. Clare says:

    Oh, I envy your skills. That dress looks like it could be dressed up or down quite easily with the right shoes (and well-dressed date). And so comfortable.

    • katechiconi says:

      Exactly! I’m actually quite lazy about dressmaking, having done a lot of it in my youth but not bothering later in life. It’s good to revisit the skills, and it’s encouraging me to make clothes I like but can’t find in the shops.

  12. EllaDee says:

    Beautiful dress. I love the fabric and colors. As my sister recently pointed out, my occasions in a dress or skirt are few. I did wear a skirt to her wedding, which I don’t think she noticed, but jeans for my own wedding, which she did! I wonder if this style of dress would suit me. I might investigate!

    • katechiconi says:

      Go for it, and if you happen to make it for yourself, the investment of time and money isn’t that great if you’re not successful first time out. Target has some nice A line dresses just now, including some in linen, if you’re not especially handy with a sewing machine. I’m recently rediscovering that dress does not necessarily equal ‘dressy’, it can be easy and comfortable too…

  13. Absolutely – I can’t wear shift dresses or with waists, so this style would be perfect for me! Love the detail you have put into it, very lovely.

    • katechiconi says:

      I went through my dress fabrics storage box today and looked at my pattern collection. I think there’ll be a bit more dressmaking in the immediate future, particularly while summer is still upon us! I may not make this exact one again, but I’m going to cut patterns from two favourite dresses – luckily they’re nice and simple so it shouldn’t be too tough.

  14. Kirsten says:

    I used to wear quite a few A-line skirts but have shunned them in recent years because I feel they look frumpy on me! I don’t mind a gentle A-line, but not a great big A-frame! Your dress looks lovely – light and airy and, most importantly, comfy. Another thing ticked off the list. The fabric is lovely too.

    • katechiconi says:

      A big trapeze-style A line is nice on a short sleeveless summer dress because it swings and moves nicely, and lets any available breeze circulate! I don’t like A line skirts much for much the same reason as you, I tend to think they look like paper cutouts, a sort of caricature of a skirt! That fabric is just gorgeous, and again, I have some nice scraps to do something with!

  15. Nanette says:

    Your frock turned out very well, you must be pretty pleased. A versatile garment and the grey is so light and pretty for a sticky hot day. I have the cool, crispness this morning I think you’re longing for, have a light cardi on….probably not for long, but just enough to keep the cool off my shoulders as I head off for a walk to the river.

    • katechiconi says:

      We had a huge wetting last night, bright lightning and thunder that shook the house. The moat is full, and we’re both very relieved that the Husband got the grass cut before the rain arrived!

      • Nanette says:

        I understand mowing-before-rain-relief completely

      • katechiconi says:

        It’s funny. I looked at the sky at about 6pm, and there were black clouds, but they were a long way south. I did the ‘carry an umbrella and it won’t rain’ thing, and watered the garden. It worked! But I waited till the mowing was finished…

  16. I like A-line! Oh, hang on, maybe I am middle-aged. The 1950s New Look always has suited me. Sorry. On the other side, trousers almost never fit me and gape about the waist.
    I love the dress, especially the pattern repeated in the facings. Nice touch.

    • katechiconi says:

      I love the New Look, just on other people, so I commend your good fortune! My misfortune is that I don’t have much bottom and too much waist and rather broad shoulders. I’m what my mother used to call ‘built for comfort, not for speed’. Glad you approve of the dress. I’m going to have a crack at drafting a pattern from one of my A line dresses tomorrow. If it works (and I’ll be testing it), I shall use it as the basis for my Pretty Woman dress.

      • I think you and I are opposites! I am all bottom, with no boobs, scrawny shoulders and small waist. That Pretty Woman dress is a timeless classic.

      • katechiconi says:

        Exactly, which is why I want the pattern to keep and make again and again. I’ve seen ripoffs, and they’re just not right. Too short, too fitted, too high in the neck and armholes. And the original had pockets in the side seams.

  17. Lynda says:

    As always, you inspire me, Kate! I really need new things to wear this summer. I get by in winter because I’m usually bundled up from head to foot, but spring and summer are just around the corner, and the last cute stuff I bought was 9 years ago and two sizes back. 😯

    It’s time.

    • katechiconi says:

      It definitely is! Are you inspired to sew for yourself, or merely to give the wardrobe an overhaul? Is there some aspect of dressmaking you’d like to see covered to get you back into it? Do tell me, and I could look at doing a tutorial…

      • Lynda says:

        Kate, it is embarrassing to admit this, but the clothes in my closet are there because I loved them when I could fit into them. I don’t imagine myself wearing them again, so I am slowly making myself donate them to thrift…

        Meanwhile, I live in jeans, sweaters and/or t-shirts. So, to be able to use any of my old items I will have to do some fancy expansion of the pattern bits. Somewhere in the corner of my brain, that used know how to make my own clothes, I seem to remember that enlarging a pattern gets tricky around the neckline and armscye. I have a couple of shells that I liked and I think I could start with those as they will be similar to your a-line dress, but it’s all cobwebs from there!

      • katechiconi says:

        That would be a start, and perhaps success with something simple will spur you on and give you enthusiasm for something a bit more demanding? I have quite a few old friends that don’t fit my body or my life any longer, so I do know and sympathise. But a new clothe of some sort is very cheering, especially when it’s something you couldn’t have found in the shops and achieved your own self!

  18. pattisj says:

    Well, that was quick! Pretty fabrics.

  19. […] sewing projects: Grey & white Riley Blake dress Blue floral Amy Butler top Lilac top Black spot dress Laptop cover for me Tablet cover for the […]

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