This is a polyester bedsheet that I bought at the Value Village by Eglinton and Victoria Park in September 2021 for $5.49. Official Minecraft merchandise, with the print featuring diamond pickaxes (and outlines of additional, unspecified pickaxes).
Polyester is usually worthy of an eyeroll, but this was a fun find. I’ve been playing Minecraft since August 2012 – desert temples had just been added – and the only reason I hadn’t jumped in a full three years earlier (i.e. barely after the first public release of the game) was that I watched a good friend with very similar taste in games get super into Minecraft in the summer of 2009. At the time, I still had all of graduate school ahead of me, and wanted to get more of my education out of the way before I gave the game a try lest it eat my life. I have a real penchant for sandbox games, especially those involving resource gathering and light strategy elements. What can I say? I cut my teeth on SimCity 2000, Civilization II, and Caesar III back in the day, and all of those are still entertaining as heck.
I already know what I want to make from this: a dress. Feminine-coded shapes with unexpected/nerdy prints amuse me intensely, which is probably no surprise as I am a female scientist. Here we go!
First I toss the sheet into the wash. The fact that this one showed up at Value Village is no surprise; the right-side is a little bit soft, but the wrong-side feels like PVC, and there is no stretch whatsoever (other than on the bias). This is not going to be much of an everyday dress, but it’ll do for the occasional convention. And for trying out a pattern.
Which pattern? I dig through my pile. At first I consider a loosely cut sheath dress with bust darts, but realise there’s enough fabric for more of a skirt here. With that, I turn my attention to this pattern from 1975 that I found at a garage sale around 2018 for $5.
There is only one size, but if I have to deal with only one size, I want it to be this one. As written, the bust will be too large and the waist will be slightly too small; this is what I get for having a more balanced waist-hip ratio than commercial patterns expect. But I’ll get started and make adjustments as necessary. I decide not to worry about this while cutting out the pieces; there are lots of them, the panel-skirt is long, and the seam allowance is generous (5/8″), so there’ll be plenty of ways of making adjustments if need be.
I cut out one of the pieces wrong, but fortunately there’s enough fabric that I can do it again.
This pattern is phenomenally straightforward to assemble. I have no problems following it at all, which is saying something given that I’ve never made a dress before. Everything just works.
Knowing that the panel-skirt section is longer than I want, I just sew it together as the pattern specifies – figuring that if it ends up too tight around the waist, I’d just shorten it from the top, thus increasing the circumference. (As it happens, though, it’s absolutely fine as written.)
The bodice needs a little bit more care and adjustment.
The bottom of the bodice (at the waist) is fine, but the top needs to be taken in, because the bust measurement is indeed too large. I draw a diagonal line at each side seam such that a total of about 2″ is removed from the top of the bodice, then machine-stitch the seams and try on the results before trimming the extra seam-allowance. That’ll work!
After cleaning up the inside seams, I baste and sew the bodice to the skirt, which is completely uneventful. Going well!
It’s now mid-March 2022, and I’ve decided to wear this dress to Toronto Comicon. I have a ticket for Saturday the 19th, and by this point it is the evening of Friday the 18th. Time to finish this dress already! Two steps remain. The first is the zipper, and such things are not my strong point.
I end up deciding to do it by hand with a running stitch. This is not super-elegant, but it’s tidier than what I can manage on the machine.
Plus, this is an everyday multi-purpose zipper being attached to a polyester dress that is basically a novelty, so it doesn’t much matter. Plus, the zipper is only attached to the seam-allowance, i.e. on the inside.
With that done, the only thing remaining is the lower hem, which is totally unfinished at the moment. I try on the dress. Am super happy with the results…except that it’s, as expected, too long for my liking. I take some measurements and make a cut.
Then I zigzag the edge, fold up the hem, baste it, machine-stitch it in place. It’s now 11:15 PM on Friday the 18th of March, which is well past my usual bedtime, and in this exhilarating race to the finish I’ve ensured that I have a homemade outfit to wear to Comicon in the morning. Activate ridiculous-pose mode!
(Also activate I-need-a-haircut mode, but never mind that.)
Comicon is an absolute huge blast. I spend five hours and quite a bit of money on indie geeky stuff, and I also receive some kind words on my dress! Thanks, wonderful fellow convention-goers.
- I love this dress.
- I love dressmaking.
- I do not know why it took me so long to try dressmaking.
- I now want to make all the dresses.
- But preferably out of cotton from now on.