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Creating a Dress in Harmony with a Green Scene

A handful of tips that improve a vintage caftan dress pattern

“Why don’t you . . . have a room done up in every color green? This will take months, years, to collect, but it will be delightful—a melange of plants, green glass, green porcelains, and furniture covered in sad greens, gay greens, clear, faded, and poison greens?”  —Diana Vreeland

The moment I read this monochrome, technicolor-themed “Why Don’t You . . .?” column by the late revered editor and style icon, I was rabid to execute the mission. The time-sensitive warning seemed unnecessarily ominous. Surely I could rustle up enough green at home: a forest green velvet chair, a chartreuse cocktail set, a mint scarf, the few plants I’ve been able to keep presentable, my tropical print ironing board cover, books in every shade of Kermit the frog. And to complement the décor, I would wear head-to-toe emerald in the form of a handmade brocade gown.

Constructing a green scene

I gathered my supplies, pulled my green glittering yardage out of the closet, arranged my mise en scène, and realized the effect was completely underwhelming. Ms. Vreeland was right. This would take years to accomplish.

It truly is not easy being green, unless the room comes courtesy of the natural world.

Marcy Harriell wearing a large-print caftan in a natural green scene

Once again, we stepped outside for the challenge, this time to the lush green backdrop of a humid, East Coast jungle in the height of summer. Mother Nature’s air conditioning was on the fritz, so wearing brocade was off the table. That left me with little head-to-toe green for the main piece of furniture in this room—myself.

Have you, fellow sewists, noticed the lack of good green yardage in stores? Do major designers get first dibs? Is it a hard hue to produce? I search for a vibrant green print every time I trek to Manhattan’s Garment…

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