Shouting in Zig Zags

I made this dress almost two years ago, and promptly forgot to blog about it. Actually, what happened is that I forgot that I had forgotten to blog about it, and just assumed it was here until I made the My Projects page a few weeks ago and realized that this, one of my favorite makes, was nowhere to be found. So without further ado, I give you the purple zig zag dress, with bonus hair circa 2 years ago.


That hair! So short! So manageable…. makes me want to cut mine all off again and start over…

My sewing projects determine themselves in different ways. Sometimes I’m at a fabric store looking for something totally unrelated and I stumble upon something inspiring that ends up diverting my attention until completion. Sometimes something in the world inspires me to Do The Thing, and then I wait patiently* for the fabric to fall into my lap.

*sometimes not so patiently.

This was a little bit the latter, except rather than the fabric falling into my lap, it sort of…shouted at me from under a pile of its brethren. Quite forcefully, actually.

The shape of this dress (or more accurately, the style/neckline/tied shoulders thing) came from an Etsy listing for a vintage dress that I found on Pinterest ages ago. Like, back when Pinterest first started being a thing.


Although it’s long been sold, this is the etsy shop it came from. All photo creds on this to that etsy shop and seller, of course.

Check out that piping detail at the waist! I wasn’t really feeling the fabric of the original, although I did really like the gathered skirt. Sometimes the fabric has other plans, though…

The shouty fabric with its own plans announced its intentions in the form of a batik-style print at Hancock’s of Paducah in Kentucky. Mom and I have tried to make a yearly pilgrimage to the National Quilt Museum in the same town, although that’s going to prove difficult the longer I stay in New Zealand. After perusing the quilts for a few hours, we usually get lunch and commiserate over how inadequate the quilts make us feel but also how many quilts we want to make, and then wander around in a fabric store or two until we feel inspired. Hancock’s of Paducah happened to have a lovely table full of sale fabrics, and this one proclaimed loudly from across the room that it wanted to be that dress from Pinterest. There it was, like it had to and was always going to be. Sometimes I start with a plan that’s kind of fuzzy and I’m usually pretty happy with whatever surprising thing comes out the other end, but with this dress I knew exactly what was going on from minute one.


Princess seam matching lookin’ pretty good here! Close enough, anyways.

Usually when I’m winging it with the self drafts, I start with the bodice and then deal with the skirt using whatever’s left over. Not exactly a highly scientific method, but it works so long as you can estimate how much fabric to buy in the first place. This time, however, the fabric had other plans. I separated off some fabric for a just-above-the-knee skirt, and box pleated my giant rectangle into beautiful, zig-zag-matching submission. I dropped the waistline a few inches from the inspiration dress so that the pleats would start at the widest part of my hip, which keeps the flaring out to a minimum when I’m standing still, thus increasing the kick and twirl factor.


My old pattern weights! Not a thing you take when you’re deciding what to move across the country… not when checked bags have a weight limit.

For the bodice, I hacked into my existing princess-seamed dress block, added a teensy bit of ease for lining purposes, and messed with the neckline until I was happy. I got the zig zags mostly matched up on the bodice – at least as much as one can with princess seams. I also spent way too much time thinking about the vertical color progression – see how the blue starts again at the bottom of the bodice, and matches with the color at the top of the skirt?  Yeah, I’d like to say it didn’t take a painful amount of fussing to make that happen but I’d be a lying liar if I told you that. I cut a little piece of scrap for the piping at the waist, and made the shoulder ties per my original inspiration. The bodice is fully lined with black kona cotton, mostly for neatness because the dress fabric is opaque enough that the skirt didn’t need to be lined.


*perfecting that picnic table lean*

There’s a lapped zipper in the side seam, which it seems I’ve forgotten to take a photo of. It’s a very close matching purple that I rescued (along with 200 or so of its compatriots) from the dumpster behind the theatre department at the end of my senior year of high school. Who throws away zippers?? Almost none of them were invisible, but that’s alright. Free zippers to infinity, and all in suitably weird colors.


I love sewing with fabrics whose color intensity messes with the image sensor in my camera…

This dress has a habit of getting people to step aside. I guess it’s shouting at them as much as the original fabric shouted at me… That or they’re overwhelmed by the technicolor hair-and-dress combo.


Hello, pleats!

I have a history of making dresses that don’t take into account my need for a bra, and this lovely darling was no exception. Up until recently I had a bra with matching purple straps that was close enough – especially since I usually wear this dress with a light scarf or cardi. Now, though, that bra has been sacrificed to the great trash can in the sky so I need to come up with a new plan. Amy at Cloth Habit has some old musings on strapless bras, so I might have a go at that next – it would certainly open up some new possibilities!


2 thoughts on “Shouting in Zig Zags

  1. Merry Pinbender says:

    Hhelloo Kat,
    Meowza! What a fantabulous dress! It’s so…blue and then it’s so purpinkand oooohh.
    All’s I can say is you and Oona B. Ya know what I mean?
    Matching screaming seams an all. OH, and the Hair! Damn girl I’m lucky if my socks match, now we gonna do the ‘do too?

    As for propin the top; run with that longline idea. Those skinny band strapless types only work if ya don’t move. When we triplet letter gals get hoppin, the skimpy band goes a floppin!
    True story; when we were shopping for the appropriate lingerie for my cousins wedding dress and my bridesmaids dress I tried one on. It didn’t feel very secure and I said so to the shop owner who was fitting us but she assured me it fit properly. ( I was barely 20 and somewhat intimidated. She was the expert right? ) My family all said It would be alright, probably. I was thinking this won’t hold up very long. By this point we had the store to ourselves. I decided a test was in order. So I stood up on my tiptoes then dropped flat on my heels. Boom! the bra just flipped over, a complete one eighty, cups to navel. My Aunt, my mom and my cousins just fell on the floor laughing. My cousin said “do it again!” The expert was not amused.
    We special ordered my first merry widow.
    It’s been the sturdiness test
    ever since.;-) and I can still crack my cousin up if I just do the heel drop.
    Keep on listening to the talking fabric. I won’t tell anyone. Promise.
    ♡ya, Merry

    • Kat says:

      Haha Merry! Your comment made me laugh out loud so many times!! What a story! Your patented heel drop sturdiness test definitely sounds like the way to go for all future bra stability tests, and I am definitely keeping the longline in mind! And since I feel like being compared to Oona might be one of the highest forms of praise I’ve yet encountered, ohmygoshthankyousomuch!!!! That made my day! Possibly my week! ❤

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