Recent Projects: Maxi Dress

The Pattern: New Look #6980, Design-Your-Look Easy dress pattern. Made view C with the crossover bodice.

The Fabric: A few years ago, I purchased yards and yards (well, probably only 4) of a beautiful tropical-print rayon in shades of vibrant turquoise and magenta pink that I planned to make a dress from—someday. 

About this Dress: I’ve always loved the boho maxi dresses that come around just about every summer, but have never found one that perfectly suited my taste, either in terms of design features or colors or patterns.

But all of a sudden this past summer, I got the urge to make a maxi dress. This could have been because summer 2010 was blazingly hot in the DC area. I remembered I had this rayon in my stash, pulled it out and looked it over, and was struck all over again by the saturated hues and how cheerful and simple and unusual the pattern was (compared to many tropical/Hawaiian prints I’ve seen, that is). Plus—the drape and flow of that wonderful rayon! But I didn’t have a maxi dress pattern that combined both the simplicity of design and construction I was interested in. So I searched online and turned up this New Look pattern and found it at my local Hancock’s. I had in mind to whip it up and wear it to a cook-out the next weekend. Unfortunately, I ended up not going to the cook-out, but I did manage to whip up this dress in less than a week—a record for me! 

It’s not by any  means well-finished, but it’s sturdy. And boy does that rayon feel amazing draping itself around me as I walk! I didn’t make any real changes to the pattern, but I did add self-fabric ties to cinch the wide straps. One of the views shows fabric loops sewed down around the straps, in the same way required by the grey linen dress I made from New Look 6774, but I was looking for something a little quicker. I may replace the simple self-fabric tubes that I just tied around the straps with the pattern’s fabric loops. Or I may not!

The dress looks killer with my wedge-heel gladiator sandals and a white twill jacket.

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Past Projects: Grey Sundress

The grey linen sundress!

A grey sundress. Isn’t the concept kind of an oxymoron? I suppose. But I love this charcoal-dark grey, especially with the sheen of linen. And I love that it’s a completely atypical and sophisticated color for summer. Plus, I look really good in grey; it tones down my coloring (pink cheeks, brassy hair).

The Fabric: Charcoal grey 100% medium-weight linen

The Pattern: I used New Look 6774, Design-Your-Look Dress pattern with interchangeable skirt, bodice, and strap options. I used the crossover bodice with cinched shoulder straps (view H) and the knee-length skirt option.

About this Dress: The only true alteration I made in the pattern was to take a small dart along the front neckline of the pattern muslin to prevent gaping in the finished bodice neckline. I used a size 14 pattern for the bodice front but a size 18 pattern for the bodice back, midriff pieces, and skirt, thinking that it would accommodate my fitting issues. The bodice back sizing worked, but the dress turned out way too billowy through the skirt, especially considering the body of the fabric. The little gathers in the skirt front and back combine with the linen fabrication to make a very floaty garment, which feels wonderful on hot days, but wrinkles horribly and ends up looking poufy. I have yet to remove the skirt so that it can be taken in.

Not the most flattering silhouette in the end. But light and airy for hot hot summers!

I didn’t sew the zipper according to the instructions. It didn’t make any sense to me to create a lap of fabric over the zipper, so I just centered it. So much easiser, especially with linen.

If  I make this dress again, it will be in a material that doesn’t wrinkle so badly.

All in all, I like the finished garment, but it does have a lot of skirt volume. Since choosing this pattern and wearing the dress a few times, my perceptions of the benefits of empire-waisted dresses for the curvy-figured has shifted significantly. I still like the ease and casual flavor of empire-waisted sundresses, but for real figure flattery, my shape does best with dresses that emphasize my natural waistline.

Live and learn!