As explained last week, I have moved from an obsession with dressing like a jellyfish to action!
I made this comfy dress to remind me of puffy bodies, ruffles and streamers. I was pretty sure it was possible to make jellyfish shapes into flattering clothes, but it’s good to confirm that kind of thing. This is the dress that prooves my concept (to myself). The age of cnidarian wardrobe staples has begun!
Progress on the stash manifesto
The best part! This dress ate the following out of my stash:
- One fitted floral bedsheet I bought in 1999 to cover a geodesic dome at Burning Man. It didn’t fit my bed, and it had a big hole torn in the middle, but I squirrelled it away, lo these seven years.
- A length of elastic I bought in 1999, intending to make y-front underwear
- Three blue buttons from a jar Galen’s mum gave me in 2002
- Some hook and eye fasteners my gramma gave me for my birthday in 2003, as part of a sewing kit
The only thing I bought was extra thread. (I hope the scope of my stash is becoming clear to you, along with the motivations for my stash manifesto. Ripped bedsheets? Seven years? My collection is ripe, and must be harvested.)
I used the same strategy I like for web design: make the smallest thing that could work, and add things as necessary. I don’t know much about sewing, so I just tried on pieces in the mirror a lot, to see how they might fit together.
The final cuts looked like this, but I worked it out a little at a time by making the biggest parts first and trying to conserve fabric.
The puffy skirt was the clearest part of my jellyfish vision, so I started by sewing a tube using the full length of the sheet, and the width between the hole and the notches.
I gathered each end with elastic to make the tube easy to get on and off and to make sure I could still walk in the cinched skirt. In the mirror, it looked like it needed a ruffle on the bottom, so I added a ruffle on the bottom.
As soon as I tried on the ruffled prototype, I could see how this dress would be both jellyfishy and pretty cute, and there was much excited prancing around in a retro floral potato sack. Galen and Marc get bonus points for being supportive and inquisitive, even though I interrupted the business meeting they were having in the kitchen, and, as they later admitted, neither of them had any idea where I was going with this “it’s a bag/it’s a dress/it’s a man-o-war” design.
The remaining fabric had notched corners where I had cut the elastic out of the fitted sheet. I held one notched end up to my chest as a potential bodice, just trying to be thrifty by starting at the end instead of the middle.
The notch happened to make a decent armhole, and the narrow part wrapped around to the middle of my back. That seemed like an easy solution, so after some draping and measuring in the mirror, I cut a matching notch for my other arm.
Rather than mess with facings, I cut a second identical piece and sewed the two together. I.e., I made a something that felt like a pillowcase.
The back and straps
I only attached the bodice along the front of the skirt, to leave room for the elastic to stretch over my hips when I stepped into the dress. To accomodate, I hand-sewed little hooks and eyes under the back of the bodice to keep the skirt up.
This turns out to be a ridiculous fastening strategy, and there is no way I can get it on or off by myself. (The armholes are too snug to wiggle into or out of with the buttons done up, so I can’t twist it around backwards.)
The bodice looked cool from the front, and buttoned together at center back, but the shoulders weren’t attached to anything. Adding straps seemed like the easiest solution.
I thought stubby, straight straps would look like an apron or a work dress rather than glamorously submarine, so I made the straps extra long and let them hang down from the shoulder seams.
When I looked in the mirror, it needed a sash. So I added a sash. I need to learn to tie it in a pretty bow.
If this was knitted, I’d be so uptight right now
Any seamstress could look at these photos and deduce that I have no idea how to sew. Parts of the dress ride up, buckle, wrinkle, tug, sag, etc. I think I learned a lot for next time, especially about bodices (so that’s why side seams are sloped…), and I got a jellyfish dress that fits securely and comfortably out of the experience. Verdict: success! Sewing and I might just become friends.