I’ve had this sewing pattern for ages. It was in a box of oddments my grandma gave me shortly after I bought my sewing machine. So, it’s been in my stash since 1996. Grandma had hooked me up with some old sewing patterns, some extra fabric, a couple of how-to books, and a fantastic box of miscellaneous buttons. Some of the patterns came with a provenance. One chic little Butterick sheath dress pattern provided the guidelines for the dress Grandma wore for Uncle Frank’s highschool graduation. Another whimsical, Laura-Ashley-esque maxidress pattern had been for bridesmaid dresses my aunts wore for a friend’s wedding. This one was probably my Mom’s, but beyond that, I don’t know much.
I thought its simple a-line style with front and back seaming would adapt well for maternity use, so I cut it in some surplus fabric a friend had given me when she moved house a couple of years ago.
This is a plain-woven cotton calico fabric with a regular, repeating Paisley “pine cone” pattern. Despite its dark-ish teal coloring, it is great fabric for a summer dress, breathable and lightweight. The cotton is perhaps a bit stiff for the design, however. The skirt bells out more than I’d like, though I expect after a few more washings, it will drape rather than flare.
My other deviation from the original design was to integrate a back-tied sash to create a bit of bust/waist definition. The aesthetic problem with maternity garb is that your waist is utterly displaced, and if you just wear an unbroken A-line style, you run the risk of looking like a psychedelic depth buoy.
My second interpretation of this pattern took a pendulum swing in the other direction, being constructed of some incredibly drapey, nearly-sheer polyester crepe:
This was a bit of a Goldilocks approach, for while the cotton was a bit too stiff, this crepe was a bit too floppy. It is, in essence, clingy which is not a property one usually looks for in maternity dresses.
I am, however, particularly pleased with the contrast fabric for the facings and sash. I had about a yard of this green-teal-and-navy paisley printed rayon challis, and cut facings and sashes for two dresses from it: the one you see above and the one you’ll see below.
Here, we have the “just right” pairing of fabric and pattern. This is a rayon challis that has a bit more body than the polyester crepe, but a great deal more drape than the cotton calico. The bold, funky “patchwork” print helps blend the seamline down the front and back of the dress, and the colors go well with the contrast fabric facing and belt.
I am comprehensively pleased with how this dress turned out.
It’s funny – these are colors I would not normally wear, but as I put them together, I really came to like them. All three dresses are made from hand-me-down fabrics. I thought all of them were genuinely pretty. It’s not my usual thing; probably not the most flattering colors for my complexion, but all the same, sometimes it is really good to break out of your usual rut, and given my extreme addiction to earthtones, this jewel-toned flight of fancy is a welcome shake-up. Turns out there are other colors out there besides brown, olive, and rust. Who knew?!