I made some alterations this week on this dress that I call my swamp hag gown, which has been through a few different iterations already. I originally made it for my 50th birthday, out of a thrifted gray cotton curtain ecoprinted with leaves from my garden, using the Woolfork dress pattern by Jacqueline Cieslak (pattern link: Woolfork pattern). It’s a gorgeous pattern but I felt like I had too much coverage around the shoulders for my wild hot flashing perimenopause lifestyle, so I chopped it off just below the bust dart and added a new bodice using the lining pieces from the Ogden Cami by True Bias (pattern link: Ogden Cami pattern). Then after a while I bundled the dress back into the dirty pot and ecoprinted it again with leaves off our cherry tree, to ramp up the swampiness.
I had to cut the front of that new bodice just slightly off grain due to fabric constraints and of course that caused the whole dress to shift slightly to my left, which I lived with for a while but my sternum tattoo made the off-centredness very obvious so finally, a couple of weeks ago, I made another new bodice. In the meantime I had found a huge piece of the original fabric (there’s enough for a whole second dress) so was able to cut it luxuriously straight. That’s when I had to accept that the Ogden bodice doesn’t work all that well for my body and you’re not even going to see that version because it pushed my breasts down too uncomfortably to even pose for a photo. Meanwhile I had overdyed the whole thing to an olive green much richer than what shows up in the photo, using goldenrod flowers from the alley and a dip in ferrous sulfate.
Fourth time’s the charm for this dress as I’ve now gotten it pretty close to perfect, using the bodice from Caramiya Maui’s Yesterday Dress (pattern link: Yesterday Dress pattern), which is quickly becoming my go-to pattern. I did a simple narrow shoulder adjustment by shifting about 7mm from the centre fold to the side seam, as my earlier dresses made from this pattern tend to slip off my shoulders. It’s much better but still a little slippy so next time I’ll angle the straps inward a smidge and maybe also shorten them just a little.
The new bodice is a handkerchief weight linen that I dyed with black walnut hulls; not quite the same shade as the new colour of the dress but this walnut fabric has already faded a bit in another dress so I know it’ll be closer one day. Probably just in time for another trip through the dye pot.
Here’s a peek at the lining, indigo dyed cotton from the Bleachery in Aurura, IL, and the hand finishing stitches on the bias binding. I love me a sweet hand finish. I even found a brown thread in my Gramma’s sewing stuff that’s an exact match for the walnut dyed linen.
And these are the earlier versions of the dress. Left, an ecoprinted Woolfork on my 50th birthday. Middle, with a new skimpier bodice more appropriate for the heat of middle age. Right, overprinted with rusty cans and cherry leaves.