Dinner-lady Sorbetto dress

My latest Sorbetto was prompted by a friend’s birthday party with a ‘literary character’ theme. I was completely stuck for ideas, until a more creative friend  sudden flash of genius suggested dressing up as the Borrowers.

Naturally my mind turned to the idea of massive buttons, and some kind of miniature looking dress to put them on. The largest print I had in my stash was some big check blue gingham I bought from IKEA for some reason lost in the mists of time (surely everyone stumbles out of IKEA with loads of stuff they have no recollection of buying? It’s something they put in the meatballs I reckon).

I only had about two days to make a costume so the Sorbetto pattern was the obvious choice  – I already knew it fitted and was quick to sew. To turn the top into a dress I just took a big ruler and extended the side lines downwards for each pattern piece. I did the front first and then matched up the back side so the flare was the same on both sides.

Here’s my boyfriend and me as the Borrowers. I’ve had to crop this photo because there was some unflattering gurning going on, but you can see my giant buttons, jumbo pencil (from Amazon! Everyone should have one), and the massive needle and thread belt I made. (p.s. – we are crouching to try and look more tiny, obviously it’s not working so well)

Borrowers Costume

The buttons were made from some thick cardboard – I traced round a flowerpot and cut out two circles, then traced round a glass and cut out the centre of one. The other circle had two little holes cut in the middle. I then glued them together and spray-painted them a shimmery blue colour.

I hot-glued them onto the dress because a) I am lazy, and b) I love my hot glue gun.

I was proud of this dress and optimistically thought it could actually be wearable in everyday life, so I spent valuable sewing time picking off the buttons, getting rid of the giant pencil pocket, finishing the seams, adding a little lace-trimmed pocket on the top, and bias binding the hem.

However as we all know, pride comes before a fall, and I failed to notice the glaring problem with this dress. It bears an unfortunate resemblance to a dinner-lady tabard, as you can see in this photo.

I’m trying to put a brave face on it. Without a belt the resemblance is unavoidable, but even when I cinch in the waist I feel like I should be standing behind a counter, ladle in hand, dumping mashed potato onto plates.

It’s home-decor weight fabric and rather reminiscent of a giant tea-towel, which doesn’t help. I think it could work in a more structured garment but not this one. Also, the pocket I added on top looks like a strange afterthought.

On the positive side, I’m keeping the Sorbetto dress pattern I drafted – it could work well in a lighter fabric, elasticated or with a drawstring at the waist. The sway-back adjustment worked out great in the dress form. Here’s what the (crumply) pattern pieces look like.

Sorbetto dress pattern pieces

The buttons have been more successful and have now taken up residence on top of the pinboard next to my sewing desk.

Giant buttons on notice board

I did learn a valuable lesson from this dress. Much like ‘poncho’, the word ‘tabard’ should never spring to mind when people look at your handiwork.


4 thoughts on “Dinner-lady Sorbetto dress

  1. lizzylikescake September 3, 2011 / 4:48 PM

    I don’t think it looks at all tabard like. In fact I would say it looks awesome! However I rather like ponchos so my stylistic preferences may be rather out of sync….x

    • yesilikethat September 3, 2011 / 7:37 PM

      Thanks Lizzy! Maybe some ponchos are acceptable… this area needs further in-depth study…

  2. Geri August 30, 2011 / 8:44 PM

    Hi – found your blog via Didyoumakethat, and love your sense of humour and style! Just adore the costume, seriously awesome — and haven’t we all been there with ill-advised sewing (me probably more than most!) Still, I for one think it’s not so bad – and the pocket is super cute! Maybe its a little dinner-lady-esque without the belt, but with the shaping it works. And If you really weren’t feeling it, you could always cut it up and turn it back into a sorbetto top.

    • yesilikethat August 31, 2011 / 9:04 AM

      Aw thanks! Sometimes I sew clothes and hate them, stuff them in a drawer for a few months, get them out again and discover they weren’t so bad, so maybe that will happen with this dress. At least I got lots of practice sewing on bias binding!

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