Episode IV

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

The dress formerly known as Simplicity 3965, alias the Star Wars Dress.

She is finished (well, mostly. Still need to slipstitch the bottom of the bodice lining) And I am triumphant, mostly. (I also had WAY too much fun with the Lomo-ish filer in Picasa while editing these photos. Sorry.)


I am definitely going to chalk this one up as a victory for Project Drop Waist. Bodice has been lengthened, and it fits, I think, pretty darn well. Minor dart issues aside. I will confess, after completion I took the bodice in a smidge at the side-seams. It was pleasantly skimming, but I fear I prefer “hugging.” Eve if it’s not objectively better. /sigh.


Boring Construction Bit:

The only problem with sewing with bedsheets is that your fabric is, well, bedsheet. Which doesn’t always have the greatest drape. So I wanted to underline. Digging through stash spat out a couple of pieces of cotton-poly broadcloth that seemed like they would work well while adding a bit more body to my fabric. I wanted to underline the whole thing, and then line the bodice. Once I cut the underlining, I used those pieces to cut out the shell (aka sheet) pieces. The cream broadcloth was just sheer enough to make positioning the motifs (aka Luke & Leia) a breeze, and I’m very glad I didn’t try to cut them out on the fold. I used this tutorial for the pattern-matching on the back; it’s not perfect, (and I may have thrown the back slightly off grain—but not the underlining!) but I’m satisfied. I didn’t attempt pattern matching anywhere else—I would’ve lost too much width on the skirt. And it wasn’t possible to match the side-seams and the back seam.

Pattern matching across the zipper (on a curved seam). Not perfect, but I’m not going to complain.

I used the trick of stitching down the fold of the dart first, to keep the shell and underlining from shifting when sewing the darts, and it worked like a charm. Sadly, I wasn’t able to completely avoid dart-tip poofiness. I’m not quite as panicked about darts as I used to be, but I am still a long way from mastering their subtleties (I’m just happy they usually turn out more-or-less symmetrical these days). I think the fact that the original pattern was designed for a pointier, early-60s bra didn’t help the situation. Anyway, not make-or-break. I did all my marking on the underlining, with my new chalk pencil (in bright fuschia. I am currently convinced that those marks will never come out…), which worked well except for when I tried sharpening it and broke of a big chunk of “lead”. I don’t think it’ll replace my love of my wash-away marker, but it is nice for larger areas, and comes in loads of colours. I also used a tracing-wheel and some of my vintage tracing paper, which I’ve never really gotten comfortable with in the past. But it was really handy for tracing the dart shaping more precisely than I tend to.

That’s a lot of skirt… (The pile of blue fabric above it is the entire remnants of the sheet)

Once I had cut the bodice pieces, I trimmed the rest of the sheet (it had been a fitted sheet, so there were some odd notches from the corners) into a rectangle (rrrrip!) losing a couple of inches to a small tear that I’m ever so glad I noticed, and determined (YAY!) that I would have enough fabric to make the skirt two sheet-widths wide. I got the sheet-widths stitched together, and the underlining as well, and then had a panic that the skirt was going to be insanely full. I mean, I was going for pouffy gathers, but there’s pouffy and then there’s pouffy, you know. I pulled out the original skirt pattern pieces, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that while my skirt was a bit shorter than the original pattern pieces (remembering that my “waist” is a couple of inches lower, too), the total width I had was actually only a few inches wider than the pattern suggested. Not enough to be bothered about in a skirt like this. Win!

Keeping the underlining and lining of the skirt together, smooth, and not wonky over that whole 3m+ length was distinctly nerve-wracking. To continue my couture efforts, I decided to use the 2″ horsehaid braid I found at Fabricland a few weeks back, for the low, low price of $4/m (fortunately 50% off). I considered slipping the horsehair between the underlining and the fashion fabric, but in the end went with stitching it to the fabric and then wrapping  the hem around it. I was going to just link to Gertie’s horsehair hem posts, but checking them over, none is exactly what I did. Though they’re all lovely methods. Obviously I should’ve taken some photos—oopsie. I then did some quick and dirty retro-fitting to stitch part of the rear seam (but not all of it because I didn’t want it stitched for my zipper insertion) so that I could overlap the horsehair braid at the seam. And then I realized I needed to figure out a way to finish the back edge, again only partially. I opted for binding. More retro-fitting. Not my most well-thought-through process (there was quite a bit of that in this project). But it’s all together, now. I hand-stitched the hem in place, catching it to the underlining (mostly), while watching Chronicle with Osiris last night. That was pretty fun.

Zig-zag casing gathering method.

I used the zig-zag-over-supplementary-thread method to gather the top of the skirt. (I originally learned this method with dental floss, but it occurred to me that the dental floss I buy is the super-fancy-expensive slippery stuff, so probably another sturdy thread is more economical; I used some button thread I have). This is my favourite gathering method, far and away, for medium to large amounts of gathering where I need a precise ratio of gathering. I used this clear foot, which I think is meant for inserting invisible zippers, because the grooves were pretty good for holding the thread underneath, and the clearness made it easy to keep track of where the thread was. It’s still not quite as good for this purpose as a cording foot, but I don’t seem to have one of those at this point. Really any zig-zag foot will work, but the cording foot holds the supplementary thread in a little tunnel, not just a groove, so it physically can’t slip out from under the zig-zag.

