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Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Very Purple Person

Stretch & Sew "Cowl Neck Blouson #305"

I finished a dress! Yes, the first make of the New Year. I've been slow at getting back to my sewing after the holiday break, so I'm glad I had such a good pattern to start with.

I came across this vintage Stretch and Sew pattern in my thrift store travels, and thought it actually looked quite modern. Since I also found a couple of metres of knit which combined an oversize houndstooth print and a purple colourway, two of my favourite things, I thought I'd buy them both and use them together.



I wasn't familiar with Stretch and Sew patterns previously, so did a little research (I am a librarian, after all!) I discovered that Ann Person was a very successful businesswoman ahead of her time. I've included some other links at the bottom of this post if you'd like to learn more about her.

Catching some natural light at lunchtime on this snowy day

This pattern was printed very efficiently: double sided on one sheet of paper. You trace the size you need and add any length on that you need to change top to dress -- it was suggested that you add 25 inches to the bottom of the bodice piece for the skirt, but I took an inch out as I am short. I left enough length for a deeper hem, to keep the skirt falling nicely. And in the end I left the hem just below the knee as I thought it looked really good with this style.


While making it, I was thinking that it would just be a nice cozy winter dress, and since it was made from thrifted fabric I wasn't overly worried about how it was going to turn out. But when I tried it on once it was nearly done...wow! I absolutely love it!


I'm really delighted with the fit and the shaping on this dress. I felt extremely comfortable and natural in it right away, and I love the elegance of it as well, something I hadn't expected it to have. The drafting is interesting, nothing too elaborate really, with the same piece for front and back. I did use the cuffed sleeves from View B instead of the elasticated ones from the dress view, to modernize the look a little bit.

The only change I'd make next time would be to add a bit more length in the bodice -- I took 2 inches out but I'd put 1/2 inch back in the front bodice only. The cowl is a bit different from others I've made; it has four darts in it , which gives it some nice shaping -- it falls much more evenly and doesn't slither around when you're wearing it. That could have to do with my knit though - it the fabric was a bit more slippery it still might slide around. Mine doesn't though.

Caught brushing all the snow off after these photos!
I did make a couple of changes, beside the basic fitting ones. I added side seam pockets -- I made sure that the top of the pockets were pinned toward the front of the dress and stitched the top 1/4 inch into the elastic casing to keep them in place. I also moved the casing up about 1/2 inch above the pattern markings to suit my waistline. This took me about 3 hours to sew after I'd cut it out. I enjoyed the sewing process and am really pleased with this quick and rather random project!


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A wonderful obituary of Ann Person, who died at 90 years old, in August of 2015.

A little more about her, and a nice piece at Threads celebrating her life, with photos -- there's also a link to an article about sewing with knits that Person wrote for Threads in the past.

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for the in-depth review. Your dress is lovely. Looks warm & cozy yet very dressy. Great job. You look lovely!

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    1. Thank you! It's a perfect cozy work dress

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  2. Oh I can see why you are pleased with this one. It looks great on you. You should make more.

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    1. Thanks! I just might...and want to try to top version too

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  3. What a lovely tribute to Ann, your post as well as your dress :)

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    1. I loved reading so much about her - how inspiring she was!

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  4. Love it! You even found matching tights! I have a big collection of Stretch and Sew patterns from the 90's that I need to look at more often, as they are such great timeless styles. Thanks for reminding me of them, and letting us know about Ann Person.

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    1. When I bought this fabric I was actually thinking about these tights that I already owned... ;)

      I have a couple of other Stretch & Sew patterns that I picked up at the same time so we'll see what I make next

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  5. That's a great dress - a real classic. I agree, the classic knee length looks good. And a real win as well - it's always wonderful to find a Thrift Shop fabric, and pattern as well, and always a perfect price :)

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    1. Thanks, it is a win when the price and the coolness of the find are both equal :)

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  6. This is really stunning on you. I suppose you will be using this pattern again and again!

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    1. I think so - it is such a comfortable dress but so dressy for work as well. Fits just great

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  7. Amazing thrift find that turned into perfection! Yay! Everything about this is so cute, I just love it.

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    1. It was a lucky chance to find them together - just serendipity!

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  8. That style looks absolutely fabulous on you...the belt really adds the final touch & shows off your waistline beautifully. You should make a couple more of these!

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