Imagination vs. Reality: Where I Am Smacked Down

comments: 382

So, I had this idea, a loose dress for cool summer nights.




I was just thinking, like, North Woods, cabin on the lake, marshmallow roasting, you know, thinking as you do when you are gonna chill out and make something, just for fun.




I was thinking Washington Island, in Door County, Wisconsin, location of so many of my childhood camping vacations. Friday night fish frys at Findley's. Flath's cottages, where I hit one of those trees on the lawn with my dad's car (oops). Watching the Island Players plays in the big red barn. Walking home from the beach through the woods at sunset.




You're hearing me here. Fishing pole at dusk. Braids and moccasins. A teensy bit sunburned. I was going for rustic campfire girl, and instead I got friggin






Boooooo. This is Simplicity 2997, which I still think is a very cute pattern. It's not the pattern. I don't think. It's me. I think it would be a very cute pattern on a skinny person, and if it were about three feet shorter. And not plaid. And basically nothing at all like this. To make things worse, I made it four inches longer (it's still unhemmed here) because I like my skirts to come just below the knee and cover my stocking), so, yeah, not helping, and it is too big pretty much everywhere. But still. I'm good with comfortable, don't get me wrong, but I look at this "dress" and I think, "How did I not see Davy Crockett sleeping bag coming here?" How did this idea, when imaginarily placed over big boobs and a wide can, seem like a good one?

I don't know. Because it all makes sense. At my size (not small) and in this print ( . . . ) and without any shaping whatsoever ( ! ! ! ) and having made dozens and dozens of dresses for myself over the years, how do I not see these things coming before I park my car in the parking lot of the fabric store? Before that, even? When I'm pulling my car away from my house? I am clearly delusional. Because this is not the first time. Oh no. Not even close. This is probably the eighth time. Grizzly Adams nightgown, or some version thereof, has happened many times before.

Maybe that's just sewing. It's kind of like throwing pots — you throw it, you glaze it, you fire it, you don't really know what you're going to pull out of that kiln. And that was precisely what I didn't like about throwing pots.


What should I do?

A) Take it to Goodwill immediately. Forget it ever happened. Delete this post.

B) Do some sort of empire waist gathered thing under the bust? Or gather it on the sides? Shorten it and wear it as a shirt?

C) Go with it, and learn to hunt squirrel.

D) Other.

Please advise.


I think you should try the empire/gathering waist ideas 1st... and shorten it to like knee-length. I love the fabric (it looks much prettier in the 2nd pic)... If that doesn't work, you should send it to me- I would wear it proudly!

Loved this! So funny. I was really looking forward to seeing the dress described before the photo! I choose 'B'. Cut the sleeves off at the 'gather' and shorten it for a shirt. Colors are softer and prettier in the second photo. I think it would be a cute shirt.

Noooooo!!! Don't cut off the sleeves! They's purty.

I think it makes a lovely nightgown...though I find nighties to be uncomfortable myself...I also like the shirt idea! Definitely you should play more with it before you go to Good Will! And don't delete the post!

RoseCampion says: June 23, 2008 at 10:53 AM

I think the best thing to do would be to shorten it to a shirt and wear it with jeans at those times when you want to look rustic-y and like you've just been camping.

I can definitely see some cute in it. I love the lantern sleeves. The yoke is cute. But at the length it is, it's going to read "nightgown" no matter if you give it an empire waist or not. It's not even entirely the cut of the dress. It's the cut in combination with the plaid.

And whatever you do, do not reattempt this pattern in floral flannel. Or maybe do it, and have yourself the cutest nightgown ever.

I also vote for a shirt. And shoot, you may have enough fabric left for a cute bag or bicycle basket liner to match! A hanky tie for your hair even! Or a scarf for your sweet Clover. :)

Oh my God Alicia. You crack me up. Whatever you do, don't wear it on a romantic get-away with hubby. The sleeves are actually very pretty. Can you re-work the neck, shorten it into a cute blouse? Cat ^..^

Been there, done that and probably worse. It needs to go away and not come back. Never speak of it again or it will always haunt you. You are way more talented than that "thing" could ever give you credit for. It must leave. te he he!!

I think it would look adorable with a wide brown leather belt.

this is why i haven't sewn a garment for myself since.... well, the carter administration.

i would, and take this with a grain of salt (see my remark above...) cut it up, using it as accents for summer bags that you sell in the shop - but for more money because they were inspired by the 'great sleeping bag disaster - summer 2008'. then, carry on as if nothing happened.

the hardest part of sewing clothes, i think, is selecting the right fabric with the right drape - so, so difficult.

ps, i think an empire waist would make you look like you were daniel boone's pregnant sleeping bag... just saying.

