Before learning to sew my own clothes, I’d never been a great follower of fashion- mostly because fashion always made me feel like I didn’t fit in. The clothes I liked wouldn’t suit my shape or the shops I liked didn’t stock clothes that actually fit me properly. Don’t even get me started on the fashion magazines that left me feeling inadequate and isolated in every way. All this considered, it came as a bit of a surprise when I found myself drawn to ‘that’ Zara dress.
After seeing it on a couple of people I follow on Instagram, it seemed to suddenly be popping up everywhere I looked (think Cruella D’Ville looking at Dalmatian puppies). ‘That Dress from Zara’ even had its own Instagram account! I felt I needed it in my life and even considered buying it online (despite the rest of my wardrobe being me-made), before seeing the price tag and very much thinking ‘I could make that myself’. I was also inspired by Olivia from www.clothesmyboyfriendhates.org who dyed her Zara dress to make it more unique so she could wear it her way.
I quickly decided that the neckline would need to be different in order to suit my shape and style (having avoided white dresses since my wedding day I didn’t want to start looking like a snowman by adding large expanses of white fabric over my top half) and the long sleeves would have to go (long white sleeves in summer…with children…😱-they’d be covered in ice cream, sun cream and sticky fingers in minutes!). So my design on the dress used a similar fabric from www.sewsewsewuk and included my tried and true Quincy bodice from Jennifer Lauren Handmade, a two piece skirt (using the Quincy width dimensions plus a little length), a waist tie attached at the side seams, shorter cuffed sleeves and a ruffle around the bottom of the skirt.
I French Seamed all of the seams (including the armholes) and used plain white viscose for the facings (I was worried the dots would show through). I added little bow details to the sleeve cuffs afterwards to mimic the waist tie.
All in all, I’m really pleased with the outcome and the only changes I’d make would be to line the whole dress with the white viscose (oh, and not to lose pieces of the ruffle and have to redo it again when I found the right piece 🤦♀️).
The most interesting thing about making this dress was the sense of freedom and creativity that it gave me. I loved thinking through how I was going to make it ‘me’ and working out the steps myself instead of following instructions. Creating this dress made me realise how far I’d come on my sewing journey but also on my journey with self-identity. This dress made me realise that I know how to do ‘me’ despite what fashions may dictate. This dress showed me that I have the confidence to wear white as a curvy girl despite the fashion/ styling ‘rule’ that ‘white adds width but black is slimming’. This dress makes me feel fabulous in my size, my style, my way and embraces that I am unique and perfectly made. This. Dress 💖