The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle

Hats Off to a Star-Spangled Red (White) and Blue Dress

     It's that time of year to see all sorts of things proudly showing off our country's colors, and I will be no exception. 

     A new dress can't get any more fun than going all out  in a full circle skirt, contrast lining to highlight my "burnout" designed knit, and bold red color to boot.


FABRIC:  1 1/2 yards of lightweight 100% cotton knit with a allover "burnout" (see through) design of different sized stars, bought on clearance for around $5 (more or less) when we had a local craft store close;  navy blue polyester knit to go under the red knit, bought for around the same $ as the red knit

NOTIONS:  none bought;  I had all the thread that was needed  and just enough hem tape

PATTERN:  Vogue "Easy Options" 8766

THE INSIDES:  all seams, excepting the armhole seams and bottom hem, are finished in French seams.  The French seams got a little bulky, especially around the waist seam, but some top stitching (done sparingly) helped matters.  Hem tape was used on the back half of the bottom hem, merely because I cut that piece an inch shorter from the front...I always find a way to fix any of my boo-boos!  In the picture below you can see my hem tape/normal hem.  My skirt is so full, hopefully my hem is all that I'm showing off!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  I finished this dress on June 5, 2013, after an estimated 6 hours of sewing.  I first wore my dress out to a beauty salon for a haircut and style, and really felt GOOD that evening all spiffed up!


     I definitely thought outside the box for making this project, but my mind seems to naturally think of ways to stretch boundaries.  Vogue 8766's recommended fabrics only mention lace and everything else I consider "nice wear".  Not that I don't like fancy fabrics - I really love them, but wanted to enjoy this pattern's designs out at a barbecue or casual affair as well.  Why shouldn't I be able to accommodate for a knit using V8766, by going down a size?  My idea was correct, as it has been before for other patterns, such as my Vintage Vogue 2859. 

     I was set on using this pattern for my red fabric because the star print is so busy I wanted it to 'shine' by having styling that would be both simple and beautifully fun.  Besides, after all the sewing I have done I was dying for my first full, mega twirl circle skirt dress.  Looking at the envelope back compared to the amount of fabric I had showed an intimidating discrepancy.  I am proud to say my stubbornness paid off here and, after shortening the skirt pieces and the sleeves, I squeezed in every pattern piece without skimping on grain line or sizes.  There were literally four or so small 3 inch pieces left over as scrap.  I know MY limits, but don't recommend this 'tight squeeze' practice for anyone. 

     The red burnout knit is lined in the lightest weight knit I could find.  I think it is actually an "sport/active wear" knit with little perforations in the one side.  I bought several extra yards for lining a sweater knit dress I hope to make in winter.

     I love my neckline alteration of sewing on a smooth bias band to cover and finish off the entire neckline.  The pattern's way of doing the neckline was just as fine but I find myself really prefering the invisible stitches of my own self-fabric bias facing.

     Another major change to the construction of the dress was eliminating the zipper.  Using a knit really made a zipper unnecessary, so I sewed up all the center back seams.  Just in case I should have any trouble getting the dress on, I was planning on leaving the top of the seam open about 6 inches and merely doing a button & loop closure to add utility as well as visual interest. 

      Hubby improved upon my button opening idea when he saw me try on the finished dress (I saved sewing the buttons for last).  The back looked like it does in the picture at right of me making some of my home cooking.  "I like it just like that...leave it as it is" he told me.  Looking at the back from a different point of view, I liked it too, and tacked the corners down.  I have received the most comments and compliments regarding the open back of my dress.






     The lay-open collar style back feature I added to my red dress actually reminds me of a style trend from the early 1930's.  As seen in the Vintage Vogue at left, which I sadly do not have in my own pattern stash, the 1931 evening gown has the exact same open collar back, and it's in red too!  My gut reaction says that I am linking a 30's design feature to my modern dress because of how I love sewing so much vintage items.  However, I also love noting the history of fashion and design, so I enjoy helping people see that vintage never really goes out of style.  All past ideas are built upon and re-used to create the fashion we have today.  Look around in a RTW store and you are probably seeing some design features, however small, ranging from the past 90 years. 

     In honor of my 30's open-collared back, I wore a 20's/30's "lariat/lasso" style gold necklace.  I even made my own earrings to match the stars in my dress - there had been two gold jewel studded star charms I found in my beading/jewelry containers.  I hope you can see my accessories in the picture at left.

     For some reason, I just did not like the look of the plain short sleeves, but I knew sleeveless would not look good either.  Luckily my small leftover scraps were still big enough to cut out and made two cords for pulling up the short sleeves.  There is a fancy swirled button at the top were the cords were sewn down.

     As the final touch, I picked one of the stars on the left side of my upper chest and outlined it by sewing navy thread around it.  If you look hard in the picture, you might be able to see it. 

     My star-spangled red dress was the easiest sewing I have done in a while, and that was a welcome treat and pick-me-up that I needed at the time.  Everything about my red dress came together effortlessly while fitting well.  If this dress was any easier it would make itself (not really, but almost).  I will definitely be making this again, in lace or a brocade.  Both my dress and its pattern are easy favorites for a gal's wardrobe. 

     I have to show a twirling photo - it's a fun necessity here!  The one side is my 'regular' look, skirt at rest (and a root beer in hand).  The other side is my 'in action' look, in full twirl, maybe with music rolling in my head.  Taylor Swift's song "Red" might be appropriate.




       Enjoy your summer sewing!    

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