the meridian dress

Perhaps my most-procrastinated project yet – I’ve finally completed the Meridian Dress by Papercut patterns. This dress has been in the works for approximately 10 months, ever since I first layed eyes on a beautiful (but $300) linen wrap dress on Etsy. It was August of 2018, I had just completed some collared shirts for Ian, so it seemed reasonable that of course I was ready to dive straight into self-drafting my own dress. I immediately and impulsively purchased two meters of crinkle linen from Blackbird Fabrics.

Lol at past me! I was not ready.

The fabric arrived, it was very crinkly, and self-drafting a pattern was in fact quite intimidating. I went ahead and pre-washed the fabric (making it super crinkly), folded it and put away with my stash, and like the excited hummingbird that I am – immediately became distracted with other, shiny projects.

Lucky for me, two months later Papercut patterns released their Geo collection, and lo and behold – one of them was a tentacle dress! Did I mention I’d been referring to this project as my tentacle dress? I could put my pattern drafting ambitions aside, and move this new pattern into my queue with the fabric I’d already acquired.

Trouble was, I still found the fabric itself a little intimidating. It had really wrinkled up in the wash, and I both:

  • forgot it wasn’t quite that crinkly when I originally purchased it; and
  • didn’t realize that a simple pass with the iron would help it get back into shape.

There was also a serious lack of #crinklelinen tags on Instagram, all of which led to a low-level of anxiety about the project and kept it on my to-do list for ohhhh . . . another six months!

Anywho, finally I found myself deep in the spring of 2019, with the looming threat of a hot summer and the knowledge that there were two meters of a gorgeous linen just sitting around and waiting to be turned into a dress. I finally decided to just Do The Thing and make my tentacle dress.

I was a good Miranda this project and opted to make a wearable muslin first – and thank goodness I did!! Cuz what a disaster that first version turned out to be:

  • I chose my size based on my waist and hip measurements, and then completely forgot to do an SBA. I kid you not I could have fit a soccer ball in the extra fabric at my bust. All tentacle dress, no Miranda.
  • Despite lining my zipper up correctly at both waist seam lines, somehow one side of my back bodice ended up a centimeter longer than the other. This might not be an issue on a dress where the zipper goes all the way up the back – but with the keyhole design it looked pretty sloppy. I knew to correct for this stretching in the final version:
Once the zipper was installed, I marked the corner of both seam lines to make sure one side would not end up longer than the other.
  • Speaking of keyholes – my first button loop was Not. Cute. Wearable muslins are great because they give you an opportunity to practice techniques before you do them on your final garment, and in this case I knew I needed to do some more homework before attempting it again.
Each end of the loop should be sewn as a single layer to keep the button laying flat.

The muslin itself was a lost cause, made from a cheap fabric that wrinkled anytime you looked at it – so I threw in the towel on that version. I almost gave up entirely, but after a night of sleep I changed my mind and decided I could probably get the second version where it needed to be. I’ll be honest and admit that I also didn’t have any other ideas for my fabric, and I didn’t want to put it away for another year.

Cue pattern adjustments:

  • 2” SBA
  • Removed the front pleats (I’ve not had good luck with either darts or pleats in the front of skits and I think I might pre-emptively remove them from here on out)
  • Raised the waistline 1”
  • Added 1/2” dart to the back shoulders (probably an “always” adjustment for me but sometimes I skip it if I don’t want a dart line. That said, I was especially pleased with how these turned out in the crinkle linen – the texture of the fabric makes the detail super subtle).
  • Removed 1” from the length of the keyhole opening, tapering to the arm scye. I still have a little extra length here, but it’s much less noticeable.
  • Shortened the skirt 9″ from the midi length. I love the look of the longer skirt, but I think it’s more suited to drapey fabrics and not so much a linen or cotton.
  • Changed the shape of the ties at the end (aka the tentacles). The design calls for a square finish on these, but I prefer the look of a rounded end.

It was arguably too many adjustments to do at oncee, but nonetheless I’m happy with the final result. As far as construction goes, this might be my proudest make yet. I couldn’t find a zipper that matched this shade of pink (at least at Joann), so instead I opted for a contrasting color for the zipper, button, and serged edges. The details pop nicely and the inside of the dress is really pretty (it helps that the contrast color happens to be my favorite color).

As for the fabric? It was actually quite fun to work with. Linen in general is great in that it presses so well, but I loved the way I could steam this one. As I mentioned, it gets TOO crinkled after a wash, but if you take an iron to it, the fabric will stretch back to it’s correct size. In fact, it might stretch a little too much, in which case some steam will get it right back to its correct shape. I looooved pressing the seams nice and flat, but then using steam and watching the garment “scrunch” back up. Blackbird Fabrics doesn’t carry this particular fabric anymore – but they have some other really beautiful crinkle linens in stock right now.

My biggest (and really only) boo-boo with this dress is the opacity of the fabric. The skirt is too sheer for any level of sunlight, and mind you – this is supposed to be a summer dress. The problem was pretty quickly solved with a half slip purchased on Amazon – although I will admit, the nylon content of the slip does negate some of the heat resistant benefits of a linen dress. There is a 50% chance I make myself another slip, but made with a light cotton or silk instead.

Finally, as others have mentioned – you do end up with a hole of sorts at the point where the waist seam and front ties converge. I’m not sure if this was intentional since it’s not mentioned in the instructions , but it’s easy to hand stitch closed. Having constructed this seam twice, I recommend doing this small bit of hand stitching before attaching the bodice to the skirt.

Whew! That was probably more than you bargained for. Moral of the story: we love tentacle dress. Go forth and make one if you like it too.

The Details:

  • Fabric: Dusty Rose Crinkle Linen from Blackbird Fabrics (2 meters)
  • Pattern: Meridian Dress by Papercut Patterns
  • Size: XS
  • Adjustments: See Above
  • Total Cost: ~ $58
    • $13 for the pattern
    • $40 for the fabric
    • $5 notions
Isn’t this bow cute? It’s the same knot you’d use for a bow-tie. Thanks Ian!