Slotober Frock step 2: What will it be?

Slotober Frock step 2: What will it be?

Where this fabric Allison made is concerned, there are two of me:

One me thinks this is very special fabric and that I need to think long and hard about what it wants to be. I don’t want to rush into anything, cut it hastily, risk wasting it by sewing it into the Wrong Thing. The extreme version of this me thinks the wisest thing to do — especially given how Spring-y the fabric feels to me — is to say, you know what, I’m going to learn the lessons of Slow Fashion October and not try to crank out a dress this month after all, because that would be rushing it and making for the sake of making (to meet my own arbitrarily set goal) rather than being certain I’m spending my time and energy making something I’ll truly get a lot of use out of.

The other me thinks, yes, this is indeed special fabric, but it’s not actually spun from GOLD! I don’t want to overthink it and risk paralyzing myself out of fear of getting it wrong. This is also supposed to be fun, right? The extreme version of this me wants to sew it up into a floor-length Anna gown and pray for just one occasion in my life where a dress that dramatic could go. It would be the most beautiful dress ever. And I would wear it with my biker boots.

Here’s the thing about this fabric that’s stumping me a bit, if I’m being 100% honest: I’m not sure it’s me. I think it’s gorgeous and amazing and I could happily stare at it for hours on end. But how much does it have to do with the rest of my wardrobe? What do I layer it with? Can I make a single outfit with other things I own, or is it only worn one way: on its own.

The best word for it is pretty — it is insanely pretty — and that’s not a trait I relate to much. It would be very simple to sew it into a very pretty dress for someone else. (I see all those hands shooting up right now.) What’s harder is figuring out what it can be that’s me. I have to be able to imagine getting up in the morning and putting it on. It’s also quite a statement, and like I was saying the other day, that tends to limit frequency of wear. I feel like whatever it is needs to be fairly spare and simple — I don’t want to be drowned by the pattern or to feel like the dress is wearing me, but a simpler shape will also allow the fabric to shine.

So I’ve sketched a bit. I’ve piled the fabric onto my dress form. I’ve started a Pinterest board. For now, I’m just going to think about it. But not too hard.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Week 3, LOVED

53 thoughts on “Slotober Frock step 2: What will it be?

  1. Pick your favorite shoes for a summer dress and set them under your form. It may help you visualize what it should be a little better…..

  2. Like the top and skirt, Would be great with jeans in the spring or skirt with wonderful spring sweater.

  3. either sketch no.3 or no.4,with the boots,and a long gray or subtle navy knit vest or cardigan–how about the vest is gray or the cardigan is navy??? that’s what i come up with when i look at your fabric on the dress form and your sketches and combine them in my mind….

  4. Preciousness can lead to paralysis and perfectionism, can’t it? (And my, that’s a lot of alliteration!)

    In my experience, sometimes the wardrobe calls before life has shifted to meet it – for example, I was pinning lady dresses and executive wear months before I was offered a full-time corporate job!

    Maybe this fabric and its prettiness is calling you into a new phase where you emerge into your new sense of ‘pretty’ – defined by you, in your own style, but spurred on by the dress you will make with this fabric.

    Love the image of the second shift dress shape – super-simple, not dramatic like a maxi piece; the fabric is pretty and special, and the shape is everyday utilititarian (in the best and most noble sense of the word).

    Selfishly, I want to say ‘don’t let it incubate too long’! Just so we can see you in the dress you’ve made out of it!

  5. Argh, this is how I feel about ALL my materials! I swear some of them are going unused to the grave with me because I have been thinking so long and hard about what to make with them…

  6. I think a dress like the ones you have drawn on the right, would be perfect. The fabric is so wonderful that you want don’t want any details detracting from it. I would not add pockets or too many embellishments.

  7. For what it’s worth, I feel like this is really a neutral fabric — albeit gorgeous and not neutral-looking up close. It will pair so well with all sorts of other neutrals, black, tans, charcoal, denim, as the statemement piece of a look. Dressed up, dressed down… Covered partly or not… A dress shape you love could be super versatile.

