Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Sandwich Bag dress

I finished a new dress...
I love this new little thing; we are expecting more really hot weather around here and I wanted some more really cool floaty things that can waft around my body, if not picking up any actual real breezes then possibly the swishing about of fabric just might create flurries of pseudo-breezes to cool me off...  I know, could be hopeless wishful thinking but in a heatwave one is willing to try anything.
You're probably wondering about the strange and seemingly random name I've given to this quite romantic little number... well remember this?
The very very sweet but fabric-clueless young man who cut, cut? nay, hacked off this piece of silk for me in the Alannah Hill outlet store in Melbourne then packaged it for me by stuffing it (and by "stuffing" I'm not speaking figuratively but quite literally) into a little sandwich bag, painstakingly sealed closed, and presented thus for me to carry out of the store...  Funny!  I was so entertained by this cavalier treatment of fine, high quality silk that the image just became firmly wedged in my head never to be dislodged...  the Sandwich Bag dress was always going to be its name after that.  
A positive, at a pinch I know I can always fit this dress in a teensy little sandwich bag if an emergency packing situation arises...
I've had this Vogue pattern for about a year, and finally have used it.  I had always looked at it a bit sideways and wondered if was a very silly purchase that wasn't me at all, but I'm over that now.  I've decided all those extravagant ruffles that before had me balking are really quite flattering for my figure.  So it does pay to try new things and to stretch oneself out of one's comfort zone every once in a while.  And fortuitously I had just exactly the right amount of fabric, lucky or what??  That young man with his jaggedy cuts did it just right!
The dress is completely lined with navy blue acetate lining, and all the ruffles and raw edges are finished with a rolled hem using two shades of red overlocking thread, just using threads I had already.  The lining hem is finished in the traditional way.  The buttons are these perfect dark mauve discs found at Fabulous Fabrics.  Aaand, I added pockets... ! (self high five)
Below is the pattern review I submitted, in case you're interested...

Pattern Description:
Lined dresses A, B, fitted through bust area have princess seams, contrast neck and lower flounce, straps and loop closure, sash with threaded loops.
Pattern Sizing:
Overall 6-20, I bought the AA option with sizes 6-12 and sewed a straight size 10.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
yes, except that I used self fabric for the ruffles, not a contrasting fabric
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It is a loose fitting dress, so precision fitting is not an issue here, simplifying things.
I wasn't sure about the look of all those ruffles at first and so put off making up this one for about a year.  Now I love them and feel they are very flattering to my figure.  However those same extravagant ruffles are what contributes to the difficulty of getting a good finish, particularly in the neckline/shoulder strap area, sewing dress to lining and turning right side out in step 24.  In this part I fully appreciated how essential thin lightweight fabric is for this pattern to work at all, so you can scrunch up those ruffles up tight enough to be contained with those thin little shoulder areas when sewing.
Understitching around these areas and the button loop area was quite fiddly.  The button loop area was quite fiddly full stop, but I put this down to the delicate and slippery silk I chose to make the dress up in, and not the fault of the pattern.
Fabric used:
Thin silk charmeuse
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added in-seam pockets in the side seams of the dress.
I used the rolled hem function on my overlocker to finish all raw edges of the ruffles and the sash, rather than the narrow hem method described in step 4 and 5 of the instructions.  So much easier!  Plus instead of double stitching all the seam allowances as described I finished raw edges on the inside by overlocking.
Would you sew it again?  Would you recommend it?
I won't sew this again in the near future, as it is such an eye-catching thing one of these is enough in my wardrobe.  But when this one bites the dust I might.
I recommend this pattern as a lovely romantic little dress, perfect for summer days.  It is actually simpler than it looks, my only proviso is to be certain to only attempt this with very thin fabric.
I'm a little surprised myself at how much I love the "adorableness" of this dress, not a style I usually go for.  I feel so feminine in it, plus on a practical note it'll to be very cool to wear on very hot summer days.

