Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Superman Cutout Back Dress: Completed!

Okay, this is officially the awesomest thing I have ever made. Alright, alright, I know, I feel that way about each newest creation, but I'll bask in superhero goodness at least until I make something new. This does worry me, though; will I feel that way about my children? I'm going to say no, since I don't feel that way about each successive cat. Walnut > Fenxi > Gummy. Poor Gummy; nobody loves him.

Right. Cat favoritism aside, I really do love this dress. I started it for the Sew Weekly Do Over Challenge, but it ended up taking longer than I expected. But that's okay, because this week's Sew Weekly is all about using fabrics for the home for garment-making instead! Which is really my challenge every week, but hey, if Superman sheets don't scream "children's room," I don't know what does. Anyway. I should really stop being surprised at how long hand-stitching takes. I always find myself thinking "All I have left to do is hand pick the zipper and the lining and attach the hook and eye!" Then I inevitably spend at least 223 minutes doing so. How do I know it was 223 minutes, you ask? It's because I watched listened to the entirety of The Two Towers, my favorite of the LOTR trilogy, while sewing. Yikes.
Walnut insisted on sitting on my dress. My stitching is pretty uneven.
I really need to get better at hand sewing, but at least I can say I no longer hate it. I used to never replace missing buttons or put hooks and eyes on any of my dresses because I hated sewing them on; now, I actually enjoy the process. Especially if I get to listen to the beautiful Rohan theme playing in the background.

Hook and eye on the top of the cutout.

The hand-picking is a little better on the outside. Choosing a thread and zipper color was tricky since this fabric is so many colors.

Besides modifying the back for the cutout, I also made it a scoop neck in front. I was trying for the look of the ever-popular BurdaStyle 2/2011 magazine dress #101 with its cute cap sleeves. Unfortunately, all my modifications made choosing where on the sheet to place my pattern pieces a little tricky. I wanted to get the Daily Planet building and the large Superman on the bodice, but with the large scoop neck I had to settle for just the "Daily" and a legless Superman. This resulted in two awkward fists coming out of my armpit.

That building is also not earthquake-safe. Look at how it's sliding.

I didn't want to do the original slim-cut skirt from McCall's 5845, since I'm much more likely to wear a dress if it has a full skirt. I just did a giant gathered rectangle and attached it to the bodice. I managed to get two of the large Supermen and a smaller flying one more of less centered in front, but that resulted in more headless fists on the side-seams. Surprisingly, they kind of matched each other in their headlessness.

Also, what have I got in my pocketses? Because yes, this dress has pockets!

I wore the dress with a red sash I already had to define the waist more (and add a big splashy bow), then proceeded to weird out my apartment complex by taking pictures out on the walkway since it was getting too dark in the apartment and our little landing.

Vintage tint!

Twirling shot!

And of course, for my husband's sake, I had to try and look normal by covering it with a black cardigan. But this dress is much more assertive than the Batman dress, so I don't think it works as well.

Fabric: Thrifted 60/40 cotton/poly blend twin size flat Superman bed sheet, muslin for lining (pre-washed, of course!)
Notions: Red 14" zipper, thread
Hours: About six, but three of it was abominably slow hand-sewing. The cutting and sewing went together quite quickly, but figuring out the cutout took some thinking.
Techniques used: Ummm...spatial manipulation? I've hand-picked so many zippers it doesn't really count anymore. If you are interested in making your own cutout back dress, the tutorial is here.
Will you make this again: Probably not. I think there's only figurative room for one such dress in my wardrobe. But butcher McCall's 5845 again? Definitely!
Total cost: My usual, about $5. The sheet was $3, the zipper $2. 
Final thoughts: I really, really love the look of this dress. Only downside of the wide shoulders and the cutout back is not being able to wear a normal bra. Also, I need to be careful about gaping in the front when I lean over or hunch my shoulders. At least it encourages good posture? But anyway, I am happy knowing that I was able to realize my vision, a dress whose design elements echo the fabric.


  1. This dress is so fun! I never would have thought of using the superman fabric, but I love the result! I really like the strap across the back.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

  2. This is super cool! I love that the cut out is in the shape of Superman's logo.

  3. Love, love, love it. Especially the cut-out back. You are so creative!

  4. Love it! (Especially with the red sash.)

    Hmm, I wonder if they ever made Gambit bedsheets... ;)

  5. That is so cool! Love the sash and the way you lined up the print.

  6. LOVE THIS!! You did a great job!!!! I look forward to your next project!

  7. you are so creative mrs. chan! what a fun dress!

  8. that is the awesomest dress ever!

  9. Wow, very, very fab!!! I love both of your superhero dresses.... now I think you should feature Wonder Woman! ;)

  10. OMG. Can I be your best friend? You listened to Tolkien's Two Towers while working on your superman dress of awesomeness!!! No seriously...I so have to meet you!!!

  11. LOL at the headless fists.

    This dress is sooooo cute. Even better than your Batman dress!

  12. Thank you for your kind comments everyone! This dress was so fun to make and wear, and you can bet I'll be making more superhero dresses if I find appropriate sheets!

  13. Cindy, this dress is simply magnificent! I have never seen anything of its kind! The Superman cutout is genious! You HAVE to wear this dress out; people are going to love it. The red sash is the perfect touch! I love the picture with the black cardigan, but you're right! The dress IS more assertive;)

  14. This dress is the best dress I have ever seen. No contest. It's amazing!

  15. FANTASTIC!!! Seriously fabulous. The cardigan covers up too much awesomeness - I say leave it behind so you can show off the amazing back!

  16. this is ultra cute and very modern, love it




  18. This is gorgeous! Love the style of the dress, the cut-out, the bow... everything! Well done!

  19. I'm so in love with this dress!!!!! XxxX

  20. You honestly have no idea how hard I'm laughing at your description and pictures of the flying headless fists. Never would've noticed if you hadn't pointed them out!

    But omg I'm so jealous of this dress. you did a great job.

  21. Wow this dress is amazing! You did such a great job. Now I really want one for myself and my daughter. I love this dress so much! :)

  22. This is so awesome! I wish my girls were stil at home! (My older daughter tweeted about this dress today.) I will be looking for cool sheets! And you love cats and you teach science! (I have cats, worked as a scientist and am now a school librarian.) Henceforth I will follow your blog!

  23. Would you make one to sell? Thanks :)

  24. Just found your blog today while searching for vintage dresses made out of sheets. I am so regretting throwing out most of my vintage dress patterns and bedsheets a few years ago, before I saw what cold be done with them.

    Love your kitty, too. I have Mica, a 16-lb gray cat who lives to shed his fur on every piece of new fabric that comes into this house.


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