A dirndl kind of day.

February 24, 2010

Pattern: Dirndl dress basic pattern from Built by Wendy: Dresses (with modifications)

Fabric: Cotton lawn from Gorgeous Fabrics (same as before…I’m thrifty)

Other Notions: invisible zipper

Wendy warns her readers not to be put off by the weird name (dirndl), and I’ll admit that I was…until I saw the patterns and possibilities! After making my first dress in this book and discovering the areas of poor fit, I decided to make a muslin of this dress pattern. The muslin looked great, so I plowed ahead.

I altered the neckline drastically. I like low (not obscenely low) necklines because I am a small person and I don’t like feeling swallowed up by my clothing. High necks and long sleeves are not for me. Another reason for wearing low necklines is my fair skin and red hair. It makes me feel uncomfortable to have most colors too close to my face because I worry about being washed out. I usually only wear reds and greens near my face.

Anyway, moving past my insecurities and into this dress’ many positive attributes…I love everything about it, except my fabric choice and the suggestion of binding around the armholes and neck.

The dress seems to want more drape, and the cotton lawn is too airy to allow you to fully appreciate the shape, structure, and flow of the dress.  That was my mistake, and I think it still works…it just doesn’t reach its full potential. I think the only area that the bad fabric choice really affected was the neckline and armholes. I sewed a binding on, as instructed, but it stuck out and looked crinkly, so I turned it over, tacked it inside like a facing, and topstitched:

…much better. The defining characteristic (and real magic) of this dress is the gathered skirt, which has a vintage feel that I love:

I admit that I did have some trouble inserting the zipper. I am going to iron it into submission next time, because it was all wrinkly from having been in the package since the 80s (seriously…the packaging was almost deteriorating) and didn’t stick on, despite massive quantities of Scotch tape. I chose a thread that matches the little brown morning glories, but I used a cream zipper to match the background fabric…it looked fine from the outside, but the inside does not look very professional. I know I need to work on my zipper inserting techniques!

All in all, it was a fast and rewarding project that I probably will wear in the summer. This dress also made me truly love garment sewing. I have no garment fabric right now because I don’t have a stash, but I have enough quilts going on (FIVE…unacceptable) to keep me busy, as well as my pinwheel blocks, which look great. I bought a big scrap of vintage fabric that combines well with remnants from earlier projects…I’ll have those blocks to show you soon.

In the meantime, I’m waiting on this fabric from Denver Fabrics for another dirndl-style dress (this time with a V neck and longer sleeves):

I have high hopes for this!

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One Response to “A dirndl kind of day.”

  1. Sara Says:

    Too bad the type of fabric wasn’t what you wanted, but I love the pattern (fabric and dirndl) and think the dress looks great regardless.


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