My Quaker Oats Polka Dotted Dress

I’m happy to report that my Quaker Oats dress (aka the headache dress) is officially completed!

As a mini recap, this dress was supposed to be a Sew Weekly dress based on the theme of VIP fabrics.  Back in mid-March, I had three fab fabrics to use and you all voted to help me decide which to make; the majority (or 47%) of you picked the Quaker Oats A-2 Pattern along with this putty-colored cotton with tiny white polka dots on it.

I have had this pattern for over a year now and it’s one of the most expensive patterns I own.  I fell in love with the pattern and just had to have it!  Little did I know it was going to be such a pain in the butt to both fit and to sew.  Anyhow, I’ve been saving this pattern & fabric until I felt like I had enough experience to tackle it properly which is why I considered this polka dot cotton a VIP fabric.

I went down to the ‘burbs on Sunday afternoon and my mother was only too happy for me to take advantage of her awesome garden and take photos in it.  Looking at it, can you believe she’s not even near done yet?!

Side View:

One thing I love about the dress is the subtle gathers that are on the back bodice of the dress; it’s deceiving but it’s not the belt that is creating the gathers, it’s part of the design.

Another subtle design feature is the back hem’s vent.  It looks like it’s a normal vent, but it never actually opens up to expose skin, yet there is enough fabric in this ‘pleat’ to allow for comfortable movement.

Looks normal…

There’s a seam line right near the inner fold in the hem vent.

Here’s the insides of the hem too:

The main difference between this hem vent and others is that it’s just sewn shut.  I think I may be doing this from now on since I never need soo much extra walking room that it has to be open.

I was worried that the inset hip pieces would make me look like I have built-in saddle bags… but I don’t think it’s too bad.

For reference, here’s the pattern image (and note the hip sections):

I know I’m already quite hippy (aka pear-shaped) but with the skirt tapering in towards my knees, I think it helps prevent against my hips being the focal point.  I also think it would look a bit more slimming if I had raised the hem another 1″ or perhaps I’ll just wear it with larger heels.  :)

One thing that is not good is that my bow is weighting down my bodice.  You can see the center placket is drooping (bulging) out right near my bust area, I’m pretty certain that is due to the heft of the bow since it has layers of interfacing inside.

On my mom’s front porch:

This is the house I grew up in which is well over 120 years old at this point.  My aunt Kathy was over and she was asking me why I like the 50’s (aka vintage) so much.  While I’ve always loved retro kitchens and 50’s furniture, I’ve only recently been trying to wear more and more of my vintage sewing projects which is heavily due to the fact that I can now make it myself.  But I think growing up around old things makes one appreciate & even gravitate towards older, similar things.

On many occasions, Felix has had the inclination to pack up and live in a high-rise building downtown.  Don’t get me wrong, the view would be amazing but it’s just not for me.  I’d rather live someplace that has ‘character’ and age; something with wear that shows it’s personality.  This is why I think I love vintage…  besides the style & fit.  :)

I debated including this image since it’s the same as the one above, but it’s a bit closer of an image that shows the dress better.  The more I look at this dress I looove the bow.  How do bows make everything prettier!?

Another challenge I had with this dress is the belt.  Normally belts aren’t too difficult, but I got the bright idea that it needed to have piping to match the collar and bow.  I had made a belt back in late March but it was not good.  I stitched the belt fabric close to the piping to make it look pretty, but as a result the belt casing got too tight and once I had wedged the belting in there, it was all wonky and bendy like.  Not good at all.

On Saturday night I decided that with the little fabric scraps I had left to go and made another belt.  Again, I wanted to stitch closer to the piping, but I refrained.  As a result of the piping, the casing is still a bit on the tight side, but it’s not too bad this time and the belt looks quite decent.  The piping does make for a really great belt, but you’ve been warned!  :)


Construction & Details:

Nothing was easy on this dress!  I don’t want to bore you as to all of the headache details, so I hope all of the pictures below & my brief comments suffice as to the inner construction & closure methods.

