Last year I also wrote about my quest for the perfect summer dress. Of all those dresses from last year only one is still in my wardrobe, and only because I haven’t gotten around to making it into a skirt yet. This year I had a better idea of what I wanted (light, flowy, covering) and ended up with three new maxi dresses which have seen heavy wear so far this summer:
The first was a case of the fabric dictating the dress. I bought this fabric way back in January, at which time it was only used as a scarf:
But when warmer weather rolled around it called out to be made into a swishy maxi dress. I drafted the pattern from a princess-seam top, moving the princess seams to be 2.5″ (6.5 cm) from the seam, and then cutting the side panel as one piece 5″ (13 cm) wide. With gathers at the pocket and at the knee this side strip adds volume to the dress.
My helper also enjoyed cutting out and hemming this dress:
The second dress is a free pattern, the Summer Drape Top by So Sew Easy. Turning it into a dress was as easy as extending the pieces. I added two triangles of fabric at the side seams for extra flowiness and swishability (of course those are both real words) but the dress would have been quite wearable without them. I also added patch pockets because, well, pockets. The print is so busy you don’t see any of the details:
Although the pattern calls for knit, I made this dress from a lightweight cotton voile and it worked fine; the only place I ran into trouble was that the straps ended up short at the front. So I unpicked the gathers in the middle, added a section, and redistributed the gathers.
The last dress was another simple self-draft: the back is plain, the front is a basic top slashed-and-spread to make some gathers at the bust and above the stomach. I’m glad I didn’t do anything more elaborate because the busy fabric pretty much hides all details.
A pleat above the knee gives extra volume to the skirt; this is just a rectangle of fabric added into the seam and stitched securely at the top.
And here’s the other side of the coin, the failed dress. Of course it was the one which I thought would be the easiest, based on something I saw a colleague wearing, similar to this:
Inspired by too much Pinterest, I imagined I would just whip together some squares and triangles and end up with a lovely flowy dress. Well, I won’t bore you with the series of my mistakes, but here’s the biggest one: fabric choice! My light flowy fabric did not give me nice crisp points like that dress above. In fact, it looked (and felt) like wearing rags:
Look at those sad limp points! I’m not sure what to do with it now. Hem it into a top or a really short dress, I guess.