Evening sea otters. It is so cool that you eat your dinner on your tummies. Speaking of which, after last night’s painstaking post on classic wardrobe pieces, I’m back and I’m looking for help finding a pattern for yet another classic garment: the babydoll dress. Hello 1995, I’m coming to get you.

[image feathers and rags]

Yes. I’m going to make one. And yes. It’s going to be that short. Summer’s almost here and I have absolutely no shame when it’s 90 degrees out. Of course, I’ll probably wear something underneath. I was thinking cut off jeans. Or perhaps even a pair of Colette Mini Bloomers, which would bring me nicely into a fetish lifestyle that I haven’t really considered until right this minute.

The search for the babydoll dress pattern has been brewing and is full on due to a semi-recent acquisition of some military boots. Not as authentic as my lost-along-the-way 10 hole docs, but much more comfy and I think they are much cuter.

[Two Lips Liberty boot. Image Amazon**]


So how did I get to this place, where I’m searching for a dress pattern that I’m most likely to find in the maternity section of the current pattern books? It was very insidious. First, I got the boots. They are quite comfy and fun. And you all know how much I love good boot. I thought I’d wear mostly with jeans, but once in my possession, I started to recall how much I loved boots and dresses. How I searched thrift stores high and low for the perfect dress. How I consistently settled for a dress that was a bit more cast off Sunday School teacher dress than babydoll. I remembered how the dresses I really  liked were at Global Village, a shop in the closest (uh, a two hour drive…) big city that sold incense and those odd smelling black canvas mary janes and strange wooden bowls. I liked the dresses there, but even in high school, the XL wasn’t quite swishy enough for my taste. I was more of an XXL – even though at 18 I wore a size 14 or 16, depending on the brand. Before I was completely overcome with memories of the 90’s and headed out to start applying at coffee shops and stock up on used CDs of Bob Marley and Lords of Acid (what can I say, it was the soundtrack of my life circa 1994) it occurred to me that I can stock up on all the craptastic polyester voile with a floral print that my little heart desires and make my own darn babydoll dress. This time, with enough swish.

[image stylehive]

I am aware that a summer wardrobe of babydoll dresses will make me look a wee bit odd. There will, perhaps, be a bit of age-inappropriate behavior going on. And my feet will get hot in those boots. I hate hot feet. Nevertheless, this is the direction that I will be taking summer 2011.

If only I could find a PATTERN!! OK, I know a few of you will probably pipe in and say that I should just make one, sans pattern. I was thinking that too. I mean, could there be an easier dress pattern to come up with all on my own? I don’t recall these dresses having any shaping on the top half, and the skirts are darn near rectangles with gathering. Granted, my preference is for a bit of a sleeve and sleeves are my weak point, but I could probably make this without an official pattern. Right? The thing is, I don’t have any problems completely revamping a pattern to suit my whim, but I really like to start with something that has good bones. And. There. Is. Nothing. Out. There.
polka dots baby

[image weardrobe]

OK, enough eyecandy. I’ve been including the dress photos not only to entertain, but to instruct. The babydoll dress I’m hankering for is not just a floral dress. Not even a short floral dress with an empire waist, although I would also be happy with short floral dresses and empire waists. The main design elements I’m after are:

  • bodice with minimal shaping – no gathers, darts or other shenanigans
  • empire waist
  • skirt that is very gathered
  • scooped neck
  • sleeves – slightly dropped shoulders
  • buttons all the way down the front from neckline to hem

I stopped by Joann’s to feverishly thumb through pattern books the other day. I checked Burda, New Look, Kwik Sew, Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and Silhouettes. Even in the pattern books, the basic shapes for all dresses are sheath, the full skirt/fitted bodice 50’s shape, or in the case of Vogue, crazytown, but with very clean lines. There were a few Anna Sui patterns that were calling to me, but not only do I not want to spend a full week of my life working on pintucks (hello Vogue 1177), but they weren’t the design I was searching for. Although with a good floral fabric, they would be a fine compliment to my hot and sweaty military boots.

[Vogue 1177]

Obviously, if I were to attempt this Vouge pattern, that drawstring would not end up right on my hips like the model’s dress.

BTW, for those of you who missed out on the 90’s, let me be the first to say that contrary to internet reports, we did not all wear greasy hair, choker necklaces, baggy jeans, overalls, platform sneakers, banana clips, brightly colored denim, flannel, fur lined trenchcoats and Keds. At least, not all in the same day.

Back to the pattern issue. I left Joanns and checked the interwebs. I thought I might have some luck at Hotpatterns, but alas, struck out. At least I think I did – does anyone else have a hard time seeing their new website? The pattern images are teeny.

The last place I checked was Lanetz Living. You can search for patterns by decade on the site. Here’s the best option I came up with:

[Vogue 8315]

This is actually a great option. I’d raise the waistline a bit, and make it from more flowy material (I actually do have some craptastic floral print poly voile hanging out in my fabric cabinet) – but this pattern is a size 8-12, so I’d have to grade up before making my general fitting changes – for this style, probably only an FBA on a size 18, as I’m guessing the wearing ease at the waist and hip are more than generous. I don’t know if it’s worth the six dollars plus shipping, plus waiting (I’m not very patient, mail order annoys me) to get a pattern I’ll have to chop up just to get started. Sigh. Also, total disclosure, I couldn’t bear scrolling through the patterns on the Lanetz Living site. Good lord. What were people sewing in the 90s? It was all giant blazers and giant shoulders and other horrifying things.

Final note. For all you doubters out there, and to return to the premise of my post yesterday on making classic clothing styles work for me; while I’m fixated on finding the right pattern to start from on my babydoll quest, I fully expect that once I get started I will add some sort of shaping to the bodice and perhaps ease back on the gathering in the skirt. I mean, if I put on a dress with no shaping from the bust down, it will be muumuu city! But I want to start with the right pattern and take it from there!

OK, night all! Please let me know if you have a lead on a babydoll pattern, contemporary sizing 18. And let me know if I missed anything on my trip down 90’s lane. I spent a good part of the decade in coffee shops and at parties in warehouses. It’s quite possible I’m mis-remembering…

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