the dress that almost wasn’t


Everything conspired against it: the machine was on the blink for most of it, refused to cooperate mid-way through the zipper insertion, then agreed to give one final push as long as it was treated very gently, and then decided it was enough on the last seam. The final inches of that one were cranked out on the hand wheel. Needless to say, the machine’s going in for servicing.

Speaking of machines: I could use a time-producing or temporarily time-slowing one to write some blog posts (and get some sewing done, but see problem above). I’ve started a new job and am still figuring out my schedule as well as how to keep my repertoire of interests extended beyond sleeping.

Sewing this dress took more than two weeks, most of which were filled with longing to sew rather than any sewing. I hope that once I have a healthy machine again I’ll be able to work on breaking up sewing into steps I can squeeze into a busy day.

Not many photos today — and no modeled shots — but here are some details.
The pattern is Rooibos from Colette Patterns. My first version exceeded my expectations. I liked it but I wasn’t sure I was going to make the dress again since the design is pretty striking. By which I mean it’s not exactly a blank canvas type of pattern, so it seems like you can only pair it with as many things, and change up the design as much… But I had already simplified the design by leaving out the neckline detail that it broke out of its original style. (You can take it as either a good or a bad thing. I do like the original design a lot, I was just never sure that neckline detail would work for me.) I think the simplified neckline made a crucial difference for me — the dress became more wearable for me in more situations. I found myself reaching for it so often this summer, I realized I’d actually love to have another one.

I decided that the linen I bought in Poland would be a great fabric to try. I kept seeing wool recommended by bloggers who made the dress when it first came out but wool in a sleeveless design not really made for layering doesn’t make much sense to me. I did worry that the linen might be a bit crisp for the design lines here (and you can see the bust shape so clearly in these hanger shots). But it’s actually fine.


I cut the facings and pockets from an intense floral cotton I need to write more about (on a different occasion). And I should honestly say: I did debate going with the original neckline for a moment. It’s probably fair to admit that my laziness won out — my final muslin had the simplified neckline and so the reliable (i.e. altered to fit) pattern pieces have it. I was definitely not up to muslining this again, so simple neckline it was. It was a little bare without the buttons but with them I think it’s just the right amount of interest and not too much.

As you can see, I did in fact challenge myself a bit on this make. I decided to give piping a try. I’m glad I did even though it required basting and patience, the latter being in low supply these days.

One final thought: I’m worried about this invisible zipper. This one feels exceptionally fragile in my hands. I did decide to go with Angela Wolf’s trick from her Craftsy class and sew a little farther from the zipper teeth at the horizontal seams. But still, I’m not confident this zipper will last. I think it might be worth substituting a regular zipper if I make the dress again (ha!), even if it means sacrificing that invisible effect.

That’s it for now. I guess though I admire people who always boldly make up new patterns, I’m a committed repeat offender. I just really like the comfort of sewing something I’ve already fitted.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

2 thoughts on “the dress that almost wasn’t”

    1. Thanks! I feel the same way about piping on this dress. Once I finished the pockets on that first version I regretted chickening out of that detail.

      I didn’t find it exactly easy on this one but I was pretty determined because it really brings this design together. That said, I’m glad I had some ready-made piping in my stash because I definitely would have been too lazy to make my own.


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