Going somewhere special?

That’s what I heard from a stranger in an elevator when I wore this dress. “Actually no, I said, just errands.” But I guess it does look festive!

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Special Occasion Dress, New Look 6723 in Vlisco cotton

I’ve used this pattern many times. It’s an old standby fit and flair. Sometimes (like in this case) I add fullness to the skirt. Sometimes I change the neckline. And I always add pockets. But I’ve never had that comment before. So it must be the fabric. And it’s not a silk or satin, voile or velvet – just cotton. But it’s Vlisco cotton!

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I made it a bit loose, with a good two inches of ease in the waist. So it’s a good choice for going out to lunch!

Vlisco is a Dutch company founded by Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen. (Good marketing move to shorten the name!) He was inspired by the rich vibrant colors of Africa and the beautiful tribal motifs he saw in the batik prints there.

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I lined the bodice in poppy red China silk, leaving the skirt unlined. The fabric, as you can see, is printed through on both sides, so you can’t even see the hem! I used the silk for pockets too, because it doesn’t add bulk, and because I got the fabric for half price!

The designs are unusual – big, bold, colorful prints that make you really scratch your head when you start to place pattern pieces. This one was relatively easy, since with all the crazy dotty zigzags nothing had to match up. Still, I laid it all out in one layer so I didn’t end up with anything weird. It was fun, playing with the zigs and zags but I had to be careful with the bodice pieces because there’s only one way stretch.

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So to celebrate the multiculturalness of this dress, I wore it on our outing to Tarpon Springs, a little Greek sponging town about a half an hour north of us. We’re having fun with an old buddy Paul, visiting us in our new home for the first time, and we just had to go for some Greek food. Because, who goes to Florida and doesn’t eat souvlaki? And baklava?

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After the most authentic Greek salad I’ve had since going to Greece in my 20s, we wandered off to the sponge shops. Amazingly, there are miles and miles of sponge beds following the coastline, from the panhandle to Key West. But many were over harvested during the last century. This area has rebounded well, and is considered richest in sponges today. It’s been called the sponge capital of the world!

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The ladies in the sponge shops are very informative, explaining which sponges are good for housecleaning (yellow), bathing (wool) and facial use (silk).

Do you save your prettiest dresses, skirts and scarves for special occasions? I remember the exact moment when I stopped doing that. I was shopping in Chicago with my brand new husband (20+ years ago!), looking at a lovely silk blouse. I said, “but where would I wear it?” And bless his heart, he said, “Just wear it!” It’s true. Great clothes don’t do anything for us just hanging in our closets. And they make us – and strangers in elevators – smile when we wear them!

Oh they had the best fan blowing in this shop!

7 thoughts on “Going somewhere special?

  1. Beautiful! Especially the one with the red bodice! I could definitely see myself wearing this for a day out in the sun or a fun picnic! xoxo

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