black ikat print dress with sea turtle mural
Garment Sewing,  Sewing

Black Ikat-Print Dress (Me-Made May 2021)

The beauty of Me-Made May is sharing those projects that haven’t fully been shared. I’ve worn this dress often since I made it two years ago, and shared it on Instagram, but this is its blog debut!

I found this fabric at Fabric Planet, a delightful fabric store in Venice, CA, just outside Los Angeles. If you’re ever nearby (or looking for something to do near LAX, like we were when my mom and I spotted it the first time), I highly recommend a visit.

For the pattern, I traced a ready-to-wear dress that I own. It’s a comfy dress that I wear often, and I love the elastic waist. The only downside of the RTW dress? No pockets! Of course I added pockets to my pattern.

Lately, a lot of my me-made clothes have started by my tracing a garment that I already love. For me, this is often much more enjoyable than working with a manufactured pattern, because I know the item is likely to fit well immediately, without a lot of fit adjustments.

That was definitely the case with this dress – the bodice fit perfectly! But one change for next time: this first make of the pattern ended up a little shorter than I wanted. The RTW dress is made of a stretch knit, so I think the stretch pulls the fabric a little bit closer to my knees. This fabric, a cotton blend with a slight 2-way stretch, didn’t behave the same way. I didn’t even do a real hem on this dress, I just serged the bottom edge and folded it up once before stitching in place. The fabric is very stable so it’s not a problem (and it was a very easy way to hem!) but next time I make a dress from this pattern I will lengthen the skirt.

I almost always line my dresses, but this fabric isn’t at all see-through so I kept it one layer and therefore more Miami-friendly. I finished the neckhole and shoulders with hot pink bias tape, my favorite detail of this dress! I also applied bias tape at the waist seam to tidy it and make sure the elastic + seam allowance lays flat against my skin.

I love using bias tape in fun colors, and I’ve learned that it’s worth taking the time to finish my edges well. I realized that I see my clothes often even when I’m not wearing them, because they’re in my closet or a drawer, and it makes me happy to see the clean seam finishes and colorful bias tapes.

black ikat print dress with sea turtle mural

I wore this dress recently to Mass and got David to snap my Me-Made May photos of the day in front of this amazing mural. The mural is almost finished, and it’s been delightful to see the progress they’ve made! I also love how well my dress matches the giant brain coral.

Speaking of sea turtles… their nests have started to pop up on Miami Beach and it’s the most magical process. I highly recommend learning as much as you can about sea turtles, it’s fascinating!

sam and a sea turtle (not a real sea turtle)
(not a real sea turtle)

They’re such beautiful, amazing, and important animals. Here are some ways YOU can help sea turtles:

  • Refuse Single Use Plastics – 100% of baby sea turtles that are washed back to shore, rather than making it out to the ocean to continue to mature, are found with microplastics in their digestive tract. 🙁 Do everything you can to eliminate single-use plastic in your daily life! Even when we think it’s “recycled” it’s usually either sent to a landfill or burned (locally now, instead of in China, not that that was better), or it ends up in the ocean anyway.
  • Fill holes you dig at the beach – Holes left in the sand overnight can get in the way of mama turtles trying to lay eggs, or baby turtles trying to get from the nest to the ocean.
  • Reduce your light pollution – For turtles, this is crucial in shoreline communities (but in general, less light pollution is better no matter where you are!). Bright artificial lights can confuse the turtles, who are looking for the light of the moon to guide them toward the ocean. If you live near the ocean, make sure your exterior lighting is sea turtle friendly! And contact your local businesses to encourage them to modify their lighting – I’ve started writing letters to the brightest stores in our area.

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