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Darling Denim: A Modern take on Classic Style

We would love your vote if you can give it to us, voting closes at 8PM MST on Thursday, Oct. 2.
To be honest this week gave me a real run for my money several pieces that were sewn never made it to pictures. Several photoshoots were done with only turning out. I know usually you just see the finished products that we love but I want you to know we have our share of failures too oftentimes we stumble around until we finally pinpoint our vision and we work hard to get it right. With all that said I couldn't be more pleased with the results. I wonder if the journey I went on with this project adds a bit more joy to seeing it completed. I am going to be a bit long winded about the process and the adaptations that I made but if you are just here for the pictures that doesn't hurt my feelings.

Modified Patterns Used:
For Dress: E+M Dress Pattern No. 13 with arm hole from MHC Caroline Party Dress
I wanted to approach denim from an out of the box perspective. Denim seems so stiff and masculine, but I was out to prove that it could be soft and feminine.
The color scheme and shapes of this outfit was inspired by one of my childhood landscapes; the sunset on the craters during the winter. The colors are so vibrant and the sharp edges of the craters contrast directly to the soft gentle snow that serves as it blanket.  (I forgot to upload my own before leaving on my family vacation, but here is a fabulous example by this great photographer.  He has taken lots of pictures of our home area that you should check out cause they are amazing).
The vibrancy and sharpness and represented in the dress. Slim Jim called the vibrant floral denim, old lady couch fabric. But I didn't let that get me down I love it and this fabric is really the star of the show. It really helped pull all my materials together.  Once I had it I was on the road to a solid design. The black stretch denim was leftovers that I had from this project and the gray was leftover from this project. It is one of the few fabrics used in this project that was not denim it is a twill instead (the other non denim is the coat lining). I really like how both of these fabrics match the rose fabric without detracting from the design or floral fabric.
To make the cuts for the dress I printed two of the front bodice pieces and pasted them together on the fold line. Then using a ruler and a rotary cutter I cut across the dress diagonally from top left shoulder to bottom right hem. Then I purposely made the second cut uneven division for the second and third pieces. Due to the construction of the dress the back pieces of the dress had to be symmetrical knowing this I choose to add interest by switching the colors around from right to left side. I added seam allowances to each cut by using the same seam guides I did in week 1. Go here to download them.
Each seam on the dress is a French seam, so there would be no itchy seams or need for lining. I chose to do a double pink top stitch close to the seam edge on the floral and on the gray I did one top stitch close and one wide in black. I chose these different stitches so it would look as though they had been pieced from two different pieces of jeans as a nod to the denim patch work trend. I love the visual interest this adds to the dress and how it keeps your eye in one continual round.
I modified the back neckline dropping it down by 1 1/2 inches. I also shaped the dress to fit her body since I did not use elastic to pull in the waist. I used the arm hole from MHC Caroline Party Dress.  This gave more space in the arm hole to slip it on. The neckline and arm holes were finished using single fold bias tape. I sewed the size 2 selected by her chest measurement, under most circumstances I would have done a size 3 in height (as corresponds to her height on the pattern) but I knew that she would be wearing hers with tights and it would better match my vision of a 60s mod shift dress if it was just above the knee.
One of the pieces I really struggled in getting right was the jacket. I sewed one up that I thought would work with the dress but it was a flop. After looking at pictures from the first photo shoot, I knew my sister's were right and it didn't work (I am very stubborn so I didn't listen at first).
I went back to the mental drawing board, thought of my inventory (after a few failures this look was getting to expensive for my tastes) I kept coming back to the oatmeal colored denim. Every time I would think about it I would quickly push it away because the thought of a cream jacket was boring to me. Until I thought to myself what would Alexia do? (Valid question right, I am sure I am not alone in asking myself that from time to time). I knew she would pull out some sweet colored denim that she had picked up at Michael Levine or somewhere else in the fashion district and make an awesome jacket.
I didn't have awesome colored denim but two bottles of Rit dye (Purple & Fushia), some color experimenting and 30 minutes of constant stirring transformed the denim into a soft heathered orchid. The lining was a white on white quilters cotton with miniature polka dot dyed in the same dye bath after the denim. I love how this color takes me back to my inspiration for color scheme so many times right before the sun light completely disappears from the craters that is one of the last colors you see.
The dye really highlights the softness of the fabric. Before the dye you would only be able to see by touching it, but now just by looking at it you can get a sense of texture. This reminds me of the soft texture of the snow over the craters.
As soon as I saw the finished fabric I realized which pattern I would start with. I knew it would be the cadette coat stripped of the military styling with a hood and long sleeve added. I never had sewn that coat pattern before so was unaware of fit or trueness of size. The only person I knew that had was Alexia, so I asked her about the fit didn't tell her about what I was up to or my what would Alexia is do moment but instead am choosing to embarrass her now. When she came back with the answered spot on I knew I was on the right trail.
Since I only had a limited amount of fabric and I had an early disasters I opted to make a bodice muslin, I am so glad I did.  It was crazy tight across the shoulders. I couldn't think how it could be so off. But after reprinting to go up two sizes I quickly realized what had happened. My printer settings had gotten off somehow and it had scaled the pattern pieces off by 1/8 of an inch per 1". I print so many pattern pieces that often I forget to test my scaling square.  After reprinting it right!
I went ahead and made the size 3. Her chest measurements matched up with the size 2 but since I was using thicker fabric I sized up according the pattern instructions. I added several inches to the sleeve, I determined the correct length by measuring from her sleeve cap to her first knuckle and then added an inch for seam and hem allowance.
I also modified skirt and sleeve hem instructions so there would be no poking out of the lining. This was done by just taking the lining in deeper. For the sleeve this was a 1/4" and for the skirt bottom this was 1/2".
I knew all along I wanted this look to have a hood, because my little Boston loves hats. And I adore the coziness that they bring to a design, perfect for fall when the weather can't make up it's mind. I used the size 5 hood from Willow & Co. Mullberry Tunic. I chose this size because it matched up perfectly with the neck width of the jacket.
The final adaptation we made was the use of KAM snaps over buttons. Right now Boston is in such a go go go stage that having the snaps is perfect for getting it off in a pinch.
I hope you adore this denim inspired look as much as we do. We sure would appreciate your vote, every week has been so tight and we feel so lucky to be still be in the game we couldn't have done this without your support, thank you!


  1. Love the whole outfit. It looks cute, fashionable & practical too.

  2. This is a great look and the jacket turned out wonderful! I would love one in my size. :)

  3. I love this outfit! A lot of thoughts and effort went into this, and the result is beautiful. Love the unexpected denim fabrics. The best of the luck to you!!

  4. This is too nice. I love the fabric combination for the dress and the subtle pink of the jacket.

  5. You really nailed the mod look with that dress! It's perfectly 60's. I love the jacket! That's a gorgeous color of pink, and the hood and longer sleeves really make it perfect.

  6. I love it! You and Rachel both worked the slant into your designs. Beautifully done.
    Denim is a difficult theme.

  7. I am loving what you do with the blocking patterns, fabulous! I am so happy I found your blog, new fan! :)


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