Ch-ch-change it.


I very rarely look at a sewing pattern and say, “That’s it, no changes.” Besides altering to fit, I very often — almost always — fiddle with design elements, too. I change sleeves and necklines and hemlines, and just about everything else.

Today for Me Made May, I’m wearing an April Rhodes Staple Dress. Sort of. I mean, part of the shoulder seams from the original pattern are intact. First off, the pattern is intended for woven fabric, and I made it in a knit. I lengthened it a bit, graded up the hips, omitted the elasticated waist shaping (because I always wear a belt with it), and completely changed the neck and cut-on sleeves/armholes by tracing a ready-to-wear tank that I found at a thrift store. It was a peculiar tank — kind of wide-shouldered-but-not-quite-cap-sleeved and a little blousy, but not too blousy. I loved that tank, but it was made of very cheap rayon knit and pilled like crazy after just a few washes. (It had pretty obviously never been worn when I bought it.) Now the best parts of that tank can live on forever, only in a better fabric.

I sew very much the same way that I cook. A sewing pattern, like a recipe, is a suggestion — a jumping off point. You can follow it to the letter, but if you see potential for something else in it, you can change it as much as you want. Sometimes you fail spectacularly, but sometimes you get exactly what you had in mind. And that’s how I feel about this dress.

It’s so comfortable. With nothing to pinch or bind, it’s one of the first dresses I reach for on a bad pain (or panic) day. It’s loose and cool in the heat, but it works well with tights and a cardigan when it’s cold out, too. I really love this dress.

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