Below: I almost didn't include this picture, but decided the wind had co-operated by showing off the lining, which I hadn't photographed otherwise...
Below at left; threaded sash loops, at right; yup, pockets!


  1. This dress is divine . I adore that colour aqua blue ( well that's how it appears on my screen ) . I always like the clash of red with aqua blue. You are right you really suit those ruffles.

  2. So gorgeous! I love the ruffles, pockets & fabric! Thanks for sharing your sewing details too!

  3. Carolyn, I love this dress and you look so beautiful in it. I think it looks fresh and pretty and romantic. Cute!

  4. This is so beautiful. You look lovely in this dress, both the colour and the feminine ruffly style are gorgeous on you. I can feel the Fremantle Dr swishing those ruffles from here! OK, maybe that last bit was wishful thinking)

  5. I think it looks much better in one fabric than in 2 or 3 as depicted by Vogue. And it's beautifully crafted.

  6. This is really pretty - I agree with lin3arossa and much prefer the single fabric, I agree with you that this style really suits you, and I also think these colours are great for you! Also well done with tricky fabric...

  7. Beautiful dress, so much better than the pattern envelope.

  8. Looking at your pictures makes me long for hot summer days. (Only more snow around here at present.) Your dress is divine. Adding pockets is brilliant. There was a time when most Vogue dresses had pockets as part of the pattern - not so any more.

  9. This dress is absolutely amazing! I love everything about it.

  10. mmmm, it does look cool and ..... swishy! I can identify with longing for something cool ... not eager for the hot stuff to roll around here.

  11. Beautiful dress... looks wonderful on you and like it will be cool in the hot weather you're having. And as usual, I love your creative photo with the blue cagey background.

  12. I love a dress that has a story! You're right, the shape looks great on you, and I think the colors are perfect with your hair/skin color.

  13. This silk has a unique color combination. I think you've showcased it beautifully with this pattern. I like how you chose navy for the lining and shoes too.

  14. the silk ruffles on this will just feel fantastic in a breeze.

    As for the sandwich bag...I always cringe in the thrift shops when I find something that is made in a fine fabric and the clerk just stuffs it in a bag. I immediately unsack it and lay it out across the backseat of my vehicle so the poor item can breathe.

  15. I think this is my new fave of yours. It totally suits you! I wouldn't have guessed that the fabric stuffed in that itty bitty bag would have turned into this! :)
    xo MODELmumma

  16. So pretty, cool, floaty - you look a million bucks as always!! Gorgeous fabric!

  17. That is a truly beautiful dress. I can't believe the actions of the fabric cutter however! Last time I bought silk they asked if I wanted it put on a roll to take home.

  18. Well Caroline you deserve the accolades you are receiving for this dress. It's lovely - silk is the perfect hot weather fabric - it breathes.

  19. This dress is just gorgeous! Love the fabric, love the style and I especially love the unique packaging! Happy summer dress wearing!

  20. What an amazing dress!? I love pattern, the ruffles and the fabric is sooo beautiful. Well done!

  21. I really love this dress didn't quiet see how it was going to turn out while you were making it. The pattern looked so complicated! Just goes to show how talented you are. :)

  22. I have always been curious about this pattern. Yours looks so amazing that I'm completely convinced!

  23. hi! i found you on the front page of burdastyle today! i love the dress - design and fabric and everything seems so perfect! i want it:)


  24. That dress! Oh my gosh I love it!! The fabric is incredible and that pattern is really cute.
    Good idea to add pockets to it. I'm a BIG fan of pockets.
    I seriously am so in love with this dress. Great job!

  25. the dress is "extremaly" beautiful! that model suits you perfectly and I love the fabrics.

  26. Gorgeous! Now I want one... Perhaps my next sewing project?

  27. ooooooh you are a wizard with the needle. Though I can't sew a stick, I sure can appreciate a beautiful garment! Your blog is very interesting.

  28. Your dress is a beauty and looks fantastic on you!