And here it is, the Inspired-by-Zeeda dress! It's not at all an attempt at a copy, it's an homage.
Like the prototype, it's a princess-seamed pattern from Alabama Chanin, designed for knits, with alterations and embellishments to the skirt. I cut two copies of the dress from the pattern, making a lining that had the main structure of the dress, but not the extra skirt action. Here's the inside:
Let me show you the back of the dress...
And the details of the side panels:
And how it looks where side meets front meets back:
And while we're looking at that side panel, here it is, worn.
Or you can tie it around your legs for more controlled skirt action while engaging in adventures.
I did not go seeking a Kaylee costume. It came to me. I was in the thrift store, looking for old t-shirts to cut up (like always), and these green coveralls were hanging on a row end, out of place, right in front of me. I paused to google "Kaylee" to check their match, and while I was standing there, a man came and grabbed the coveralls and walked off with them. I kept an eye on him, and a few minutes later tracked him down in the store, and the coveralls weren't in his cart. It took some backtracking and seeking, but I found where he'd put them, and didn't let them out of my possession again.
The coveralls fit, but not very well. They were made for some one shorter and rounder than me. I chopped off the sleeves and used them to add a good three inches to the legs. This morning when I got dressed, I realized they were very barrel-chested, so I did a bit of last-minute tailoring to make the chest fit a little nicer.
The front zipper zips up from the crotch as well as down from the neck. This must be a man thing, and I find it hilarious in a totally juvenile way.
The patches came from etsy. I was doing a lot of sewing leading up to this con, and hadn't had time to sew on the patches. So while I was putting on the finishing touches on my son's costume, he sewed on my patches.
Him: If I do them, they won't be all perfect. They'll be a little punk rock.
Me: Think about the character. Do you think she was a perfect seamstress?
Him: Well, she did appreciate pretty things.
I've been interested in making one. Except you can't make one. It's totally doolally. Someone bought the dress and counted and documented the seams in it, and there's 33 panels. I don't know how it even came together. Look at this thing:
But to try to replicate it isn't totally sane. So I'm doing an inspired-by dress instead. I chose a taupe cotton jersey, matching the colour but not the fabric. And then I did a prototype dress, to assess how my ideas would translate into actuality. I used a lavender interlock that I found in my sewing room, something I've had for years. I used an Alabama Chanin pattern, but machine stitched it.
And I added sleeves, in hopes that the prototype would be wearable. Who needs sleeveless midwinter??
I'm pretty happy with the results! I don't think I'll bother with the waist-band belt strip on the back. Although it's truer to the spirit of the original, the results aren't worth the effort.
The dress as shown isn't actually finished. The neckline is only staystitched. But it looks fine, and I haven't fixed it yet.
Also, the dress isn't actually lavender anymore, it's periwinkle. This is the result of an hour in Rit dye shade midnight blue, dip dyed. Yeah, the dip dye didn't show.
Alas! I cannot knit and hand stitch at the same time, and there's been less knitting and more hand-stitching this last week. I'm working on a tunic, checking fit and refining my techniques.
The root of the idea
I have a generous bolt of natural-coloured cotton/hemp jersey. I've been thinking I'd like to make a princess-seamed dress out of it, preferably dip-dyed a gradient coffee brown.
I've had it stashed for a while; I made this dress in 2007.
I usually draft my own patterns, but I didn't think I was up to drafting a princess-seamed pattern. I'd searched several times for a pattern designed for jersey-knit fabrics, and while I'd found several princess-seamed dresses, nothing that was right for the target fabric. So this summer when I started reading Alabama Chanin books, I was pleased to find a princess-seamed pattern made for knit fabrics.
I'm pretty good at tracing patterns, but I decided to take the pattern from the book to a copy shop and have it copied so I could cut it out. Turns out those oversized copies cost $5.00/page, so the pattern cost me ten bucks in copying fees! Which was more than I spent on the fabric. I picked up two large grey t-shirts for fifty cents each, and used them as my fabric.
I'm a little torn on the techniques. There's something elegant about the hand-stitched seams, but I'm not convinced it's that much better than seaming up the dress, lickety split, on the serger. I've hand-stitched this tunic to gain the practice I need, and I could see my seams improving as I progressed. The seams are stitched on the inside, and top-stitched to one side. In this picture, you can see the neckline with stay-stitching, the armhole lined, and the top-stitched princess seam.
I learned a new stitch on this project. The book calls it "Rosebud", and I quite enjoyed it. It certainly takes a lot of time and a lot of thread. I had two days off this week, and although both days were filled with errands, I also got some stitching time at home. On the first day, I top-stitched all six seams on the dress. On the second day, I only stitched the facing on the armhole. The seams in the dress each took two to three lengths of thread to stitch and top-stitch. The armhole took ten lengths of thread to stitch. A needle threaded to the length of almost my arm only stitches a distance of two to three inches in rosebud stitch. The following two photos show my progress: my very first time doing the stitch, and how my technique had settled down by the end of the first armhole.
So the dress is coming together nicely. I still have to face the other armhole and neckline, and I want to do something along the hem. I wound up changing size from the pattern I used for the corset top, but I'm still unhappy with the fit. I will probably be adjusting the bodice fit a little more in the next project. And while I'm pretty pleased with the outcome, I'm not yet sure if I'll wear it. You see, there's a bit of a logo, right on the butt. My original intent was to decorate the dress with stitched dots, in order to cover it up, but I'm not sure I still like the dotty idea. I've also wondered about just wearing it with the logo, which strikes me as really funny, but of course my daughter thinks that's a terrible idea. I also have pondered the idea of putting a back pocket on the dress, which was again struck down by the progeny, but I haven't totally tossed the idea out.