I know, I know, back so soon and with another dress! If pirate treasure map prints aren’t your thing, how about dancing bunnies?
I’ve named this dress after the 1948 film Easter Parade, featuring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, because that just seemed like the right thing to do with fabric featuring dancing bunnies and carrots, right? It’s another version of the same 40s pattern I’ve used for my last two dresses. Lots of people went gaga over this fabric on Instagram, it’s a Japanese cotton I picked up on Etsy and it’s amazing, I completely agree. However, when it arrived awhile ago I was surprised that it was pretty stiff! Like, on its way to being drapery fabric. (If one wanted drapes with dancing bunnies, I suppose.)
I was more than a little skeptical about using it for a dress as I’d originally intended, but oh man, it sooo needed to be a dress. It couldn’t get more vintage novelty kitsch than bunnies dancing around with carrots! And thus I forged ahead.
So here are a few tips for using a-little-too-heavy fabric for a dress:
- Make sure the pattern you’re sewing fits you well. A blousy bodice and stiff fabric are not a happy combination! Go for a fitted bodice with darts. By the same token, it’s probably best to avoid collars, too because that’s going to get bulky really quickly.
- Don’t go too full on the skirt. I was tempted to do a dirndl (i.e. a fully gathered skirt), but realized that’s a lot of bulk at the waistline seam (or in my case, waistband). Likewise, don’t pick a skirt that wants to naturally swish about, like an 8-gore or circle skirt. Because it won’t swish. 4 or 6-gores, a structured tulip skirt, or a slightly gathered skirt like I used would be better choices.
- Cut down bulk everywhere you can. I used a contrasting medium-weight green cotton (which was lighter than my fashion fabric) to trim the neckline instead of facings. I also used it for the inseam pocket pieces and the inner waistband piece. I also didn’t interface the waistband.
And the result was success, even in action, acting like a jackass and climbing a log.
This is actually the same neckline as my Cliffs of Insanity dress, but since I didn’t use neckline facings, it’s a little tighter. (Honestly any smaller and I couldn’t fit my noggin in!)
Like I mentioned, I made bias tape for the neckline from the same contrast fabric I used for the inseam pocket, and I also top-stitched both the neckline and cut-on sleeves to keep things extra flat. (The fabric, which heavy, pressed well but I’m not sure how that will hold up in the wash.)
I went with a contrasting pocket because of the stiffness of the main fabric, but it looks cute, too!
You can see I lined up the bunnies on the center front of the bodice and the skirt (err, a tad off on the skirt sorry). You may also be able to see that every other row of paired bunnies is upside down. Now, did you notice that the bunnies at the center front of the bodice are upright, and the bunnies at the center front of the skirt are upside down? Neither did I, until I was looking at this photo. HA.
But who cares because I cut the waistband on the cross grain so I could center the diamonds, which is an added touch that I love even more than bunnies going in the opposite directions!
I sometimes think I pick a lot of photos that look a bit serious, but I swear, I spend much more of my life like the below photo than anything else. I’m all smiles and awkward faces and gestures. If you’ve met me in person, you know this to be fact!
Actually, when we took these photos it was nice enough out that I could walk around without my coat or cardigan for a little while, which was amazing. Although just like our last photoshoot location, you can make out ice in the background! It’s definitely still early spring.
And it was muddy enough to require wellies in the woods. They’re pretty clean here but they were caked in mud by the end of our hike. Ironically we used a pile of melting icy snow to clean off our shoes.
All in all I’m tickled pink with this dress. I’m in love with the fabric and so happy that with careful thinking, I was able to turn something that was an arguably questionable fabric choice for apparel into a real winner.
1940s dress: made by me
cardigan: made by me (Olivette pattern on Ravelry)
jacket: made by me
bow earrings: Kate Spade
vintage cocktail ring: Vintage Garage Flea Market
purse: Dooney & Bourke