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!
And hey, look what else came out to play in the sun! It’s my project from the first Sew for Victory, my wool battle jacket.
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
Oh man, that fabric is too cute! Lovely dress, and very good sewing tips 🙂 Very happy to see the Victory-jacket again, I love it and wanted to make my own for the 2.0 sewalong. Had some pattern issues, but I will eventually sew it up. But tell me; are you growing out your bob? We haven’t seen it much lately :/ You look great either way 😉
Thanks! Hopefully you’ll work out your pattern issues. I would like to make a much lighter version but I fear I’d need a smaller size and just not sure I want to tackle that. lol
I am growing out my hair, yep. Love the bob; turns out I love it more on other heads. 🙂
That fabric… Ahhhhhhh LOVE IT!!! And the dress is lovely too. All round loveliness! Lx
Lauren of Rosie Wednesday says
You are on a roll!
Thanks Lauren, it feels great! 🙂
Lady Stitcher says
Gorgeous dress! That fabric is fabulous, love those little bunnies!
Each one of these dresses is more beautiful than the last, and that’s saying a lot Tasha! Your bunny fabric is so cool and I think your pattern placement (especially for the waistband) is really inspired. The other detail I’m totally smitten with in this version is the way you’ve gathered your skirt…more at the sides and hardly at all at the front. I think this adds such an interesting detail and is ridiculously flattering!
Also, on the goofy face/gestures front…I’m exactly the same. In ‘real’ life I’m stupidly animated – my face does all kinds of weird things, I smile like crazy and my hands/arms are all over the place. But I always feel more self-conscious in front of the camera and I hate seeing my smiling chipmunk face, so my photos come out more sullen than I am in real life. But anyway, your photos and backdrops are always fantastic my dear!
Awww, thank you Marie! <3 I'm loving this style of skirt best of anything I've been wearing or sewn lately. It's the original skirt to the pattern and I think it's genius just to gather it at the sides with the flat front, especially because it's that front bit that always seems to go wonky when you do patch pockets! It's like an A-line but without the occasional "omg why does my skirt not match my bodice (or waistband)?!" issues that at least I personally have sometimes. ;P
And I'm glad I'm in good company on the faces and gestures. When I ever get to meet you in person we'll take care not to knock each other out with all our arm and hand flailings! 😉
Rochelle New says
CUTEST DRESS EVER!!!!! Can I just say that I love your adorable awkward faces that you make in real life 😉
Ha ha, I’m glad! 😉
Can I just say how happy seeing a dancing bunnies dress makes me? I’m so coveting that print and I would want to make a million things out of it! I think you’ve found such a fun style and I, for one, love it.
Oh thanks so much, Sarah! I’m enjoying it a lot too. 🙂
Oh that fabric looks so gorgeous made up into a dress!! The pattern placement is fabulous.
And I too make super silly faces in person. I can be ridiculously animated under normal circumstances.
Me too! All of us who do that should get together, what a storm of funny we’d be. 😉
Your choice of fabrics always delight me. I love a fun fabric and you certainly rock them. Makes me want to dance with your bunnies! Great job as usual.
Thanks so much!
Oh Tasha, this dress is gorgeous!! You are beautiful and I love the cardigan and the jacket too! Multi-talent Lady!! Why on earth I live in the other side of the world? Those photo make me send you a virtual big huge and kiss!! Keep up the excellent job!!
Aww thank you!! Hugs and a kiss right back. Yes, it would be so much fun to meet you! 😀
Love it! The fabric is great 🙂
Love it Tasha, especially all the little extra touches (contrast fabric, waistband on crossgrain, bunny placement!) That really is one useful dress pattern isn’t it?! Great tips for using heavier fabric too. Have a great Easter! x
Thanks, Jane! Yes I’m just adoring this pattern, I fear I’m going to start boring people because I want to make about 10 more versions! Well I guess I’m safe since I always pick different fabric, lol!!
Happy Easter to you too! <3
It’s lovely! The dancing bunnies could only have been a dress. And I hear you on crazy faces made in real life. It’s why I’m always looking down in blog pics – I pull the weirdest faces when I’m looking at the camera!
That could be the same with me too! Or somehow my smiles look cheesy in a camera, unless you happen to just catch a natural moment and not a “I’m trying to smile for the camera for the 50th time” moment. Ha ha!
retro rover says
that fabric is amazing
Jessica Cangiano says
Sooooooo fabulously, endlessly darling!!!
Thanks, my dear! 🙂
I love it!!
Lovely dress. That fabric is very jolly.
Thanks! Yes, it’s very jolly indeed. 🙂
Bellis Winter says
It’s always a pleasure to come here because happiness and such beautiful things rule this blog !!!!
And this fabric too cute
Squuuueeeaaal! Such a cute dress. I’m in love with those bunnies!
This may be my all time favorite dress of yours! It’s so flippin cute and I’d never have known it was stiff thick fabric! It is just adorable in you.
Wow, that is really cute! I love this on you! The waistband cut the other direction is a really nice touch!
Looks so great! And thanks for the good tips!
Bunnies. And carrots! How could you go wrong with this?! 🙂 I love it… but then I love bunnies anyway! I’ve been trying to find a decent bunny fabric because I want to make a prairie bonnet for gardening, and call it my ‘Easter Bonnet’ lol. I know… I’m weird, but I burn really easily, and I hate getting sweat stains on my favourite straw hats!
You know what else works well with stiff fabrics? A half circle skirt! I have one made from the tab skirt pattern, using a bottom weight twill, and it works quite well- just in case anyone else gets really cute, heavy fabric! :p
This is adorable and OH so seasonally appropriate! This dress pattern is great on you!
I am so inspired by your design and sewing skills. It makes me feel as though I should begin sewing my clothing again, but alas, your figure is quite the model for such lovely things. For the time being, I shall admire and continue to exercise. Best Regards, Cindy
I love this dress and fabric! It’s so cute and I love the way you cut the waistband from the diamonds. I would never have noticed the upside down bunnies on the skirt either!
Whitney B. Kemp says
So cool and cutsies!!!! I don’t sew alas, but love seeing your sewing projects.
I love it! (Maybe not quite as much as the pirate one, but that’s just because of the subject matter.) The contrast pockets are a fantastic touch and that fabric is just too cute.
Christine Moody says
I like that the bunnies are upside down on the skirt – that way when you look down at them, they’re right side up for you! After all, you have to make yourself smile with that fabric as well as everybody else. Nicely done.