More than a decade ago, I was wandering around Jinghong, a southern city in Yunnan, China that borders Laos and Myanmar. It was the final stop after several weeks in the province and I had logged many an hour on sleeping buses, was run over by a very large pig on a very small island, popped firecrackers for the New Year in Tiger Leaping Gorge. Amid those snow-capped mountains—the foothills of the Tibetan plateau—I got so sick that I had to hitch a ride with the Chinese Army back to town. As we moved south, we trekked in the mountains along the border, dreamed of music and water with Peace Corps volunteers on break. And finally, there was Jinghong: sunshine and lemongrass and color.
I stopped into a dressmaker's shop. She took my measurements and within a few hours had whipped up a traditional blouse-and-skirt combo with my chosen fabric.
I never wore it. Stateside, I looked ridiculous. I probably looked ridiculous there, too, but I loved the fabric and I loved that it was handmade, a souvenir from many moons ago.
So after a decade in my stash, I finally reinvented it into a sundress:
I was working with constraints. The skirt was a large rectangle, but there wasn't much of it. I couldn't use a pattern with lots of pieces—nor a full skirt—and I wanted to show off the print.
All the while, I've been eyeing me some vintage sundresses and I love this notched collar detail I find on 1940s patterns. They also pop up in the 50s and 70s.
So I drafted a notched collar and facing pieces.
And just as quickly as the original was made in sunny Jinghong, I whipped up this dress in a matter of hours.
- I love Burda. Their sizing is closest to mine, I feel like I can whip up a straight 38 with minimal problems. Also, if I had a magazine from each season, I bet I could frankenpattern ANYTHING. Love that there's so many basic shapes.
- I love: the color, the wide straps, the notched collar
- No zipper, baby! It pulls right over my head. That was a happy accident.
- It's a bit light and wrinkly, but I'm hoping the cotton fabric will be perfect for hot weather
Up next: The fuschia knit top!