Night Sky Ogden Tier Dress

Hi all, I thought it was time for another sewing make on the blog. This is a dress I started when summer just rolled around, finished by the end of summer when we were moving towards autumn, and photographed in earlier autumn. Now finally it gets a showing on the blog. I’ve since gotten a lot more wear out of this dress than I had expected to have, in part because it goes well with layering pieces, but also most definitely because we’re just having a stupidly mild autumn. Regardless it has proven to be a most excellent dress for squirrel sightings, mushroom finding and pine cone conversations despite the weather trying to pretend we were all still on summer holiday.

I decided to make this second Ogden tier dress hack somewhere this summer. The idea was partly inspired by our summer being a permanent heatwave tussle, but I had toyed with the idea of making one for a while. I made one a few years ago and it has proven to be a well worn piece in my wardrobe when it’s warm and surprisingly versatile at that. Additionally I have some lightweight fabrics with prints in my stash from ye olde days when I was very into prints and didn’t really know what fabric weights were most useful for me. Anyway, I still think these prints can work for me, because as far as prints goes these are still pretty good for me, but I do need the right project for them and I think the hacked Ogden dress is among those patterns that work well with them.

The original Ogden pattern is a simple sleeveless camisole top with a partial lining/facing. It was very popular in the sewing word for years and it recently-ish, as with all True Bias patterns, got a sizing update. The hack I use turns it into a a swooshy lightweight multi-tier gathered dress. I used partial lining for a project like this once, but I wasn’t super happy with that, so instead I fully lined the bodice – just as I did with my previous Ogden. I also added in-seam pockets, because I’m not a corporate monster who denies the people (myself) their pockets. My previous Ogden hack still fits well so I just used the altered pattern pieces I had saved and retraced steps I did from that hack. However, True Bias has their own tutorial on how to hack the top into a gathered dress and even more recently did one of how to hack the pattern into a tiered dress if you wish for some extra help to make one! You can read about the hack in more detail in my previous Ogden hack post, or in the True Bias tutorial, but the short of it is this;

I first shortened the bodice pieces, copying the length from one of my self sewn dresses where I like the bodice length of. I measured and compared the length from the armholes (don’t forget to add seam allowance here!). For the skirt I cut four rectangles of approximately the same height, and added width to the two that make up the last tier. I also added in-seam pockets, with the placement copied from another dress. Et voila! As with my previous Ogden dress, I lined the entire bodice instead of doing the partial lining. For this I used the shortened bodice pieces that I also used for the rest of the bodice. In my opinion it makes the neckline neater and hang better as well as benefits the drape of the skirt and the longevity of the dress as it simply has a stronger bodice to hang from.

I used a lightweight, floaty viscose from the deep stash. It has a dark blue colour with small moons and stars printed on it in white. The print is directional, the moons only face one direction, so I had to keep that in mind while cutting my pieces out lest I’d have one tier where the crescent stubbornly pointed in the other direction! My other Ogden has held up really well despite the lightweight fabric and frequent wear so I have high hopes that this version will follow suit (fingers crossed!). The lightness of the fabric makes it very suitable for warm weather wear, but with the right layering I can can wear the dress in the transitional colder days of autumn and spring as well.

I didn’t have enough fabric to cut out everything without a bit of puzzling. I remembered this from my previous version, which I cut from the same amount of yardage. I had to cut out the lining in pieces (meaning they had a seamline running in the middle) and I had to do the same thing for this version. I wasn’t super fazed about that but I soon realised that without some heavier piecing, I wouldn’t be able to cut out all the parts. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t diligent enough with the pattern piece tetris and if I had puzzled a bit longer I would have gotten it all out, or perhaps this piece of fabric was just slightly shorter or smaller after all and puzzling longer wouldn’t have made a difference.

Either way, for both linings I had to go the extra mile; for the front lining I pieced together smaller pieces of the main fabric to get a lining that was big enough. In the back lining, I used a smaller piece of main fabric for the upper piece, where it is attached to the neckline and thus the place likeliest to be seen, and for the rest of the back lining I had to use a different fabric because I just wasn’t going to make it otherwise. I used some small leftovers from the scrap basket that had a similar weight. The pieces I used are leftovers from my Ninni culottes. Although that fabric is black instead of blue, I thought the dark background with white patterning would make the fabric blend in well enough. Additionally I was only barely able to cut out the pieces for the pockets! Obviously it was more of a hassle to piece everything together like this but I’m quite charmed by the result and proud of being able to make it work like this.

The sewing process was relatively smooth as it is quite a straightforward hack. I had done it once before already, which made the ride all the more easy. That said, sewing this took quite long, as I did it over the summer and it was so hot all the time that I just didn’t sew a lot. More often than not, weeks at a time really, I left the sewing machine untouched in its case. It’s a pity that it was mainly because of circumstantial reasons, but I don’t regret not sewing when I didn’t feel like it and neither do I mind not being super productive. At the end of the summer I decided to finish it as I wasn’t sure how inspired I’d be to work on a summer dress when autumn finally arrived. So, it was still hot while I sewed the bulk of this dress and the little mistakes and slips I had here and there can be blamed almost entirely on sewing this while the weather was bananas, reminding me why my sewing is so haphazard during the summer.

The neckline is okay, but I think the neckline on my other Ogden dress was better. If I feel so inclined I might try and redo it to get it lightly better. On the other hand I might not, as the fabric is really thin and a bit frail looking in places where I unpicked a seam and I already had to fix a tiny hole in the lining because of this. So I might do more harm than good when endeavouring to unpick and redo those seams. Additionally if I ever hack an Ogden for a dress again I might redraw the back of the dress into more of a scoop or round neckline. It didn’t bother me on my other version so I didn’t bother for this one, but while looking at the photos I wonder if I would prefer a regular looking back more. That said having a gently v-neck on both sides has its benefits as you can also wear it front to back in that way, the back is slightly deeper, but I don’t think it looks all that weird or different especially when worn with a t-shirt. That said, I’m not sure if I’ll make another Ogden hack as I’ve perhaps maxed out for now but I’ll keep these ideas in mind if I reconsider later.

Despite some details here and there and the aforementioned hot weather sewing, I’m quite happy with how this one turned out. If my other Ogden is anything to go by then this dress will be in regular rotation. Dark blue is such a good year-round colour for me as well and combines well in my wardrobe so it has that going for it too. I think the moon and star print fabric is a perfect match to this type of fabric. To me the dress has the most perfect witchy, mysterious and night sky vibes, but others might wonder why I wanted to sew a circus tent themed dress (honestly though, those are also good vibes!), but to each their own. I think the atmospheric elements of this dress carry it well into autumn. The dress has high potential to be the most perfect October dress, I basically only need to make myself a felt witch hat and I’m ready to go when the month rolls around next year. These photos were taken earlier in autumn when it was still quite warm and our entire autumn season has been mild (sigh) so it has been worn more than I expected. I’ve also acquired two long sleeve turtlenecks this autumn which help me get more mileage out of my warm weather dresses like this one and my green and black sleeveless hinterland now that the weather has gotten too cold for just t-shirts and light cardigans.

For now though, I’ll be off to research what I need exactly to wet felt and sculpt myself a dramatic woollen witch hat. Be well and toodlepip!

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