Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Pyrates Life for Me

Inspired by this fabric

...and the pattern my dear friend Katie chose for her bridesmaids.

Right after she showed it to me I went on eBay and found a copy for myself. It’s what pirates (and obsessive sewists) DO. But I have NO intention of wearing this to her wedding. Buying and making a dress from the same pattern: justifiable. Wearing the same dress as the bridesmaids: psycho.

I bought black broadcloth to use for the contrast straps and the jacket body and some (almost) matching red broadcloth for the jacket trim. Ready, set, sew!

I read and re-read everything BEFORE I started this time. Since there was an inch and a half of ease in the 14, I decided to go one size down on the bodice. I pinned it together and it fit pretty well. Hooray! I think I’m getting the hang of this sewing nonsense!

Not so fast matey! Here be troubles. Yes, indeedy.

It took me a full five days of reading and experimentation to figure out the straps. Once I got them sewn on properly, I decided that the black was just too overpowering and I’d be better off making the dress without contrast. I also didn’t like the way that the black straps would have disappeared into the red bodice back.

This gave me a bright idea! Why not just use the already cut bits to make a non-contrasty full skirted dress in just the pirate fabric? Then I could use the already assembled red bodice front with black straps to make a narrow skirted version with a black skirt and black bodice back?

So now I’m making two dresses at the same time and I need more black fabric. Isn’t it neat how I can make something that is already difficult into a three ring circus of confusion? It’s what I do. I am awesome.

I worked on the contrast version with the narrow skirt first. I was surprised at how quickly the bodice went together once I figured out the straps. There was still some extra room in the size 12 so I tried the top on after each seam just to see how well it was fitting. I ended up taking it in quite a bit. I also took about 2.5 inches off of the bottom of the bodice in order to raise the waistline up to my natural (weirdly high) waist.

I used my TAT skirt pattern but this time decided to line it because the broadcloth seemed a little thin and cheap looking. (This was actually my first experience with lining a skirt, but everything in the blog gets a little un-chronological depending on what's been photographed and what hasn't...anyway...) I cut the skirt out of the black broadcloth and then cut it out again in the lining. I constructed both sections following the skirt directions and then put them together with the wrong sides together. Then I basted the top edge and zipper openings together.

The skirt lining ended up a little smaller than the skirt but I couldn’t tell that until I tried to attach the bodice and skirt. I had to let out the darts in the lining and then re-baste everything before attaching the top and bottom pieces. It worked out really well though.

I hemmed the skirt and then hemmed the lining about an inch shorter. Figuring out the kick pleat was really difficult with all the layers of fabric but it eventually came out just fine.

The dress fits like a dream. I love the bright red panel in all that black and I think it’s really flattering.

Here it is from the back.

I eventually decided that I’d been wrong about black contrast straps overpowering the red fabric and went with my original plan for the full skirted version. For some reason this version doesn’t fit as well as the narrow skirted. It seemed like the bodice was too small so I let it out a bit near the zipper and then it ended up kind of big. Despite hacking off two inches or so from the bodice bottom, the waistline is a little low. I do like it, but not nearly as well as the black one. Oh well.

I decided not to make jacket. I don't like the look of it that much and I think a black cardigan sweater will be fine with both dresses.


  1. You look great in both versions!
    Cheers, Anke

  2. Stunning. Love the neckline and you are quite the femme fatale ms g.

  3. Fabulous dresses! I think i'm going to head out and get this pattern next time they are on sale at JoAnns.

  4. I like the slimline version better, but it's my own preference. They both look very cool and I like the fabric as well.

    I love the pattern but can't wear sleeveless so I have to live through you, and I followed along fine with the mass confusion, lol.

    I think the full skirted one looks fine, and even if it has the problems you say, you totally can't tell. Kudos on some more excellent vintage looks!

  5. Thanks everyone! I would reccomend this pattern for sure. It's really easy once you figure out the straps! :)

  6. I really like the full-skirted version (but I'm thinking for myself, really)...both look terrific on you.

  7. Thanks Erin! I've worn both a couple of times now and the full skirt version has really grown on me. It's puffy and fluffy and so comfortable to wear. The big swirly skirt makes me feel ladylike, despite being covered in skulls!

  8. The black-and-red number in the first two pictures flatters you no end! Any guy who doesn't respond, shall we say, viscerally, is either dead, has an unhealthy obsession with waifs, or is a homosexual.