Another dig through of my vintage zippers turned up a blue invisible zip in the suggested (14″) length (plastic teeth this time). I was a bit surprised how short of a zipper was called for, but then I remembered that the back of this dress is way low. And 14″ is plenty, although the invisible zip doesn’t really like going past the gathered part at the waist. As per usual, I used this method for insertion.

Back view

The one thing I was concerned about, dropping the waist, was how it would affect the proportions of the skirt. Rather than having a short bodice and a long skirt, I now have a long bodice and a shorter skirt. The skirt comes a bit below my usual knee-length, but I was worried that making it any shorter would just look weirdly odd—like a tutu, perhaps. I considered doing some funky golden ratio calculations but in the end got lazy and decided to run with my current length and see. I can’t really lengthen it, after all, and I can always take it up if I need to. Now that I look at the photos, I think it’s all right—I don’t think I would want it any shorter, though. (And yes, I’m wearing the crazy square-dancing crinoline. It’s not really possible to wear this one without the lace showing, since the inner layer hangs lower than the outer layer. So it’s a design feature. 😉

I was considering adding a waist-stay, but then got confused. where do you put a waist-stay in, in a dropped-waist bodice? At the waist seam (down on my hips) or the actual waist? There’s a couple of inches of ease at the hips, so I’m worried a stay there that was snug enough to take the weight of the ruffles would cause a gathered look at the bottom of the bodice. On the other hand, it might make a weird fold at the waist. Hmm.

In hind-sight, piping the edges of the bodice and even the waist with something dark would’ve been a nice touch. I thought about trim going in and didn’t want to because the print was so busy, but I think a solid navy or black piping would’ve anchored the edges. I also didn’t understitch anything, though I should probably do some hand-understitching to keep the white lining from rolling out.

A little more utter photo ridiculousness.

Still, pretty happy. Now where am I going to wear it?



Filed under Sewing

65 responses to “Episode IV

  1. First Cation Designs and now you. You two are joining forces to torture me. Now I am obsessing over Star Wars sheets.

    The dress is adorable, I think the length could be a little longer (fabric permitting of course), but no shorter. Where are you going to wear it?

  2. That. Is. Amazing!!! The fit is great. The dropped waist is perfect on you. And it’s Star Wars. Oh. My. Gosh. Where will you wear it?? Everywhere!!! To the grocery store, the thrift store, bed. It’s amazing.

  3. Cecilia

    I’m with Katie; something this wonderful AND becoming can/should be worn anywhere.


  4. This is great! Wow!
    Where to wear it? Save it for next year’s Comic Expo? Or meet me for drinks?

  5. EEEEeeee! I love it! If I could fit even my leg in it I’d come and steal it. Actually, I may steal it anyways because GORGEOUS! I really love the deep scoop at the back, that looks lovely on you. I’m super impressed by your pattern matching across the zip. Nice job. 😀

  6. OK, this is adorable! Who else could wear a Star Wars bedsheet with a crinoline and make it look so RIGHT??

  7. I love how it fits! The full skirt is lovely =D

  8. Fabulous fabric for this dress!

  9. Wear it anywhere, everywhere. 🙂 It’s too too fun to stay in the closet! I’m not a SW fan really, but this dress is really great- fitting, the sewing, and *gasp* the pattern matching!

  10. It’s beautiful!!!!!!!!!!! And you need to wear it…. anywhere…. everywhere!

  11. Squeeeee!! Love it! Love it! Love it! I love how you used the pattern on the front and back!

  12. Oh my! Cation AND you! This is all kinds of greatness. I would die to walk beside you in the grocery store! This dress has to be worn out – it would probably make many peoples’ days!

  13. This is made of win. WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (exclamation point)

    (random side note: I have the same chalk pencil, and best I can tell, the marks never, ever come out. even after being soaked in water, so be veeery careful.)

  14. I LOVE IT!!!!!!! WoW! That dress looks fantastic, I LOVE the dropped waist, and it fits beautifully. Way to go!

  15. You are going to wear it to my house, because that is FREAKING awesome. I would totally take you out and show you off in that dress (well, I would anyway because looky, I have a friend, but then it becomes looky, I have a friend who makes KICKASS STAR WARS DRESSES).

    I now need a sheet for a dress — Ebay, here I come!

  16. That is too awesome for words! Great fit, and love your Luke and Leia matching on the back!

  17. FAN-FRIGGING-TASTIC!! that star wars dress is damn amazing!! love the drop waist, love the full skirt, love the matching, love it all! lady, you always deliver more than expected!

  18. Bri

    I love this dress! You did a great job of matching the pattern by the zipper too! I think a waist stay is at the waist regardless of the length of the bodice?
    I hope you get to wear this dress out soon!

    • LinB

      Yes, put the waist stay at your natural waist. You only need tack it to the seam allowances for it to be effective. Up to you as to whether to stop it at the zipper seam, or make it long enough to fasten around your waist before zipping up. Either way will help support the weight of the skirt, and keep the bodice from creeping up your torso as you move and breathe.