  8. It does seem really different than the pieces you usually show yourself wearing here, but that’s kind of the same thing with your Trillium, isn’t it? Maybe the thing to do is to make two pieces out of it–like your second sketch–that could work as a dress if worn together but also could be worn separately to tone down the overall effect. I think a skirt with this fabric would work well with many things in your wardrobe that you’ve shown here, and I think a medium length top would go well with that black skirt you showed on Monday.

    • I agree! Two pieces would give you much more flexibility and potential to mix with your current wardrobe. And they could be worn together when you want to make a statement. And there’s less pressure since you wouldn’t be risking all the fabric on one garment.
      Although it is certainly beautiful, this fabric doesn’t have a too-pretty vibe to me, it’s definitely denim-y, and I think it could fit with your look.

  9. it is very pretty indeed, and though you question how much this fabric is “you”, it certainly compliments your aesthetic!

  10. I don’t see this as a dress at all, especially one that calls for piecing. You will lose the beauty of the weave and it will get busy. The fewer cuts and details, the better. A loose, boxy top or kimono jacket ala Elizabeth Suzanne, or if you don’ t want too much volume, then a Spring coat/tunic type piece. As few breaks in the pattern as possible. Play up the ombre effect ( which you see in the way it is hanging in this photo). Think Japanese. Just my two cents. Or three or four. ;-)

  11. Your blog has opened my eyes and senses to so many ideas and artists; I would never have known they were out there without stumbling onto your blog. Thank you very much! However, sometimes you over intellectualize. Beautiful fabric made especially for you. The two dresses on the right would be perfect. Put those boots away and follow SuthernGirl’s advice. Please don’t overthink this project!

  12. And, it might even be best kept in one piece as a blanket/throw. Sublime with crisp white bedding…

  13. Honestly, I think you could make a tunic dress like your linen one from an earlier post, and then wear this fabric with every single one of those outfits! This fabric could easily be considered neutral when paired with your green vest, favorite sweatshirt, black knitted tank, etc.

  14. I think it is crying out to be a boxy jacket, with modified kimono style sleeves. Like the Japanese style jackets constructed from Saori woven textiles. It would be stunning with your palette. Dressed up over an ivory or deep indigo sheath; dressed down over skinny jeans. Jazzed up with a pop of lime or mandarin. It is definitely you.

  15. Is the fabric sturdy enough to be made into some flowy trousers? What about a chambray-type shirt but maybe modified to NOT include a collar…..a button up collarless shirt! Finally, some kind of scarf could be made with some scraps!

  16. I say sew the Anna dress. It looks like a great fabric for the pattern and I think you will likely enjoy wearing it. I had trouble fitting the back but I remember your post about taking a fitting class, so you’ll be able to deal with issues at the muslin stage without a hitch :-)

  17. Is that sketch of a shirt and skirt intended to BOTH be made from your beautiful fabric? There are plenty of matching blouses (usually shorter) and longer skirts or loose pants (like Elizabeth Suzann’s pants) where the both-from-the-same-cloth thing makes the whole look just amazing. Tuck it in, and it could look like a kick ass jumpsuit. And if you made 2 separate items, you’d get more wearability out of the pieces individually. That is a bit of a statement, but fabric like this is just always going to be a statement, like you said. If you wear it, you’re going to need to WEAR IT. And it’s going to look great on you (and this is coming from someone who’s very afraid of color/pattern).

  18. Hmmm…I went back and looked at some of your recent garments you said you really loved. They all while clean lines, have structure to them. The turtleneck and band in the sweater, jacket details, the linen tunic with its button placket. What about a jacket? with some detail in it that gives it a bit of structure, a mandarin collar? I find for myself that I feel overwhelmed by many prints and feel much better when it gets broken up somehow even if it is just a button placket…I like the ideas mentioned for something japanese inspired.

