Thursday, 2 June 2011

(Im)perfect Summer Dress

This week's sewing was trumped by house cleaning for the first time in a while.  My man was leaving town for a few weeks and my parents were coming to help pick up the slack on those days when I get stuck late at work.  I also have to prepare a 20 min. talk for the Center for Host-Parasite Interaction Conference next week.  And I need to get some more data for said conference talk.  And I may have to go to Michigan for a training session.  Whew.

The Sew Weekly theme this time around was a fairly loosey-goosey "Perfect Summer Dress".  You would think that between the two '40s dresses I have hanging up almost completed, the '60s linen shift I have cut out and the caftan I've already marked, I would be able to whip something up in a couple of hours.  But nothing seemed to catch my fancy.  Then I read Mena's post on xoJane about making the Sassy Magazine Pillow Case dress from 1992.  If you were a teen or young adult in the '90s, you probably loved Sassy.  Like I did:

(Yeah, that's me back in 1993 reading Sassy.  Sorry for the crap photo-of-a-photo, 
but I don't have a scanner anymore.)  

Now Jane Pratt has launched xoJane, and if you haven't seen it yet, go look now.  Go on; I'll wait until you get back.

And so I was suddenly gripped with the urge to make a pillowcase dress too.  I had a big blue batik pillowcase from Value Village that would probably work.  I should mention that I have a weird affinity for anything blue and batik.  I don't know why.  Here are a few shots from around my house, but believe me, there is more evidence of my strange obsession around here somewhere:

Tablecloth from India that I use as a sofa cover

Duvet cover

Detail of a jacket I bought 8 years ago in Saigon, in a great shop called Sapa Fashions.  They use tribal textile scraps to embellish modern pieces.  I also have a red silk skirt with silver bells and Hmong embroidery on the hem that I bought at this shop.  

This is a length of printed fabric that I got in South Africa a few years ago that I turned into a wall hanging for my daughter's room.

See what I mean?  I must have had some kind of indigo batik bed cover as a kid, and it has crept into my subconscious as The Perfect Textile.  Anyway, back to the Sassy pillowcase dress.  I basically just took my favourite neckline and traced it onto the top of the pillowcase, traced the armholes and tilted the shoulder seams a little bit (about 30 degrees).

Then I just had to take it in a bit on the sides and finish the neck and armholes with pre-made bias tape, et voilà. Before you scroll down any further, let me warn you that it is short.  I mean the length is OK for standing up and taking a photo, but you Moms know that we spend about 75% of our time either bent over or picking something up, and like Celie, I'm not one to show off the good china anymore.  

"No Tashi, I don't want the piece of your popscicle that fell on the floor."

Lulu and Tashi both get in on the shot.

"Please don't touch Mama's camera with those sticky popscicle fingers!"

Those photos starting to delve into Beangirl territory.  So then I had to resort to my usual photo in front of the bookshelf shot that I do every week ;)

The only way I'm wearing this out in public is with leggings or my nice white linen trousers that are in the wash right now.  So I can't rightly call this "The Perfect Summer Dress"; maybe The Perfect Summer Tunic.  Hell, I'm going to post it to Sew Weekly anyway.

Yay!  I made the Sassy Pillowcase Dress from a Value Village 99cent pillowcase!  and I didn't even catch lice or gonorrhea!


  1. Too funny! Now you get a second chance to make a pillowcase outfit, this week's challenge.

    I can get into the "blue" too!

  2. I think it would look really sharp with linen trousers! Well done.

  3. Thanks you guys! I wore it around the house the other day while doing some gardening and housecleaning, but I haven't yet worn it out. I'm not sure if it's really a garment, or more of a home-ec project!! At the very least, I can consider this my muslin for next week's challenge.

  4. Dear Sewing Scientist: I have vintage danish furniture cushion covers, dark blue wool, in good shape except exposed garage dust and other unpleasants. How should I wash them so as to clean them best with the least damage? Thanks scientist!

  5. Haha! Does she still have the furniture that goes with the cushions or are they left-over from something long gone? If the latter, donate. If the former, dry clean? Or wash in the tub with cold water and a mild detergent, drip dry? Or let Ian deal with them, since he can't bear to part with anything ;)

  6. Ian wants to toss them: it's not metal, wood or electro-mechanical, ergo not interesting. They are the original slipcovers; the furniture has since been recovered. I tossed the dried up foam that was inside. I think I'll Woolite and drip dry.


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