This is Simplicity 8647, a Harriet Selwyn designer pattern, from 1978. I’ve included the back view this time because the cover art is so drapey and wrapped and layered it’s hard to see what is even there, but the back gives a nice clear view of the pieces (dress, vest, shirt) and of how the dress can work frontwards with the scoop neckline in front, or backwards with the square neckline in front.
This is why I made this dress:
It’s like a burnout velvet, but the area that would be velvet is knit instead. The sheer base is not knit though, it’s a net, more in the style of the background found in lace, so it’s not quite like those burnout knit T-shirts I’ve seen here and there either. It has a giant geometric design, slightly Deco, slightly Aztec. Makes me think of the Oviatt Building and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock house. The design is symmetrical side-to-side but didn’t have a lengthwise repeat in my piece, which was a three yard precut piece that I dug out of the bins at the Michael Levine Loft. I’ve never seen anything like this stuff. I wonder if it was manufactured for curtains. If so they would be pretty amazing.
I wanted to use as much of this weirdo fabric as possible, so I cut a lining exactly as the pattern, and then swung the pattern out for max fullness when I cut the burnout knit. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Above is what we are calling backwards, with the square neck in front, and below is frontwards, with the scoop neck in front.
First, I should’ve worn tights in a light color, to blend in with the light colored lining and make the whole thing look more sheer and magical. No hard line where the lining ends and the tights start.
Second, it’s too dang long. This is the length it’s patterned to be. Usually with a tent dress I’d go short, so as to retain the sense of there being a person somewhere inside all that dress, but this time I wanted to use as much of the fabric as possible so I trusted the pattern.
Might be ok at this length as a summer dress, with no tights. I’m realizing that black tights really need a mini skirt, or else they veer into matron territory. I think it looks approximately one million times better with the belt, which brings back the idea that there is a person somewhere in there.
Thirdly, sadly, the extra fullness in the sheer layer reduces the impact of the giant geometric design. The fullness folds in on itself and chops itself up visually.
I could just stand like this all the time:
I’m calling this pattern a Sew It, but On Probation. My version is woven and lined, whereas this pattern is supposed to be made in a single layer of stretch. My plan is to hold onto this pattern until I can give it a real chance to prove itself.
Oh, and it took six and a quarter hours to make. I expect if I make it the right way someday it’ll take like two hours.
Speaking of more appropriate fabrics, I think this pattern could be a prime candidate for something hideous like double knit polyester. Think about it. Tiny bit of stretch, but heavy enough to prevent clinging, which is all I can think of when I see tricot on the recommended fabrics list. Cling!
As for my burnout knit, I probably should have saved it for something flat, like a long columnar tank dress or something, that would show the design more dramatically. But whatever, no fabric regrets.