    • Oh, I think you’re right about the structure. And it would go over lots of different neutral outfits.

  19. Oh boy…choices :) I agree with ANNA, funny, fabric I cannot CUT……..hey, what’s it for anyway??
    I also like the last, on the right, sketch. nothing to interfere with the fabric then it can be dressed up or down with scarves/shoes etc………..

  20. Are you a kimono wearer? There are folkwear patterns that use almost all of the cloth, sort of bog coat style. Another way to use it would be to make a coat and use it as the most sumptuous insulated lining ever-your secret and the ultimate indulgence. I love hidden opulence. Perhaps you do too?

    • This was what I was thinking… a no waste project for slotober would seem perfect! Holly McQuillan of make/use has just made her patterns available, free of charge:

      I am not sure that these are garments are really ‘you’, Karen (at least the small bit of ‘you’ I have encountered), but it might be worth a look. I just love the concept of them.

  21. I would channel dress design from Ace & Jig (, perhaps like this Tessuti dress that has the fabric sitting perpendicular at the top of the dress relative to the sides and skirt ( Similar vibes from the dresses here ( and here ( Just a thought!

  22. One option is interior design. Could it be drapes or a slip cover for long body pillow? How about a window bench seat? You could knit some awesome patterned/textured cotton pillow in those lovely blues. I found once patterns and fabric was getting to be insanely high my sewing skills went into items for my home.

    All in all it is wonderful to have the options:)

  23. Seeing it draped there on your dress form, indeed, it looks like a spring coat to me. A great way to get long lengths of uninterrupted fabric into it.

    Boxy, kimono sleeve jacket would also be great … I think there’s a free downloadable margiela? McQueen? pattern somewhere on the web.

  24. Ohhh, I love the Anna gown idea (or Anna sleeveless shift, 2nd from the right). It would be the equivalent of our beloved denim on denim, pumpkin turned into Cinderella coach! ;-)

  25. Hate to do this, but it seems to me that if Karen feels it’s too pretty, a kimono top might not be in her wheelhouse. While I like the Anna dress, if you wish to wear it more often, this would not be the pattern (although you could totally dress it up or down). In reference to my parenthetical, choosing something that you could dress up, say with a nice necklace and heels (if that’s in your wheelhouse or closet) as well as down (I’m totally seeing a chambray shirt over it) would be ideal. Ultimately, however, you don’t want to try to make something that will hit all the right notes. Just like one person can’t be everything you need (admit it), one item of clothing can’t meet every need. Let it roll around in your head for a while.

  26. That is such beautiful fabric! I don’t have suggestions (except to keep it simple, but that seems obvious enough). If it seems too “pretty” for you (and I can see having the same issue, were this my fabric to use), maybe consider how you would combine it with other things (love the biker boots idea) or if you even want to wear it. Could you incorporate it into a lap blanket, for example? Or something else for your new house? That might last longer than a garment anyway. Just one idea.

  27. I must admit that I can so relate to everything you have written. Based on my journey this month with slowfashionoctober I am wondering why the beautiful piece of fabric just can’t be exactly what it is? Why must it be transformed into something else? I love your studio…the simplicity, the light, the white walls, the wood floors and find that the fabric’s presence on the dress form complements the surroundings. Just keep it right there as a reminder of all that should be considered when beginning a new project…

  28. I’ve got the same problem with some vintage fabric I’m hoarding (I bought it over a year ago, and I’m still waiting for the right project to come along for it!). I think this fabric is so, so lovely, and I think you will just know the right project for it when it comes along. Although I have to say that looking at it, I think it would make a great little quilted jacket (although I’m obsessed with quilted jackets right now, so I think I’m seeing them wherever I look!). Looking forward to seeing what you do with it!

