Tokyo Story Mixed Media Dress

The first sewing class I ever took was to make the first version of this dress I ever made (OK, I’ve now made two versions, it’s not like I have an army of them in my closet…though that’s not a bad idea now that you mention it…they are ridiculously comfortable dresses.  Ah, I digress).  It might have even been the first sewing project I blogged about here, in fact; it’s one of the early ones, for sure.  Anyhow, I remember being very excited that I had created a wearable garment, but I had picked out two very “loud” fabrics for the dress (don’t get me wrong, I still love the green polka dots and orange bicycle fabric combo, but it’s …difficult… to wear to work, and the dress is so comfy that I’ve been sorely tempted to wear it to work on a number of toasty hot days).  So I bought some less “loud” fabric and decided to reprise my handiwork and make another one that would be a bit more work-friendly.  I think there’s a name for this Japanese-style print, but I don’t know it.  But I really loved the light blue & white fabric, it seemed perfect for a sticky hot summer day, and easily dressed up for work with a cardigan and some non-flip flop shoes.

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The pattern is from Kwik Sew, and I have to say, it’s really easy to alter.  When I went to sew dress 2.0, I had a few adjustments I wanted to make from version 1.0 (someday, I will just follow the pattern as written and simplify my life greatly, but not today).  The overall fit of V1.0 was OK, but the waist was incredibly high on the first dress, so I wanted to fix that, and the armholes were really low-cut, so I wanted to raise those a bit.  I also wanted the skirt to be a tiny bit longer and hit just at the top of the knee.  And the pockets needed to be dropped by about an inch so I could comfortably stuff my hands in my pockets without having my arms sticking out all akimbo.

All of that was relatively easy to do, so I just eye-balled it and it worked out fine.  No, seriously, I did!  And somewhere the stars aligned and rainbows appeared and cherubs smiled benevolently and everything worked out.  It probably shouldn’t have, but it did.

For the waist, I just added 1.5 inches to the length in a straight shot across the bottom.  For the armholes, I put a dot 1/2 inches higher than the center underarm on both front and back pattern pieces, then followed the general curve of the armhole, reducing gradually until I reached the point where the pattern piece turned vertically.  (The blue line below is the new armhole height).  This worked like a dream!

Adding the length to the bodice also added the length I was looking for in the skirt (which was a very good thing as I’ll explain in a moment…), and moving the pockets down was a matter of, well, moving the pockets down.  Easy peasy.

So, all that glowing GoodnessGraciousItActuallyWorked out of the way, this pattern was a tad problematic…you see, to make my preferred version of the dress, I combined the skirt and belt from View A with the (sleeveless) top from View B.  And both times I’ve done this, I’ve discovered that their fabric recommendations are off for the skirt requirements.  Maybe this is only if you’re making the XL size, and it works out OK on the smaller ones?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that, if you’re making the XL size skirt, you can have the stated length, the belt, OR the pockets, but not all three.  There’s just not enough fabric to make all three out of the same 1-5/8 yard piece.  I had vaguely remembered this from dress 1.0, but had chalked it up to my sub-par layout and cutting skills.  Turns out, my layout/cutting skills are just fine, but without serious alteration to the laws of geometry, there is no way that all the pieces will fit on 45″ wide fabric.  Rats.  I solved the problem with a scrap of orange fabric I had in my stash (please note, it makes me inordinately proud that I was able to actually solve a fabric conundrum with stash fabric!!).  So the dress has bright orange pockets.  It was either that, or a bright orange belt, which might also be fun and might also still happen…

Anyhow, that’s about all I did with the pattern.  Once I solved my fabric shortage, the dress came together pretty quickly (well, for me it seemed quick)…I think it took me about 2 hours to adjust the pattern, discover my fabric shortage, fix the fabric shortage, and cut all the pieces out, and about 3 hours to sew it all together.  At least 45 minutes of the “sewing” time was spent picking dark grey top-stitching out of the belt, though…I thought it would look really nice, and it might have if I had sewn it in a straight line and not accidentally changed stitch length partway through.  I think top-stitching is one of those things best done when one is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (lucky for me, I bribed John with a currant scone and didn’t have to do all the stitch-ripping myself!).

So this is the dress, sans belt (which is very cute and comfy!)…(pardon the clutter in my sewing/living room!)

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And here it is with the belt…a bit more polished, I think!

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And here are the pockets!  Such pockets!

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And here’s the back.

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I think the accidentally-orange pockets are one of my favorite things about this dress.  That, and it’s really nice and cool and comfy, just the thing for this beastly hot weather we’ve been “enjoying”.

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