A few years ago, when I first started sewing, my mother and I went to Fabric Depot so she could buy me some fabric and notions to get me started. I came across some fantastic fabric printed with little hearses on it. “Oh! I want to make a dress out of this!” I squeed clutching the bolt. My mother gave me a look, “Really, a whole dress? How about just an apron?” I sighed, and agreed. And I made this wonderful apron. The years went on, and I moved on to other projects, but when my dad bought a hearse a few months back, I finally felt justified in making a hearse dress. Multiple pattern designs in hand, I trekked out to Fabric Depot, giddy with excitement over making such a ridiculous dress. I skipped over to the Halloween section to discover the fabric was gone. And I mean gone. Not just that it was in someone’s cart, or at the cutting counter, or out of stock, but gone. Out of print. I was devastated. After throwing a tantrum a five year old would be proud of, I slouched back home where I designed this…what I am calling “The Julie Grave”
Taking inspiration from my apron, I selected the design of a coffin falling out of the back of a hearse, and figured a slim cut wrap dress would be the best option for getting such humor across, and selected Simplicity 1685, from 1956. The pattern offers a short sleeve or three-quarter length sleeve option, but I felt that a sleeveless dress was more vampy. The hearse and coffin are giant appliques I designed and sewed together. The wheels, door handle, scroll emblem and RIP are embroidered in metallic thread, while the bounce dots are embroidered in plain black thread.
When it came to buttons I couldn’t get the idea of coffin shaped buttons out of my head. I checked Fabric Depot when I bought the fabric, also visited the Button and Ribbon Emporium, and searched the internet and I could not find any! Seriously? Skulls, black cats, spiderwebs, bats, pumpkins and ghosts, but no coffins. I would have settled for headstones, yet the only headstone buttons I could find were too tacky. As I was nearing defeat, Patrick had a brilliant idea to have the buttons 3D printed! Ooohh…Technology! Patrick then thought it would be nifty to off-set the button’s holes just enough so when sewn on it would appear that they have a cross on them! He designed them in a 3D modeling program, then uploaded his design to Shapeways who printed and shipped them.
I’m still no brilliant seamstress by any means, and this dress tried my patience and sanity quite a bit, especially with the neckline. And while I can find a lot wrong with the dress, (I still haven’t reached the capability to make a muslin or cotton mock-up first. I hardly have the patience to make the dress in the first place! Let alone two!) I’m still very happy with it. Also I know I’m making progress as a seamstress because instead of thinking “THANK GOD that’s over! I don’t want to see my sewing machine for five months!” I’m actually really excited to start my next project!