A Sun Tea Dress
Does anyone else remember Red Rose Tea? I think it was like the Lipton Brisk of the 1950s (and '60s and '70s). The kind of thing you won't find at Whole Foods but they still believe in it at Market Basket. We had it in our kitchen growing up, but I think we only used it for sun tea.
I don't remember ever getting a porcelain miniature...
I remember trying to serve it to my Grandpa Lee once, thinking it was so sophisticated with the little red rose on the tag. That's when he told me that I should never drink bagged tea because it was made up of all the dirt they swept up from the factory floor after the good leaves had been sold as loose leaf. Other lessons from Grandpa Lee:
1. You shouldn't order fried rice because it's just a way for the chef to dispose of leftovers;
2. It's OK if you bruise easily, it's because you have aristocratic blood; and
3. Education is the one thing they can never take away from you.
But those are discussions for another day. I have fond memories of both the box and the dusty, factory-floor-flavor of this particular tea and the sweet, sweet tags - I knew someone would do something creative with these if I just searched Etsy!
When I found three yards of this material at Fabric Basement, it was a throwback to the Red Rose days. I pictured a cute tea-length skirt or something simple and retro that wouldn't throw me too far off my carefully-calendared creative track.
I abandoned the skirt idea when I came across this much-too-complicated dress pattern that seemed perfect for the roses: Simplicity 1687.
I KNOW- $18.95, are they crazy? All I can say, is it would've been a good opportunity to use a Joann's coupon, if I'd had a current one. Simplicity is very proud of the fact that they have never adjusted their sizes, so you are really supposed to go by measurement. This can be really disheartening. According to Simplicity, I needed to go up FIVE sizes. Fantastic. Way to make me feel like this dress will be flattering.
I made the lining first, just to test it out, and it was HUGE. Like ten inches too wide. When I cut into my pretty rose fabric I chopped it down three sizes, blindly hoping maybe that would fit? It's already way out of character for me to make a lining first, so there would be no more testing. A reminder of why I shouldn't make clothes and should stick to quilts. Just as I was finishing, I realized I'd included an extra panel in the original lining I did - which was (in part) why it was so huge. The dress barely fit - at the last minute I had to make some awfully narrow seams and even my hidden zipper got into the act, affording me another 1/4 inch since I didn't "hide" it.
Aside from sizing, I was also really annoyed that the pictures showed a contrast fabric both above and below the pocket zipper while the written pattern only included fabric below, which is just dumb and would look totally weird. Here's how they suggested it would look:
I had to make that part up myself. Who publishes a pattern with that kind of mistake? Sorry, but if you're going to sell something like this at a premium price, you might want to test it. My improvisation was good enough:
Aside from the pulling at the neck (I think my shot cotton was too thin? Or something with thread tension or not enough curve clipping? Although I clipped the heck out of it. It's so hard to learn from your mistakes when you aren't sure what they are), I think it came out pretty nice.
Now I just need a warm day.