Classic Variation – Brown Ponte Sheath

This is more detailed look at one of my three dress variations for the contest.  Starting from my favorite sheath dress pattern — McCalls 6920 —  I wanted to create a classic dress I can wear for professional networking events, presentation and civic engagement activities.  I’ve been wanting to make a blush ponte jacket to wear over brown separates that I already have.  I planned to wear that outfit with this great reptile patterned shoe that I ordered during an online spree while stuck overnight in an airport.

I laid out the combo below, including a great necklace, and liked the look quite well:

Well that outfit hasn’t happened yet, so I used the brown and blush color scheme for this dress variation.  Trying to look taller, I  create a center front vertical emphasis to my outfits whenever possible.  Adding a seam to the front panel was an obvious way to do that.  And a contrast binding was a way to work in the blush color.

Contest rules precluded the V neckline I preferred because there was a V-neck view to the pattern.  So I cut the neckline area super high, assembled the panels and shoulder seams, put it on a dress form and just started cutting.  I made a deep slit and shaped the fabric into an open funnel neckline, maintaining a curved shape so I wouldn’t have to miter the blush ponte binding. Then I extended the  slit to the bottom of the front panel.

Next step was to add a blush binding to the front/neckline edge and the bottom of each sleeve.  Aiming for subtlety, I serged the binding strip to the right side of the cut edges, creating a scant 1/4″ seam to enclose.  Finger pressed the trim out over the seam and wrapped it to the inside of the garment, then secured wit with a stitch-in-the-ditch.  I inserted a strip of brown ponte behind the abutted edges of the center front to close the seam.

BOMB!!  That trim wasn’t subtle – it was insignificant.  The blush color got lost, the light/dark balance skewed way to dark for the shoes and the CF seam looked all wiggly.  And I had forgotten to adjust the bodice for my short-waisted figure so the boobs of the dress and the boobs of me didn’t align.

Time for a Netflix/seam ripper interlude.  At least there was a crackling fireplace in sight to soothe my irritation.  Seriously, it didn’t take nearly as long as I expected to get back to Square One and start again.  After adjusting the shoulder/armhole area for my height, I re-applied a new, wider binding.  This time I carefully pinned, and then stitched, a CF seam through the binding, leaving the neckline and a bottom slit area unstitched.  Finally, re-wrapped the trim around the cut edges, ditch-stitched it and trimmed the excess binding width from inside the garment.  MUCH BETTER.

Sleeves inserted, garment hemmed, it was try-on time.  Frown.  It was still missing something.  Without an accent accessory it was just boring.  Reminded me of a 1950s stewardess uniform – not quite what I was going for.

But that lovely neckline shape didn’t work with a necklace or scarf.  An understated blush-color silk flower seemed like the perfect answer – but not an easy find in December.  And did I mention it was now Contest Deadline Day?  My go-to accessory store seemed to have nothing appropriate, until I spotted a display of fascinators – those tiny-hat-on-a-headband goodies made popular by royal weddings.  One of them was just the right color, so I took it home and literally attacked it with a butcher knife until all that remained was the flower you see in the photo below.   What do you think?  

To see all the contest entries, go to, click the Contests tab in the top menu, choose “Currently Running”, scroll down to  “Many Looks…”  and click “Gallery”.   I know you’d like a direct link  but I’ve learned the link I see on my computer doesn’t always take others to the same spot on that site.  Vote for your favorites until Dec 24.

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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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