Creamsicle Laurel Dress

creamsicle laurel dress | whipstitchMy 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.

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 4.14.33 PMAfter 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.

creamsicle laurel front | whipstitchThe 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.

creamsicle laurel | whipstitch

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.

creamsicle laurel side | whipstitchI’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.

creamsicle laurel mod surprise | whipstitchIn 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.

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  • Amy
    July 9, 2013 at 11:26 am

    While reading this, I was giggling along with you. I have so many of the same “issues, ” i.e., the full bust, body changed by childbirth and pale skin…and, of course, have had some similar issues when sewing. Jane Austen said that hot weather kept her in a continual state of inelegance, so I say you should just enjoy wearing your cute seersucker shift and not worry too much about some of those finer…elegant…details, which you can work out another time.You’ll be cool and comfy 🙂

  • Diane
    July 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I think all your critiques are accurate. I liked the slimness of the pricey version; it was more flattering to your banana shape. Let’s face it, it’s a PROTOTYPE. This is how design happens. Do you think Zac Posen gets it right every single time? No, he doesn’t. (Project Runway back on starting July 18.) Try again.

  • Patty
    July 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I agree, you seem to have hit all the high spot with your critique. You will love the next dress, I am sure!

  • Lala
    July 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Ok, I am going to be blunt. You look 10 years younger and 30 pounds slimmer in the store-bought dress! I don’t really think the color of the dress is so bad – although maybe you could dress it up with a colorful necklace and shoes. But I honestly think you need to lose the pockets (I know, I know) and take in the whole dress to be slimmer like the store version. And I know you thought the original was way too short, but heck, you have great legs! Show them off a little! And maybe beef up the lace detail – it looks a little lost.

    Kudos to you though!!! And keep us updated!

  • Agnes
    July 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for this post – it’s really interesting to see how you critique your own work. Maybe you need a wider trim? The one on the mall dress is much wider and appears to segment the dress better.

  • sukie
    July 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    You’re like so hot! I’m going to now internet stock you.


  • Jennifer O.
    July 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I agree with the comments about slimmer cut/wider trim made above. And about the disappearing issue (also why I don’t wear pale pink or cream – I look naked) maybe wear it with a solid color tangerine cardigan? That won’t help in the Atlanta heat, but good for summer AC/fall.

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