I have a humble, blooming farm.
It's called Gypsy Wagon Farm.
Why? Well, a friend turned me on to the idea of Vardos(Gypsy wagons), and I was hooked. I have been building a Gypsy wagon-styled Farm stand for the past 6 weeks and am nearly finished.
To Celebrate and Coordinate I wanted to create a Gypsy Wagon Farm Girl dress. This is something that I will wear most weekends while I am tending to the outdoor activities, be they digging in the soil, collecting ovoid gifts from the chickens and ducks, dealing with the public, and everything in between.
My design process centered on functionality based on tasks and activities I'd be engaged in while wearing the dress, along with aesthetics and theme portrayal.
I love linen for its many amazing qualities and have a good supply of it already in my stash. I've been doing this type of farming thing for a while in a variety of outfits(from a tiny, black-stringed bikini to T-shirts and shorts, to shirt dresses, etc) and have decided that linen and all it has to offer will serve as the ultimate functional and aesthetic outfit for what I need.
I LOVE Holly Hobbie, with her adorable patchwork dresses. I also really like the fifties, pin-up style of tailored, figure-flattering dresses. Laura Ingalls Wilder meets Betty Page? Who says it can't be combined?
It has been now... maybe.
Step 1: Preparing and Cutting Out the Patchwork Squares
1. The pile of washed & dried linen, in colors that I thought would look lovely together.
2. My slightly trapezoidal paper pattern, readied for use with my rotary cutter.
3. Cutting out six of the first color(butter).
4. Six each cut out of the six different colors.
5. All pieces laid out in a pattern that I thought was randomly attractive.
Step 2: Pinning & Sewing & Pressing
1. Pinning the first row
2. Sewing the seams(I chose to serge as to sew and finish off the raw edges in one go)
3. First row done, (wrong side showing), ready to sew next, below row.
4. Important to press out each row after sewn
5. All four rows sewn and pressed
6. Pinning the rows to each other for sewing
7. Slightly longer stitch for flexibility in stretching
8. All rows sewn(serged) together
10. Edges trimmed to even out for placket(buttons/holes)
Step 3: Placket
1. I chose to do the skirt placket with the same color linen that I would be using for the bodice. The oatmeal color is not found in the patches of the skirt, so is a way to tie in the busy-patterned skirt to the top of the dress.
2. Folding over a length of strip against the skirt height for reference, to make 2 placket strips. These plackets will also extend up into the bodice, so that additional length is added.
3. Ironing on interfacing to the entire length. Only the center portion, along the fold is necessary, as some softness in drape is wanted.
4. Stitching an edge of the Right side of placket to the Wrong side(underneath) of skirt
5. The bottom of placket(and skirt). Folding wrong sides of placket together, seams facing as they would for final placement, stitching across bottom to create hem line with crisp corners.
6. Edge stitching the bottom. Important for crispness, some rigidity, and for a finished look.
7. Pressing the seam/foldline for the front, visible edge, using the stitching from the back as a guide.
8. Pinned, ready for topstitching, using a very long machine stitch, as linen can be stretched and distorted easily.
9. Finished inside stitching of skirt placket shown,
10. Edge, outside topstitching of placket done
11. Photos 11-16 are repeats for the other side.
12. Hem, folded over just once and stitched.
Step 4: Creating a Sweetheart Bodice From Rectangles of Fabric
1. I first cut out one large square of approximately 28 x 36.
2. I then divided that into 4 equal rectangles for the two front bodice pieces and their respective linings.
3. I decided that a rough width of 12" for each bodice piece would be more than enough.
4. And a height of the same
5. I slightly angled the side to create a smaller waist profile.
6. The center front seam
7. An arch to create the sweetheart line. Will be gathered slightly to create dimension and cuteness.
8. Three vertical pin-tuck pleat markings made
9. Extended 5" upwards
10. Horizontal pin-tucks on both sides of bodice
11. I extended them out 3", but later to 3 1/2".
Step 5: Stitching the Pin-tucks
1. Fold over along chalked pin-tuck fold and stitch a 1/8" or 1/4" seam, depending on your size and/or preference.
2. One stitched. This is the right side of the garment.
3. Three horizontal pin-tucks sewn
4. And the other side. As you can see, at least for me, this spread is too much and why I extended each horizontal another 1/2" inwards.
