At First Sight

One mid-January evening in 2012, I was at the fabric store in search of flannel for a baby blanket and I found a bright, bold bolt of fabric that simply couldn’t be left behind. So many times, I see a fabric that I would love for a dress but it is a quilting fabric and simply won’t give the drape that I want. This fabric was bright, bold and had a lovely drape. I knew that I would commit a personal sewing sin: I would buy 3 yards of fabric that I would use ‘someday.’ At that point, I knew I wasn’t ready to cut into that fabric. I needed to wait until I was more sure of my skills and my ability to fit a pattern and get an invisible zipper successfully hidden in a seam. It took me about 9 months to get around to turning that fabric into a dress. In between, I had a blooper dress and a series of projects made from a pile of scrap fabrics. Each project (even the blooper) helped me hone the skills that I needed and gain the confidence to cut into that beautiful fabric.

After completing those practice projects, it was time to find a pattern for this bright, bold fabric. I’ve heard the small pattern prints should be used for small styles (fitted skirts and sheath dresses) and large pattern prints should be used for larger styles (billowing skirts, tent dresses etc). I envisioned a low-cut, A-line dress with a knee-length, full skirt. Eventually I found Butterick 5490. This dress has a lovely v-neck and pleats that use extra fabric to create a loose drape in the skirt.

Of course, I didn’t just cut right into my fashion fabric. I started out by sewing up a practice bodice using an old sheet. I made a few alterations on that piece before (finally) cutting into the fashion fabric.


The pattern requires topstitching on the bodice. I wasn’t sure what thread color to pick because there are so many bold colors in the fabric. I settled on a cream colored thread.



As ever, I lined the dress.

The final result has been a fun dress (great for swing dancing). I still need to find a necklace the works with this dress. My chest feels empty in this deep v-neck. The dress is already so busy that it’s been hard to find a necklace that complements the pattern (suggestions are welcome).

The swoosh of the skirt is great for dancing. Photo taken by Kristin Schultz of

The swoosh of the skirt is great for dancing. Photo taken by Kristin Schultz of

I have learned that I prefer styles that lengthen my bodice: this type of bodice (broken into two horizontal pieces) is probably best on someone who has a longer upper body and larger bust.

That said, I really enjoy wearing this dress. My takeaway from this project: I will purchase a fabric for someday if I absolutely love it at first sight. I won’t buy a someday fabric because it’s on sale, because I like it on reflection, or because it might work for a project that I might do someday. If I love it the moment that it catches my eye then I will purchase and hold onto it until I find the perfect pattern.

Photo taken by Kristin Schultz of

Yes, I always get dressed up and then ride on a zip line. Photo taken by Kristin Schultz of


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