I think I'm with the general consense. Rework the sleeves and wear it will a jean skirt to gently suggest Hey, I like being outside! instead of the current Unsure what you mean by running water.
Good luck!

Eye-wateringly hilarious! Thanks for the laugh, but please know it's only because:

1) I've SO been there, and
2) You're funny. Really funny.

I'm a Texas gal but have temporarily relocated to the mountains in Colorado. Your dress would go BIG up here. Seriously! In fact, I think I saw the lady who hauls firewood wearing something similar to your dress just this morning. (If her hair hadn't been in curlers she may just have pulled it off....)

Lob it off, gather it, and wear it as a shirt. I think it's darling! :D

Margot K says: June 23, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Alicia, I think it makes a good dress to wear when you want to lie about on the sofa and just hang out. We all need something for those days of malaise. It looks very well made. You could answer the door wearing it! It's a shade better than the sweats I keep on hand to wear when I am not well, but want to get out of the nightgown.

Yeah, the plaid... well you did match it so precisely on the yoke. I think you should maybe embrace the nightgowny-ness of it and use it as such.

Alternatively, you could sew Andy a Wee, Willie, Winkie nightcap and make it into a nightshirt for him. If you do that definitely take pictures.

Shorten it to a bit longer than
hip length, add a belt, and wear over will look great!

Hmmm, do they have those reenacting groups by you? You could get a 'coon skin hat for your husband and have a new hobby?

I have had this happen often! Usually, the harder i try to fix it, the worse it gets. But, you never know.....


Oh my goodness...I just went through my own version of the same thing...I had this vision in my minds eye of the perfect breezy, seashell gatherer skirt. Instead I look like a burned out hippy wearing a sheet. ooops
I love the yoke and the sleeves on your creation. And your fabric is so so right! I can totally see where you were going with it! would it be possible you think to make it into a little jacket? Just crop to hip length and obviously cut down the front and extend the facing from where presently there is the little slit? I think it could retain that cute campfire feel in a 1940's Pendleton kind of way?
Don't give up on it! Gosh that plaid is so so cute. I want to trim pillow cases in that fabric for a willow branch bed! (chatter box today...sorry. :)

OMIGAWD, I'm laughing so hard I'm literally crying! Maybe Andy can wear it when his Goodwill Western Numbers are in the Laundry ~ betta yet, you could wear it WHEN Andy wears his Goodwill Western Numbers. . . . you made my day, thank you! :)

Oh please, please, pretty please keep it!!! With sugar on top. Wear it for halloween. Or to bed with a fur cap with the tail. Make a bit out of it. Just keep it. Sew it into 50 scrunchies. Keep it, I repeat, keep it. I love this post. I even love the tantrum from the last post. it's like me when I threw the sleeve I was reknitting for the third time across the room while uttering expletives. so funny.

Definitely a shirt, shorten the sleeves, that'll be cute with jeans. I have two such failures in my closet, one actually from 1977. Purple & black panels, long dress, zipper in front, hooded, OMG. I keep it to shake me into reality if I think of doing something like it again.

OMG, you are hilarious!!! All is not lost. I think there are several ways that you could rescue Missy McDress from Early Frontiersman Hell. Cut the yoke down a couple of inches so that it becomes a boat neck, cinch it into an empire waist, and shorten it for a cute "babydoll goes camping" look. You could also cut down the yoke, remove the sleeves (which I think are adorable), and do the empire waist thing for a cute sundress. Please don't banish her to the Goodwill! She just needs some TLC and an extreme makeover.

Listen, I'm don't sew, but I clicked over to see the pattern. I think unless you're a size 0, it would look like a nightgown on just about anyone. With or without the sleeves. Big, billowy tunic tops are in right now, so I say, go with that, with some denim capris or skirt. Very cute for marshmallow roasting!

I think this would look good as a shirt. But I hear squirrel is delicious this time of year...

Thanks for brightening my Monday. That dress is like my weekend--started off so promisingly but then went downhill towards the end.

Shorten the sleeves and take it in on the sides so that it skims instead of bags.

Otherwise call up Davy C. and ask if he wants a nice summer nightshirt!

are you sure this isn't flannel cuz it sure screams flannel to me! i say cut it off and make a cute top.

whatever you do, do not delete this post. it is too friggin' funny...

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.