Saturday, June 1, 2019

My Mom's Striped Dress for My Brother's Graduation

My youngest brother graduated high school last Saturday.

A few weeks before the occurrence, my mother mentioned she would need a new dress for the occasion. Immediately, the wheels in my mind started turning.

She didn’t ask me to make her a dress, and I didn’t volunteer to make her a dress. We both knew my schedule at the time was too full for me to be making any rash promises of the dressmaking sort. However, I wanted to make her a dress, and I knew she would be appreciative of me making her a dress. Thus, I resolved to make my mom a dress to wear for my brother’s graduation. I didn’t tell her about this plan though, as I wasn’t entirely sure I’d have the time to pull it off.

A year ago my mom bought Vogue V9293 for herself. She liked the dress design as a whole, but she particularly liked the striped version on the pattern envelope. The bodice was make from a narrower stripe than the skirt, but both the bodice and skirt stripes were the same colors. It is a rather striking combination.

I happened to have very similar fabrics in my stash to those used for the cover dress, so, knowing my mom’s admiration for that dress, that’s exactly what I decided to make her. I knew she would like the finished dress, and it could easily enough be made in secret.

The bodice fabric (with the narrow stripes) came from a thrift store several years ago, and the skirt fabric (with the wider stripes) came out of a church basement which was being cleaned out. (Four large boxes of fabric came home with me from the church basement clean out last fall.)

I cut the dress out one afternoon at work while the child I nanny napped. I carefully matched all the stripes on all four skirt seams, and did my best to match the stripes on the shoulder seams as well. Stripe matching takes a long time, and the four year old woke up before I was done cutting out the dress. He didn’t want to be left out of the fun, so I handed him some fabric scraps and a pair of scissors so he could happily cut out his own “project” right alongside me.

As with most stripe matching projects, cutting was the time consuming part, and actually sewing the dress wasn't bad at all. Well, sewing the skirt wasn't bad at all at least - all my carefully cut stripes matched beautifully! The bodice had its own challenges. 

Sewing the dress would have been quite easy had I finished the neckline and armholes with bias tape as the pattern recommends. However, due to the slight see-through-ness of the primarily white bodice fabric, I decided to completely line the bodice, and use the bodice lining to finish the neckline and armholes. This would have been an easy enough thing to do, had it not been for the combination of a crossover bodice, waist ties on this dress, and wonderful side seam pockets, on this dress.

The waist ties are sewn into the side seams, between both the bodice and the skirt. This mandated that the bodice and skirt would be sewn together, before the side seams were sewn up. Due to the cross-over nature of this bodice, the bodice lining had to be put in before the bodice was attached to the skirt and before the side seams were sewn up. Figuring out how to accomplish these two things, and have the inseam pockets fall the correct direction, and have a nicely finished interior of the dress, was a bit of a head-scratcher when it came to construction order.

After a lot of pondering, and only a little bit of seam ripping, the bodice and skirt were attached, the side seams were sewn up, the bodice looked very nice from both the inside and the outside, and the pockets were wonderfully large and functional. I sewed in a lapped zipper, hemmed the dress, and gave it to my mom.

She loved the dress - and thankfully hadn't yet gone shopping for something else to wear to the graduation.

A week later, she wore it as her third child graduated high school. She and my dad were able to present my brother with his diploma at the local homeschool co-op graduation.

So that's it - my brother is graduated, and headed off to school this fall and my mom has a new dress in her closet.


  1. You are an amazing daughter and seamstress. I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. So sweet of you to sew it up secretly! She must have been so happy!

    1. Thank you! She was both surprised and happy!

  3. love it!! Which daughter are you? all of them look so young to sew so well lol
    great job youre awesome!!!

    1. Thank you! I'm the one in the red and brown dress.

  4. Lovely dress!
    And Congratulations to your brother!

  5. I love surprising my mom too. And here is nothing like knowing something is probably impossible to give motivation (at least for me ; P) Awesome job on the stripes! I love the whole design.