In honor of Me Made May soon coming to a close, today we’re going to take a closer look at a Me Made May project from last year, The ESP Dress from Decades of Style. Last year around this time, I really wanted to finally make the time to take my sewing skills from rusty-at-best to ok-I-sort-of-know-how-to-do-this. I wanted to be able to sew a dress start to finish in a weekend and install a zipper so the teeth lined up (more on why that was a goal in a moment). So I dug into my stash and pulled out my copy of the ESP Dress pattern, a pattern I’d used for somewhat-successfully making my Ms. Frizzle cosplay a couple years before.
About the first go ’round
Like I said, I’d initially made this dress a few years ago, having not sewn much as an adult, except for a simple t-shirt dress. For my first attempt at the ESP Dress, the skirt was poorly gathered, the zipper wasn’t lined up (it zipped, but the zipper tops were half an inch off), and there were a couple issues with fit. I also modified the original short-sleeve dress pattern to include long sleeves with elastic cuffs to create a makeshift, elongated puffy sleeve. Considering I was largely stabbing in the dark on ESP attempt #1, I’m still excited that it was a functional dress at all.
The ESP Dress
Fast forward now to this grey, floral take on the ESP. I wanted specifically to see if I could make a dress in a day, so a pattern I’d worked with before was in order. I’d sewn a couple circle skirts from a self-drafted pattern in the weeks leading up to making this dress, and I was feeling confident. I’d gotten zipper practice doing the skirts, so how hard could a longer zipper be?
Good news! While I went into the project 50% confident/50% apprehensive about my ability to sew a wearable dress in a single day, I emerged victorious. (At 2 a.m., but still!) The visible zipper turned out perfect, my gathers were improved, and I had myself my first-ever, made-in-a-day dress. Combined with pink boots, my grey take on the ESP Dress has become a spring wardrobe staple.
Pros & Cons
Pros: The dress is incredibly wearable, with casual short sleeves done raglan-style. (Yes, knitters & crocheters! Raglan like the sweater sleeve!) The raglan sleeve and angular neck assembly mean that most of this dress is sewn in straight lines, which is how it’s so quick to whip up. Curved lines are found at the hems and in the dress’ pockets, and they’re good practice for beginners!
Cons: This is largely due to the dress being one of my first self-made items in awhile, but if you’ve got narrow shoulders like me, be aware that the neck opening is fairly wide on the ESP. The whole upper part of the dress nicely reminds me of a 1960s dress silhouette, but it was simply too wide on me out-of-the-box, so to speak. To quickly tweak this dress to avoid constant bra strap peek-a-booing, I added a pleat at the center front of the neckline by hand. It was simple: invisibly mark the center front of the neckline and half an inch on either side of it, then fold the side marks in to meet at the center. After pressing, I hand-basted and sewed the pleats down, and the dress was much more wearable.
If I made this dress again, I’d take the time to attempt grading between sizes to accommodate my unique bust to ribs to shoulders proportions, alleviating the need for the added front pleat. This would also mean the armpits of the dress, which had gotten sort of pulled up in the process of adding that pleat, wouldn’t feel quite as claustrophobic as my grey dress does.
Would I make this dress a third time? Absolutely! Knowing this pattern fairly well at this point, I think it presents a great opportunity to learn even more about fit and my own body. I already know I can make it in a day, don’t I?
P.S. The ESP Dress passes the pockets test. ;)