Friday, July 23, 2010

Tangential Tiki Dress

This invite arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago:
"So it has been incredably hot and humid lately, so I think we need to have a Tiki Party! We will be serving all Tiki themed drinks, and you're, of course, expected to dress appropriately."

It's a party yay! Actually, it was this past Wednesday, and was smashing good fun with smashing good people and definitely smashing good drinks. Mmm...Pina Colada. Which of course lead to a smashing good headache the next morning, but that's the price we pay, I guess.

When I read the "dress appropriately" part, I of course, as a budding seamstress, decided to make my own outfit. Especially since I had some perfect fabric lying around, ready to be made into something awesome.

(The picture is being silly and won't upload horizontally. Not sure why blogger is doing this.)

I have no idea what the fabric is. It's a little stiff and looks like cotton, but it doesn't wrinkle at all unless you iron it with lots of steam and heat. It's comfy and cool though, so it's perfect for a summer dress.

Unfortunately, I thought of this only a couple days before the party, but leaving things to the last minute is a specialty of mine and I was not daunted. I knew that I wanted an easy-to-wear dress that looks casual, so I opted to alter a pattern I had for a tank top, Simplicity 4127.

I've made this top before (version B), and found that the v-neck was too low cut and the skirt gathers made me look pregnant. To solve this, I just traced the bodice pattern piece and readjusted the neckline v so that it was at a shallower angle, raising it up about 1.5 inches.

I completely redrafted the skirt portion and made a muslin out of some old broadcloth I had kicking around, and adjusted it from there. I wanted the dress to still be loose enough through the hips and stomach so I still included extra fabric in the skirt. But instead of gathering the skirt and sewing it to the bodice, I opted to made 2 pleats on the front and 2 on the back.

I also made the shoulder straps thicker to hide bra straps underneath, and made them in some left over fabric from the trousers I was working on ages ago.

I think the funniest part of this whole process was that I finished hemming the skirt of the dress literally 5 minutes before I had to leave to catch my bus. Whoops! I would've preferred to do an invisible hem, but that's what you get when you leave things to the last minute!

I did run into a few problems with this dress, mostly because I was rushing it and not thinking steps through properly. Silly me didn't do a full-bust adjustment, so while the neckline is a much more modest version, it sort of pancakes my poor girls a bit. The pleats on the back also looked kind of weird and made the back really unflattering to my hips and butt. So I sewed down the pleats on the back so that they acted like darts. The bodice, while snug, is livable.

It's not perfect. The back is still kind of wonky on me, and I should probably put in proper darts. But I wont. It's a comfortable dress that I enjoy wearing, flaws and all, and I'm really going to love having it part of my wardrobe this stickily hot and disgusting summer.


  1. Great dress. You've pretty much inspired me to make a little pinafore dress as part of my wardrobe. A dress that was not a part of my original plan. Thanks! (no sarcasm!)

    (The professional in me can't help but point out that sewing over pins is a terrible idea. Mostly nothing will happen, sometimes you break needles or pins, but occasionally you might upset the timing on your machine. That means the top thread won't pick up the bottom thread anymore and you have to get a service. Expensive mistake.)

  2. It looks great Heather! Makes me wish I was a dress kind of girl :D

  3. Thanks ladies!

    @Steph: I knew sewing over pins was a bad idea, although I didn't know it could mess with the timing like that. I have more than a few bent pins from sewing on them in the past. I try not to do it, mostly because I hate replacing needles and dealing with bent pins, but now I have a better reason! But mostly it was just a fun blog name that makes me smile. :)

    Good luck on your dress! Glad to help inspire people away from their wardrobe plans! :D

  4. @Liz: I'm not normally much of a dress person myself, but this one is ridiculously comfortable and easy to wear. I don't know, I may be becoming a dress person. They definitely look nicer than a pair of jeans and t-shirt!


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