True to form, I stabilized every possible stress point that needed it.  Silk organza is my best friend and has worked beautifully in this dress since the polka dot cotton was quite thin to begin with.  I put it in the placket and in the hem vent, and all down the center back seam on the skirt piece.

I used this weft interfacing on the collar pieces to give it some body without making it stiff.  And I used a white cotton batiste as underlining on the bodice but used a white bemberg rayon as a lining on the skirt (not as underlining).  Oh, and I nearly forgot that I also made my own bias binding out of the same polka dot cloth to finish the neckline seam.  (I was really glad I did this since the neckline is so wide the insides were liable to show…)

Outside Bodice:

As you can see, I don’t have the bow attached here.  I’m going to put snaps underneath the collar so it’s removable.

Center Front Button Placket Detail:

My chalk pencil makes for a great weight. :)

Arm & Shoulder area, under the collar:

This is the bit that made the dress so tricky to sew and to fit:  the crazy inward then outward angle ending at the sleeve hem.  It ends up being a pseudo underarm gusset which is quite comfy and yielded a nice fitted sleeve.

Inside Bodice:

I was going to be all fancy and use seam binding on all of the seams, but it was too tricky so I just used my serger instead.

This is the detail of the inside arm area on the bodice,under the collar.

*Phew*  If you have any construction questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  I kinda breezed through that part kinda quickly today.

All in all, I do like the dress but there’s a few small fitting issues I need to address before I go and make a second one in green shantung (dart needs to be taken in at the hip & raise the waistline by 1/2 inches).  I’ve seen some similar dress variations based on this dress shape which I would love to try, but using this pattern as the base would be crazy since it was such a challenge.  I wish it wasn’t such a tricky pattern because I would love to make several more in different fabrics & variations.  I’m going to have to hunt in my pattern stash for something similar instead…

In: Sewing

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (28)

  1. Kerry June 6, 2012 — 8:05 AM

    Wow, this is amazing! You’ve put so much work into the little touches and it’s really paid off. I love how well the piping works as a highlight.

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 12:53 PM

      Thanks Kerry!

      I saw your blog post for today and was sad I completly missed the bandwagon on the swap. I can be an alternate if you need one! :)

  2. Ginger June 6, 2012 — 8:32 AM

    Wow! That is one complicated dress! Way to stick to it through all the difficulty– it was well worth it! This is such a unique dress with such great details! It would be amazing in green shantung! Great job!

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 12:55 PM

      Thanks Ginger! I think if I made it in the green, I would either omit the collar and/or the bow. I’d want to wear it for christmas in the winter and the collar/bow would make it tricky to wear with a cardigan/shrug.

      Either that or I’d alter the collar so it doesn’t expose so much skin or else I’d catch a cold… :)

  3. Donna June 6, 2012 — 8:33 AM

    So cute! I love clothes with large bows in the front! Your Mother’s garden is amazing.

  4. Liz, you are an amazing woman!!! This dress is just gorgeous, and I think it looks better on you than it does on the pattern cover. The inset hip section works great with your curves (definitely not against them), The piping detail really makes this dress stand out, and the bow gives it a sassy-classy look. I am so glad that you worked though all of the issues with this dress – totally worth it.

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 12:52 PM

      You’re terribly sweet for saying so Ms. Bumps. :)

      I loved seeing all of your MMM outfits btw; your kiss stitch jumper is adorable!

  5. Lauren June 6, 2012 — 9:34 AM

    Ahhhh!! You finished it & it looks even more amazing than I was anticipating (and I had some high high hopes for you, lady!:) ). I love the piping detail; I think it really makes the dress & belt pop. You absolutely need to make more of these because the pattern really suits you :)

    Also, your hair is looking incredible in these pictures. So jealous of your curls! My hair won’t do anything once the humidity hits, ha.

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 12:50 PM

      Awwww, thanks Lauren! I personally think my 40’s embroidered dress is a bit more flattering, they’re oddly very similar in their overall shape.