5. Pinning at the end of a chalk line helps when sewing, especially as the chalk line can be difficult to see under the bright light of a sewing machine.
6. One bodice front finished with sewn pin-tucks
7. I don't want to duplicate the pin-tucks for the lining, mostly for the added bulk. I create darts instead to duplicate the amount taken in with the collective pin-tucks.
8. Both linings with darts sewn.
Step 6: Creating the Piping
1. I want contrast piping for the top of the bodice taken from one of the linen colors from the skirt - my favorite is the aqua. I cut 2" strips on the bias(diagonal) of the fabric.
2. Creating piping, using a narrow cord, no more than 3/16"
3. Sandwiched in between layers of bodice front and lining, raw edges even, and stretching piping so as to gather bodice pieces as sewing.
4. Stretching didn't give me enough gathering, so I sewed a basting stitch and pulled the bobbin thread by hand.
5. I then laid this over the piping and stitched through all layers.
6. The finished edge
Step 7: Attaching Bodice to Skirt, and Connecting Button Placket
1. Centering the bodice over the top of the skirt front.
2. Right sides pinned together and stitched
3. Finished seam to test fit before pressing
4. Continuing the placket onto the bodice front edge
5. Top of placket, right sides together, to give a clean edge when turned out.
Step 8: Edge Stitching for Crisp Edges
1. The placket sewn on and pressed
2. Hand-stitching the back seam edge onto the lining.
3. Top-stitching along all edges, using long machine stitches for no distortion.
4. Top-stitched along top of bodice, through all layers
Step 9: Making the Back Strap
Having a mostly open back is attractive, functional and of course necessary as the dress has no shoulder straps.
1. A piece larger than I need, 18" x 12"
2. Folded in half, lengthwise
3. Stitched and edges pinked
4. Turned right-side out and pressed, with seam in center inside
5. A small square to create cinching wrap for the center of the back strap
6. Top and bottom edges folded over and stitched
7. Side stitched and edges pinked
Step 10: Attaching Back Strap to Front Pieces
1/2. I aligned one raw edge of the back strap with the raw edge of the side of one bodice piece (feeding it through the inside) I tried to start it as close to the piping as I could.
3. Trimming the excess seam allowance bulk.
4. Since this dress is strapless, side boning is necessary. Stitched within seam allowance.
5. Turned right-side out and top-stitched through all layers
Step 11: Buttons and Buttonholes
1. I have a selection of shell buttons. I sorted through and decided on the dark ones as those I had the most of.(Plus, they looked great!)
2. The bodice buttons I spaced 3" apart
3. The skirt buttons I spaced 3 1/4" apart
4. All in position for marking
5. Chalked for buttonholes
Step 12: Sewing the Buttonholes
1. Buttonhole foot set up
2. Stitch selected
3. Test buttonhole for precise length
4. Testing size with button for a snug fit.
5. Holes completed on placket, cut and sealed with Fray Check
6. Dried and ready to place over other placket to mark for buttons
Step 13: Placement and Sewing of Buttons
1. This is my favorite method for getting the exact placement for buttons. I lay the hole placket over the button side, on top of my ironing board, and push pins through the middle of the holes through the below fabric.
2. The finished placket with buttons sewn on. I used a heavy duty thread.
Step 14: Patch Pocket
1. I found the natural spot where my left hand would reach down for a pocket. The square was a teal so I cut out a larger square of that color linen.
2. Edges finished with the serger
3. Edges pressed over, with top of pocket edge stitched down.
4. Pinned onto skirt
5. Stitching along the edges
6. Finished pocket
Step 15: The Dusk Photo Shoot
I spend my free days working on the Vardo, usually right up until dusk.
I corralled my daughter into taking some pics of me in the dress after I was done for the day.