Sometimes I think that inspiration is mostly just pure luck. Out of nowhere, my friend Allie from Indiesew asked me if I wanted to come over one day and dip dye some fabric in a vat of indigo that she was getting ready to throw out. I was all about it, but I didn’t have time to go shopping, so I raided my stash. Leftover from a previous sewing life of making and selling baby wraps was about 2 yards of Nani Iro double gauze, a natural undyed color with metallic silver dots.
I took it over to Allie’s and we got to indigo dyeing each end about 12″ up, giving it a cool ombre/splashing waves effect. The double gauze soaked up the dye like gangbusters, but the silver dots retained their metallic sheen. I thought that maybe I’d turn it into a skirt, making the dyed part the bottom hem.
But when I got home, I noticed a piece of fabric that had been sitting on my table for four months: a remnant of Hermes wool and linen voile that my sister got me as a souvenir from a trip she took to Paris. I’d been saving it for a rainy day, and the blue matched the indigo dye in the double gauze perfectly. JACKPOT!
I thought it might be cool to design a bit of a retro-inspired dress with this modern fabric combo, something like Roman Holiday meets Project Runway. I turned to a book I’d recently received for my birthday: Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time (affiliate link!).
Though this isn’t a book review post, let me just say that this book is awesome. I’m calling it modular fashion design: a bunch of bodices and skirts and collars and sleeve styles that you can mix and match (with some slight modifications for each) to create your own garment. I think it’s an awesome transition for someone at my sewing level: able to follow most sewing directions easily, but not quite at the point where I feel comfortable drafting my own patterns. I added cap sleeves to the lined classic bodice and created a gathered, calf-length “dirndl” skirt with my double gauze. After making a muslin, I also found that I needed to add a couple of extra darts to the back neckline to get rid of some gapping.
My biggest challenge in this garment was adding the invisible zipper to the middle of the back skirt, where there was no seam line (my seams were on the sides as I had to sew two pieces of fabric together). I had to cut into the skirt once it was sewn on, which was terrifying. There are a few minor hiccups back there, but pressing them out helped a lot.
Overall, I am SO HAPPY with how this dress turned out. I feel like it’s so classy but fun and cool, and I could wear it out for a date or to a wedding with no reservations whatsoever. I’m also really excited to try some more pattern designing (and indigo dyeing!) now that I have a bodice pattern that fits me like a glove.
Have you experimented with indigo dyeing?
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