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Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

Hello from glorious Galveston!! This is truly my favorite time of year here on the Gulf Coast. Surviving our summers is like an extreme endurance sport, but once you're into October the humidity breaks, the breeze has a cool edge to it, and days are clear, bright and comfortably warm. I really do miss the defined seasons of the northeast, but there is a silver lining to every region, and I feel like these blissfully perfect Autumns are ours. 

Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

So... this dress. Where to begin with this dress? I'll be honest, I think I've written this post about 3 times and every time I keep erasing it.  This dress drags up a lot of conflicting feelings about my body for me.  And every time I sit down to write about it I find myself enumerating all the things I don't like about my figure, and it's just insane. No one wants to read that! Least of all me! So I will just say this -- wearing this dress puts me way outside of my comfort zone, but also kind of makes me feel like a badass.  It's a silhouette that I think I'd normally tell myself was "unflattering" on me and that I should avoid, but I liked it. So I made it. I made it in an arrestingly bright colored fabric that makes it impossible not to be noticed. And I wear it. On perfectly ordinary days. When I was feeling a bit bloated I wore the dress. I ate lunch in the dress. I slumped over at my desk in the dress. I wore normal undergarments and breathed like a human being. And it was fine. I even got compliments on the dress from random strangers.

Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

I don't like being told what I can do and what I can't do, what I can wear, and what I can't wear. It's why I've never lasted very long at any job that required a uniform or had a dress code. And I especially don't like it when I'm the one telling myself I can't do or wear something.  Oh yeah, Self? Watch me.

This dress may not be the most flattering on me in the ways that women are told we should look in order to be desirable - curvy (but only in certain areas), narrow (but only in certain areas), toned (but only in certain areas).  But you know what? I think my shoulders and arms look awesome in this dress. I love this color on me.  I love the opposing style elements of the mock turtleneck and the cut-away sleeves and the gored skirt.  I love that I love this dress and I'm wearing it despite my insecurities. And that's all there is to say about that!

Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

Well, obviously that's not all there is to say about it! This is a sewing blog and I should probably talk about the sewing! This dress came about because of a couple inspiring makes I'd seen by two of my favorite sewing bloggers: Erica Bunker and Noble & Daughter.  Erica made a dress out of this bright orange ponte from Mood Fabrics and the color and cut of it just really caught my eye.  Never mind that Erica looked positively fierce in it (but doesn't she always?) It was one of those makes that looked so good it deluded me into thinking I could look just as good if I copied her! Haha! So I did! Kind of. I bought the same fabric, and I was tempted to use the same pattern, the most outstanding feature of which was the mock turtleneck and cut-away sleeve.

Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

But then I remembered this Beatrix Skater Dress from Named Patterns, which had a similar sleeve/neckline action as Erica's dress, but with the addition of the fun, swishy gored skirt.  I've never made a Named pattern before, but I know they are well loved among the blogosphere.  However, I couldn't recall if I had seen many versions of the Beatrix dress out in the wild. So I googled it.  True to my suspicions, not many came up in the google image search, but one definitely caught my eye - the lovely Charlie's.  I'm so glad I searched for this dress, because I seem to have missed this post when she first wrote it, but it's such a wonderful post! Not only does Charlie look amazing in her dress, but her musings on "age-appropriate" dressing really hit home with me, as I was trying to sort out my own concerns with "figure-flattery" dressing.  

Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

The actual construction of this dress was a breeze, as knit garments often are. Especially with such a well-behaved ponte.  The instructions weren't too hand-holdy, but they were clear and concise, which was all that's needed, really. The only place where I deviated from the instructions was with the armholes, which instructs you to use bias binding to finish, but I simply turned and stitched using my sewing machine's triple stitch stretch setting.  There were a few places where some of my knowledge and experience with sewing garments made me think "but shouldn't we be doing this..." like with understitching the collar facing, or adding elastic to the waist seam. Neither of these were mentioned in the instructions, and despite my instincts I decided to follow the instructions as written to see how the dress turned out without these construction techniques.  Turns out, the dress is fine, but I still stand by my gut sewing instinct that understitching the collar would help it look a bit sharper, and that elastic in the waist seam would prevent the weight of the skirt from dragging down the bodice. However I hate the way elastic in waist seams feels, and understitching knits can be a chore. So, do it whichever way you want. The dress will still turn out wearable either way.

Safety Orange Ponte | Named Beatrix Skater Dress

So, as is so often the case with making things, this dress was really the love child of two other women's fabulous creations, smooshed together in my brain to make something that feels unique to me.  Thank you to Erica and Charlie, and all you wonderful makers out there for continuously inspiring me!

And if you've ever saw a design and inwardly sighed because you loved it so much, and felt instantly transported into a daydream where you were swanning about in said design, only to have the breaks slammed on your little fantasy by a nasty voice saying "but you could never pull off that look. That style is not for you." Then I implore you to give not two, not one, but zero fucks about that voice and wear what makes you happy, not what you think you should.

Happy Halloween, all you Queens.