Greetings courtneylovebears. I can’t believe you’re ten years older than me. How did we get so old? Oh, sigh. Anyway. I know 1995 was a tough year for you but nevertheless, I took a trip in my magic sewing-time-machine and made myself a little baby doll dress. Remember how obsessed I was? Well, thanks to LAP, I snagged McCalls 7523 – a straight from the 90’s babydoll beauty – and made myself a nice rose bedecked tent. Here. I’ll model it with some hello kitty socks and era-appropriate footwear…
I hope all you courtneylovebears are appreciating how the late afternoon sunbeam is lighting up my winter white legs!
Here’s a shot of the pattern envelope, so all ya’ll can see what we’re working with. Published in 1995 – does that count as vintage yet?
Hmmmm…what shall we talk about first? The scandalously short length or the giantness of the dress? Lets go with the latter… it’s HUGE!!
This picture doesn’t even show the half of it. Literally. I wasn’t sure what size to cut, but I’d ordered the 22 – 26, so I went with the 24. Ladies, I think I’d probably fit a size 12. There’s 10 inches of each in the bust and about 10 feet in the skirt! I knew when I decided to make a babydoll that it would be a giant, shapeless dress. And don’t get me wrong – it’s exactly what I wanted! It just cracks me up a little. I mean – the ‘sleeves’ are only about an inch long – and see how the droop halfway down to my elbows? Giant!
The length, on the other hand was 100% user error. You know how you work to get the perfect fit on your garment, then realize when you take it out for a trip in the real world that your perfect fit didn’t really take normal movements such as sitting or putting on a coat into account? (don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s done that…) Yeah, well, that’s sort of what I did. Also, I did it with a serger, ignoring basic techniques such as, um, measuring. I finished the dress, took a look at the (unhemmed) length and decided I needed to cut abut six inches off, but to be safe, I’d only cut off four. With the serger. By eyeballing it. I ended up with an almost-shirt that looked like it had been hemmed by a whole pack of courtneylovebears. Not you guys, the other pack. The one that’s not so good at sewing. Wanna see my undies?
Almost, kittens. Almost. You’ll see that I added a bit of lace to the bottom edge to help things out a bit!
Even with the shapeless volume and the don’t-go-out-if-it’s-breezy length, I really love the dress. I like dresses with buttons all the way down the front. It’s like a housecoat! And I LOVE the fabric. I’ve owned a long succession of slightly uggo dresses with crazytown prints that I’d settled on just because I wanted ANY dress and the options were uninspiring. This print, I love. And there are ways to fix shapelessness and shortness, right kittens?
Option one: belt it.
It’s sort of weird to belt the dress as there is NO shaping in the bodice. No darts, tucks – not even any shaping in the pattern pieces! But a bit of futzing with the gathers and it works just fine. Here, I’ve paired it with an extremely odd shade of magenta tights and heels. I chose these heels because I thought it was funny how long my legs looked. Attack of the magenta legged giantess. Don’t worry, she’s wearing 4” platforms – she’s not moving super fast…
I like the belt action – it was cute with a narrow belt too, but the narrow belt was prone to slipping around a bit more. It’s nice how my shapely hips make it look a bit like I’ve got a crinoline on under that skirt, isn’t it?
Option two: layer it.
To combat the shortness, there’s the obv solution of wearing with leggings, but I wasn’t feeling the floppy dress with leggings vibe today so I skipped that. Luckily my turn of the century shift (featured in yesterday’s post) is a good length to wear under the dress. I like the black lace edging on the white! Even though this is a pretty shapeless look, I suspect I’ll be going for it a lot when it gets hot this summer.
Option three: layer it. Then belt it.
Of course, I could certainly add some shape AND some length. I am loving the petticoat-and-overdress look. Just a bit of Marie Antoinette style for the modern world, right? A sweater and a belt give me my shape back.
Wanna see me do a a 360?
Option four: wear bloomers.
Finally, in a ensemble that harkens back to my youth, how about a pair of cut-offs-as-pantaloons? This is TOTALLY a look I like and is comfy. I mean – who doesn’t like wearing jeans under their dresses, right? I was going to blast some Whitesnake on my iPod and pose on the hood of my car, but the neighbors probably already think I’m a nutball and I don’t think the Subaru station wagon would have quite the same effect as the Jaguar in the video.
