Tuesday, April 21, 2015

KCW Day 1 - Sentimental Knit Dress

After my mom's funeral last year, my sisters and I cleaned out her closet.  We donated a bunch, kept a couple pieces that we wanted to wear, and I squirreled away a few things that I thought I might repurpose into clothing for her granddaughters.

Among the latter items were my mom's infamous fish dresses.  Over the course of the last 10 or so years of her life, I think she bought at least five of these dresses.  When we cleaned out the closet there were three remaining.  They all had different labels and were bought at different stores at different times, but other than color, were pretty much exactly the same.  All are made of non-stretchy knit t-shirt material, are printed with a rather unattractive ocean themed pattern, and are shaped like tents.  These dresses were a running joke among my sisters - we couldn't understand why mom gravitated towards them.  But they were part of her summer uniform (although sadly I have been unable to find any photos of her actually wearing one).

I have a great memory associated with the blue dress in particular, though.  We spent a few months in the States in 2012 between our overseas postings.  During that time, dress-obsessed big sister would not tolerate her "Baka" (how she pronounced "Babushka") coming downstairs in anything other than a dress.  If Baka were to descend in pants and a shirt, big sister would take her by the hand, lead her upstairs to the closet and pick out a dress.  The light blue fish print was her favorite one.

When I took away these dresses, I had in mind summer beach clothes for Baka's three granddaughters.   Yesterday I pulled the dresses out and spent some time thinking about how to do it. I decided to use the Comfy Knit Dress tutorial from lbg studio, pinned ages ago but never attempted.

After much hemming and hawing I decided to use a number of different fabrics from the stash.  I was going for a cute boho effect but I'm not really sure how much I like the end result.  I don't think the fish fabric really goes with the other prints.

 I extended the pattern to a 4/5 size per the tutorial but I neglected to reinforce my shoulder seams and as a result the weight of the skirt pulls the bodice down.  It's almost indecent, as you can see, so I need to go back in and shorten the shoulder straps (and reinforce that seam).

Though I had planned the blue fabric for big sister's dress, the bodice ended up too large for her.  Little sister was happy to take the dress, though, and although I'm still not quite sure how I like it, it will work for play this summer.

I'm still planning to sew two more of these dresses using more of the fish fabric.  On the cutting table right now is a version using denim jegging fabric for the bodice and the green fish for the skirt.  Not certain how to use the black, if at all, for a little girl's dress. I have enough of the blue for the third dress so I might just turn the black into a beachy skirt for myself.  It's funny how the ugliness of the fabric doesn't seem to matter anymore ... suddenly the butt of years of jokes takes on enough sentimental value that I'm willing to wear it.  Funny how that happens.


  1. What a cute, fun, summer dress! And a great way to use a sentimental (especially one with lively and comical memories associated with it) fabric. I bet this will fit her for years too. You can always add another ruffle! :-)

  2. I loved the story of your mum's fish dresses. So lovely to make something new to carry the memories!

  3. I love this so much Masha, you make that beach shirt, and be proud!
    xx N

  4. This idea is so incredibly sweet and the dresses you made are both fun and beautiful! I bet your mom would have loved them!


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