denim dress

a while back i got the idea in my head that i needed a denim dress. it seemed like a nice casual and potentially versatile garment to have in my wardrobe, so i picked up some denim at sewfisticated. these people always have a table of $2.99/yd denim remnants and i check out that table almost every time i visit. this one is probably around a 6.5 oz denim—lightweight, but still substantial.


i planned to revisit mccalls 5927, which i made last year in plaid. my intent with making that dress was to fit a bodice i could go back to as a TNT. upon re-trying on that dress the multiple fit issues were very apparent—shoulder seam needed to move out, the back neck needs darts or re-shaping, etc. i had a pretty long list of changes i didn’t feel like dealing with. instead i went back to the hawthorn bodice, which i had fit recently, and fit well. i redrafted bits to eliminate the front button closure, added a back seam for a zipper, and replaced the v-neck with a scooped neckline.


then i wanted to have some cap sleeves so it would easily fit under a cardigan or sweater. the sleeves proved quite an ordeal. i went back to the cap sleeve on the mccalls pattern and tried those, but they ended up a little too “strong shouldered” for my tastes. i mulled over it, then just fidgeted with them until i liked what i saw. so i cut off most of the cap with the pleating and just set it in with incidental gathers. obviously, it’s not perfect and there is either too much or too little ease in the cap, but it really doesn’t bother me. overall, the shape is very nice and i’m quite happy with it!

for the skirt, i pulled out NL 6776 (used perviously here and here) because it has a nice a-line shape and doesn’t take up a crap-ton of fabric. i pleated it to my heart’s content… which. took. forever. to get right. love pleats, but geeze they can be annoying. as you can see, i added a little swoop front pocket. inseam pockets are great, but i’m always annoyed about how the pocket bags flop about. i went back to the mccalls pattern as a guide and went from there.

since this is a denim dress, i took the opportunity to topstitch in white. i considered the more traditional gold, but i also like the look of white on denim. i even used white when stitching the zip down the back, and i did a pretty good job of keeping it straight! while i intended to wear a belt with this dress, the topstitching at the waist gives just enough definition that i don’t feel super inclined to bother with one.


i had anticipated finding loads of things in my closet to layer with this dress, but came up pretty much empty-handed. that’s the problem with an at-waist dress: all my sweaters hit at my high hip, which looks terrible! then i grabbed this cardigan i made a year and a half ago (jalie 2919, unblogged but much loved! p.s. i nixed the ridiculous stitched pleats for gathers at the shoulder). it’s very very long, so i frequently just tie it around my waist. it works okay, but now i think i need a few papercut coppelia  wraps in my closet to pair with this dress for the colder months.

i hope you followed my merry adventures through all those patterns to get to this dress… i thought it was apropos to publish a real frankenpattern mash up on halloween, so happy halloween all!

—lisa g.

32 thoughts on “denim dress

  1. gingermakes says:

    This is such a cute dress! It looks like it will layer really well! I don’t really have any shorter cardigans, either, and I end up feeling weird and frumpy wearing longer ones with dresses– I should make some Coppelia wraps, too!

  2. kathi giumentaro says:

    Love your dress. I have some gray denim I have been wanting to make a dress out of for a while now but can’t seem to settle on a pattern for it. I need to bite the bullet and pick one.
    I was at Sewfisticated over the weekend. I bought some black with gray polka dot ponte.

  3. Shar says:

    This looks great – and so versatile! Hmmm, the Hawthorne bodice was a good fit for me too. I’ll have to keep this in the back of my head to try sometime. I’m so impressed by your complete redrafting of the bodice, designing cap sleeves, pleating the skirt, and changing up the pockets – wow! I think you’re right that the Coppelia would pair nicely with this.

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! the bodice changes were super easy (cut front on the fold where the buttons line up, add SA to the CB). no mystery there, and since it already fit, it was far less work than trying to fit a new pattern. and yes, the coppelia has suddenly raced to the top of the list of patterns i need NOW! 🙂

  4. dani e says:

    Very well done..I’m a newish follower follower of yours and enjoyed going back to see the dresses that led to this combination…you are so skilled. It’s definitely inspiring…thanks for sharing.


  5. Gail says:

    I’m so impressed with all the work/redrafting you did to make this dress! What a great staple. I’m sure you’ll wear it all the time. Maybe it’s time for you to start knitting some sweaters? 😉

    • lisa g says:

      thanks gail! i’ve worn it several times (actually finished it over a month ago…) but hopefully i can work out the layering so i get more use out of it. ah yes, it is time for me to finally learn that great mystery that is knitting… i’ve been thinking of signing up for classes!

  6. elise says:

    Ahh I want a denim dress too…actually I want yours! Great pattern mash up, it’s perfect. Comfortable and also sophisticated, like a good pair of jeans 😉

  7. crab&bee says:

    This turned out so well! I’m really trying to go adapt patterns I already own/fit me well too, and your dress is such a great example of why that’s a good idea. I love that it’s in denim, too.

  8. Susan says:

    So cute! Isn’t it funny how that happens, when you think you’re making something that will pair with everything and then… ??? That happened to me with a piece a few months back, unblogged for that exact reason. 🙂 But those tights will always steal the show away from whatever else you’re wearing, HA!

    • lisa g says:

      it’s crazy–the garments i think will go with everything match nothing; the garments i think will be loners go with everything! and those tights… really trying to branch out!

  9. Andrea says:

    A denim dress can go real “cowgirl” but yours looks classically cute. I haven’t frankenpatterned in awhile, but it is a satisfying feeling getting the different components to work so you have a totally unique garment that even other sewing bloggers don’t have!

    • lisa g says:

      as much fun as it is to join the masses and sew up what everyone else is making, it’s also fun to go my own route! and “classically cute” is exactly what i was going for 🙂

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