I had many ideas for my project for The Blue Castle round of the Literary Sewing Circle - many of the suggestions I made in our inspiration posts were things I was considering myself. But as I was rereading some passages in the book, I came across this image from when Valancy and Barney were going to town to be married, and I just couldn't get it out of my head:
Everything seemed more dream-like than ever. Valancy didn't know whether she felt happy. Or terrified. Or just plain fool.
Then the lights of Port Lawrence were about them. Valancy felt as if she were surrounded by the gleaming, hungry eyes of hundreds of great, stealthy panthers.
To me this felt like a dark rainy night with lots of blurred coloured lights shining and reflecting, showing Valancy's confusion at the life changes she was experiencing. And I had a fabric that made me think of this exact image, too.
I matched up this light poly-blend knit with a dress that has a 20s inspired silhouette, the Talulah by Style Arc. I've been meaning to make this for a while, in fact it was on my 2021 Make Nine list! So I thought the 20s inspiration together with the quote made for a perfect duo.
So now on to the pattern! I traced off a size 12, grading out to about a size 14 at the hip -- I added on about 1/2" to each seam line, and bumped out the sections to be gathered by the same amount so that I didn't skimp on the gathered panels, which are the highlight of the pattern. It worked out well! I also shortened the sleeves by 3", so that they are full length, ending at the wrist. I have short arms.
The neckband went in nicely, although do note that it is quite a narrow width; if you are thinking of making a contrast band as a feature, you might want to increase the width a bit. I basted it in first to be sure it was the right size and then attached it properly. Easier than picking out a zigzag to begin with.
I didn't shorten this one at all. I measured the line of gathering so that it would sit right at my lower hip (although the stretch in the fabric has made it sit just a touch lower in wearing) and then measured down to where I wanted it to end. I didn't need to make any adjustments. The pattern as designed is fairly short, ending above the knee but I wanted mine to sit right at the knee. I don't think this pattern would look right if it was longer than mid-knee, the proportions would be off, at least to me. But I left it and it's mid-knee for me as is. I have quite short legs, so if you are making this be sure to measure your pattern well before deciding what to adjust.
I really, really like this one! There's a shaped centre back seam to give it a nice fit and it really adds to the pattern. I like the fit a lot - in fact I think if I cut it to a length just above the gathers, this pattern would make a nice basic tee as well. I like that it's close fitting but not clinging, and the little swish of the gathered panels is just perfect. The fabric is light but also substantial enough to hold the shape well, and I think the print is such fun.
I'm happy to be able to think of this as my Valancy dress, and will definitely enjoy it. The only tiny flaw with it is that there are no pockets -- not easy to put into this silhouette. But I will overlook that this time as it is such a fun and comfy outfit!