The Carefree Dress

Who doesn’t love a flowing, cool, maxi dress for summer? One that makes you feel like your on vacation even when your just walking around the house. This is what I choose for reconstruction make #4. Click here for an explanation. I don’t think any other type of garment combines casualness and luxury the way a long, loose-fitting, sleeveless dress does. I’m really excited to share this one with you.

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The pattern I used is McCalls 7404 which I purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.99. I think it is a “new release” as the date on the envelope is 2016. When I first saw this pattern, I knew I would buy it. It fit my reconstruction criteria of loose and gathered above the chest. Additionally, I was attracted to the casual maxi dress idea as I didn’t have any in my closet. I made view D.

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The fabric I used is Joel Dewberry, Bungalow Rayon collection, specifically Dahlia Rayon in Maze. I purchased it from Hawthorne Threads and knew I wouldn’t go wrong this selection as I was super pleased my Joel Dewberry rayon I had purchased for The Triple Digit Dress. I bought 3 3/8 yards at $9.95 per yard. I machine wash and hang dry this fabric. It’s soft and drapey, yet substantial and easy to iron.

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The armholes and neckline are finished with bias tape. Long strips are included as patterns pieces. There is also a bias trim inset between the bodice and the body of the dress. The pattern instructions were to iron it up and top-stitch. I ironed it down instead.

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The back has a slit opening and hook closure. I can pull the dress on without undoing the hook. So while the opening is not actually necessary, it’s a nice design feature.

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There is a slit at the bottom of the center front seam.

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LET’ BE HONEST:

1. I cut a size Medium (12-14). It fits fine, except the armholes are very large. Before attaching the bodice to the body of the dress, I took in the bodice side seams 5/8″ to lessen the armholes, but that was not enough. I wear a “cami bra” with this dress to prevent from exposing too much.

2. Because I am not a tall person, I cut off 5″ off the bottom of the pattern pieces.

3. Because of how rayon stretches with gravity, the bottom was very uneven. I let it hang for a couple of days, then trimmed the bottom to even it out. And hemmed it from there.

4. In addition to cutting several inches off the bottom, I lowered the front slit about 2″. I really didn’t want the slit to go above my knee. Who wants to worry about a gust of wind or be careful when you sit down?

5. The most difficult thing about this dress was getting the rayon bias tape even and nice. I hand basted it in all three applications before machine stitching.

I have to say this is now one of my favorite dresses hanging in my closet. Wearing this dress is just so comfortable, free, and easy. What about you? Have you discovered a free and easy dress pattern lately?

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The Goddess Dress

I was super excited to make, and then blog about this dress. But when all was said and done, my vision of how it would look on me was far from what I saw in the mirror. So in the closet it went. Maybe to never be worn and/or blogged about. But I’ve had a change of heart. I thought a lot lately about what blogging is all about. What I want my blog to be. Is it just to show off a perfectly crafted project? Or is it to share a story and maybe some imperfect truths. I think the later is far more interesting. So here is my Fresh Make #28, a drapey, rayon maxi dress.

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The pattern I used is McCalls 6074, purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I bought it several months ago thinking it would be a great pattern to add to my summer dress stash. I was attracted to the gathering under the bust which adds a bit of fullness to the body of the dress. I thought this would lessen the possibility of showing bumps and lumps under a stretchy jersey knit.

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I love to dye fabric as much as I love to sew. For this dress, I began with a beautiful, white rayon jersey from Dharma Trading Co. I have used this fabric for other projects and actually had several yards left in my stash. This fabric is a nice weight, drapes beautifully and looks like new after every washing. I lay it flat to dry, and the wrinkles disappear while it dries! I dyed it twice with procion dyes, again from Dharma Trading Co. I won’t go into the dyeing techniques on this post. But if you’re interested, just ask!

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I finished the neckline, sleeves caps, armholes, and hem with a double needle. I sewed the dress with 100% cotton thread so it would dye also. You can see the polyester thread in my serger does not take the dye.
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I first dyed the fabric “Tangerine” while it was tied with marbles and rubber bands. Then I dyed it in “Deep Yellow.”
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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is labeled Easy, which it is if you are experienced with sewing on knits. There is no differentiated instructions for sewing with knits in this pattern. Generally, there never is with big 4 patterns. You, as a sewist, would just need to know what techniques would be appropriate for the knit you choose.

2. I cut a size 14. The only change I made was adding 5/8″ around the neckline. I did this on a hunch that it might be too low for me, and I’m glad I did.

3. I choose to make version with the sleeve cap just for a little variety. But I not sure I’m a big fan of the actual result. At least on me. I would like them to lay flatter on my arm. This fabric is extremely stretchy, and it stretched at the edge when I hemmed it with the double needle. I steamed it back to shape as best I could, but there is still some extra fullness.

4. The sewing of the elastic casing and attaching the elastic on the design feature under the bust is not my proudest sewing moment. Sewing a little stretchy casing on an equally stretchy larger piece is not easy. Even though I wasn’t satisfied with how the stitching looked, I didn’t want to take it out for fear I would poke holes in the fabric.

5. So here’s why I don’t like this dress, it shows all of my curves, good and BAD. The dress is not too small. The problem is the fabric is very stretchy and smooth, and with the weight that is created by the maxi length, it clings to every curve and bump of my body, and every ridge or line, no matter how small, of the undergarments I’m wearing. Previously, I have used this fabric for loose fitting tops, and it is perfect. The finished garment is lightweight enough, that it floats freely around my body. I would like to make this dress again. I will give up the elegance, and use a cotton knit with less stretch. I still think this would make a great, versatile, summer dress.

I offered this dress to my young adult daughter who has no “bad” curves. She responded very politely that she was not the maxi dress type. Oh, I don’t know. I still might wear it somewhere at night where the lights are low. How about you? Have you made something that seems to be the right size, but the fabric choice makes it unflattering?

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