If there’s one thing I’ve learned from innumerable wardrobe analyses and all that, it’s that I. Am. Boring. That’s OK. My inner self has come to peace with it.
Don’t try to fight it, my inner self says. Your colorful blouses and shiny dresses will only get worn so often, especially when all those navy and ivory and gray and beige fabrics are sitting in your stash, and furthermore, your not-terribly-well-fitting navy linen dress will get work as soon as it’s out of the wash.
This project was born of two passions:
- An insatiable desire for cotton and linen in summertime in Washington, D.C.;
- A head-over-heels reaction to a dress on Colette Patterns’ blog using Robert Kaufman’s Brussels washer linen, a rayon-linen blend.
My initial plan was to use the exact seafoam-green linen that Colette used in their blog post; that shade is right up my alley. But when I came to think about it, navy seemed so much more work-appropriate. Plus I knew it’d hide the wrinkles a bit better. That matters in a world in which I don’t …. really … iron my clothes.The pattern on this workplace warrior is McCall’s 6503, and I have to say, all my fears about this pattern were apt. I looked around on the Internet a lot, and I worried that this pattern had a huge fluffy bust, a huge fluffy skirt, and a general 1950s housewifely air. None of those is bad, but they’re also not me.
So I took steps. The gathered bodice front was cut down along the side seams to match the smallest size (6, rather than my usual 12). The dirndl skirt was ditched in favor of my beloved pleated A-line. And I just hoped that the conservative navy linen would look less “housewife” than “boring desk jockey.” The latter being, uh, preferable. I guess.
This mostly worked. This fabric came together beautifully for the placket and wee mandarin collar. But when it came to the waistband, that nice loose weave grew and grew and grew and grew. I faced the waist with cotton voile left over from one of those colorful blouses that doesn’t get worn enough, and that was the only way I had to measure how much the waistband stretched out. In the end, I cheated as much as I could with seam allowances to get the damn thing to fit, but the lesson is clear: Interface the linen, not the cotton facing.
Luckily, the weight and drape of this fabric helps it hang against my frame, instead of fluffing up around me. (I can’t imagine what it would look like on me in a cotton poplin. Of course, a cotton poplin probably wouldn’t have stretched out of shape.)
As you can see, this is not a close-fitted dress after all that. But I find I enjoy a little bit of room on the hottest of days around here.
Everything came together nicely in the bodice, though. The placket was surprisingly pleasant to make; I ignored the instructions to make it functional and merely topstitched it closed. I like the look of it with no buttons.
I did see some complaints that the pattern requires a lot of hand-stitching. Because I am lazy and have no pride, I found a solution to this: I read through the instructions and mentally replaced the word “slipstitch” with “topstitch.”Ironically, it seems to me that this dress achieves the functional-utilitarian-feminine vibe that I was going for in my failed 1940s shirtdress. So next time … try less hard. Got it.
Fabric: 2 yards 55″ Robert Kaufman Brussels washer linen, $14 from Fabric.com
Pattern: McCall’s 6503, size 12, with volume removed from bodice front and with self-“drafted” a-line skirt