Summer’s coming, look dressy.

I literally can’t stop thinking about dresses – 50’s dresses; denim dresses; the sort of long, gathered, tiered dresses that one might wear to skip through a meadow of dappled sunlight – I want to make them all! And I will… Or maybe more accurately, I will start making them and then find that work gets busy again and they get abandoned, facing- and hem- less, to be left in the box until this annual feeling comes around again. Aspirational Summer Dress time.

rough sketch double wrapping dress

I have started off with this one. Let’s get one thing straight from the offset: no this dress is not based on the one from the Sewing Bee. Also, no I do not watch the Sewing Bee.

I’ve had a double wrapping dress for years which came from Hobbs and which I love, despite it looking pretty severely mummsy. And now I find myself in a summer-dressy mood! So I thought I’d make my own version. I drafted the pattern digitally at work for this one, rather than basing it off a commercial pattern. I temporarily borrowed our shift dress block, updated it for my body measurements and then used it as a starting point for my new design. For those of you that are interested, the image below shows this dress pattern as it appears on screen in the Lectra CAD software, which has all manner of scintillating functions so help make pattern cutting quicker, more accurate and (theoretically!) easier than doing it manually. Other CAD programmes are available.

Lectra screen grab double wrap dress pattern

At this point in time I have made a rough toile for fitting. I wasn’t long enough in the back bodice for me, and I had to tweak a few bit here and there, but by and large it was good!

Double wrap dress toile back double wrap dress toile front

I work predominantly with knitwear, which often doesn’t involve a pattern from me at all, let alone one with all the bells and whistles. So I love doing things like this for myself because it really helps to keep my head in the game professionally! Here I’ve made facing and lining pieces as well as the shell pattern. The lining is a bit of educated guesswork – last time I lined a garment it was a jacket which requires excess volume specifically placed to allow for movement, but a sleeveless dress is a different animal. I made a second toile of the top part just to check I remembered what a lining was and how it worked:

facing and lining front wrap dress toile

I have placed the darts differently in the lining than on the outer to reduce the bulk where all those layers would stack up, and I think it’s going to be fine. I’m actually going to take my time sewing this one but the pattern would be just as nice without lining or facing, as a quick-sew item with bright binding on the edges and length of bought ribbon for the tie. I might give that a go next time, especially if I can find something drapey and non-iron which would look great straight out of a backpack.

printed dress fabric

This fabric was from the January sale at John Lewis, Oxford Street. They had dozens and dozens of beautiful prints reduced this time. I didn’t stop at the one chunk, there are two more pieces waiting in the wings.

I fancy a really full skirt in this geometric / mandala print. I’ve started drafting a pattern which will be almost two circles, so it will wind up super swirly and voluminous. It does mean that the hem will be over 7m all around, I just hope it’s not insanely heavy and puts extreme tension on the tight circle at the waist edge.

two circle skirt geometric print dress fabric

If the double wrap dress comes out nicely I think I’ll do another in denim or chambray with a gathered skirt. And as my crewelwork module at the RSN will be over this month I’m thinking about putting my skills to use, embroidering some big, bright birds onto it. There’s something very 70’s about embroidery in wool on garments, especially around a neckline, and I like it! I’ve got a little swatch of nice chambray from the Cloth House to do a few practice stitches on, when I get a chance.

Oh, and also, I finished the baby socks my friend had ordered :) I’m really chuffed with the stamps! Will have three pairs to go on the Etsy shop soon…

baby socks