Monday, August 5, 2013

Sewing: A summer dress of my own design

I'm pretty excited about this one.  Especially as, after my initial pre-belt try-on was a big fat fail, putting it on today and finding out that the belt inside makes all the difference.... I am one happy lady!
I have been making peasant blouses up this summer, and I was on my favorite fabric site, just chilling out, and lo and behold - they had some navy blue cotton gauze on sale.  I'd just snagged some denim-gauze for my daughter, and she was super pleased with the results. 
But when the gauze showed up - uh oh!  There were tiny eyelets all over it!  And it was more sheer than my daughter's gauze... there was no way I could make it up without a lining.  What's a girl to do?  I don't want lining or a slip in the middle of summer!!
Well, God is kind.  I was wandering through the back half of my favorite cheap fabric store, and I ran into some jade green (I am totally unreasonable about jade green) cotton organdy.  Sheer, light, and crisp - just the thing to line floppy sloppy gauze.  (I am past the moment in bodytime where I can pull off unstructured clothing). 
Here's how the two fabrics played together, up close.  (Pardon the cat fur etc, I gave my sewing room a good solid cleaning today ... and washed my dress before I wore it!)
Well, of course I had to get matching embroidery thread and put some detail work on there.... this is me!  /grin  (There is embroidery on the bottom two tiers where they join, at the hem, at the neckline, and on the hem of the sleeve).
Things I don't like - well, it's less fitted than I prefer, but it worked out.  I don't like the short sleeves, but I was out of fabric.  I didn't do the best job of figuring out what amount of skirt to make - I have a LOT of skirt.  Of course I like a lot of skirt, but it wouldn't work at all without the skirt-stay/belt.
Technical details:  It's this shirt (the elastic was my idea, the rest of the shirt is Butterick) slightly shortened to end up at a more figure-flattering spot.


Plus the bottom tiers of this skirt, again adjusted so the tiers start at a better/more flattering spot on my body.  No pattern here, but tiered skirts are big rectangles sewn together and gathered.  Difficult they are not.

I added a grosgrain ribbon waist stay inside the elastic at the waist.  I knew the weight of the skirt would pull the alignment off in a big way - I mean, look at the elastic waist with no weight at all dragging on it!  So, inside the elastic, there's essentially a belt - keeps everything where it ought to be, top and bottom.   I had to add a ribbon pull-tie at the top - the doubled fabric didn't gather the way the lighter cottons did (I really must learn to try things before I design around them!)  but it worked out okay.  It's not visible either.  :)
The green fabric is underlined to the blue - meaning I cut them together and basted them together prior to sewing everything. 
My 9yo decided she wanted to learn to use the sewing machine, so she sat next to me and played while I worked.  She made several aprons for her stuffies - and I let her put some of the embroidery on one of the skirt tiers.  She's so cute!

I've been working on this for a couple of weeks - have had the fabric for a couple of months, and have had it in my head for at least four.  I'm glad to finish it - and if it's not EVERYTHING I hoped for?  It's still pretty cute, it's well-made, and it's comfortable. 

Win.  :)


  1. I really like this dress, Hearth. Lovely, to be sure.

  2. Very pretty! I actually like the short sleeves with that neckline--very summery. I'm so impressed. I can follow a pattern but have never been able to just go off on my own.

    1. Thank you. :) The short sleeves look good from the front, not so great from the side. Ah well. Very cool they are.

      Adding a tiered skirt wasn't too challenging - just rectangles! :)


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