Copycat: Urban Outfitters x ISLY = The Referee Dress

So, how are you? What's happening in your corner of the world / worldwide web? What do you think of this dress? Don't I look just like a basketball referee? (Too many questions?) It's ok, I don't mind as I think I like it anyway. The Referee Dress is kind of the fall out from this post by Melissa Esplin and some lovely soft cotton knit I had recently acquired (yeah from Mood) with no real purpose in mind.

I loved the idea on Melissa's post (despite it being made for a teenager) and because I'm addicted to stripes, I loved the original Urban Outfitters version even more. Particularly the contrast of horizontal and vertical stripes and the split and staggered hemline (which almost makes it sound intoxicated). Despite the fact the original was on sale for $30 by the time I saw it and despite the fact that I didn't actually have enough fabric, I was set on making it myself. 

As with Melissa's version, I used Grainline Studios Scout Tee as the basis. Is there anything that can't be based on the Scout Tee? I squared off the hem and then lengthened it by 46cm/ 18in to the front and 58cm/ 23in to the back (I'm six feet tall). The stripes are horizontal in front and vertical at the back (which is great for not having to match stripes!) To get the dress out of one and a half yards of fabric, which thankfully was 60in wide, I had to piece the dress front at the waist. (Not so great for having to match stripes.) I tried so hard to align it exactly so that you wouldn't see the join but it is still pretty obvious. At the time I didn't have my serger which might have produced a better result.  


I used clear elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams so they don't sag under the weight of the fabric.  I've used this technique a lot with heavier knit tops, dresses and jackets and it works really well. I butt the elastic up against the seam after I've sewn and pressed it to one side and then use a wide zig zag to secure it in the seam allowance, trying to make sure that it doesn't go over the seam line but does go on it. 

The dress doesn't have pockets which is a shame. I did try inserting some in the same lightweight knit I used to bind the armholes, but even in a light knit they pulled the side seams down and added bulk at the hips which didn't look great so I took them out again.  

I'm so pleased with the neckline. I made the neckband wider than the Scout pattern - finished it is 1/2 inch, and I used a scrap of French terry left over from my knit Belcarra and for once it went in first time with no puckers.  I like the contrast with the stripe and I decided not to top stitch it as I like the clean finish - although I have to press it well after washing to make sure it lies flat.

I bound the armholes with the lightweight knit.  I cut two lengths 3/4 inch wide folded them in half lengthwise and then with right sides together and raw sides aligned stitched around the armhole.  I left a little space at the beginning and the end of the seam so that I could join the two ends together. Once that was done I finished the seam, pressed the binding to the inside and topstitched with my twin needle. Despite my hatred of bias, I like this finish although it would so much neater if I'd been able to finish the edges on a serger (and I could stitch straight ...)

The only thing I didn't take into consideration here was the width of the shoulder. I didn't reduce the length at all. As it doesn't have sleeves to hold the shoulder in place when I move so tends to bunch up on my shoulder. So, if I was to make it again I would take about half an inch off each shoulder at the armhole. 

The split angular (drunken?) hem is a key feature on this dress so it needed to be very precise with four right-angular sharp corners. I wasn't sure how to finish the hem to achieve this. Then I remembered the Sutton Blouse has a similar hemline so checked out the sewalong and there was the perfect solution.   I again used the twin needle to stitch the hem and made sure that the front hem was folded exactly along a stripe. 

It's a very simple dress but the different orientations of the stripes and the hem detail make it a bit different and fun to wear. Looking at these photos it seems it would probably be better made in a knit with better recovery or a woven as I seem to have a saggy bottom. Also the insides aren't pretty; whilst obviously you don't have to have a serger to sew knits it does make for far prettier insides. 


So, I'm channelling a look that says saggy-bottomed, scruffy seamed, drunken basketball ref; yeah well, never mind. 

See you soon x

Sewing by numbers

People often kindly remark 'how creative' when I mention that I made what I'm wearing myself.  I feel a bit uncomfortable about this.  I consider myself a moderately creative person and there are some immensely creative people in the sewing world, but when I've simply found a pattern, put it with some fabric I like and followed some instructions, it feels more like the sewing equivalent of painting by numbers than a truly imaginative creative process. 

See what I've done with the pose here?

These trousers embody that sentiment.  Whilst I'll admit that having a vision of an item of clothing or an outfit and being able to make it from scratch does fall into the bracket of creative endeavours, these trousers, in fact this whole outfit, are pure ready-to-wear rip off.

Image from  The Daily Look   

Image from The Daily Look  

I'm not sure how I stumbled across this (duh, Pinterest), but I saw the above picture and completely fell in love with everything about the outfit: The loose silhouette, the colour palette, the baggy pants with statement florals, the mix of florals and stripes, the layering.  Everything (well except the slightly trashy shoes). 

So after not being able to get it out of my head for a few days I started summoning supplies to see if I could emulate it and this is what I came up with.

I really like these trousers; they are comfortable, the fabric is the right amount of floral without being twee or overpowering (I'm looking at you neon neoprene party dress) and I like the super high waist, the pleats and (mostly) how they fit.  I added an inch and half to the crotch depth and probably could have done with less. (Note for next time as I'd love to make a cropped pair in the summer.)  And added three inches to the length (of the version with cuffs - but didn't cuff them). Other than that no pattern alterations, although I did consider adding welt pockets to the back, but as I've never done them before and I had no excess fabric, I didn't want to risk a bodge job.  So welt pockets saved for another day. 

The tee was also made by me to replicate this look and gets worn all the time.  It's a lovely lightweight cotton knit using Grainline's Scout Tee - which I've adapted before (here) but never made straight out of the packet and I love it.  The neckline, fit across the shoulders and loose style are perfect and so comfortable for everyday wear.  I love the idea of layering it over a shirt, although it looks a bit odd without the jacket it has to be said.

Whilst I was hoping with the layering I could wear the trousers this winter, they are totally impractical for my day-to-day life: they need to be worn with heels, they're not very warm and I trip over them a lot.  Perfect for marching 15 blocks through the snow pushing a double stroller ...  

So; impractical, sewn by numbers and a total rip off of someone else's idea. Just like most of the stuff on the high street. Oh well, at least they're better made, I don't have sweatshops on my conscience and they fit me. 

Outfit details.  

Tee: grey stripe fine cotton knit from Mood using Grainline Studio's Scout Tee pattern.

Jacket: I was going to make one using Republique du Chiffon's Bernadette pattern, but I already have one white jacket in my closet, I don't really need another, so I ditched that idea.  This is from Zara, more than a few years ago.

Shirt: Pale denim also from Zara a few years back, (without being a total sycophant, I'd use Grainline's Archer if I was going to go all out and make the whole outfit).

Trousers: Pattern is Vogue 8836 and the fabric is a lovely drapey rayon challis from Harts Fabric. (I haven't sewn with rayon challis before and now I get why everyone raves about it.  But I'm confused as it's not something I've come across in the UK - is it known by another name?  Viscose??)

Shoes: Ridiculously high stack heels from Hobbs in the UK. 

See you soon x