Thursday, August 23, 2012

Indygo Junction Day to Night Dress

While searching for beginner skirt patterns among the independent companies , I ran across the Indygo Junction Day to Night dress. Ever since my mom made me two culotte rompers when I was in fourth grade, I've had a thing for zippered dresses. I especially remember the striped version, in shades of mustard, olive and brown. Now that fashion and design ideas of the seventies are just barely distant enough in time to pass into the realm of nostalgia, I feel increasingly drawn to them.

Along with the zipper, Indygo Junction's dress incorporates a decorative belt with large buttons and patch pockets. The print mixing in the model dress strikes a good balance between subtle and cute.

But for all that I liked about this dress, I couldn't see ordering the pattern since it is, after all, a basic princess-seamed dress. My pattern collection contains at least four similar dresses, two of which I have cut out and altered for fit. Burda 7560 got the nod this time since it, like the Indygo Junction dress, does not have a waist seam.

Earlier this summer, I made two other versions of Burda 7560 (a now out of print, petite sized pattern), neither of which was just right. The first version, in a wonderful deep green rayon print, was much too big in the shoulders and upper chest and got passed along to my mother. Despite the petite sizing, this dress only goes down to a size 10, which required extensive alterations to fit my narrow upper chest.

For the second version, I changed the scoop neckline to a gentle v-neck. Thinking myself very clever, I substituted bias binding for the facing and ended up with a stretched neckline. A little strategic pleating made the dress wearable.

So the Burda pattern was ready for a new, more successful incarnation.

Several years ago I ordered two striking duvet covers in a patchwork of Japanese-style indigo prints from Crate and Barrel for my son's room. Though I loved the design, the duvets never worked well as duvets: they attracted lint and hair (big problem for those living with a Great Pyrenees) and somehow they didn't look well in the room. The reverse side of the duvets have since become the face fabric for insulated shades in our laundry room, but the patchwork side was still awaiting its fate.

Although there was plenty of fabric available, laying out the dress panels in a pleasing way which worked with the width of the different strips was challenging. Fabric limitations meant that using my favorite of the prints as the center front and center back panels would not allow a center front zipper. Now I rather wish I had found a way to keep the zipper in the front after all. Some of the side panels were pieced at the lower edge. But since the Burda pattern had a center back seam (which I had reshaped quite a bit to accommodate my swayback), it seemed to work better to place the zipper there.

I love the vintage metal zipper, a 10 cent find at a local fabric store, Foam & Fabrics. They have buckets of them. I think I need to go back for more. By the way, from what I can tell from the technical drawing, Indygo Junction's method of inserting the exposed zipper is misguided. They use a small vertical strip below the zipper in the front to make up the "gap" below the exposed zipper. Can you even imagine trying to match a print across that tiny strip and on either center front panel?

I used this helpful tutorial at Pattern Runway for the back zipper. Their method exposes the teeth but leaves the edges of the zipper tape to the wrong side of the fabric. If the whole zipper tape were exposed, the look would be even bolder, which I thought a bit much for this dress, since it has so many other things going on. 

As you might be able to see from the side view, I used four prints rather than the two used in the inspiration pattern. That was dictated by the fabric available rather than any particular aesthetic insight, but I think it produces an even more interesting effect.

When I drafted the pocket, I decided to make it shallower than Indygo Junction's. I like to be able to reach to the bottom of my pockets without bending down, so I aligned the bottom of the pocket piece with the tips of my fingers. The pocket depth is perfect--large without being absurd.

The upshot is: I love my new dress. Indygo Junction's pattern was a wonderful inspiration, and if this review of it draws a bit of attention to their design, perhaps that will make up in part for my using another pattern that I already owned and had fit to achieve the same look. 

I can envision a version in a mixture of batik prints, or a luxurious Liberty of London take on the matter. Or maybe a jumper with a front zipper, made from corduroy. Lots of possibilities with this comfortable and practical cut


  1. What a fun little dress! I love the way you mixed the prints.

    1. Thank you, Trena! I like the print mixing, too, but can't take credit for it, since Crate and Barrel came up with the combination.

  2. I really love your dress! It looks great on you too.

    1. Thank you so much, Beverly! I am wearing it right now. Love these pockets.