A new summer dress made from an existing one

Including a lot of gathers… and some shirring

self-drafted gathered summer dress front3

 

It’s the summer! So last week, while sweating profusely and sipping a cold drink, I remembered that I have a summer dress that is perfect for this kind of weather. It is light and airy, made of super fine cotton and is simply gathered in the middle.

So I went to look for said dress and had to discover that all of the elastic had gone in the shirred lower back, so that I now had a dress that was absolutely massive on me. My first thought was to simply replace said elastic, but then I realised that I would have to take the back section out in order to shirr it.

So what is the next logical step in this case? Take the whole dress apart, draft a pattern from it and make a completely new dress? Yes, very much so.

I did consider drafting a pattern without taking it apart, but:

  • I would have to unpick some of it anyway to fix the elastic
  • The dress had so much gatherin going on, there was no way I could draft a pattern without seeing the full width of the pieces.
  • I had had some fit issues with this dress, which would be easier to fix if I could see the actual pattern pieces
  • I had probably had this summer dress for about 6 or 7 years, so it was time for an update

Construction

There is a lot of gathering involved in this dress. Both back pieces (upper bodice and skirt) are simply sewn onto the shirring, so they are gathered automatically by that.

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress gathers close-up2

 

The upper front bodice is gathered both at the shoulder and the bust. (I took the opportunity to make this pattern piece a little bit longer to accommodate my bust better.) The front skirt panel is also gathered at the waist. The front lower bodice is made of two panels, one is longer and must be gathered at the sides, then sewn on top of the smaller piece. This is certainly a technique I had not used before, but will absolutely be using again. I love the look of the waist on this dress.

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress zip and underbust

 

Oh, did I mention it has pockets? I often forego pockets, as I usually carry around a small bag anyway and am far too afraid to lose anything out of pockets, but they are useful for sticking your hands in when you don’t know what to do with them…

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress pockets

 

Isn’t this fabric the cutest? It looks a bit like I made a dress out of candy. 🙂

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress back1

 

So is this dress as good as the original?

I would say it’s better! It is more colourful (the original was made in a military green) and the fit is improved. I am definitely considering making this again in other colours.

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress side1