I absolutely LOVE using heirloom techniques to add interesting details to everyday clothing. Yes, they take extra time, but they really add that extra little bit of casual couture that makes your clothing stand out. For this dress, I used my TNT pattern — the Decades of Style ESP Dress and some lovely cotton eyelet (or broderie anglaise).
The fabric for this dress started out white. I chose this lovely white designer floral cotton eyelet, which is a beautiful, high quality fabric. Unfortunately, there is only a small amount of yardage of that fabric left right now on the Cali site, but there are many other eyelets on the site to choose from. I initially planned on making this dress in white, but the fact is that I already have another similar white eyelet dress, so it didn’t really make sense to sew up another one. So what did I do? I dyed it!
I wanted this dress to be navy. I am a fabric dyeing novice, although I’ve had success with dyeing fabrics in pastel colors. However, it’s a much different story dyeing fabric in a dark color. I read all of the instructions and used two bottles of dye as well as the recommended amount of salt. The fabric looked navy when I pulled it out of the dye bath, but lightened to a periwinkle blue color after the dye was rinsed…. I was going to settle for that color, but the day before I planned to sew this dress up, I decided to dye it again, using the high-efficiency washer method. Although it did get a little darker, it was not navy. I added vinegar that time and I just ended up with a slightly darker periwinkle blue and some splotchy fabric. It was evenly dyed during the first dyeing process in a tub, where I tended to it manually, but not so in the washer. I decided to go with it and think of it as a unique fabric, instead of one with dyeing flaws. My advice though is NOT to dye in a high-efficiency washer and probably to use the stovetop dyeing method for dark colors. I’m obviously no expert, but my thoughts are that the dye bath needs to be very hot for the darker colored dye to adhere to it.
As I was adding some interesting details to this dress, I opted to use a dress pattern that I was very familiar with. I’ve already sewn nine ESP dresses in many different fabrics (silk linen, cotton voile, cotton gingham and quilting cotton), so I knew it was going to be an easy, no-hassle sewing project. I had this vintage cotton entredeux lace in my stash, so I dyed it along with the fabric and went along sewing it insertion style into the eyelet. The entredeux is sewn on the fabric, then the fabric is cut back on the inside and folded and ironed away from the lace so that it appears to be part of the fabric. You then go back and sew the folded pieces of fabric down, stabilizing the lace insertion. It’s a tedious process, but super easy when you get the hang of it.
I had a lot the entredeux, so I went to town adding the lace insertion to this dress. I started on the bodice and matched up my lace before sewing the bodice together. I then lined the bodice, added insertion to the sleeves, and sewed the sleeves on before joining the gathered skirt to the bodice. After I had the dress sewn, I added the rows of entredeux insertion to the skirt. (This dress is lined with some leftover navy blue cotton from my stash)
Entredeux isn’t really the ideal lace for this project, but I am so very happy with the outcome. I had to hand sew some of it to reinforce it as entredeux does not have a border. An easier lace to use for this insertion technique would be one like this white cotton lace trim from Cali. Entredeux is narrow , has no borders and has to be trimmed quite a bit as well as reinforced a bit more to work. Entredeux is meant to be sewn right sides together, but as I was sewing lace insets, I had to use it in a different way. This is my fifth project with insertion lace and probably the one that is the least “neat” as I chose to use entredeux…
I confess that with all of it’s trials and tribulations, I really love this dress. It’s cool and comfortable and has interesting details that make it unique. It’s definitely one of my favorite summer dresses and one I look forward to wearing for years to come.