Your answer will be negative, no doubt, because…neither have I, and there really doesn’t seem to be such a creature. Somehow or another, nevertheless, there is a sweater knit fabric of a silver speckled purple snakeskin tunic dress in my closet. Weird, right? O.K., I might have introduced this dress on the wrong ‘foot’ (ha ha, snakes don’t have feet…), but my garment really isn’t all that bad.
The snakeskin dress was completed 3 years ago when my adventures in blogging first began. Why it was made, I still don’t exactly know, nor can a final decision be made whether or not I like it on myself (…that’s still in limbo). My consciousness has a strong suspicion I only picked out: 1) the fabric because it is purple (I cannot resist that color and would live in it if I could) and, 2) the pattern because it looks modern, fun, easy, and comfy. Simply on account of the fact that I do wear my purple snakeskin dress, I did make it, and as it is awfully warm and cozy, I will finally get around to blogging about it.
FABRIC: A polyester/acyclic knit blend. It is a lofty, but lightweight sweater knit, with a silver speckled pebble finish over the snakeskin. The snakeskin knit is lined in a lightweight black polyester “active” knit to amp up the warmth factor and eliminate any see through issues.
NOTIONS: I had all the thread and interfacing/hem tape that was needed.
PATTERN: Butterick 5388, year 2009, view D
TIME TO COMPLETE: I don’t remember anymore – maybe one or two night’s worth of a few hours. It was finished on December 7, 2012.
TOTAL COST: I don’t remember that either. All I know is that the fabric was bought from JoAnn’s Fabric store, and I probably spent no more than $15, but in all likelihood, less than $10.
As you can see, the pattern I used is supposed to be a tunic, but I lengthened the bottom hem by about 8 inches to turn it into a dress as you see it. (I’ve done a tunic/top into dress change before; see this post) I am not really sure if I like this snakeskin knit as a dress, but at the same time I don’t know if I would like it (or wear it) as a tunic, either. Besides lengthening, the only other changes I made to the pattern are the additions of a few tucks to bring in the tunic at the waistline. There are three of these waistline tucks – a big one at the center back, and two off the center of the front. Anything to provide shaping and avoid making me fat! If you can’t see those tucks in our pictures, it’s because they get hidden under my belt. Actually, the tucks I added don’t look bad on the dress if a belt is not worn, and they can be very easily unpicked if I so decide. Besides the changes listed, nothing else was done to vary from the original pattern.
I did find the sizing to run very generously…by that I mean very large! Technically I could have went down a size, or two even. It is always easier to take in a garment than it is to fit one that turns out too small, so I’m not really complaining about this pattern, just forewarning others. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I had to take in several inches, on each side, out of the dress all the way down the entire side seam, from the bottom hem up through the hem of the sleeves. I have a feeling that with a lightweight fabric like challis, the generous fit would be appropriate and look good with the design. For the first winter I made this dress, I just left on the excess fabric in the side seam – why, I think ‘just in case’ I wanted to take the seam out. But, in winter #2 for my dress that excess was indeed cut off and cleaned up, trimming down on the dress’ bulk considerably.
For being a knit pullover tunic dress, you do need to stabilize the neckline to support keep the large scoop neck from losing its shape and, in my case, support the rest of the dress. I guess I could have omitted interfacing the facing since I also sewed in, well, I hate to admit it…hem tape…into the neckline to stabilize it. Talk about overkill! As I said earlier, I had made this dress when I was just getting back into sewing full swing, and as of yet, did not have a whole lot of experience with knits nor did I know in entirety what was available at the fabric stores. I should have sewn in seam stay tape into the neckline. The hem tape did do the job just fine, beyond adding a bit more bulk than was needed (and it was significantly thick already from the two fabrics and the neckline pleats). Bad girl, I didn’t even sew this dress together in a proper knit manner. I used loose straight stitches, which still work decently, instead of zig-zag stitches which ‘give’ with the knit. One tremendously good thing about this dress is the fact that it makes me realize that my sewing skills have significantly improved.
My snakeskin tunic dress was an easy and quick gratifying project to learn off of and also wear when the mood strikes me. This is a very warm item to have on when the temperatures drop, even despite its open scoop neck. A thick and chunky scarf can fix the open neck ‘problem’. As much as I like the cowl/loose turtle neck option on the pattern’s other views (see picture earlier), I like the open neck. I think it helps keep this dress from looking too overpowering, and besides, it keeps me being too confined and overheated in a dress this cozy.
To make my outfit more complete, I like to wear my dress with a grey snakeskin belt which was bought from my favorite (now closed) resale store. As a disclaimer, my belt is printed vinyl, not the real reptile product, but it sure looks more like the real thing than my dress’ fabric does – purple, silver speckled snakeskin, really! Kim at the blog “Kopy Kat Kim” made a wonderful version of this same pattern in a red snakeskin. (Her tunic is indeed styled beautifully and looks amazing!) Furthermore, I found an interesting page which briefly runs through snakeskin fabric in fashion history. That page can be found here.
On the humorous line, when I say or think the two words, “purple snakeskin”, I can’t help but think of a silly song that always made me laugh as a little girl: “One Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater”, dating to 1958, believe it or not. Having something so scary be a funny color lightens things up, making them funny instead of fearful. Maybe there is a purple snake that is a distant relative of the “one eyed, one horned flying purple people eater”? Silly me!