Now that there’s not much summer left, I finally got around to making a summer dress! I’ve had this beautiful fabric in my stash for years. I bought it planning on making a summer dress, but I couldn’t find a pattern that would work well with the horizontal stripes, so I never did anything with it.
I figured the easiest way to get the stripes horizontal on my body would be to make the pattern myself. With my prominent rear end and extreme swayback, alterations just get to be too difficult.
I wanted something simple with a waistline seam, and after looking through a bunch of pictures, I chose the Tara Tank Dress as my inspiration. The Southport Dress is also pretty similar to what I wanted.
Since I already have a non-stretch tank pattern, the Colette Sorbetto, that I altered to fit me, I started with that. I put my Sorbetto muslin on my custom paper tape dress form and pinned elastic around the waist, then marked the waistline on the pattern. I also scooped out the front neckline a bit.
To make the skirt, I cut two rectangles of fabric, sewed them together at the sides, and gathered the top edge. I pinned the skirt onto the bodice while it was on my dress form and adjusted the waistline until the hem was level.
It took me a little while to figure out how to make the casing for the tie at the waist. I did not enclose the waistline seam when I made a muslin of the dress, which was itchy, so I made sure to enclose the waist seam in the casing when I made the final dress. Just as I was finishing sewing the final dress, I thought of an easier way to do the casing. Next time!
For the hem, I used a machine stitched blind hem. I clearly need more practice with blind hems. I missed catching quite a few stitches in the fold of the fabric. I marked the stitches that I missed and stitched around again, just catching those spots. After the second time around I still missed one stitch and had to fix that. The final hem looks great, though, and I didn’t have to hand sew it, which made me happy. Hand sewing hems bores me silly and gives me a crick in my neck. I plan on sewing a lot more machine stitched blind hems in the future, so I’m sure I’ll get better at it.
I finished the neckline and armholes with self-fabric bias facings. I used to have terrible results with bias tape, but after I started making my own bias tape, I realized most of my problem was that purchased bias tape is too stiff. I use the free half-inch printable bias tape maker from the Scientific Seamstress to press the folds in the tape. It works really well and has lasted through several projects. She also has a one inch wide bias tape maker. Another tip for making your own bias tape: Use washable glue stick to glue down all of the seam allowances on the diagonal joining seams before putting the tape through the bias tape maker. A quick press with your iron will dry the glue.
A few more photos . . .
Now this is my favorite type of summer dress. And I love it even more because you skillfully created your own version of a popular look without spending money on a new pattern!
While I do really enjoy making my own patterns and being frugal with my sewing, I actually feel a little guilty for not buying a pattern! I follow many independent designers’ blogs, but I have yet to buy any of their patterns. I’ve been so disappointed with the fit of the patterns from the major pattern companies (giant armholes, ridiculous amounts of ease) that I’m planning to buy a pattern from an indie designer every so often just to support them and try them out, even if I could have made a similar pattern on my own.
I love the blue and striped print. This must be such a comfortable dress. Very nice! What kind of dress form do you have?
Yes, the dress is very comfortable! So much better than wearing RTW.
My dress form is a custom one my husband helped me make from gummed kraft paper tape. If you’re not familiar with the process, look up on my Tutorials tab for the “Paper Tape Skirt Form” (except I didn’t make the second inner form for this dress form). The dress form was made a few years ago, and I’ve gained a few pounds since then, but since the thickness of the tape makes it a little bigger around the actual measurements are about right now. I sewed a knit fabric cover to hide the lumps and bumps.
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Ok, thanks. Now that you describe it it sounds like the “duct tape” ones that are out there. But I’ll have a look at yours. I have a store bought dress form but I’m always curious about what else is out there.
[…] This is the dress I made for my daughter with the remnants from my blue dress. […]