One Little White Dress – two looks

Lately, every time I go on holiday overseas I get obsessed with creating a particular “look” – this time, for my trip to Vietnam, I simply had to have a white dress (obviously I ignored my own advice from the last time I created a holiday wardrobe). Maybe it was the images I had in mind of the plain white ao dai traditionally worn by Vietnamese ladies, or maybe it was due to me clicking through the recent Spring/Summer collections and seeing lots of little white numbers, but I NEEDED a little white dress for my trip.

White

I found a super-simple pattern for a T-shirt style top (I just made it a bit longer to be mini-dress length) and made this one the night before I left Melbourne. It’s made of just two pattern pieces – the front and back of the dress –  with no darts or tailoring whatsoever, so I added a bit of interest by making the sleeves a bit longer than necessary so I could roll them up.

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Not bad for a last-minute job, hey?

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I was happy with how it turned out but when I travel, I like to get the most out of my outfits, so I started thinking why pack two dresses when you can pack just one instead (ie leaving more room in the suitcase for the textiles I inevitably end up buying )? Turn the simple white dress wrong side out and you have… yes, another simple white dress, but with visible seams. Cover up the seams with rick-rack in a contrasting colour, though, and you have something like this…

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It wasn’t tricky to do, although a bit time-consuming, because I did everything by hand – but then again, it was a good way to while away a few hours on the train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh (more on that in my next post!).Basically all I did was stitch the rick-rack to the seams so no stitching could be seen from the right side of the dress. If you’re impatient or short on time, you could easily do this on the sewing machine, although the stitches will show through to the right side unless you have some magic attachment (like the blind hem foot perhaps?).

whitesewing

Add some accessories and you have a look that’s admittedly not mind-blowingly different from the original dress but has enough design detail to make it feel fresh.

white11 white7Do you like it? Why not give it a go – this is a project that works for just about any garment, whether you make it from scratch or use something ready-made, and whether it’s for summer or winter. Depending what fabric it’s made from, you could add a lot more detail to the “wrong” side of the garment to make it quite different from the “right” side. A thicker fabric is easier to work with because stitches don’t show on the other side (my dress is a sturdy cotton that I think is actually meant for curtains) and if it were also a darker colour it would make the fabric less see-through (white really is quite unforgiving!). So instead of just attaching rick-rack (or bias binding or ribbon or lace) to the seams you could also add patch pockets, a fake collar and cuffs, or you could even use fabric markers or print a design to the “wrong” side. It’s the perfect dress to pack for when you can’t decide what to wear!