This is Fiona, a polka-dotted ruffly number I made last summer (yep, that’s right, I have yet to post it until now. Ooops). I never admitted the reason why I made her. It’s actually quite an embarrassing story. Last summer my cousin was getting married in Ft. Lauderdale (my hometown), which only meant one thing, I needed to make a dress for the occasion. Short on time, I decided to make a simple and easy maxi dress. Inspired by Jil Sander’s then current collection, I wanted the dress to be an easy silhouette that was a cinch to sew and to make the focal point of the dress the fabric. This I did, buying the most beautiful vintage polka-dotted cotton from my fabric fabric store in Philadelphia, Jack’s Fabrics (it’s on 4th Street just south of South Street). Everything went according to plan – I drafted the pattern, fit the muslin, and sewed the dress up in no time. When I tried on the final dress and looked at myself in the mirror, I looked hideous! Absolutely and one hundred percent hideous! It was a moo-moo to the 100th degree and then multiplied by one thousand. I tried to resurrect it (only Jesus can be resurrected). I added appliqués, I hemmed it, and I sewed a ruffle at the bottom (my usual go-to fix) but nothing could make this dress pretty. So one Sunday afternoon, I had enough with this dress. I laid it on the floor, held my scissors in my hand, took a deep breath, and cut the damn thing in two and went out and bought a Free People dress. Done and done.
So this is how Fiona came about. After the whole cut-my-dress-into-two ordeal, I undertook a project that was easy and that I knew I could accomplish perfectly. There would be no cutting it into two!
Fiona is based off of, actually copied off of, a Free People dress I saw online. It’s a simple silhouette and I was able to use my block to create the pattern (see image above for a how-to). The Free People dress was constructed using knit but I opted for a woven for no reason other than availability. I added a bias cut ruffle at the bottom hem that was made of chiffon, had raw edges. At the top of the front and back bodice, I inserted a picot trim between the dress and the facing. The straps were simply a ribbon that was also inserted between the dress and the facing. All seams were sewn with a straight stitch and overlocked. Simple, eh? As you can see, this dress did not end up in two pieces!
Fiona has treated me well since I made her. She fits into my wardrobe quite nicely and is the perfect dress-up-dress-down piece. She also transitions from season to season very well. During the winter, I layer her over a turtleneck and paired her with boots. Now that it has warmed up, I’m wearing her with no shirt underneath and pairing her with heels (as I did in the photo) or sandals, depending on where I’m going.