Tartan Dress

Hello All! I hope you all have made it nicely through the Christmas Season and into the New Year with relatively few scrapes and bangs. I thought I would post about a piece of fabric that haunted me for months until I bought it and then only took a week to transform it into a dress (And then only two months to blog about it!)

But before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story... (my apologies to Dav Pilkey)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who attended grades 1 through 4 at a tiny private school in her hometown. The school required uniforms - and not dress codes masquerading as uniforms, but actual, honest-to-God uniforms - that required a special trip to the industrial section of Portland to the uniform shop. The little girl's uniform consisted of a plaid jumper with a pleated skirt, a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar, and a red cardigan. All items contained a significant amount of polyester (for sturdiness and washability, I imagine) and were relatively comfortable, but the jumper was both a source of pleasure and pain for the little girl.
The little girl was pained by the jumper, because it was breezy and it showed off undergarments. The little girl had accompanied her mother to the uniform store and knew that plaid slacks were available. But alas, the school board (or whoever made the decisions) was not amenable to the idea. The undergarment issue was solved by wearing summer shorts underneath.

But the plaid of the jumper was a source of pleasure to the little girl. Countless hours were spent admiring the lines of colour intersecting, blending, and making new colours. The geometry was symmetrical, which pleased the girl's mathematical side a great deal. Over time the girl grew to love plaids - particularly even plaids - they spoke to her of order, neatness, and class.

Flash forward nearly 30 years and the girl - now grown with small creatures of her own - is waiting in line at a large fabric store, standing near a remnant bin. Something catches her eye. It is the plaid from her childhood! She picks up the carefully rolled and labeled fabric. The plaid is a bit larger in scale and certainly without polyester content, but the same plaid, nonetheless. Unfortunately, even at 50% off the original price, the remnant is far outside the woman's price range.

Over the next five or six months, the woman makes two or three more visits to this particular fabric store and each time, she lovingly picks up the remnant, places it in her basket, and carries it around the store. But also, each time, when she heads to the cash register, she sadly returns the fabric to the remnant bin. It is just too expensive and the wool is perhaps too high-maintenance for her lifestyle.

But! On her next trip, the fabric is still there and the store is having a remnant bin sale - buy one remnant get another remnant free! Luckily, there is a thin pinstriped fabric also calling the woman's name. The purchase is made and within a week, the plaid is transformed from flat fabric into a simple dress. No pleats this time as there isn't enough fabric.

Truly, I am far more happy with this dress than I appear to be. This was photographed on its fourth or fifth wearing and I can see that the wool has loosened up in spots. The first time I wore the dress without a shirt underneath and with a sheer black wrap, black hose, and black heeled oxfords to go to a fundraising dinner. Daily wear sees it more like this: white-ish turtleneck sweater, leggings and boots (here the boots have been replaced with my slippers - it's a sewing blog, not a style blog, after all).

Here you can see the store-bought piping I used. I would have made my own, but time was running out. I like to make my own because I can control the amount of seam allowance on the piping. As it was I forgot that the two seam allowances were not the same and thus the straps are a bit wider than I'd like. But, that's a small thing and not worth taking the entire dress apart.

This photo of the back does show me that I need to put a hook and eye or loop and button at the top of the zipper.

 And here I shamelessly show off my plaid matching skills. Not that it was difficult. Since my body requires little to no waist shaping, matching plaid across a princess seamed dress simply takes a little time and a forgiving fabric.

I did line the dress in Bemberg rayon in a green that matches almost exactly.

It's such a comfortable dress to wear - light but warm. I am so thrilled the fabric waited for me.


Sewingelle said…
Oh I do love a plaid too. This looks great made up and on you (even with slippers!)
Debi said…
*Raises hand* big tartan fan here! The funny thing is that I remember that uniform warehouse in the industrial part of Portland well! We had a similar type jumper (though a different plaid--I think...I need to dig up my pictures). I just love what you did with the tartan!
Beangirl said…
I love plaids, all kinds of plaids. Fabulous jumper.

hmmm... word verification is "gogorma"... which if we just add a teensy little "a" it could be... "gogorama"! As in, that retro jumper would be totally gogo-rama with some gogo boots!

um. you know. in a good way.
prttynpnk said…
I love how versatile you've made this. One day its dress up, the next its practical. A very sweet story of plaid redemption!
Marie said…
I love the jumper. It reminds me of plaid jumpers I wore as a young girl. You did a great job!!

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