Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lilac and Gray Pieces ~ The Dress

I was inspired by this dress from Talbots ~

I just loved the pretty lilac color and how it screamed spring. But this is a very simple design and after handling the fabric I realized that I wanted more seaming detail in my dress.

Then I saw this dress in the latest Jessica London catalog where the empire waistline was highlighted and it looks like there's some seaming detail on the bodice.  Now whether it's there or not, doesn't matter because it did set my mind spinning. So I decided to add some additional seaming to the bodice of my dress.

I'm using the lilac ponte from this post to make my mashup of these two dresses.

Pattern Alterations ~
I've made so many versions of my TNT pattern that it's just a matter of finding pattern pieces I've already traced to use when sewing another version. So of course, I used an already altered piece as my jump off.  Then I cut it up to add a few more seams. See a mashup design.

Bodice pattern cut at the empire waist
Then tracing paper added to start the additional alterations

To get the triangle design on the bodice front:
*I picked the center point at the neckline
*Then I drew a diagonal line from the center front 
to the hemline on both sides of the bodice

5/8" seam allowances were added to all of the pieces

Then the new pattern pieces were placed on the original
to insure that the new pieces would fit together correctly.

Embellishing the Dress ~
I used topstitching to embellish the dress and to add some zing to a basic dress. There is a lot of topstitching in the dress.  Every seam was topstitched including the hem of the dress. This topstitching is what gives the dress flava to me.

The bodice front with the topstitching

Close up of the triangle insert on the bodice

Here is a sneak peek of the dress on Lulu with the inspiration necklace ~

Some stats ~
Fabric ~
A lightweight ponte with quite a bit of stretch from Fabric Mart (sorry but it's no longer available on the site.)

Notions ~
22" bone invisible zipper
1 1/2" wide white bias binding
strips of ltwt. fusible interfacing
twill tape

Construction Techniques ~
Since it's another version of my TNT dress, my construction sequence was completed by what made sense to me.
  • The dress bodice was constructed first, topstitched and attached to the skirt front.
  • The back sides were stitched together, then topstitched, and the invisible zipper inserted.
  • One inch strips of ltwt. fusible interfacing was placed on the back center seams prior to the zipper insertion to stabilize the area.
  • I used a little twill tape in the shoulder seams to stabilize them.
  • Topstitching was achieved by using the #5 utility stitch on my Janome MQ8900. I changed the stitch length to 4 which makes a more pronounced and noticeable topstitch. 
  • Since the dress is unlined, I added binding to the neckline and armholes then topstitched the binding down.
  • Stitch Witchery was added to the hemline and it too was topstitched.
A few pictures of the dress' insides ~

Inserting the invisible zipper - added fusible interfacing
strips to stabilize the center back seam

Close up of bodice seaming and bias binding 
finishing for the neckline and armholes

It's weird having the guts of a dress exposed
because this dress is unlined.

A few final thoughts ~
On my AT Black Lace Ponte dress post there were a few comments about the details I include in my garments.  This dress is no exception.  Even though it's unlined (I plan to wear a slip with it) changing up the bodice and adding the topstitching really took the dress' construction to another level.  It also made a rather simple sew timewise, a much longer sew.  

Honestly though, this is way I like to sew now...using a simple silhouette and taking it to the next level by adding seaming or embellishment details to make it slightly different from the norm. I think this is why I like garments from the 60's so much...they are modern-ish...yet they have amazing details that make each garment distinctive!

If you're interested in using a pattern presently on the market to make these changes, try this one:

Sewing this dress was the run up to my sewing vacay.  It really helped me get into the zone ~ where I need to be ~ so that my time in the sewing cave will be productive.  I only have four items on my "To Sew List" ~ 1 new Vogue dress pattern, a TNT cardi, then a top and skirt also from a new Vogue pattern. I'm hoping that I can get all of these pieces sewn or almost completed during that time.

I will have modeled shots of the dress and the Burda gray knit cardigan on the blog soon.

One last thing ~
I loved Michael Jackson. Was truly devastated when he passed away so young...because when I was 11 I KNEW I was going to marry him! *LOL* Anyway, I've spent the weekend blasting this song from Michael's new album in the sewing cave...Michael and my favorite little N'Sync boy - Justin! Enjoy!!!!

...as always more later! 


  1. That dress is such a gorgeous colour for Spring! Just lovely. By the way, I bow before your straight line prowess, goddess of the perfect top stitching. :-)

  2. Great looking dress! I like the extra seaming and the topstitching. You are the queen of taking a TNT pattern and making it more!!!! Thanks for the Justin/Michael Jackson video posting. We lost a real talent when Michael died! His music and moves were top notch.

  3. the bodice seaming is a great twist. those types of details really add some nice structural interest to dresses. can't wait to see this all made up!

  4. The dress is perfect! You are truly amazing.

  5. Thanks for sharing the You Tube... starts my day off with a smile! And the dress, too... inspiring us once again!

  6. Your sewing details are so inspirational! How do you organize your many different versions of your basic dress so that you know where to find them?

    1. Each dress gets it's own folder with the pattern pieces related to it in it. Then I print out a picture of the dress and attach it to the outside of the folder so I remember what the finished dress looks like. I have about ten folders with different TNT versions in it since I recently started filing them this way.

  7. Love the color. Your detailing is top quality. This is going to be great to wear this summer.

  8. First, "Now whether it's there or not, doesn't matter..." is the greatest comment in the history of ever! LOL!!!

    Very pretty dress! I saw the sneak peak on IG and of course am like, I should've gotten some lilac ponte!!!!! The seaming and topstitching is divine.

  9. I love what you've done with the bodice. It's touches like that, that make a nice style difference.

  10. Did you consider rotating the bust bodice dart to make that "triangle" the darted portion of the bodice? Manipulating darts intrigue me.

    1. Yes Linda I did think about it...but manipulating darts doesn't fascinate me! *LOL* Honestly, that's why the triangle is where it is...it wouldn't interfere with the bust dart and I wouldn't have to worry about the fit in the bodice because this works for me. I'm so lazy aren't I!? *LOL*

  11. Beautiful! It's those fine details that make a "simple" dress truly special. And thanks for the video!

  12. Every time I see one of your creations, I smack myself, saying, 'WHY haven't I perfected a TNT dress???'

    Inspirational. Every. Time.

  13. Love, love, love the seaming and topstitching!

  14. Amazing dress!! I think I also prefer the simple styles with embellishment so that was good to read. I loved Michael too - thanks for the video link.

  15. This is so pretty! I bet this color will look amazing on you!

  16. I love this! I also love that you unveiled a lot of the detailing in the construction!

  17. Beautiful work once again! Is that inset cut on the bias? You owe no apologies for the photo of the inside of the dress. I like to see the "inner workings" of the work.

  18. Amazing and wonderful change-ups to the dress!!! i am proud of you for an unlined affair! It is gorgeous!!! hey, more time with you in the cave, means "all good" with us peepers!!! I loved Micheal too, and when i heard him singin " All the little birdies on Jay Bird Street " the other day in K-Mart, i cried. He was truely blessed. Such a heart breaking life story. He was wonderful!
    Love your new dress, and thanks for the pattern to try! Butterick 5706,

  19. Your topstitching is pristine, and the inside of the dress is so clean and neat! Love the added detail and color of this dress; it pairs perfectly with the necklace that inspired it.

  20. Hi Carolyn! I love your blog.. I tried to learn to sew, but never could get the hang of it. You make sewing so fun through the eyes of a wanna-be-seamstress LOL PS- the grandchildren and entire family are gorgeous!

  21. Really nice, Carolyn. I am inspired to try this design alteration some day.


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