Looking a little more towards autumn, I thought a denim chambray dress would work out well. Early fall I can pair it easily with ballet flats or heels. Late fall it would look cute with colored leggings and boots. All around it should be a dress that I get a lot of use out of even to work.
This should be the dress that almost didn’t happen. It seems like it was destined to be plagued with difficulties. I had planned this for the end of July for the pattern stash contest. The knit dress I made in July took longer than I had planned for, so I didn’t start this dress until August.
First night was tracing the pattern and ironing out the denim chambray. There was a complication with the ironing; it was Lala. Somehow, he felt that he had to sit in the middle of the fabric and dig it up. Definitely not getting the wrinkles out. I kept telling the bunny that he has to smooth out the wrinkle not put more of them in. Lala was just not into getting wrinkles out no matter what I did.
I traced out a 14 in the bust and shoulders then graded out to a 16 at the waist and hips. This time I resisted the urge to grade out further in the hips. I looked at the finished measurement of the hem and saw 51 ½ inches there for the 16. I figured the hip measurement couldn’t be too far from 50 inches. The pattern diagram didn’t really show too much flare at the bottom. I am happy with keeping a size 16 down to the hem and that was with trimming off about 2 inches and doing a 2 inch hem.
As always I strayed from the instructions order a little bit, so on the second night of working on my dress I did all the stay stitching, bust darts, and shoulder seams together. The following night I set in the sleeves and pockets. Since I was working with chambray, I decided it was best to flat set in the sleeves before closing up the side seams. I wasn’t sure if the chambray would be as easy to set when the side seam were finished. The button placket was very easy to put on the front.
Now it was time for the closure. It was a tough decision between snap or buttons. But I decided to use buttons. First off, I didn’t want to type cast my dress as a western as snaps probably would have. Most importantly, I thought the pounding in the snaps would upset Lala. I didn’t need him running through the house thumping a warning of danger. When a friend popped a party balloon by accident, it took two hours for the rabbit to stop thumping danger warnings and running around the house in a panic.
So I brought buttons one weekend then decided I didn’t like them. Another trip to the fabric store and I got buttons I liked. Then I came down with pink eye. So button holes were just too much detail work when I was sick. I like to do all my button holes in one sitting if possible. I decided to make a maxi skirt instead. Then after feeling better I decided to keep to a simpler project and made the Tilly & the Buttons’ Coco dress. Finally after two weeks of delay, I come back to finish off this dress. My little Pfaff Ambition made perfect button holes for this dress (all 12, never had to pick one out). Machine sewing the buttons was a different story. Two buttons broke and I didn’t have extra buttons. The local fabric store didn’t have the ones I had purchased. I wasn’t going to take the 8 buttons off and replace them with something different. So I had to wait until Labor day weekend and try at a different fabric store. I was able to get more buttons like the ones I had! So this got finished after Labor day.
My second hard decision with this dress was the sleeve length. Summers in Kansas can be way too hot and humid. Heat index becomes the weather person’s catch phrase. And it can be like this up until October. So part of me felt that the wiser decision would be the short sleeves which means I may get to wear the shirt dress more. But I really like the look of the ¾ length sleeve which means it will probably be limited to the autumn and spring times.
In future versions (if that happens), I may look at changing the arm scythe slightly. It fits well, but certain movements make the sleeve feel restrictive. I think this is because the denim chambray doesn’t have stretch. The pattern may be perfect in a shirt style woven cotton with some stretch?
I did a quick google shopping search to see if there were any chambray dresses similar to what I made. I did find a couple and the price varied from $99 to $300. I did my search back in the beginning of August when I started my dress, so most likely the dresses have come down in price since then. I was able to make my dress for $40 in materials.