Posted on 25 Comments

That dress

Do you remember that dress?  The one I made when reviewing Built By Wendy Dresses?  The one where I screwed up the top portion so badly that I didn’t even model it for you?  The one that has been languishing in a pile on a chair since February?  Yes, that one.

Well, I remembered it too, last night as I was drifting off to sleep, taking my ritual mental inventory of the items that need my attention this week.  The dress isn’t technically something that needs my attention this week, but you know how thoughts at midnight meander from one place to the next, until you are somewhere incomprehensibly different than where you began… (that’s not just me, is it?)

In this case, the stray thought of what to wear to a Saturday night gathering had me wondering if I had any sufficiently flattering dresses in my closet, which in turn made me think of the lump of fabric downstairs that could have been a flattering dress by now, if only I knew how to take that horrible gaping neck area and turn it into something I could wear in public.

And then it hit me.  Elastic!


The large homemade bias binding I’d put on could easily be used as a casing, and all I’d need to do is rip out the handful of stitches on each end, thread the elastic in, and close up both ends again.  Roughly 10 minutes and 30 stitches of work.  If that.

So I tried the idea today, as I found myself with some unexpected free time, and it worked!


I’m not entirely sure that I’m done fiddling with it just yet.  There’s a bit of a “frumpy” vibe that I can’t put my finger on.  I may have luck taking it in a smidge on the sides and shortening the skirt by an inch or two…  You think?   Do you see the frump factor?  I’m not sure if it’s the dress, my body, or my tendency to be my own worst critic!

At any rate, I’m glad that it was fix-able.  It’s so nice to promote a pile of sewing clutter to something wearable, I think!  (Still don’t know what to wear on Saturday night, though…)


Sign up for occasional Polka Dot Cottage news and get a coupon for 10% off your next order!

Don't worry, we won't bother you more than once or twice a month!

Posted on 25 Comments

25 thoughts on “That dress

  1. nice fix it job! I like when my mind fixes things in the night.
    Maybe something wide across the middle? I’m sure a belt with one of you gigantic buttons would look nice.
    .-= See Amanda’s latest blog post: I won! =-.

    1. I agree with the wide belt idea! That would just bring it up to date!

  2. I’d like to see a little faux-crinoline action along the hem, something like this hem treatment:

    But then, I’d also be tempted to stencil it, rip out the sides add crochet inserts, and otherwise vandalize it, then wear it with striped tights and painted Docs. So take my advice with a bag of rock salt.
    .-= See Penny’s latest blog post: Flickr Commons Shoes =-.

    1. I could totally see you doing that, too… 🙂
      I’m going for a simple, vintagey dress kind of look – the crinoline idea has merit, actually, or maybe some lace peeking out…

  3. i agree with the others that a belt would definitely funk it up a bit.

    but honestly, i love it as is and if i saw you out in it, i certainly wouldnt think ‘frump.’ i think its a great mix of classic and comfy. bravo!
    .-= See tammie’s latest blog post: Mr. Fox =-.

  4. I think the “frump” factor stems from the lack of a waist. I find that I have the same problem….find a dress I love, and love how it fits, but there is just *something* that makes it not quite flattering.

    I think Penny’s idea is a good one, adding something to the edge would help and draw the eye DOWN. Maybe find a brighter blue (like the flowers) or green (dress color) that coordinates but is BRIGHT to add at the bottom? A wide ribbon edge? Or even a creamy, wide lacy edging.

    I suggest the ribbon b/c I could also see you adding a faux-waistline higher up than your natural waist. Closer to “the girls”…the best way to describe where I see it is by the middle flower–there is one right in line with your top fingers. Then there is one above that one. THAT one. You could do a 1/2 inch ribbon and gather the dress in a bit underneath it. Finish off with a tiny bow smack in the center.

    Very cute! I’d definitely wear that to work. 🙂

    1. I actually played around with a belt/tie right where you suggest, but I found that while it worked really well when I was standing, it looked pretty bad when I sat down. I’ve accumulated some unwanted bulk (ugh!) around that area in the last few years, and it seems better camouflaged without any kind of tie there…

  5. I think it’s cute. I’d leave the waist and the length as is. But I think it would look super cute if you cut off the gathered neckline and just hem it flat, a little more open/larger than it is now.

    I think what makes it seem frumpierish is the old fashion fabric/print. In a bright solid or more modern print this would be ready for date night with one of your necklaces!

  6. Its cute, I like it just the way it is. Looks nice and natural.
    .-= See Chris’s latest blog post: May =-.

  7. it’s cute–I’d probably pair it with a wide sash or belt (or wide ribbon, if you have none of the above) in a yellow or nice green just to give it some more color. I love the hope valley fabric but I think it just needs a touch more color (could also be achieved with shoes, or a jacket).

    anyhow- nice fix!

