It’s finally time to show you what I have been slowly working on since September! This was a fun project!
My husband and I were invited to a wedding at the end of October, so way back in August, I began to think about what I would make. As someone who sews primarily “every day” clothes and who is extremely casual, weddings are fun opportunities to make something a little bit fancier than what I usually wear. That typically just means a dress that I can add to my wardrobe and wear again after the wedding, but a dress is dressing up for me.
The Fibre Mood Mindy has been on my radar to make for over a year, so this was a great opportunity. I love the big sleeves and easy fit. I thought that adding a wide ruffle to the bottom would make it the perfect dress for me.
I bought my fabric this summer at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI, and it was love at first sight. The fabric was crisp and lightweight and beautiful.
I originally thought I might make another True Bias Roscoe Blouse with it, as it’s definitely a shirt/dress weight linen. While thinking about a Roscoe and testing out some trims with it, I put this vintage trim next to the fabric, and even though the ribbon doesn’t have any kelly green in it, I loved them together. I didn’t have a lot of it, but I thought it would be best at the neckline and maybe the waist of this dress. I think the ribbon is from Brimfield many years ago, back when I first began going to the flea/antique market, and it’s been waiting for its chance to shine ever since.
Once I put these together, this fabric + trim combination was my color muse, and I began to work on all the little details that would make up the outfit. It was such a fun project. The aim wasn’t so much to stand out at the wedding, but just to put together an outfit that I really loved, filled with interesting details and color. And in the end, what I came up with really surprised me in a good way!
I’ll give you all the details on the outfit, with the sewing details*** at the end of the post for anyone else who is making this pattern.
None of the websites or links in this post are affiliate links–I just want to share where I found everything in case you need any of these types of things for projects of your own.
I found some clog-type sandals in gold on eBay for a great price. They are originally from Boden, and they were in good used condition.
Unfortunately, the straps were a bit tight over my toes. I had ordered them early, so I cleaned them up, and shoved some wooden shoe forms down in the the toes to stretch them out. After awhile, I wore them out for coffee with a friend just to see how they were doing. Good news! The stretching seemed to be working! I put the shoe forms back in, and kept stretching them and testing them out until the wedding. Phew! What a relief.
October in coastal Massachusetts can have variable weather. I remember the end of October being in the 40’s F as well as in the 70’s F, so a short-sleeved linen dress was a risk. I decided I needed some sort of shawl, and as I worked on my dress, I sometimes set it next to another bit of fabric that was teetering between light blue and mint green. It was a set of colors I never would have put together, but I loved them! That was the color I wanted my shawl to be! I looked on Amazon and ordered one, but it was too green, so I returned it. The next one was just right, though!
It was thin, but the wedding and reception were inside, so I hoped it would work!
Also in case of cold, I wanted some tights. There aren’t many tights patterns out there, and while I did find a pattern, I didn’t end up making tights for this dress. I found some in the perfect color on the We Love Color website.
I was inspired by Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific, who often pairs colorful tights with her outfits. My “Color” board on Pinterest features a lot of her bright and beautiful outfits on it. Of course, now I want all the colorful tights, so sewing tights may well be in my future. Wouldn’t double brushed polyester tights be cozy?
I added a slip that I had made from Simplicity 8545 for another (secretly colorful) layer and some opacity,
and I also made my other undergarments. I won’t show those, but having made them and having them fit is its own win, so I wanted to at least mention them. If you are looking for some patterns to try, I recommend Megan Nielsen’s free Acacia underwear, available in two size ranges, and Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra. Both are excellent.
Now for accessories! Thanks to the sister of a friend who was giving away samples from her sales job, I had a gold leather envelope clutch that was perfect. It is from russell + hazel, and the leather is so soft.
I found little gold and rhinestone earrings in my jewelry box that I have had since I was 14, but have probably never worn, since I don’t usually wear gold. They were perfect for this.
And lastly, I picked up a bottle of essie nail polish at CVS in the color “good as gold“.
I was ready!
The afternoon of the actual wedding was not too warm or too cold, so the whole outfit was perfect. I felt comfortable and colorful. The wedding was beautiful, and it was so much fun to go on a date with my husband to an actual party with friends.
