The Float Top

As much as I tell myself dresses for summer are the way to go, I still find myself grabbing shorts for stay-at-home, errand-running kind of days. But I can probably wear less than half of the hot weather tops in my closet. No slinky knit tank tops…yet. Click here for explanation. This has forced me to think outside my normal tank top box and take the time to sew some fun, forgiving, gathered blouses. And I couldn’t be more happy with reconstruction make #5 that I’m sharing here.

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The pattern I used is McCall’s 7095. I grabbed this on sale at JoAnn’s when I was collecting loose-through-the-chest patterns. I knew immediately that this design fit the bill perfectly – above the chest gathers and a high non-revealing neckline, and as a bonus, it is super cute! I made view A.

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My fabrics are from the Dream Weaver Voile Collection by Amy Butler, purchased online at Hawthorne Threads. The fabric is $13.95 per yard and is 54″ wide. I cannot say enough wonderful stuff about this cotton voile. It’s silky smooth, buttery soft, and light as a feather. You cannot go wrong with an Amy Butler voile. This is my fourth project with this fabric. Amy, please make more voile! I’m running out of designs to choose from.

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The instructions called for finishing the armhole by turning under the raw edge of the fabric 5/8″ and doing a narrow hem. I thought this would be almost impossible at the curve of the underarm. I finished the armholes with purchased bias tape instead.

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Oops! I didn’t notice the bias tape was turned under at the shoulder when I took the picture.

For the bottom band, I doubled the width of the pattern piece, folded it in half and sewed the edges together when it was sewn onto the body. I did this instead of a single layer band with a narrow 5/8″ hem as called for in the instructions.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1.  I made a size Small (8 – 10) even though that is not reflective of my measurements on the chart. I am bigger. I assumed there would be plenty of design/wearing ease. Fortunately I was correct and it fit perfect.

2. I shorten the body pattern piece by about 2 inches. I often shorten tops as I do not want them to end at my thighs, the widest part of me. I prefer tops to hit a few inches above my thighs.

3. The only deviations I made from the instructions were mentioned above, the armhole finish and double layer for the bottom band.

4. In case you’re wondering, my shorts are RTW from Talbots. I also have these shorts in two other colors.

5. This top is way more billowy and wide than I would usually wear, but it’s just so fun and comfortable, I don’t care!

I love everything about this top. Maybe one with sleeves for fall?

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Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this post!

 

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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 Mid-Summer Dress

I always sew for the season that we are actually in. I like the instant gratification of wearing my new make the next day. Here in inland So Cal, the weather will be warm until October, so I am still in the market for easy wearing summer dresses. I am sharing with you my new Fresh Make that will help get me through the dog days of summer.DSC_0187
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The pattern I used is Butterick 5456. I purchased this pattern at least a year ago at JoAnn’s during a pattern sale which means I paid less than $2 for it. The year on the envelope is 2010. I hope it’s still in print because I think it is a timeless, wearable pattern.

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The fabric I used was purchased online at Fabricworm originally for a Marianne Dress for Round Two of the Super Online Sewing Match. (I was eliminated after that round, but it but it was great fun while it lasted!) I ended up using some other fabric for the contest, so I still had this fabric on hand screaming at me to sew it up. The blue and white print is an organic cotton interlock knit by Charley Harper for Birch Fabrics. It was $13 per yard and 45″ wide. Honesty time: I don’t think I will purchase from this collection again. While the weight of the interlock was substantial and as expected, the blue ink stiffens the fabric and does not soften with a machine wash and dry. Also the ink application is a slightly uneven and blotchy in places. Fortunately, the green Birch Organic, Mod Basic Solid, is a completely different story. It is super soft and dreamy, and the touch of Lycra is genius for an interlock, a weave that can stretch out easily. It was $12.80 per yard and 60″ wide. This collection will definitely become a “go to” solid for me.

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The bodice is fully lined. It would have been optimal to use a thinner knit for the lining instead of the green interlock, but there was enough and I wanted to use what I had on hand. I used the method for a clean, machine armhole finish from the Moneta Dress by Colette.

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I think the keyhole back and tie add an interesting detail to a simple dress. And I really like that the opening is high enough that you can still wear a regular bra.

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I shirred the skirt with clear elastic, also a method from the Moneta Dress by Colette.

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After attaching the bottom band, I decided I didn’t like the way it hung as a single layer and futhermore did not want machine stitching at the bottom since there was no machine top stitching anywhere else. I went ahead and folded the band and “stitched-in-the-ditch.”

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LETS BE HONEST:

1. The pattern is labeled “Fast & Easy.” That it is. However, there is no differentiated instruction for knits which could cause frustration for someone who has not sewn on knits before. I basically glanced at the illustrations and used my own knit techniques as well as the two from the Moneta Dress mentioned above.

2. I cut out exactly between size 12 and 14, taking into consideration that knit ease should be less. I still misjudged and the bodice turned out a little big. The armholes are particularly large. Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to wear it! If I were to make it again, however, I would probably cut a size 10.

3. I like the double thickness of the bottom band, but proportionally I think the original width of the band looks better. So if I were to make the dress again I would cut a band of double width, fold and stitch-in-the-ditch again.

I really do like this dress. It was simple, no hassle sewing. And it is as comfortable as can be.

What about you? Do you sew a season ahead or squeeze in a few end-of-the-season makes?
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