  8. I think the dress looks quite nice. But I agree with Penny to put something to the hem. I would add some lace along the hem that coordinates with the vintage print/fabric, or you could attach it to a separate thin underskirt.

    To get some more shape you could put a small elastic or strap along what we Europeans currently call the “empire line” beneath the bust, as Karyn suggested.

    But I’d like to point to the sleeves.
    Right now they look bulky and case-like when you are standing upright. There is this diagonal line downwards from the neck along your shoulders to your arms – your shoulders seem to be hanging down and your pose looks droopy. That also makes your arms look bigger than they actually are. (In the first picture it looks a lot more flattering when you are moving around).
    I guess the problem here is the cotton fabric, it just doesn’t flow along your body as a thin knit/jersey would do. Fix it!
    I’d suggest adding some elastic to the hem of the sleeves, to make it look cute & puffy and to avoid the droopy & bulky, kind of negative drape…

    And please don’t shorten it! With the current length you can move around comfortably without the akward glimpses if you are showing too much while getting out of the car etc.

    In short: great fabric, great length, just needs some shaping in the upper part to bring the best out 🙂

    1. Great ideas – thank you! I was considering putting elastic in the sleeves even before you said anything, but now I am definitely going to do it.

  9. Here’s exactly what I mean:
    Above the photo or drawing are two purple buttons: “Modestrecke” to see the photo, and then “Technische Zeichnung” to see the technical drawing.
    I sewed that dress for myself, and during the process it looked identical to yours. Somehow shapeless and frumpy.
    But now, with the shaping and gathering finished, it is one of my all-time favourite summer dresses 🙂

  10. I agree with Verena, please don’t shorten. Also, I agree the frump is coming from the sleeves. I, imo, would just add about an inch or two of elastic in the middle of the sleep. It would give it an edgy shape. I would also add some of your fabulous buttons to each sleeve where the elastic would go. Then call it a day. I’m saying no belt as I think overall the shape is very flattering to you. Just my opinion. Very cute as is, even.

  11. What a great job! And I love that fabric! I think that a more gathered waist would be quite nice. A belt has been mentioned and I think that would definitely give more structure to the dress. But I wouldn’t go for a wide one. And definitely made out of the dress fabric. I quite like the ends of belts/straps(?) hanging on the side, from the knot/bow (if you know what I mean…). But anyway I think that it looks completely wearable and why not for your evening out?
    .-= See Barbara’s latest blog post: 40! =-.

  12. Good on ya! But I think you need to do a bit more. Look at the picture where you are wearing the dress, and imagine a LOWER neckline, perhaps an (almost) V line even? Can you see what I see? A dress to make your husband swoon over you 😉
    .-= See Rose from FineCraftGuild dot com’s latest blog post: Annual World Peace Art Competition =-.

  13. Oooo very pretty. I love the dress! Frump factor…hmmm..maybe a bit of something to decorate the waistline? Just a simple ribbon edging it? I think it’s lovely and simple as it is and could see it being work, quite happily, with a white cardigan!

  14. Thank you, everybody, for the fantastic ideas! I have a lot to percolate on now 🙂

  15. I don’t see frump at all with the dress, but perhaps one of your funkier necklaces would be better. The vintage-like print AND pearls are probably what is creating the frump idea with you.

    Also, I am shocked that the same woman who has made so many Simplicity 3835 tops & dresses (also by Wendy) did not realize this solution sooner than this. 😉

    But hey, it’s happened to me too. We’re just too aware of the problem to see the simplest solutions. I love the dress, it looks great and I see it with a big statement necklace and you have loads to pick from, right?
    .-= See lsaspacey’s latest blog post: Atonement Dress in Real Life =-.

  16. Awesome job! how about adding 5 pleats at the neckline!

  17. I think isaspacy nailed it. The pearl necklace and dress (fabric choice) combo may date it. Even before I saw her comment I was thinking it needed some big faboo necklace. One that you make!

    (I’m with you on belts. They look fine standing like a mannequin, but oh dear when I sit!


  18. When I see this dress I instantly think of Betty Draper on Mad Men. I love it! What a clever fix for the neckline. I say take it in a smidge to define your waist a bit more and leave it alone.

    1. That’s the kind of old-fashioned look I was going for. I’ve been losing a few pounds since that picture was taken, so taking the dress in may be necessary, anyway! Thanks for the feedback.

  19. I often find that the frump factor can be erased with a cute cardigan and the right shoes… but I do understand that since it’s after tem pm here in Chattanooga and still well over 97 degrees that it might also be hot where you are.. so the cardigan idea might not be the most inspired.. sorry!


    1. I think you’re probably very right about that! It’s been too hot to think cardigan these last few months, but late September or Early October should be perfect for adding a cute sweater and high-heeled mary janes.

Leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.