  29. Karen, I think you have enough fabric there for at least one, if not two items. Don’t worry about each one being the MOST AMAZING EVER. I believe you like your Wiksten tank. How about starting with that, or an Endless Summer Tunic. Either would look awesome over jeans and with your Amanda sweater over it. You seem to like layering and the denim colors in the fabric would be perfect with Jeans. It would seem less “precious” and more organic and ethnically inspired. Then once that is done, you could use the rest as a jacket or skirt. Good luck – both will be amazing!

  30. When you have something this beautiful it is hard to know which direction to go. It is an art piece. That said, I would want to get as many uses out of it as possible. It’s easy to get stuck trying to make something whole. Why not enjoy it in several different ways. I am not sure how many yards you have, but I love how it looks wrapped around the neck of your dress form…. so for me, I would want a scarf to wear next to my neck and face. The smooth fabric with the least amount of color saturation would be a tank, with a pocket out of the more fancy embroidered looking section or an inset piece below the neckline. And also some type of home decor like a pillow using the fabric for the front as a whole or piecing together scraps from my other projects. Lastly, a knitting accessory of some sort, a zippered pouch for tools, drawstring project bag or a sleeve for my ruler… something to put my hands on daily.

  31. Sometimes we can all have analysis paralysis, but I think letting it rest for a while and letting it speak to you is a wise decision. I wear very tailored, classic clothes and when I try to branch out and try something “new” it’s just “not me.” I feel as if I’m playing dress-up or getting ready for Halloween in a new costume. I love to make things that I’ll love to wear again and again and again. Think of the favorite lines you already have in your closet…I don’t think this is the fabric to experiment with since you would be devastated if you didn’t like the finished garment. How about simple separates that you could wear together or separate and wear with jeans, sweaters, tops, boots, sandals, etc. that you own and love? This is a special fabric so all the more reason to play it safe with this one and love it forever!
    Good luck with your decision making, Karen…whatever you decide will be just the right thing for you!

  32. I was thinking a coat would be amazing, but I could also see a button up shirt, like your favorite denim one from your loved post.

  33. Oh, Karen, this project may be the juiciest project I’ve ever encountered. The way you’re thinking about this fabric and its destiny mirrors so often the conundrum I have when a great batch of yarn comes my way. You’re up against a delicious, true dilemma, and I can’t wait to see what comes of this.

  34. To be totally honest, along with you, I am wondering if the print is ‘you’. (or maybe I’m just transferring my personal taste onto the situation as I could not see myself using it for a garment.) What you have shared of your clothing aesthetic and colours makes me pause and think you are right to wait on it. Perhaps the pattern is just too big to make into a garment and to use just a little e.g. for a tank, may then limit the use for something else. Anyway, as the others have said, no rush, just because it is there!

  35. Pingback: Slow Fashion October, Week 4: WORN | Fringe Association

  36. I can see this as a simple, flowy midi skirt. Maybe a quarter circle skirt, using the By Hand London calculator app? It would be amazing with neutral tops, like a pearly grey or ivory. And definitely some sandals- this isn’t a black boot fabric at all.

  37. That fabric screams spring/summer to me. The boots feel wrong. Try some sandals and see how it feels. . . (I do understand waiting til the right pattern hits you. don’t rush too much. Arbitrary deadlines are just that–arbitrary. And clothing needs no deadline. . .)

  38. I obviously don’t know you IRL and have only been reading your blog for the past few months, so I’m certainly not an expert on your personal style, but my first thought on how to use this fabric to make a key wardrobe piece for yourself was a denim (style) shirt (dress?). (sjn821 on Rav)

  39. I’m way late on this but there’s a pattern by Named called the Inari Tee (it’s a dress – It’s similar to the second from the right sketch above. I know what you’re saying about the fabric potentially being too pretty, I have this problem all the time and I feel like we have similar wardrobes on some level, maybe a bit more on the masculine side of things. If you’re feeling worried about a fabric or print being too pretty a modern, clean, slightly more edgy shape than an a-line gown might be the way to go. That way it kind of cuts the sweetness a bit.

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