Casual Variation – Color-Blocked Gray Dress

I’ve often joked in workshops about building an outfit around a great zipper color — but this time a really did exactly that.  I found an amazing zipper source on a recent NYC trip (Botani Trims – 263 W 36th – find them online if you can’t visit in person).  I bought a teal separating zip, intending to use it as a closure for a teal ponte cardigan jacket, extending the zipper teeth as a piping along the V neckline.  Bet you can already guess that the cardigan hasn’t happened yet, so the zip inspired a teal and gray color-blocked version of my basic sheath.

I cut the sheath panels from charcoal gray heather ponte – a great match for the zipper teeth.  The original scoop neckline was all wrong for the look I wanted, so I cut it in/up a lot closet to the neck, intending to trim to its final shape later.  And I extended the sleeve pattern piece to wrist length, intending to finish them with the same lighter gray ponte binding that I would use at the neck.

I made a strip patchwork of  lighter gray and teal ponte pieces for the color block (narrow seams pressed and fused open) and laid the whole thing on on my work table for a preview. Looked like a “GO”, so I stitched the zipper along the center of the front panel, with the zipper slider toward the hemline.  That became my elongating center front detail – hooray!  (Contest rules said I couldn’t make the zipper actually open, so it is strictly decorative rather than creating a variable hemline slit.)

Next I stitched the lower edge of the patchwork section right sides together to the front panel, just covering the end of the zipper tape.  Folded the patchwork up over the original upper bodice, trimmed the patchwork piece to shape, then cut away the original ponte layer to minimize bulk.

From there is took just a few minutes to stitch and press all the vertical seams and the shoulders and slip the garment onto a dress form.  There I trimmed the fabric along the base of the neckline.  Back at the machine I added the binding and a quick blind hem and this one was ready to go.  I wore it last night with tights and low booties – a more casual look that the way you see it here.  And I realized that the neckline – just fine when I was posing – was too high in real life.  An easy fix for tomorrow’s list.

Can mention that it’s nearing the 1-year “birthday” of the pre-loved Bernina 830 I gave myself for Christmas last year?  This project reminded me all over again why I bought it (for approximately 3x it’s original price, BTW).  I don’t do decorative embroidery work; I prize an exacting feed system, a beautiful stitch quality and an assortment of specialty presser feet to  guide the fabric for flawless stitch-in-the-ditch, edge stitching and truly invisible blind hemming.  This project called on two of the three – sewing bliss!

Over 30 years old, the machine came to me in perfect condition, with every specialty foot imaginable, loads of extra bobbins and needles, the original owner’s manual and notes from dealer training.  I suspect that the former owner is no longer living, so I hope that if there is Sewing Heaven she is looking own and smiling, assured that it has a new loving home.

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About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.

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