I was also thinking this might be a good place for Colette’s mini-bloomers, except then I’d be nearly 20 years out of high school, wearing a babydoll dress and bloomers. I believe I would get more freaky flickr fans if I went down that road…
There really isn’t a lot to say about the construction of the dress. It’s super easy. The facings were interesting – they were totally cut on, not sewn on, so the front bodice pieces looked like swoopy capital Y’s. Also, even though the dress was so giant, the arms were a bit snug. If I make again – which I’m totally considering – I’d probably cut it down a bit, lower the neckline to a bigger scoop and loosen the sleeves. Here’s the inside of the dress – I sewed pretty much the whole thing on the serger.
I added the lace detail to the bottom hem. It’s lace fabric that’s scalloped along the edges. I just cut the edges to make a nice strip and topstitched on.
So there we are! The 1995 dress. Out of my system, but not for good.
This dress is part of my Year of the Dress project. One new dress pattern each month in 2011. Catch up on all the year of the dress posts here.
I lived in dresses like this back then!! And with DocMarten boots too, lol!
You've captured the era brilliantly, and I like the longer dress underneath. Wouldn't have thought of 🙂
i. LOVE. your posts!!!! they make me so happy!
your buttons seem perfectly straight to moi… note to self: black on black works better than lavender on chocolate. i love that lace edging and the myriad ways to wear this!
I admit I ordered this pattern after your initial post. Now I think you've actually inspired me to make it, and maybe use some Kool-Aid to dye my hair a primary color.
haha i love that you actually made this. i love the fabric you used & i love the way you styled it. the only thing missing is that you *didn't* blast whitesnake & pose on the hood of your car – why would you tease us like that?!
anyway, werq it 🙂
I have to admit that when you confessed your obsession with the baby doll I was apprehensive. You see, I made (non-maternity versions) and wore them when I was preggers and people couldn't even tell I was 2 weeks overdue! (Yes– I was making babies in the 90's.) My mom made me a maternity version but I never wore it because all that fabric threatened to crush me.
Well girl, you actually made it work. I am so going to copy your under and over layering look and I'm getting me a petticoat, natch.
1)I LOVE THE DRESS! 2) This post had me laughing my arse off. 3) I think posing on the station wagon would be total WIN, who cares what the neighbors think. 4)I am now going to comb through my old patterns cause I MUST have a babydoll dress in there somewhere…
What a success! I love the lace hem, and I love all the styling fixes. My favorite of all the looks is with the cutoffs and boots, and would also like it with "mini-leggings". For fun you should try layering it with the orchid half slip too..
Option 2! Option 3! Love the dress!
Yay! So cute—and I love all the different ways you dressed it up!
@Sigrid—I was still wearing mine through and after my first pregnancy, too. It was only when I had toddlers to run after and retired my super-short skirts that it went.
Love options 2 and 3. Have you thought about the other 90s staple with this? The back clip. It was a short piece (3-4 inches) of decorative ribbon or fabric, sometimes with flowers, that had the same clips on both ends as suspenders. We would use them to bring in the back of the giant dress so that it fit better around the body, and then you would get this fun excess of fabric at the back like a pleat. Oh, and confession time? It wasn't this exact pattern, but I made this dress back in the 90s out of quilting fabric with suns, moons and stars all oover it. I wore it with slouchy socks and boots and always felt very stylish, so I fully approve of this month's dress offering.
I bought that pattern when it was new! Still have the dresses I made (Views B & C) and was totally thinking about making one of those clips that flyskim was talking about. Yours is much cuter though, Patty, and I really like all the ways you styled it, especially option 3. Just goes to show you if you hang onto something long enough it will eventually come back in style!
I made this pattern when I was 16 and worked at Northwest Fabrics. It was a model garment. I still have it hanging in my closet almost 20 years later!
YOu had me at Courtney Love (my idol)! and then i saw this dress and how freecking kick ass you are in it! Snuggy Buggy you just got major cool points!
Very cute dress! I love the outfit with tights!
Great post – and I love Options 2 & 3!