Back in early November I came home from my local quilt shop with 3 yards of Lizzy House’s Hits Parade jersey in a cat print. As I’m showing my husband he blurts out, “But you don’t even like cats!” Ha! He has a point. I’m not much of a cat person, but that’s because I’m allergic to them. In fact I think most cats are quite cute, I just can’t get near them. But dang I love this fabric like, whoa. It’s so fun. Kitties!
The fabric sat on the counter in the kitchen for weeks while I worked on various holiday projects and that whole Victorian get up until Sunday when I finally had the head space to tackle sewing math. Math is fun!
The resulting dress is 1 part Washington Dress, 1 part hack, and 1 part self drafted. I am so freaking excited about how it turned out! It looks just like the dance dresses I wore and loved back in the 1990s.
So here’s the break down on how I turned the Washington Dress into more of a skater style dress.
First off I had to tackle the fit issues I encountered when I made my original Washington. Straight from the envelope I have two issues. The bodice is too short so I traced out the pattern, sliced along the lengthen here line, and then added 1 inch in length. I also took out some of the fullness I was getting between the armhole and the bust with a small dart. Both were easy alterations to make and I’ll be sure to do them whenever I make the Washington bodice in the future.
Next up was figuring out how to achieve that sweet 90s style ruched neckline. I knew I could turn to Tilly and the Button’s Agnes pattern. It is so very cute and I love the style, but I really didn’t like the idea of purchasing a pattern just to look at one pattern piece. Especially since I’d achieved such a great fit with Washington. So instead I decided to try working it out myself and if it looked terrible I would purchase Agnes.
To alter my existing pattern, first I traced out the front bodice onto some swedish tracing paper (love that stuff). Then I lowered the neckline. I knew if I started the ruching as high up as the original neckline it would look kind of odd. I think I lowered the neckline about 2 inches and re-drew the curve. Before sewing the bodice pieces together I cut a piece of 3.5 inch long 1/4 inch elastic and stitched it down the center front, pulling the elastic along the way. Worked out pretty perfectly. I also cut the neckband piece to be longer and accommodate the lower neckline. I usually forget this part, so I’m glad I actually remembered this time!
For the skirt I turned to my handy reference book Patternmaking for Fashion Design. Drafting my own patterns always makes me feel like a total badass, but this book makes drafting 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and whole circle skirts so easy. I measured the waist of the bodice and then looked at Patternmaking’s handy chart for figuring out the waist radius. The next part was the only hiccup in the whole process. The first skirt I drafted was a 3/4 circle. I wanted a lot of fullness. But it was not to be. The kitty fabric wasn’t wide enough for me to cut a knee length skirt and still have the kitties facing the right direction. So I flipped back to the chart and drafted a 1/2 circle instead. No big deal. The skirt still has a decent amount of fullness and now I won’t have to worry quite as much about accidentally flashing people if a breeze comes along and lifts my skirt.
Spin skirt spin!!! Weeeee!!!!!!!
The fabric was really nice to work with. It is thin and not terribly warm, but also didn’t curl up as much as other jerseys I’ve used. I only wish it came in more adult prints. I love the kitties, but I’m not quite sure its work appropriate. I work at an arts school, but even they might find a cat dress a little much. We’ll see. I’ll probably have to wear it at least once to see my boss and her friend get excited by the kitties!!!!!
I’ve already made another one of these bodices as a tester and it turned out so nicely that I want to add a skirt. Just need to pick out fabric and I’ll have two of these beauties. I’m also glad to have found more use for the Washington pattern. It’s nice, but also very distinctive and by switching up the neckline and skirts I’ll get a ton of use out of it.