This is my Seahorses dress. Otherwise known as the Watch Me Chase Decent Lighting Around My Yard dress. Or maybe it’s the Dress That Doesn’t Want to Be Photographed. It’s also the Dress That Nearly Did Me In. It’s a dress. It was a bitch to sew. The end.
Okay okay, not really the end, obviously.
You’ve actually seen me sew this pattern before, it’s Simplicity 1523 from 1945. I used the bodice and front skirt piece to make my Singin’ in the Rain dress. I absolutely adore that dress and love the skirt in particular (an A-line with not-too-much-gathers, just perfect!). So I’ve tacked that skirt onto a couple of dresses since. But when I sewed those, I was ignoring the back of the original pattern, because hey, this is actually a wrap dress pattern!
And so I knew one day, I’d make the full wrap dress. But what. a. pain. The sewing wasn’t necessarily so bad. More facings, more hems to deal with. Buttons and buttonholes at the waist and a snap at the back neck. And you know what? A wrap dress is a lot of dress. If you don’t believe me, here’s what it looks like laid out on an ironing board.
The most painful part was getting the back right. And frankly, it’s not right. First, I attempted to match the print, which laughably isn’t even close. (Well actually it’s close enough to think, “I bet she tried to match that up, but nope”.)
Second, wrinkles. Now shoulder wrinkles are a given with kimono sleeve styles, but everything else just went all wonky on the back. (Although that photo above isn’t half bad… maybe I’ll just walk around with my hands on my hips when I wear it?) I don’t really understand how it happened, as it was based on my slightly-modified and very-non-wrinkly back piece that I used in previous versions. But nope. It didn’t matter what I did (and I tinkered with it a lot), I could never get it just right.
And gawd, those buttonholes. Buttonholes are a one shot deal where you place them. Not such a big deal on a blouse, but on a waistband? I seriously fretted over them. There’s two, so they had to visually be about the same distance from my sides as one another, obviously. You can kind of see how that works below.
And I got them pretty close, except the dress felt a little tight, the wrinkles were worse than when I was pinning and testing the placement all out with Mel’s help, and the left back side was pulling badly at the button.
In the end I moved the buttons at least once (that’s why the tab on the right of the right-hand photo above is longer than it needs to be), added a small button to the inside to stabilize the left button, which reduced–but didn’t completely eliminate–the pulling. And the wrinkles… whatever. I just can’t even be mad about them any longer. It’s a wrap dress, I’m telling myself it’s the nature of the beast because essentially it’s two big flaps of fabric that aren’t connected between your neckline and waist. As soon as you move, so does the fabric. You can even tell there’s not just a bad wrinkle I could pin out of the pattern piece, because in every photo I took, they wrinkles move and are different.
It’s a good thing I’m planning a hot pink cardigan which will just cover it all, anyway.
But I think the fact that I used THE most amazing vintage pink glass buttons with red rhinestones kind of diverts your attention away from the wrinkles. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
Unless you have a wrap dress in your closet that buttons at your waist, you’ve probably never given much thought to what it’s like to button a dress like this, either. I only have wrap dresses that tie, so I know I certainly hadn’t thought about it. Guess what. It’s hard! I know, it doesn’t look like it, but trust me. Not. easy. Kind of defeats some of the convenience of not pulling it over your head when you’re doing a dance behind your back to close the buttons.
But hey, I love the look of this dress from the front, and the little details like the pointed end of the waistband, the placement of the print along the bodice, and the print matching on the pockets.
So I’m sure by this point you you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned that there are hot pink seahorses on my dress. I know, aren’t they amazing??
The fabric is from Mo Bedell’s Full Moon Lagoon collection. I bought it in late winter when there was no sun, acres of snow and sub-zero temperature for days, and all I could think about was bright colors. And you don’t get much more bright than pink seahorses and a chartreuse background. If you think I’m the only one who would wear hot pink sea creatures, think again–Roisin sewed an amazing dress using another fabric from this same collection!
Gah, I love these seahorses. I really do. They trump all my annoyances with this dress.
And they’ll match one of my soon-to-bloom peonies! I was actually trying to stand by them for these photos but the lighting was totally crappy. Ah well, maybe once they’ve bloomed!
By the way, this is the first appearance on this blog of my amazing shoes (you know I couldn’t not mention them!), courtesy of Sven Clogs. Although I’ve already worn them a million times because I love them that much. These are camel-colored peep toes with an adorable little bow. They’re seriously the perfect match-everything vintage-inspired shoe for me. You know I love clogs and I love color but having a few varieties of neutral shoes is indispensable.
(But OMG, wait until you see my other pair. They’re going to need a dress designed specifically for them.)
To wrap up (har har)… in theory, I love wrap dresses. In theory, I loved the idea of a wrap dress that buttoned at the back, too. In reality? Not so much. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to give up wrap dresses though, but I think next time, I might convert them to tie at the waist. We’ll see!