Now I think it may be time for some cold-weather sewing and gift sewing!
Here are my notes on sewing the Mindy dress for anyone else who is thinking of making it.
My bust size put me at a US 16 (UK 20/EU 48) in this dress, but I cut out an 18 for a looser fit, since I could always take it in if it was too loose. I wanted to sew the dress largely as drafted, with the puffy sleeves rather than the butterfly sleeves, but with the addition of pockets and a bottom ruffle. Before cutting out my fabric, I also checked to see if I needed to change the dart height (nope!) or make a broad back adjustment (nope!). Those things noted, I added 5/8″ seam allowances everywhere except the hem, where I added a 1.25″ hem allowance. The pattern called for 2.75 yards of 55″ wide fabric. I had three yards of green linen at approximately that width, so I cut things out hoping I would have enough for my pockets and bottom ruffle. In the end, I did! I just had to cut my back facing on the cross grain. I was left with only a few narrow strips of fabric, but I got everything cut out.
This pattern has you construct the front of the dress and then the back before adding sleeves or joining the front and back together. I made sure to add my bottom ruffles as I was constructing the front and back. I checked my fit before adding the invisible zipper by pin basting the sides together. Everything was looking good, and a bit loose, so I decided that I would use slightly larger seam allowances and take things in a bit when I sewed the sides together. I guess I could have made the 16.
As for the zipper, I put it in, but I have never needed to use it. If I made this again, I think I would omit it. It’s easy to slide this dress on and off over your head. Attaching the straps came next. Everything was fine until you attach the strap + sleeve to the dress and then it got confusing. Is the strap supposed to be at an angle or perpendicular to the front? Mine ended up being more or less perpendicular. Make sure that when you get everything attached in step five and have to finish the raw edges together that you don’t trim any seam allowance off or it will impact the seam allowance when you attach the front facing.
Just before step six, which is sewing the front and back side seams together, I decided to attach my trim to the bodice and sleeve straps. I had figured things incorrectly when I was looking at the width of the sleeve straps and trim. The trim was wider than the sleeve straps, so after asking Maggie at Pintuck & Purl for her advice (she being my most advanced garment-sewing friend), I took the straps off, widened the pattern piece, and recut the sleeve straps out of scraps so I could try again. I wanted them to be just a little bit wider than my ribbon.
Then I reattached everything and very carefully, using instructions from The Vogue Sewing Book (revised edition, copyright 1975), I sewed on my trim, even mitering the corners.
After that, I only had enough ribbon left for the front of the bodice, so I sewed it on there, but when I tried it on, it looked…maternity-ish.
So, I moved the ribbon down below the underbust seam, and it made the dress look sort of wide and the seam look uneven. That was that. I took it off, and decided to just keep the trim around the neckline and shoulders.
If I sew this again, in addition to omitting the zipper, I will plan to lengthen the bodice by at least one inch. The same thing happened back when I made Simplicity 4111 in 2018. I think I have a larger and possibly lower bust than what these patterns are drafted for, so a lot of these empire waist seams end up on my bust rather than below it, which can lend a bit of a maternity look to a style that easily leans that way already. Since I don’t need a maternity dress, I would rather not look like I am wearing one.
Before sewing up the side seams completely, I added pockets. My pattern piece came from Simplicity 8689, as did the instructions I used for putting them in.
After that, it was just my hem left. I decided not to use the 1.25″ hem allowance, since I had accidentally added that to the skirt instead of the ruffle, but instead to serge my ruffle edge and then press it up twice, so I could preserve as much of the ruffle length as possible. This gave me a quarter inch hem and only took off one half inch, since I folded it up twice.
Although I don’t love the look of insides finished with a serger, generally speaking, I was soooo glad to have a serger for this project since it kept everything nice and neat inside. The only downside was having to weave in a billion serger tails. I think I will start practicing sewing over my tails when possible in the future.
Overall, this was an interesting dress to put together and a good pattern. I would consider making it again with the few changes I mentioned, and I’m really happy that I made it for this wedding. It was so much fun to have an outfit with details and colors that I loved–those are some of the best aspects of my favorite garments, and the longer I sew, the more convinced I am that colors and details are a big part of what makes a project go from good to great for me.