What would Eastertide be without bunnies? This year, I made that stereotype an enjoyable reality by actually spending some time with some real, live domesticated bunnies at a local photography studio. They were hosting the visit of a rabbit rescue foundation to offer some Easter picture opportunities for the public as well as adoption prospects for the bunnies. Why does Easter enjoyment need to be relegated to just children when adults can do something like get dressed up and hold some sweet fluffy bunnies?! This is my kind of fun!
I hope you enjoy my Easter post, which will attempt to be not just about the cute critters I am holding but also featuring my newest handmade holiday dress. It was whipped together out of a thrifted bed sheet. Am I really ever completely leaving my sleeping quarters if I am wearing a bed sheet for the day, even if cut, pleated, and manipulated in the most glamorous manner? I love how when you start with a fabric designed to be pleasant on the skin like a bed sheet, the resulting project is so wonderfully relaxed. This was easy to make, had a spot on fit right out of the envelope, is comfy to wear, and has just the right amount of details. This is perfect for what I am looking for Easter 2022 – I just want to stay relaxed, but eat well, and enjoy my day. This swishy, simple dress is just the thing!
FABRIC: a 60% cotton/40% polyester blend twin sized bed sheet (66 by 96 inches) for the dotted material and some cotton/poly blend broadcloth remnants to line the bodice for opacity
PATTERN: Vintage Vogue #1043, a year 1953 pattern reprinted back in 2008 (originally Vogue Special Design #4382)
NOTIONS NEEDED: lots of interfacing, thread, some bias tape, and one zipper for the side seam
THE INSIDES: my dress’ bodice is cleanly lined while the skirt seams are nicely covered in bias tape
TIME TO COMPLETE: My dress was completed in about 15 hours and finished on April 9, 2022
TOTAL COST: pittance – the sheet cost just under $2 and the zipper and bias tapes were from a $1 a bag rummage sale find
The soft aqua colored polka dot print is easy on the eyes yet still cheerful. I know the print is symmetrically round dots but it still somehow reminds me of multitudes of Easter eggs. As I have said before (in this post), I am generally not a fan of polka dots and it has taken me years to be a bit more than tolerant with wearing garments which have that sort of print. Yet, the irony to using this bed sheet for my dress is compounded in the fact I picked this up from a thrift shop a decade ago now…when I really didn’t like polka dots at all! I love any aqua or teal color though, and I am always up for trying new things in my sewing project choices so I picked it up. The fact the sheet was less than $2 also helped convince me to purchase it! I had paired Vintage Vogue #1043 with the polka dotted sheet from the very beginning when I brought it home, and only just now felt the time had come to sew this project as I originally envisioned it. I was finally ready for a full-on polka dot dress.
Since the cover illustration hides some of the dress’ details, let me give you a little general summary. There is a basic four paneled ¾ circle skirt, and a simple dual darted back bodice (which I cut on the fold to eliminate the back seam), so the minimal pattern pieces were good for a bigger print like my polka dotted sheet. Under the arms, there are gussets that form part of the sleeve. This unique feature is the same as (seen here) the sleeves on my Princess Anna dress, sewn from a vintage Burda Style pattern. Since that Burda pattern comes two years after the date of this post’s dress date of 1953, I found this an interesting nugget of information, but especially found it helped immensely to have done this type of sleeve gusset before.
Other than the gussets, the majority of unique details to this design are in the front bodice. It has an asymmetric faux wrap bodice, which creates a center front notch for interest at the neckline. There is one deep knife pleat in each front wrap’s side seam to create soft fullness for the bust. Yet, for as straightforward as this bodice may sound, I actually made it a bit more complex in construction so I could end up with a better finish.
All the reviews I read through online about this dress pattern consistently mentioned 3 shortcomings to the bodice design if you sew it according to the pattern – a wrap front that is too shifty and revealing, a neckline that does not keep its shape, and finally facings which are fussy and cumbersome. These issues were able to be ‘fixed’ through adding in a full bodice lining. For the final touch, I added a trio of flower buttons along the chest of the bodice wrap so that it can stay down in its proper place. The buttons add a little touch of fun and prettiness to this otherwise unadorned dress and keep the neckline notch looking as it should. I wore limited jewelry (my Grandma’s earrings and an Easter hat, at least) to let my dress shine, with the pretty neckline details taking center stage.
My first step to making the bodice was to use the facing pieces only to cut out heavy weight interfacing for ironing down to the undersides of the entire neckline (for both my lining cotton and my polka dotted fabric). This way the neckline was doubled up in support to keep its amazing face-framing shape and prevent the front notches from drooping (a problem I also read about in blogger’s reviews). I only sewed together the back darts, the shoulder seams and godets with the right side seam at this point. The lining then was sewn in the method were all the raw edges were tucked inside for a smooth inside that needs no fiddly facings. I bag sewed the sleeve hems before I tacked the lining down to the waistline and sewed the skirt to the bodice, wrapped over in front right over left. The white bed sheet was slightly see-through, so I needed a lining anyways, but doing so gave me a great solution to improve upon the bodice construction. I am always willing to go the extra mile in my sewing projects if it will make even the smallest improvement to my satisfaction with the finished garment.
Perhaps the best perk to sewing this dress together finally is discovering that it pairs spectacularly well with a short jacket that I sewed together years back. This Burda Style “kimono jacket” has its own post which can be found over here. Sadly this fabulous piece has hardly had any enjoyment out of the closet until now due to nothing specific ever really turning it into a “set”. No other sweater or blazer or jacket in my closet matched with my dress, anyways, and this way my outfit is all me-made! I love how the open lapels show off the neckline notch and decorative buttons on my dress. I think the full skirt pairs well with the jacket peplum, too.
It is so funny how dressy and useful – in an unexpected way – something as mundane as a bedding can become. My last bed sheet dress was even fancier than this one – a designer inspired 1950s Burda Style dress, posted here. A micro-fiber bed sheet set went towards the lining of this 1990s jumper-sundress, posted here. At the same time that I bought the aqua polka dotted sheet I used for this post’s dress, I also bought the tan floral bed sheet which went towards this 1940s dress, posted here. I even had a post (here) about a top and a shopping bag both sewn from pillowcases. It is not about the quantity or quality of what you have to work with, but how you use your supplies when it comes to sewing. Even the most ordinary items can look glam or at least fuel your joy by supporting your creative ideas.
Similar to the way sewing has given me an appreciation for using the most unexpected items others may take for granted, I found a new appreciation for bunnies at the Easter Selfie Room visit. I realize the older generations do not view rabbits in a good estimation, especially anyone who has any interest or occupation related to the outdoors. In our garden, they are such a bother (I’ll stop short of calling them a menace because they are cute, you have to admit). Then again, I have loved the tales of Beatrix Potter since my childhood…so I can partially empathize with the plight of bunnies, too, at least from Peter Rabbit’s point of view. The domesticated bunnies I met that day were soft and cuddly, curious and relatable, as well as free with their love and affection. I was disarmed and touched! What a delightful new experience, made even more special because I had the chance to share that event with my parents!
I hope your Easter, if you celebrate it, is a wonderful, peaceful day full of happiness. I hope the blessings that the beauty of nature can provide cheer your heart and soothe your spirit. Also, I hope you have an outfit to wear to brighten your day, just as I have done for myself yet again this year! I trust you’ve found an extra dose of rabbit appreciation through the critter cuddle pictures in this post. Don’t forget to leave a carrot out for the Easter bunny!