      Without the piping I think this dress would have been very *mehh*. I completly lucked out with this piping. It’s 100% silk!! I used so much I only have about 8″ left; I barely squeaked by.

      My curls totally droop in humidity, too. We’ve been on a dry spell here in Chicago and my curls surprisingly lasted for 2 days, even though they were more like waves on day 2.

  6. NewRibena June 6, 2012 — 10:09 AM

    Your dress is absolutely adorable! I also love your mom’s garden.

  7. Wow! What an insane dress. You showed it who’s boss! It looks so beautiful. Being a pear-shaped gal myself, I would have passed over that pattern, but the fit is really flattering on you. I need to start being more open-minded about patterns :-)

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 12:46 PM

      Heh! I totally did show it who’s boss… or more likely we estabished who owns who. :)

      I think pear shapped figures can be decieving. While I think we like to hide behind beautiful full skirts, sometimes it’s all about a good pencil skirt or sheath dress. They can skim over the curves, lengthening the body to create a great line that looks less pear-shaped. I think part of the key is having a hem that hugs the legs instead of falling directly down from the hips (which makes one look wide).

  8. Emilie June 6, 2012 — 11:11 AM

    Beautiful work! It looks so great on you! Good going! And your mom does have a gorgeous garden… so jealous!

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 1:03 PM

      I’ll pass on the compliment. She works hard in her garden all spring and even in the cold, Chicago winter. She starts all of her own plants each (early) spring from seeds, and grows them in the basement under lights. She hasn’t bought one plant yet this year! Crazy, right!!

  9. Sarah June 6, 2012 — 11:44 AM

    Just so lovely! Another dress that you should wear all the time!

    1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 12:46 PM

      Thanks so much Sarah!

  10. Liza the headaches were definitely worth it! It’s a beautiful dress! Your family home looks beautiful too – your Mum is an amazing gardener. Well done on such an amazing project, I’m in awa once again :)

    1. Stoopid spell check altered your name, sorry Liz!

      1. Liz June 6, 2012 — 1:52 PM

        It’s all good. My full name is Elizabeth anyhow, which has tons of variations, so I didn’t even think much about Liza. :)

  11. Amy June 6, 2012 — 2:51 PM

    Congrats on finishing this beautiful dress. The little polka dots are so darling. And, your styling is just perfect!

  12. This looks absolutely fantastic and suits you to a tee. Looks so expensive.

  13. Jo June 7, 2012 — 3:02 AM

    I love grey, bows and piping. Soo pretty! Gosh I hope to be at your skill level one day!!

  14. Tasha June 7, 2012 — 8:46 AM

    Congrats on finishing it, it really is a knockout! At least it seems like you feel it was worth all the struggles. lol The construction around the armhole really looks like a head-spinner. Interesting for it to be so detailed and visually interesting but mostly hidden under the collar! I I love the bow and all the little details. The piping is such a great pop, love that you added it to the belt too. The dress really looks great on you!

    Btw, your mom’s house looks amazing!

  15. Meg June 7, 2012 — 10:40 AM

    This is one of the best uses of piping that I have ever seen! My goodness, it makes those polka dots pop! The bow is positively delightful – it looks perfect and is such a great accent on the dress. I cannot say enough good things about this dress – you look great, I love that you’ve paired it with this hat, and your vent construction is fascinating! Thanks for sharing all the construction goodies with us – you did a wonderful job :)

  16. maddie June 7, 2012 — 11:23 AM

    this dress came out so well! It was really interesting to read that you sewed the vent shut. I’ll keep that in mind for future projects. Great tip!

  17. Leah June 8, 2012 — 3:57 PM

    Oh, this is fabulous, and the photos are excellent! I love the bow, love the piping, and I love your hat!

  18. Lithia Black February 1, 2013 — 3:36 AM

    Wow! What an amazing dress!
    You look faboulus!
    I’m in love with this pattern, could you please tell what number it is or possible show me the line drawings from the back so I can attempt drafting it myself? I totally love all the design elements of it…


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