Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sewing Project: Ombré Dress

My last few sewing projects with commercial patterns have gone pretty well (a wrap dress for me, and a few dresses for AB) but I've also had some luck (both good and bad!) with making my own designs. Last week, I ordered some amazing pink and grey ombré jersey from Girl Charlee:

Sorry, you can't get your own, they're already sold out! I was happy to get even one yard. I decided to use some black jersey I had in my stash to supplement, and make myself a dress, using my own design. I'm so pleased with my results!

It was 52 and sunny the day I started sewing this up. The day I finished it (the next day) it was 30 and snowing. No fair!

The dress has a bit of a dropped waist (too much Downton Abbey lately!), a sort of fishtail/mermaid skirt, and a side-ruching detail. I call this dress "easy" because it's only two pieces, a top and a skirt. The side detail gives a lot of impact with very little effort.


The ombré on this knit runs selvedge to selvedge (meaning that the stretch of the fabric is perpendicular to the design). I knew that before ordering, but it was still somewhat of a challenge. I decided to keep it simple and was inspired by a dress I'd see from Anthropologie:

I made a simple tube top with an elastic casing at the top. For the width, I used the full yard and only sewed one seam in the center back. I cut the length of the fabric so that the darkest part of the ombré would hit at about where I wanted the black skirt to be attached.

The skirt is loosely adapted from Simplicity 1695. I say loosely, because I basically only used the shape of the curve for the high-low hem. Once I had the top and the skirt constructed, I pinned them together and then tried on the dress. I went through a few different looks, before I decided to turn the long part of the skirt to the side and then pull up on the short side. I've never ruched anything before, but I figured it was worth a try for this cute mermaid-esque silhouette.

Obviously I have a future in modeling.

It turns out that ruching is just a fancy word for gathering. I loosely gathered the side by hand, again playing around and pinning until I liked the look.

I remembered that a few of my RTW maternity shirts with side-ruching were stabilized with clear elastic, so when I permanently sewed down my gathers, I did so with clear elastic.

Inside view.

Like my inspiration dress, I incorporated some simple black straps (they're actually elastic!). So my stitches wouldn't show on the outside, I sewed them on before folding down the casing.

I'm always concerned with being able to nurse AB while wearing a dress, and these elastic straps (combined with the elastic casing) are perfect for breastfeeding access.

I love that this dress could easily go to the pool as a cover-up, or could be dressed up with some chunky jewelry and nicer shoes. It's perfect for summer...if only spring would get here first!


  1. What a great dress! I especially liked how you took nursing into account. I wish I had started to sew before I had my kids; it would have made finding maternity and nursing clothes so much easier, I think.

  2. Hi Cat! Yes, definitely, being able to sew your own clothes is really useful for nursing. I started sewing after my daughter was born, if I have any more children I'll be sooo happy to save money making my own maternity clothes.


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