My Creamsicle Laurel dress is finished! I have wanted to make this dress for the past few months, after finding a similar one at a fancy-schmancy department store in a petite size, and being unwilling to spend a pile of cash on a dress that fit me imperfectly. I made this version from a seersucker cotton that I picked up in New York at Mood Fabrics for specifically this project–which is pretty unusual for me, since I frequently buy yards and yards of fabric with NO EARTHLY IDEA what I will be making. This generally necessitates purchases of 3+ yards, and has resulted in a harrowing stash of pure yardage–but that’s not the point of this post.
After sharing this image on Instagram, my sweet friend Christine indicated with strident certainty that I should get my behind over to the Laurel pattern and get sewing. Now, I had been planning a shift pattern for months, but once the Laurel was released, I saw zero reason to pursue it: this is a simple, clean, classic pattern that was easy and quick to sew up. Perfect marriage with this style that I was trying to reproduce. I added French seams on all the seams, including on the ones encasing the in-seam pockets that I added to the pattern–because life is better when your dresses have pockets.
The end result isn’t perfect, I’m sad to say. I knew going into this version that it was a wearable muslin–I didn’t test the pattern or fit prior to sewing this up, and since I had triple the amount of yardage the pattern required and the trim was easy to remove if I was unhappy, I was very content to roll the dice and see what would happen. On the whole, I like the fit: the armholes and neckline are modest and flattering, and don’t dip too far away, which I really like. Not everyone agrees with me, but I like a nice, high armhole, myself–particularly in a sleeveless garment.
The bust darts are still a little off–not nearly so much as with the petite-sized dress at the department store, but still not quite hitting where I’d like. In part, they might be the darts for a smaller size than I should have cut: I cut smack between the 6 and the 8, in an effort to minimize the looseness of this shape on me. I’m busty, and have given birth four times–which means I’ve suffered through an amalgamated 2 YEARS in maternity clothing. I work pretty hard to avoid wearing anything that smacks of maternity, but when you’re busty and banana-shaped, that can be difficult. I don’t have the luxury of an itty-bitty waist or a pronounced bottom to emphasize a feminine shape. I suspect that by cutting below the size suggested for my measurements–I would have been between an 8 and a 10–that I ended up with darts just a smidge too high for me, even if I achieved my goal of getting the fit a little more tailored. In another rendition of this pattern, I would likely cut the same size, but then give it a full-bust adjustment to move those darts where they belong.
I’m not completely satisfied with the fit at the back, either, and think I need to take out some of the fullness above the waist. I have a (very) high waist, and that extra fabric at the upper back? Should not be there. That can be taken out at the patterning stage, and the back waist length–from the base of the neck to the waistline–reduced so I don’t have any gaping or bagging there. The side back darts do a nice job of pulling the shape in at the arch of the back, though, and are a great touch in this pattern.
In all (sad, disappointed) honesty, though, the place where this dress fails for me isn’t the fit–those are minor tweaks to be expected, things I’ve encountered before and that are very nearly de rigeur when sewing dresses–but rather the fabric itself. I ADORE this seersucker. It’s woven 100% cotton, the Good Stuff, and the tangerine color is just unexpected enough to take it from juvenile and trite to fun and whimsical. Having said that, I am a pale, pale, pale pasty person. And my coloring alongside the creamy peachiness of this fabric is tragic, indeed. See how my skin almost vanishes into the hemline? Between that and the khaki shoes, I am nearly invisible, Wonder Woman in her airplane. This image is a teensy weensy bit washed out–but not a lot. I feel so pale as to be self-conscious in this dress, like I’m vanishing. It makes me extra aware of the 8-ish extra pounds I’d love to get rid of–particularly when that super peachy fabric is next to the peach paleness of the backs of my arms, an area no woman wants to call attention to other than Jennifer Aniston who spends a solid six hours a week working on ONLY the backs of her arms–and reduces the odds that I’ll wear this dress over and over this summer.
On the whole: I give this dress a solid B- for execution. I think the pattern is solid, with some basic tweaks, but the fabric selection disappoints, which hurts a little more because I didn’t expect that. I’ll wear this in public and see how it feels, but I think I might make another version in a darker seersucker stripe and compare the two. Summer is far from over, after all.