Some dress design ideas form because of fabric, others form when I find the perfect pattern. My little sister's Christmas dress was a combination of both.
A few months back I found a queen sized, red damask striped, cotton sheet at a thrift store. The fabric was wonderfully soft and drapey. So I got it, thinking in the back of my mind that it would make a great Christmas dress. It then sat in my fabric stash, nearly forgotten about. Until I saw this pattern.
The Amaryllis dress pattern was perfect for the red sheet fabric! There was only one issue, the pattern only went up to a size 8. Too small for my sister. Dang. After playing around with a few different ideas, I decided to get the pattern anyway. I sized it up by tracing the bodice pieces onto a thick plastic bag (I wasn't home at the time, so no big paper to trace the pattern onto.) Then, I traced a bodice pattern of the correct size over that. I combined the two; then I had my pattern. The overskirt was just a basic circle skirt, and the underskirt just a rectangle. So no need to size up those pieces. I just added a bit of length where needed.
I only made a few changes to the dress from there. First, I decided to have the dress buttoned closed in the front, rather than tied closed like the pattern said, so that it would match my skirt.
Along with fastening in the front, the dress was also supposed to be tied closed in the back, under the over skirt. This meant the underskirt would be open in the back. With as much as my sister likes to jump and spin around I was afraid an open underskirt would lead to a wardrobe malfunction. So, I made the underskirt and waistband a few inches bigger than the pattern said, sewed up the back, then added elastic at the waist.
This worked great! The dress goes on just like a skirt, the bodice goes over the head, sort of like a halter top, then the dress buttons in the front.
I think my sister's favorite part of the dress is the circle overskirt. She's been asking me to make her a circle skirt for quite some time now. It's perfect for dancing in! My favorite part? The fabric the overskirt is lined in. A jewel toned and metallic gold quilting calico. My grandma gave it to me, and I only had a yard. So what would I use it for? I was very happy that it worked for part of this dress! It complimented the red sateen perfectly, and added a bit of body to the skirt. I really liked the print of the fabric though, and didn't want it all to be hidden on the inside of the dress, so with the scraps I made some bias tape to bind the bodice with. (the third change I made to this pattern, it didn't call for, or really need, a binding.)
I really like how the binding adds some interest and highlights the lines of the bodice.
I'm really happy with how this dress came out, and my sister loves it. She's worn it several times already, so it must be comfortable. Now, hopefully the next dress I make her gets just as enthusiastic of a response!