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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

City Mouse dress

When they reached the mansion in which the Town Mouse lived, they found on the table in the dining room the leavings of a very fine banquet. There were sweetmeats and jellies, pastries, delicious cheeses, indeed, the most tempting foods that a Mouse can imagine. But just as the Country Mouse was about to nibble a dainty bit of pastry, she heard a Cat mew loudly and scratch at the door…

“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” from Aesop’s Fables

* * *

Who doesn’t love a fifties-style shirtdress? I sure do.



Backyard photos by Kate or Elliot.


I stopped by Grey’s Fabric at the beginning of the summer to take advantage of a 15% off sale, and spotted this snazzy, not-too-girly floral (Central Park Fog from the Gramercy Collection by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics—hence the title of this post. Which means, of course, that there must also be a “country mouse” dress at some point.)


central park fog


There was only a yard and a quarter left on the bolt, and while I purchased it thinking I’d make a blouse, this fabric knew what it wanted to be: a Hawthorn dress. So I ordered a couple more yards from Llama Fabrics on Etsy.



I am a big fan of Colette Patterns, as you know, although I must admit that I have many more patterns stashed than I’ve actually gotten around to sewing yet (like Zinnia and Parfait and Sencha and Ginger; I also need to blog the Sorbetto I made for my sister last Christmas). And this pattern was an absolute dream—I couldn’t believe how easily it came together. (Sidebar: I rarely do trial garments/fittings, which are called muslins. You know I fly by the seat of my pants, or in this case, skirt. So I really lucked out that Colette’s size 6 fit so perfectly.)




I’d been putting off learning how to make buttonholes for ages, but once I resolved to learn (and did, thanks to this awesome Youtube tutorial; so straightforward, right??) it was smooth sewing. UNTIL. I mentioned in my last sewing post that I had created a real disaster for myself. What happened, you ask? While opening the buttonholes I applied a tad too much pressure on the seam ripper.




I KNOW, RIGHT? *wails, tears at hair, gnashes teeth*

But I held it together. I can fix this, I said to myself, because there was no way I was going to take this dress apart and redo the right front bodice. I figured the busy pattern would more or less camouflage any mends, and I do believe I was right:




(I Fray-checked the “wound” immediately and zig-zagged it shut a few days later with some hand stitching on top, matching thread to pattern as closely as possible.)

Mackenzi and I are sewing her launch dress (Facebook RSVP here, btw—Friday, September 25th at Porter Square Books at 7pm, be there OR ELSE) using the same pattern, and when she tried on this first version for sizing purposes she didn’t even notice the repair job.




Quick note on circle skirt anatomy here: because it flares, there is too much fabric to be hemmed as usual, and if you try you’ll end up with wrinkles at regular intervals. I was originally going to follow the instructions for the 1 1/2″ hand-stitched hem, but after a couple of rounds of pressing I did not have confidence that the hem was going to lay flat. So, as other Hawthorn sewists have done, I followed Gertie’s two-part tutorial for a narrow hem, eliminating the need to ease in the fullness. If you are making this dress, you also might want to refer to the Hawthorn sewalong page for tips on adjustments and suchlike.


camille and bacon cupcakes

Inaugural wearing at Kelly T’s birthday picnic at the Lawn on D the weekend before last (along with some very melty butterscotch-and-coconut-bacon cupcakes).


Despite the seam ripper mishap, I really love how this dress came out!




3 Comments to City Mouse dress

  1. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    August 28, 2015 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Love the photos of you in the yard! Can you send me a copy of the one with you, Kate and Olivia? Just love that one!!

  2. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    August 28, 2015 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I would have never noticed the rip. I love the fabric!

  3. cal's Gravatar cal
    August 31, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    SEW stinkin’ cute!!! hot tip: when i cut buttonholes, i put the point of the seam ripper into the hole, then right back out (still inside the hole), THEN rip! this makes it impossible to cut through the stitching. then if i need to cut a bit more i just use the tips of my tiny pointy snipping scissors. beautiful job on the mending though!!!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.