progress report: the yellow stripe project

I tell you what, making your clothes is always an adventure. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m in the midst of a project or two with some gorgeous yellow stripe rayon/silk fabric. Or I was, anyway, until a couple days ago. After getting about halfway through a dress and barely started on a skirt, I decided to scrap them both and go with one dress, the very dress that I originally wanted to make and then talked myself out of, in the name of “doing something different.”

My extra careful, overthinking it approach to this project stems from two things: this fabric was not cheap (so don’t mess it up!), and the abstract stripe absolutely requires that you give the garment a little more consideration. Back in January, I bought the fabric from Promenade Fabrics, and it’s spectacular. Also in January, I made Vogue 9197 for the umpteenth time in a navy stripe fabric, so I felt like I should do something new with this special yellow stripe. They’re two completely different fabrics though, so I shouldn’t have worried so much about making the same dress.

When it comes to stripe fabric, I like to use it in a literal, directional way. If it’s too abstract, it bugs me. An abstract interpretation can work beautifully and it’s interesting to see a jumble of stripes in all different directions, but I appreciate something a little more simple and subtle. I’m also someone who thinks about the longevity of my garments, and I don’t want to steer too far from classic lines so I can enjoy the garment for as long as possible. The yellow stripe has an abstract feel to it on its own–the stripes are painted and uneven and marvelous, so going with a simple design doesn’t mean it’s not thoughtful or interesting.

I had about 4.25 yards of this fabric, which is enough for two garments, depending on what they were. After such success with Butterick 6446 last month (that is one of my favorite dresses so far this year), I thought I would do that one again, this time in the yellow stripe. I loved it in a major, major way until I attached the skirt and tried it on. It was awful, and you’ll just have to believe me because there will never be a reason to post the photo that documents how horrible it was. The skirt fell flat, the stripes were a mess, and there’s too much body in the fabric for the pleats to lay nicely across the bodice.

You’d never guess it was so unattractive on, because it is so darling on the form.

So, I left it on the form for a few days to see if it grew on me. I even tried it on a number of times, forcing myself to say that I would wear it. I was lying to myself, because there was no way I’d ever happily pick it from my closet and feel good in it. And that should never be the case with our clothes, especially the ones we invest so much time into making. A fabric this pretty deserves to be made into something I not only love, but would feel good in and want to wear. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Fortunately, there’s no zipper in the dress yet, so removing the skirt an reusing it will be easy. As for the maxi skirt, I’m going to use that too and cut a new bodice. The maxi skirt (the second garment I was making) had been cut and I’d started to gather the skirt, but I messed up cutting it and cut it into thirds instead of in half. (We all flub sometimes, folks. I was due!) So, I was working through the challenge of fixing that too. This was a comedy of errors from the word go! Also, when and where was I going to wear this fabulous maxi skirt? The grocery store?!

Late Monday night, I quickly pinned the fabric to the dress form in the way I originally wanted: a fitted, sleeveless bodice with a bateau neckline, and a gathered skirt, both cut to show the stripe horizontally. I was in love. So, after all that fuss and work, I’m starting over. I couldn’t be happier about it.

This? This I can get behind, and this isn’t anything but a sloppy drape job. But I can see the final result, and I know I’ll love it. Doesn’t it look more like me and something I’d wear? I think it does, and I also love the stripes all in one direction. The gathers in the skirt will give it some volume and body, and the fitted, uncomplicated bodice will show off the stripe really well. The bateau neckline mimics the stripe and draws the eye up and out towards the shoulders. Then, with the nice fit around the waist and the full skirt, you have a lovely ladylike silhouette. My favorite.

So, this is my solution, and I’m really excited to whip it up. The skirt is cut in rectangular sections, so provided I don’t muck it up again, that will be easy. I will draft the bodice using my slopers, and with side seam pockets, an invisible zipper, and a lining, we’re good to go.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re stuck working on a project you don’t love, then you turn it around and start over? I’d love to commiserate!

I may not work with it much, but I do love yellow. I designed a handful of pieces when I was in business, and I have the pleated striped skirt in my closet. See, my eye for placing stripes in a deliberate direction goes way back!


  1. Kelsey | 11th Apr 17

    It’s good that you’re able to edit and change direction when you feel the need to. I just give up! I love what you came up with in the end. It’s such a nice silhouette with that gorgeously bold fabric. 🙂

    • Emily | 11th Apr 17

      Hey Kelsey! Thank you for the sweet comment! Oh boy, there have definitely been times when I’ve given up, but what kept me motivated for this particular project was the fabric and what I came up with in the end. If I hadn’t settled on something I really loved, I would have packed the fabric away and given up. Ha! I have fitted the muslin for this dress, so I’m finally ready to cut the fabric today or tomorrow. Looking forward to finishing it! 🙂

  2. Vicki Garlick | 5th Apr 17

    Always love reading you’re posts and what you sew…wishing I was as good or trying to figure out what patterns you’ve used. the gorgeous yellow and white dress with the bag sitting on it!!! Also it looks like you’ve joined white and yelling together! !! Is this correct? Where I live were coming in winter and at the moment we’re getting a tail end of an Australian cyclone so it’s awesome to see spring colours of yellow….thanks

  3. Elizabeth | 5th Apr 17

    I have some wooden handles so I’ve got my eye open for some cute canvas for summer!

    • Emily | 5th Apr 17

      Me too! I’d like to make an orange stripe tote too. I’ve had it cut out for ages. Maybe I’ll actually get to it this season! 🙂

  4. Elizabeth | 5th Apr 17

    It’s so good to be able to laugh at yourself and move on! I crack myself up all the time. I’m glad through all the issues you settled on something you love and will wear. When in doubt go with ladylike. Also that bird/ floral fabric On the bag you made is gorgeous! I know it was a few years ago but where did you get it?

    • Emily | 5th Apr 17

      Hey Elizabeth! You’re so right, being able to laugh about it and move on is the most important thing! No sense in dwelling on the unsuccessful. Change it up, start over, and make it right! 🙂

      I know, the fabric for that bag is adorable. Believe it or not, I found it at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. It’s a heavy cotton duck canvas. I only bought a few yards, and by the time I went back for more it was sold out. I wish I still had some of it. I’d make this bag again and carry it all summer!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *