photos by Jenae Briggs Photography
It’s time for another Recreating Kate dress! I’ve been thinking about what styles and ideas I want to share with you, and one of the things I love most about sewing and creating is that you can take the things you love most about a piece and use it to create something of your own.
Take this Zimmerman dress, for instance. It’s gorgeous. I love everything about it. I can’t find it since it’s from last year and the Kate Effect (where everyone buys what she’s wearing as soon as she wears it) made it a highly sought-after piece. It was priced at $550. And I’m sure you can see why.
But sometimes you don’t want to make things exactly the same. For instance, this dress is made with eyelet and has some beautiful pieced detail that really sets the dress apart. I loved the effect those details give while remaining simple and classic. But I wanted to play with the idea of the striped detail and direction of the fabrics without doing an exact copy. I love the detail at the waistband, the cuffs on the sleeve, and the bottom banding. So those are the details I focused on.
I also ran short on fabric since I’d already made Brynley’s dress out of the same pieces, so I wasn’t able to create the a-line skirt. It totally changes the silhouette of the dress, but the parts I loved are all there. And instead of hundreds of dollars, it cost about $15 since the sheet was given to me, the striped IKEA curtain was a $5 clearance, and I had to buy a zipper and the pattern.
Zimmerman Dress Supplies
- Simplicity 2444 pattern
- 22″ Invisible zipper
- Striped fabric (mine was a sheer curtain panel, so I also had to line it)
- Sewing machine and thread
I started with Simplicity 2444 and made a few alterations. For the most part, I followed the pattern for construction with a few tweaks. I’ll walk you through the changes I made and why.
- Cut all the main pieces with a vertical stripe, but cut the cuffs and waistband with a horizontal stripe. This was the part I wanted to play with most. Since I used a striped fabric, I could replicate a lot of the “stripe” detail on the sleeve and bodice without actually piecing things.
- Changed the pleated bodice and skirt to a gathered bodice and skirt. The Zimmerman dress Kate is wearing is gathered, not pleated, and this was an easy substitution in Steps 2 and 4 of the pattern. I ran a basting stitch from the start to finish of all the pleat marks on the pattern and gathered the bodice to the middle until it fit the width of my waistband.
- Added a waistband. I cut the bodice about 3″ shorter than the pattern called for. Then I created a waistband that matched the width of the bodice and was 3-1/2″ tall (so I’d have a little extra for seam allowances). This was added to the bodice after Step 2 in the pattern instructions
- Changed the skirt to rectangle. I measured the width of the waistband, and then made my skirt 1-1/2 times as wide so I’d have extra for gathering at the middle. Honestly, if I’d had more fabric I would have gone with a fuller skirt, but you work with what you have.
- Shortened the 3/4 sleeve to an elbow sleeve. I liked the length of the Zimmerman sleeve, and shortening the pattern to my elbow was simple. I laid the pattern on my arm and marked where I wanted it to hit. Then I subtracted 2″ so I could add a cuff with horizontal stripes. To make the cuff, cut a 5″ tall strip to match the width of the sleeve pattern and fold it in half with wrong sides together. Then stitch it to the rest of the sleeve and follow the pattern.
- Added a band to the bottom. I cut my skirt an inch or two shorter than the pattern then added a 6″ finished band to the bottom (I always lengthen my dresses, so if you like the length, subtract the same amount you want to add when cutting your skirt). To create the band, cut a strip as long as the circumference of the skirt and 12″ tall. Then fold it in half with wrong sides together and sew it to the bottom of the skirt instead of hemming in the last step.
While my creation isn’t quite the same as the beautiful eyelet Zimmerman dress, I love it. When I wear it, I feel elegant with a fresh outlook on the day. I love the lean silhouette and how I still have all the design elements I loved about the Zimmerman dress.
If you liked what I did with the Zimmerman dress, make sure to read more about the Recreating Kate series and see the other posts!