One of the things I've been looking for for a long time is my jersey dress. I didn't think I was asking for much: a pullover, short-sleeved dress, fitted at the top with an above-the-knee skirt that neither clung nor floofed. (Floofed is a word now.) And yet over the past two years I've tried several and none of them have been right. Three were so awful they never even made it to the blog - one was quite recent, and I'm still trying to persuade myself to put it on and get a couple of photos in order to warn people - and all the others had something wrong. The Moneta neckline was too big, the Wren was just kind of a terrible pattern, the Anna didn't hold up as well in jersey as I wanted it to, Simplicity 1653 isn't secure enough at the bust for me to dance in. I'd basically given up on finding one.
Lately I've been drawn to pictures of women wearing T-shirt dresses. I love how relaxed and casual but also pulled together it looks, how perfect for summer it is with sandals and a sunhat. I've been staring at photos and pattern envelopes enviously, knowing in my heart of hearts that it wouldn't look that way on me. T-shirt dresses are straight up and down, so they either fit me at the waist but cling to my stomach (my least favourite thing) or they hang straight down from my boobs and make me look shapeless (my second least favourite thing).
Much to my amazement, I think I've found answers to both these problems in one dress.
I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS. Both the dress and São Tiago Fort, which is absolutely stunning. I insisted on spending quite a long time in there and rather got on Patrick's nerves. Oops. Happy anniversary, love.
The dress is Vogue 9199, one of the Very Easy patterns, and I bought it in a half-price flash sale a few months ago with no real excitement or expectation. The envelope only shows illustrations and I couldn't find a single blogger who'd done a pattern review on it. So it sat there for a little while until one crazy hot day in June when I suddenly decided that the stripy jersey I'd bought for a second attempt at a Bowline sweater really wanted to be a casual T-shirt type dress instead.
After I'd cut out the front piece, I realised that I was making a princess-seamed dress out of stripy fabric, and that may not have been the best idea. I did my best and managed to get both the skirt and the sleeves matching up decently, but the bust is way off. It's only a casual dress and they'd never bother pattern matching in RTW, so it doesn't bug me too much.
Apart from the pattern matching, this dress is one of the quickest makes I've done in a long time. I cut it and pinned it one evening, then sewed it up in an hour the next morning. I cut a 14 in the shoulders grading out to an 18 at the hips, which seems to have worked perfectly. I made two changes - adding a neckband out of the self fabric instead of the purchased bias tape recommended, and shortening the sleeves by a couple of centimetres. The skirt comes up slightly shorter than the illustration, but not so short that I can't wear my anti-chub rub shorts underneath.
This dress taps into a style that I normally think of as off-limits to me. T-shirt dresses are for skinny girls, casual yet effortlessly put together is for people much less naturally scruffy than me, etc. But this looks great, and frankly I am tickled pink to know that I can pull this off. It's not that I'm going to remodel my whole style around this, but knowing that I can look good in it and make it work for my body is tremendously satisfying. And encouraging, for next time I want to try something outside my normal wheelhouse.
I'm hopeful that this will become a TNT, and I'm going to make another one in a solid to see how it works out. I really like the idea of a casual little black dress, and so you'll be seeing that in about 2035 when I finally find some goddamn good quality black jersey.
(Possibly the reason I liked this fort so much is because there's hardly anybody there and you can just climb all over it, meaning I am able to stand between the battlements of a 17th-century fort overlooking the sea, posing in my handmade T-shirt dress, while my reluctant boyfriend takes pictures. I AM SO SMUG. IT'S GREAT.)