Adult Size Spiral Dress

Here’s a full length spiral dress for a grown-up! …with wolves on it.

When I was a teenager, I found a spiral dress at a second hand shop. It was too small for me, but I was so fascinated with those seams going round and round that I bought it anyway. Eventually I decided it was silly to own something I couldn’t wear, and donated it again.

Later I wished I had kept it to cut apart and use for a pattern. That’s what got me going on spirals. The skirts were just a compromise because the top part was too intimidating.

In the early years I merged a color blocked peasant top with spiral skirt sections, as you may have seen on the spirals page.

But what I really wanted was the real deal, barber pole, candy cane, diagonal spirals top to bottom. 

For about ten years I kicked around ideas for another way to make a spiral dress for myself. I would fall asleep thinking about it, but didn’t have enough of a clear idea to start cutting.

Eventually got up my courage and set to work. First I tried shifting the darts, the way all the pattern instruction books told me to. For your entertainment, here are some of the fails:

I found some ideas on the internet that had been drafted with CAD but not actually made into a dress, much less a dress for me. That made me feel my lack of skillz and didn’t help.

Someone told me you can submit design ideas to Simplicity and they’ll make the idea into a pattern. Perfect! But although the chances of Simplicity making my design into a real thing might be small, I wasted a year thinking that one of these days I might download the sketching tool and actually draw it up and present it to them… ummm just nope, the chances of me ever getting that done are not gonna happen.

Then one fine day the solution occurred! And of course it’s very simple. What I needed was to start with a basic bodice pattern WITHOUT darts, join the side seams so it’s a smooth tube, draw diagonal evenly-spaced lines on it with Illustrator, then measure how much the darts should indent in the front and back, and scoot the lower edge of those diagonal lines in that much. Voila!

After printing and cutting the pieces apart I just wrote ADD SEAMS on both sides of each of the diagonal pieces because that was easier.

Then there was a prototype that fit, and I was so excited I forgot to take a picture.

The next difficulty was to choose four fabrics with enough contrast but some kind of harmony. I spent a while moving pieces of fabric around, then came across that fat quarter of running wolves I’d picked up somewhere and was dying to find a use for, and the whole thing just fell together. I had a variety of green and foresty scraps, and I think the bears went along with the wolf theme just enough to make it all look intentional.

Looking intentional is important to me. I want there to be no doubt that I did this ON PURPOSE.

Results EXACTLY what I’ve been dreaming of all these years.

Grin and bear it!

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