  19. so.awesome.

    omg. I don’t think I could take it off, it’s that awesome.

  20. Awesome, awesome awesome!!!!! That is amazing. Nice work on the pattern matching as well 😛 both you and cation have got me dreaming about novelty print dresses now!!!

  21. A Starwars dress!!! Who would even have thought?! 🙂

  22. Very very very cool. Love the dropped waist and the way you worked around it. Thank you for all the deets. Very impressed with the pattern matching across the zipper too ….

  23. What an incredibly fun dress! 😀 And I’m totally impressed by your pattern matching over the zipper. I love the combination of nerdiness and girlishness!

  24. I am so jealous!!!! It’s gorgeous and your print placement is so perfect!! Dork squeals!!!

  25. Wear it anywhere! You look amazing. The dropped waist and low back are just perfect on you. Awesome!

  26. Ahhh, your metaclorian count must be high – as the FORCE is strong in this one ;)….

  27. Amy

    Bravo! You and Cation really will have all of us scouring our local thrift stores for the best sheets. This dress is just perfect. Great job on modifying for the fit that you want.

  28. This is too awesome for words. Except that I’ll go ahead and use words (and not my fists) anyway…I am in love with the floofiness of the skirt and the unbelievable matching across the zipper! And also the underlining and lining…way to take care with your sheet! Your dress almost makes me want to experiment with dropped-waist silhouettes, even though I know that for me at least, that way lies nothing good. Now we just need to have a SW-dress meetup!

  29. Sherry

    Just awesome! Wear it everywhere! I love the neckline of that bodice. And navy/blue really suits you!

  30. Oh man that just rocks. I know some game nights you could wear it to. Of course we’d have to get you to at least Manitoba for that.

  31. Nice. What sort of petticoat are you wearing underneath? Is the bustle effect caused by it or is that all you? XD Wear it to comic-con, you are in North America, ergo, you must attend every single one. I’ve linked the narrow hemmer foot instructions here by the way. Not sure whether it trackbacked’d your blog or not. &^%’ing WP commenting bugs…

    • The petticoat is a square-dancing type crinoline I found at the thrift store last summer. The bustle-effect in the side-view picture is mostly from me standing with maximum swayback—aka sticking my butt out. Not a good posture, but it made for a cute pic, I thought. 🙂

  32. This is brilliant! Probably my favorite thing that you have made. Great job!

  33. Oh wow! So absolutely amazingly cool… and cute! I love the silhouette it makes, especially from the side. Best ‘project bed-sheet’…. ever! 🙂

  34. Trudyd

    Gold,pure gold!

  35. I love the dropped waist look on you. Where are you going to wear this too? 😉


    • LinB

      Hopefully to the bar in the second (?) movie, where the amazing cabaret musicians are playing. (It was in a universe far away, long ago, when I first watched these movies, in their first releases.)

  37. Amazingness! I love it so much! I totally need to make a geeky dress to join in the fun…

  38. Awesome and genius and the coolest dress I’ve ever seen! It looks amazing fit also…this dress makes you my sewing hero!!!

  39. LLBB

    love the matched pattern at the back zip!!

  40. Ali

    You know, I was dubious about the drop-waist but you look super curvy and lovely in it! Everytime I go to a fair out here, there’s someone who has created beautiful dresses from thrifted sheets that sell for $89 each. It combines whimsy with the formal — love it. The force is with you, lady.

    • My excess of leg may help with the drop-waist thing. Glad to hear I pulled it off! 😉

      Finding awesome sheets is the trick, as far as I’m concerned. A lot of the newer ones (I’m talking novelty kids’ sheets here) have horrible fabric.

  41. OMG! This is so awesome, and you are going to turn heads wherever you go!

  42. Where won’t you wear it?! Seriously awesome. And my Yoda slumber bag might wish I hadn’t seen this. Thanks for posting all your retro-fitting hindsight, as that is the story of my sewing life at times.

  43. Meg

    Holy.Cannoli. I LOVE IT SO VERY MUCH!! What a fabulous dress and you look oh so geektasticly amazing in it!

  44. Joy

    Very cool, and cute, (and geeky). The dropped waist DOES look nice on you – apparently you have the right kind of midriff. And I’m glad to see the dress is suitable work-wear (:

  45. Dear Tant-Isis, you rock my world forever. Love, Mikhaela

  46. Pingback: Follow-up | Tanit-Isis Sews

  47. Oh my goodness… love it!!!

  48. Sonya Wiley

    How much to have you make another???????? That is AWESOME and I would totally be my son’s hero! LOL 🙂 You did amazing!

  49. Pingback: Sewing boxer shorts or trunks

  50. Leia's Mommy

    OMG I had those sheets on my bed as a kid in 1977! Love the dress! I’d wear it! My daughter would love it too!

  51. Pingback: FO: insanely frankenpatterned yet awesome star wars t-shirt | puu's door of time

  52. Pingback: Feast Your Eyes – Rodarte Fall 2014 RTW | Falling Through Your Clothes

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