I retrieved a red stretch-velvet dress from my parents’ garage sale pile. Such promise!
But look at that grody symmetry and those heinous sagging shoulders. This dress needed some help.
A probably-unreasonable amount of time later….
What I did:
Installed a strip of gathered tulle into each sleeve cap to puff it up (sewn to the armhole seam allowance facing into the sleeve).
Added large shoulder pads VERY loosely based on Sew Retro Rose’s shoulder-pad-making tutorial. I tacked them at the shoulder seam on each end.
Undid my mother’s hacky size adjustment and replaced it with my own hackier size adjustment.
Re-hemmed it to a slant, losing 7+ inches on one side and keeping it as long as possible on the other.
Added ruffles down one side of the neckline and across to the opposite waist, chosen to point at the top of the hem rather than be semi-parallel to it.
The ruffles don’t hold up to inspection if you look too closely at them – I was running out of time before the night I wanted to wear the dress, so I had to be hacky again. I took three wide strips of crepe-backed satin, folded them lengthwise so the satin was out, pressed, folded the ends in and topstitched, and zig-zagged twice to hold and bind the edge. Then I gathered each about 3/8″ from the edge and secured it with more stitching. I stacked them together starting with the topmost ruffle, seam allowance to the right, then the bottom ruffle (which was slightly wider), seam allowance to the left and barely overlapping the top ruffle, and finally the middle ruffle, seam allowance to the left and mostly overlapping the top ruffle. After they were all together and sewn to the dress, shoulder seam to side seam, I folded the top ruffle over and secured it with hand-stitching.
My original design inspiration was the television series Dynasty, with help from my Bangles albums. I had to buy the makeup for this because I don’t think I’ve worn blush in twenty years. Special thanks to my sister for inspiring the slant hem with her aesthetic advice to try to look like “an unstable stack of geometric shapes” and to my mother for suggesting the ruffles.
I’ve developed a taste for shawls and scarves to just wear around in the winter, not necessarily with a coat. I’ve also realized I like them better than jewelry to add interest to a plain dress, on the rare occasions that I wear a dress. Somehow I learned about Make My Day Creative’s Multiplicity Buttoned Shawl, a free crochet pattern for a trapezoidal fan stitch shawl that buttons along the non-parallel edges. She called it Multiplicity because there are a lot of options for draping and buttoning it. I thought it would be a nice pattern to make a blingy version of, though that thought was probably helped by the fact that wool-free laceweight yarn is not common, and the kind I found that wouldn’t break the bank, by Premier, came in a self-striping sock version and a metallic-accented lace version. None of the sock colorways thrilled me, so Gypsy Bling it was. I found some buttons to match (though not until the shawl was stitched); they are much larger than the recommended 12mm. Button cameos by me and my avocado tree.
I’ve apparently never written here about my electric toothbrush sander, made from June Gilbank’s tutorial. I used it to take the little molding nub off the sides of the buttons, and it worked terrifically.
Anyway, I have postponed the final images long enough. The shawl itself:
A few more notes: I ended up with one fewer starting shell and one fewer row-pair than the original pattern; the latter was actually great because it meant I needed 16 of my four-to-a-card buttons instead of 17. I do wish I had a bit more length – my shoulders are broader than average and my options for ways to wear this are somewhat restricted.
I had a hell of a time rewinding the yarn for use. It did not particularly want to unwind from the outside, but I couldn’t get it to pull from the inside. So I went back to the outside, but the first skein sort of exploded, and even with my loving husband’s help, getting it untangled took hours of work and split it into four pieces. I was smarter about the second skein and worked from the outside entirely, but even so it took an hour and a half to get it usable.
Finally, although synthetic fibers don’t really block, I did sort of block it. I machine washed it in a fine mesh bag, laid it out longways over my collapsible wooden drying rack, and clipped clothespins all around it. Every shell on the ends, and every four or five shells on the sides, with a second pin crosswise to the first for weight along the sides and a few extra pins clipped onto existing pins on the ends. It looked hilarious but worked pretty well. Should have gotten a photo!
The times are changing here at ReveDreams, and after over two years I will no longer be selling patterns directly from this site. You’ll be able to get them from Ravelry in perpetuity, but I’ve decided there is a better way for me to use the store here: as a site directory.
What should you expect? First, I have to get my formerly name-your-price pdfs uploaded to Ravelry. I gave them all fixed prices when I decided not to renew my name-your-price plugin license, but they are still only available here.
After that I’ll change the purchase links to affiliate links, which means if you click what currently says “add to cart” it will take you to the Ravelry page for that pattern instead. The words will also change to indicate that.
Finally, and this I’ve already started working on, I will add my free patterns and tutorials to the store, and even the posts and pages that I feel are especially good resources. You’ll have a category structure and tags to help you navigate everything – so if you’ve ever thought “I wish there was an easy way to find all of the material about X” please let me know what the value of X is.
There may be a day of downtime as I fix the appearance of the now-wildly-variable-length buttons, but otherwise this will all be behind the scenes.
I’ll let you know when I’ve finished, but both before and after that point, feedback is welcome!