I picked the style partly because I was inspired by some uses of African prints on similar dresses I found on Etsy, and partly because I wanted to be able to position the border print in different directions on the dress.
It’s got a bodice from Butterick 3786 (circa 1975, very disco-era) and just a straight rectangle with a single seam for the dirndl-style skirt. It took a little less than two yards of fabric at 54” wide and only $3.99/yard at our local discount fabric warehouse. This is a really nice lightweight fabric with a textured weave and dramatic print. It could be hand-printed or hand-painted, as the colors vary throughout and the design is uneven.
The biggest effort went into the cummerbund or obi belt, because I wanted the design to be centered and embellished. I cut a waist-length oval shape centered over the most dramatic designs on the fabric, and a second piece for the back or facing. I basted a layer of cotton batting to the front and a layer of heavy weight interfacing to the facing. I quilted the front by simply tracing around several of the center designs with machine stitching, but it doesn’t really show up. I used black thread because I didn’t want the stitching to show, just the puffy-quilty aspect. I guess the single layer of batting wasn’t enough to make it puffy, but it is going around my waist, after all! No puffiness necessary there!
On future projects I might try using colored thread, or quilt by hand using embroidery floss. That was actually my original plan, inspired by some of Gertie’s Stitch-Alongs at STC. But, all I had was pink and brown floss. Ugh!
After quilting, I sewed the top/front and the facing together, with right sides together, and turned it right side out. The ties are simply 4” strips folded and sewn over 1.5” twill tape which is then pulled through an open end.
You might ask why I used black thread when the background of this print is so obviously navy, and my only excuse is it looked black at the time. I’ve looked at it under sunlight (black with some blue areas), incandescent bulb (black), Ott lite (very dark navy), and fluorescent bulb (bluish navy). In any case very little of the thread shows on the surface, so I think it’s okay.