Updated: Jun 3, 2021
I am always grateful for the extra push that can be created by a fun sewing challenge. Sam Chandler of Frugalisama on Instagram #frugalfrocks2021 provided just that gentle push for me this month by challenging me to create a frock that cost me little or nothing . By using a free pattern and fabric from my sewing stash or free-to-me fabric we were challenged to create a dress by the end of March. I knew that I wanted to use the Alice Tent Dress new pattern release from J. Desiree Studio I was honoured to be part of the pattern test group and pattern launch for this dress and it is lovely! The issue was I needed to find the courage to use the vintage curtain fabric that I had in my stash! So, knowing I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if the dress turned out the way I pictured it in my mind.... I just did it.
I am so pleased with the result! I hacked the basic Alice Tent Dress pattern a little bit to accommodate for my height and preferred sleeve design. Instead of adding 3" to the bodice, which I did originally for the test pattern dress, I added it to the length of the ruffle. I found that this balanced the heaviness of the fabric and it made gathering the extensive ruffle a bit easier.
The original sleeve pattern is a short sleeve with a ruffle, which looks lovely but I wanted to experiment with a longer 3/4 length gathered sleeve. This adjustment was really easy to do as I just lengthened the sleeve pattern by 6'. The original pattern piece is quite wide so it made for a really easy pattern hack. I created a 1/2' sleeve hem leaving a hole to slide a 3/8" elastic through, measured the elastic so it fit comfortably, then stitched it shut.
The leap of faith that I needed to take was using two vintage curtain panels as my fabric. This fabric was gifted to me by a friend and I fell in love with it, but wasn't sure what to do with it, so off it went to my stash. The curtains were lined with a lovely soft, sheer cotton. I cut this out and kept it for another make in the future. I trimmed the top and side seams off which left me with two nice sized pieces to work with. I could have used either side of the fabric, but chose the side that had the raised design. I liked the added texture that it gave and it broke up the champagne sheen of the fabric. I cut the ruffle out along the already hemmed edge of the curtain panels. This saved me from having to hem the ruffle and the added depth of the hem gave the ruffle good weight. I did have to cut a bit more ruffle so I simply duplicated the hem, pre-hemmed it and sewed the ruffle all together. I would recommend pre-hemming a ruffle like this before you attach it to the dress bodice. It was a huge time saver to do it this way and much less cumbersome then dealing with hemming and maneuvering the whole dress.
This dress will be something that I will use for a variety of occasions. Dressed up, I can wear it to dinner, celebrations, special events and weddings ( when we have them again). In the meantime, I will wear it more casually with flats, or even sneakers and a jean jacket, our "Canadian Tuxedo". I highly recommend the Alice Tent Dress as a quick easy sew and a fun pattern to use with that special fabric in your stash that you just love but haven't found the right pattern for. This dress will be the first official make of my Sound of Music Clothing Collection but not the last, after all there is Sew Much To Design.