I discovered Katie of Sew Old Fashioned through her lovely vlog where I found a sweet demeanor and dry wit to go along with her insightful thoughts about sewing. I’m so glad she said yes to participating in The Day and Night Dress Challenge. Welcome Katie!
The Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018: Sew Old Fashioned
The Coffee Dress
In her introduction to the challenge, Elizabeth described the coffee dress as a “casual, wear it anywhere day dress” and advised us to think of it as secret pyjamas. So you may be wondering why I decided to make a fitted dress in a woven fabric that is anything but casual.
Essentially, this is the go-to casual outfit for me and my friends: a pretty dress with a cardigan (although the cardigan very much depends on what the weather’s doing). It’s our sartorial answer to almost every question. Going on an interstate roadtrip? Pretty dress and cardi. Going to visit lighthouses and a treetop walk? Pretty dress and cardi. Going to explore caves and wander around ruined buildings in paddocks? Pretty dress and cardi.
Obviously, that’s not going to change when we’re going for something as simple as a coffee. But really, is there anything easier than grabbing a cute dress out of your wardrobe and pairing it with a cardigan? It looks as though you made an effort but it really only took you five minutes to put your outfit together.
The Pattern: Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book – Basic Bodice
The Day and Night Dress Challenge came at just the right time for me as I was in the middle of trying to create The Ultimate Dress with the help of Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. Firstly, I made a toile from a fun printed fabric using the basic bodice pattern. This involved using size ten for the bust and hips and grading to size twelve at the waist… and anticipating a full bust adjustment in my future.
I basted it together, tried it on… and it fitted perfectly! Well, it was a little snug and I decided to sew a 3/8” seam instead of the standard 5/8” to see how that went. I altered the neckline to be wider at the front and lower at the back (it is Summer here, after all!) then drafted an all-in-one facing following the instructions in Gertie’s book. All I needed to do next was ruffle up some skirt pieces and add in some pockets and I was done with my toile.
Making the Coffee Dress
Following the success of my toile, I cut straight into my lovely Cloud 9 organic cotton fabric. The print I chose is called ‘Royal Swan’ and it has a beautiful feel to it. I have a premonition that I will want to wear this dress all the time (and not just because it has swans on it).
I used an all-in-one facing for my toile but I knew I wanted to do a lined bodice for the official coffee dress. It’s nice to be able to leave your bodice seams unfinished because you know they’ll be hidden away eventually. On the other hand, you know there’s an awful lot of hand-sewing in your future, although that just gives you an opportunity to catch up on your watch later list on YouTube.
When it came to the skirt, I simply cut two pieces from the full width of the fabric. I measured my toile skirt (I was happy with the length of that), added some extra for seams and hems, then ruled out my two rectangles. Simple!
And I made sure to include pockets. Don’t tell anyone, but one of my pocket pieces is cut on the cross grain to minimise fabric waste. It still works fine!
The Finished Coffee Dress
Whenever I finish putting in a zip, I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because I can finally try the dress on; trepidation because I’m worried it might not fit (despite doing a toile). I won’t leave you in suspense: it fitted perfectly. In fact, I didn’t want to take the dress off, despite needing to sew the bodice lining in and hem it. I ignored all of these facts and popped on a belt, then checked to see how nicely my newly knitted cardigan would go with it.
I’m so happy with this dress, and not just because that cardigan is a perfect match. It’s my exact style of dress and I’m delighted with how the Gertie bodice fits me. I am ready to go whenever someone needs to meet me for a coffee!
The Cocktails Dress
I detoured a little when thinking about my cocktails dress, mostly because cocktails don’t feature much in my life. On the other hand, my friends and I are rather keen on wine tours. We frequently choose our holiday destinations based on wine regions and love to spend part of said holiday being driven around to interesting wineries where we can sample the wares.
This also gives us a chance to dress a little fancy (well, fancier, given that you’ve learned how we all dress up just to go for coffee) and that’s what inspired my choice for my cocktail dress. It also helped that I re-discovered a pattern I’d bought ages ago at a secondhand shop purely by chance. The pattern is from the seventies, it has a fun little shoulder detail, and I had the perfect floaty fabric for it (also bought from a secondhand shop).
More importantly, I could see myself swanning about wineries in it, so it was clearly the winning choice!
The Pattern: Butterick 5969 (Vintage)
The pattern packet makes a bold claim: “Super quick!”
It would have been super quick if I hadn’t needed to do French seams on everything. Oh, and baste before sewing to make sure the slippery fabric didn’t wander off in the middle of a seam.
Around half-way through, I started to worry that the dress wouldn’t suit me – it’s essentially a sack tied with a belt – and I developed a vague fear that it would render me all boob at the top. When you start thinking like this, you begin to resent all the effort spent on making your seams look nice and un-frayed!
Fortunately, all fears were allayed when I tried the dress on and discovered that it was actually quite nice. In fact, I needed to take it off straight away so I could get it finished and start wearing it for real.
The Finished Cocktails Dress
The only thing I don’t like about this dress is the fabric. On the up side, it’s perfect for the style of the dress: it’s floaty and floral and fun. On the down side, it’s highly synthetic and doesn’t breathe at all, so it’s a good thing the pattern comes with such large sleeves!
Here I am, posing with my luggage and camera while waiting for the wine tour bus to arrive. I was actually trying to remember one of the poses on the pattern cover, but my other arm should have been on my waist, not aimlessly sticking out of the frame of the image. Oh well – at least you can see the sleeves in operation!
Speaking of the sleeves: how fabulous are they? I normally make sleeveless dresses so I can easily pop a cardigan over the top (see: Coffee Dress), but every now and then, I’ll be tempted by magnificent sleeves such as these. How could I resist?
There are no closures on the dress at all, which is one of the reasons it’s so quick. You just sew some channels along the top of the dress, thread a couple of ribbons through and you’re done! This neatly creates another design feature: a tiny cold shoulder affect. A slightly chilly shoulder, perhaps? Whatever we call it, I like it.
It’s a fun dress and I’m proud of how I finished it (my French seam techniques have reached newer levels of accuracy after this make). Now all I need is a chance to wear it and put my wine tour theory to the test!
Thank-you to Elizabeth for hosting this fabulous challenge and for inviting me to be part of this team of talented sewing bloggers and vloggers. It’s been a lot of fun!
Keep watching here on Elizabeth Made This and on YouTube between now and February 28th for more amazing dresses from this wonderful global crew of sewing bloggers and vloggers I’ve assembled!
Want to join in the fun yourself?
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE DAY AND NIGHT DRESS CHALLENGE?
- Sew some dresses!
- Let other people know about it. Use #dayandnightdresschallenge on Twitter and Instagram and follow the Day and Night Dress Challenge Facebook group.
- Keep reading here to find out the latest. Follow Elizabeth Made This on Instagram andFacebook.
- Post a picture of your day look (coffee) and your night look (cocktail) to Instagram to enter yourself. Don’t forget to tag me @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
- Grab a graphic and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram: