Charlotte-y Wiggle Dress!

What comes first– the pattern or the fabric?  It’s an age-old question, really (no, it’s not)!  Me, I go to Mood Fabrics armed with a plan and a pattern every month, with a pretty decent idea of what I’m looking for, but I’m invariably assaulted by a beautiful fabric of a completely different variety and end up leaving with her!  It’s a pretty good bet that if I come in looking for gold brocade, I’m probably going to leave with fuchsia voile.  This fabric was no exception!  I had completely different plans for this month’s project, but when I saw this Nanette Lepore neon green houndstooth, what was I supposed to do?  Leave the gal behind?  No way, Jose!

The drawback to buying fabric on a whim is that it often takes me a while to decide what I want to make!  I had my heart set on a little romper or two-piece playsuit, but finally talked myself out of that when I realized it would literally NEVER step outside my closet.  So then I settled on By Hand London‘s Charlotte skirt for its suuuuper wiggle-a-bility.  But then I thought about how much fabric I would have left over, so I decided to make a peplum top, too!  Fun, right?  Only, I dug through my notions and I only had a 22″ zipper that matched, and that was enough rationale for me to make a dress instead of separates.  This seems RIDICULOUS now that I think about it, but let’s move on.  So, I opted for the Charlotte skirt bottom, with the peplum, and I added the bodice from Vogue V8511 (OOP), which I’ve made once before, which is KIND of like a skirt with a peplum top.

This became one of those projects that I couldn’t stop tinkering with!  I fitted the skirt like a glove and felt super hot until I figured out that I couldn’t sit down in it!  Whooooooops!  Obviously I should have realized that if I wanted a REALLY wiggly skirt, I should’ve followed BHL’s recommendations and used a fabric with stretch.  I have to admit that it took two days of contemplation before I let out the seams!  I kept thinking through scenarios in which I could wear this dress and not have to sit or climb stairs (cocktail party!).  But these scenarios all ended in my mind with me toddling around on heels, trying to get into a cab at the end of the night without sitting down– disaster!  So the seam ripper was the only way to go, so I resewed the side seams with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Sadly, then I felt really frumpy, so I took it in a bit more between the hips and the waist.  But then I STILL felt frumpy, so I took it in from mid-thigh to hem, leaving the extra room I needed in the seat area intact.  THEN I fidgeted with the length, pressing up and down different hem lengths.  Crazy!

The dress is fully lined with rayon bemberg, which feels awesome!  I hemmed it with rayon seam binding, which was really fun to use.  I love the pink paired with neon green– it makes me feel like a secret watermelon (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?).  It’s not very subtle, but then again there’s nothing subtle about this dress!  I laughed because when my mother-in-law saw this dress, she remarked that it looked like a dress one of her Barbies had when she was a little girl (only Barbie’s dress was a classic white).  I do feel a bit like a Barbie doll or something in this dress– it’s not a very serious outfit.  But it’s fun to wear.  If I made this again, or just the skirt, I would take some of the volume out of the peplum and lengthen it so it hits a little lower on the hips to sort of fake an hourglass figure more.  As it is, it makes me feel kind of thick around the waist, which isn’t really the goal.  But I love this fabric so much!  It’s unusual and really fun to wear.

Now I want to know– when you’re sewing, do you choose the pattern first, or the fabric?  Are you seduced into impulse purchases, or do you stick to your plan in the fabric store?  Be honest!

137 responses

    • Thanks, Amy! That’s a good approach. I’m definitely starting with fabric first much more these days, since if I’m not sewing for the Mood Network, I’m making a conscious effort to use my stash.


    • Thanks, Stephanie! I do the same, mainly because I have way more plans than time! I really WANT to stick with all my plans, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day!


  1. I’ve just started sewing modern clothes (before it was a lot of boning and historical patterns and stuff like that) so my knits/light cottons are bought for projects which I make and then I buy more. I am seduced by impulse buys but I also am really frugal and I use what I have.

    Great modern wiggle!


    • Oooh, interesting! I’m pretty sure I’ve only really seen your more modern projects! I’ll have to go back through your blog and look for the historical projects! So cool!


  2. this color is very you! you’re rocking it! i love the gathered peplum, it’s so fun.

    i’m a pattern first kind of girl. sometimes i buy fabric without a pattern in mind but then i always find that i didn’t buy enough for whatever project i want to use it with later.


    • Thanks, Dixie! I’m so into bright colors– I should probably tone it down a little!

      I’d be a pattern first girl, too, if I’d drafted as many awesome patterns as you have! 😀


  3. Super cute! Good thing you did all that fiddling, because you turned out a great look.
    As for the question… I do both. I have something like 4 yds of white/aqua pique that I don’t know what to do with but couldn’t pass up (and it was on sale!). But a lot of times I go in with a pattern and look specifically for it.


  4. Ooh, Love this dress! Very classy, in a neon green kind of way. I used to buy fabric first, which is why I have such a huge stash. I have been through a phase of going out to buy fabric to go with a specific pattern but by the time I got it home I’d usually decided to use it for something else. Now I am trying to sew through my stash and match the fabric I already have to patterns that I already have, although I am still way too easily seduced by new patterns even if I have nothing in my stash to make them with.


  5. Wow this looks amazing on you! I love the peplum, so fun! When it comes to buying fabric, I am a bit of an impulse shopper. I really need to learn to walk away and think about it!


  6. Yes, all of the above. Sometimes I have a plan and stick to it but mostly I buy fabric and patterns separately and hope some of them get along together.


  7. I love this! It’s so much fun and the peplum (and the minty green color) is really cute on you! The finishing details are beautiful too! When it comes to the pattern vs fabric first debate… sometimes I pick the pattern first, and sometimes the fabric. Oftentimes the fabric. There aren’t really any fashion fabric stores where I live so I usually don’t make too many spur of the moment fabric purchases in store, but I do get tempted by a lot of fabric stores online! Online fabric shopping (and window shopping) is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, haha! 🙂


  8. Pingback: Top 5 of 2013: Hits & Misses! | Ginger Makes...

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