“Let’s start at the very beginning…” with a dress

“Let’s start at the very beginning…” with a dress

Hello, Blogland!  And welcome, Readers, to Pattern and Branch.  Let’s get started!  I hope that we can inspire each other to new acts of creativity, artwork, and craftsmanship.  I look forward to meeting you.  If you’d like to know a bit more about me and the focus of the blog, you can visit my About page.

For our inaugural post, I thought I would share with you my latest project, which took me several months to complete:  a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding.  The challenge I gave myself was to create a party-style dress out of a completely different fabric than what was called for, hopefully adding comfort, flexibility (thanks to knit fabric), and a unique touch.  This garment came about through several of my recent influences and interests, specifically The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams, where I got my pattern, and the Alabama Chanin books, where I found many of the techniques I used (Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design).

"Let's start at the very beginning..." with a dress

For the bodice, I used three layers of fabric to add stability and also so that I could do more than one layer of reverse applique.  Originally, I had in mind a coral motif, but after several revisions, I found my inspiration in a shirt I saw fabric designer Anna Maria Horner wearing on a pattern instruction video.  I decided to decorate the bodice piece by piece so that it could be “finished” at whatever point I ran out of time.  In the future, I may add more details to the dress.

"Let's start at the very beginning..." with a dress


"Let's start at the very beginning..." with a dress

Party dress (detail:  beading and reverse applique)

The skirt is two layers since I had planned (or at least wanted the option of) an all-over design.  There was some unforseen stretching of the underlayer after construction, but when it’s on, you don’t really notice it.  The dress feels heavy to hold, but is comfortable when worn.

At some point, the straps will have to be reworked.  I’m still learning a lot about grainlines in fabric.  I think the white knit that lies over the grosgrain ribbon needs to be cut in the opposite direction and redone.

So, the dress could be finished or could be a continuing work in progress.  After a few months of thinking, planning, constructing, and embellishing, I’m finished for the moment.  I’m really happy with how it turned out and have gotten several compliments.  My daughter loves the dress and always asks me to show off the “spin factor” (as my friends call it) of the circle skirt.  (This picture is right before I almost fell over after spinning myself into dizziness.)

"Let's start at the very beginning..." with a dress

“Spin factor”

Here is the not-so-secret best part:  this dress probably cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 to make.  Know why?  It’s made out of sheets–knit sheets.  Incorporating a surprising element in a design is something I really enjoy.

I even found a cute vintage beaded purse to go with it.

"Let's start at the very beginning..." with a dress

Vintage beaded purse (front)

"Let's start at the very beginning..." with a dress

Vintage beaded purse (back)

What about you?  What are your current design influences?  What surprising elements do you like to add to your work?  I’d love to hear about them!


13 responses »

  1. Great post, but I have one question: how did you get enough sheets to make the dress for only $10? New sheets aren’t cheap..

    I also like your About page. I remember a girl that I was dating in grad school who thought that she could make everything. I still remember going into stores in the mall with her and constantly hearing he say, “I could make that!”

    Looking forward to future posts!


    • Thanks! I found the sheets at the thrift store and put them through the wash. That also dictated my color scheme. I always check for cool sheets when I’m there. I think I would like that girl. She sounds pretty cool. 🙂


  2. I love the dress and your tenacity for continuing to re-work things if needed. By the way, could you make me one?

    Love from an adoring fan. :o)


  3. Wow! After hearing all about the dress this summer it’s so nice to see it! It is so pretty and fun! Definitely a party dress….love the spin factor! You are so creative! Great job!


  4. Wow — this is so impressive — the blog look, the dress, and exciting prospect for future posts. This is the perfect outlet for you to show the range of creativity you have — rootbeer ice cream, duct tape bags, flower bobby pins, sewed rabbits, fabric design, knit sweaters for your husband, clamming – just to name a few. I’m ready for the range of posts to be inspired by your creativity and to send you any projects I have a hard time finishing ;)!


  5. Wow! Way to go! Love the blog design, and that dress is way cool and looks awesome on you! This (the blog) is the culmination of so much scheming and dreaming, so it’s wonderful to see it finally come to fruition!


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