A Summer Dress with an Interesting Geometric Back Detail

Self-drafted from a Burda pattern

I am sure we all have patterns we use all the time. Ones that just work for our body type, don’t need too much alteration and are simple to use. One of mine is a pattern printed in Burda Magazine Nr. 07/2014. It is a gathered skirt and simple bodice made up of 4 pattern pieces. I have used the bodice pattern countless times before, making many different types of dresses, and was always happy with the results.

So when I was looking for a pattern to make an alteration to, this came to mind quite quickly. I had this idea in mind that I would change the back of the dress to be a bit more open and airy. I wanted something that combines comfort with style in the summer heat, while also satisfying my love of geometry.

So here is the result, a slightly different dress with a geometric back detail.

 

folklore summer dress geometric back detail back3

 

And yes, I am starting with a picture from the back this time. 🙂 It is definitely nice from the front too, but the wow-factor is certainly going on in the back. The geometric pattern is made of 2 sets of 2 fully-lined triangles overlapping each other. The lower triangles are a bit smaller than the top ones. Here is the back in a bit more detail.

 

geometric back detail

 

I did not have quite enough of the patterned fabric to make the whole dress, so I used just a strip of it for the skirt, while making the rest in a plain black polycotton. I think the whole dress has got a sort of folklore feeling about it because of that.

 

folklore summer dress with back detail front1

 

 

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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

A self-drafted corset dress with layered skirt

Courtesy of Butterick B5797

corset dress with layered skirt front view1

 

So, first of all, I have been away for a week, and even though I came back with a massive cold, it was absolutely lovely. I went to Magaluf for HTID in the Sun. Not only was this my first time going to a holiday resort, it was also one of the best experiences regarding hardcore events. There is definitely something to be said for spending some time with your other half, lazing about in the sunshine all day and stomping about to your favourite music at night. As we don’t live in the UK, we don’t get to go to hardcore events very often, so this was a huge treat for us.

Also, I think this might have been the first time I brought exclusively self-made clothes anywhere on holiday! Yey! I can’t believe I managed that. Granted, one of them was only a refashion of a kaftan. But since that involved making an actual dress out of what can only be described as a fabric square, it’s basically self-made. 😉

In the last week before this holiday, I went a bit barmy and made three dresses to take with me. This is one of them. It was a complete spur-of-the-moment idea and I made it out of scraps I had had for years, and in a timeframe of three days. Unfortunately, the time in my “suitcase”, which is actually just a rucksack (I love to travel with hand luggage – no waiting around for baggage at airports), didn’t do it terribly well. The boning is now a bit wonky, as I am sure can be seen in the images, and hasn’t retained the same shape as before.

I’m a huge fan of rigilene as boning, as it’s quite flexible and while I like corset-shaped bodices, I don’t necessarily want to dance around in something with steel bones. And when I say dancing, I mean hardcore raver stomping, so it’s more like exercise really (but very very fun exercise). And I can’t do exercise in a steel-boned corset, although I am sure some people can…

 

corset dress with layered skirt close up front

 

Idea & Construction

As stated above, this was mostly an idea I had about 4 days before going on holiday. It’s always just before a holiday that I have a tonne of ideas for new dresses… I wanted something a bit fairy-like, elegant, form-fitting and cute at the same time. This patterned fabric had been catching my eye every time I came across it in my fabric stash. I knew I didn’t have quite enough for a whole dress, although there was more than I thought in the end, but was willing to make a bodice out of it.

I started making the bodice with the only corset-pattern I own: B5797. I know this is not a popular pattern, but I’ve had good results using it before and find it very useful for projects involving “fashion” corsets. I shortened the pattern considerably to make sure it only went to my waist and also lowered the back to make it look more like a bodice and less like a corset.

For the boning I went for a very simple solution: I overlocked the raw edges and then sewed the seam allowances either to one side, or in the case of the side seams and back seam, to both sides. This gave me boning channels that are not even visible on the inside of the garment.

 

corset dress inside with hidden boning

 

I think I might have already mentioned this in my last post, but I have never actually used a skirt pattern. Originally, I was going to finish the skirt simply with the black lining fabric and some tulle on top, but as it turned out that I only had enough black tulle for one layer and I still had some of the patterned fabric, I made another cute, scalloped layer out of that.

Since this is made of scraps, it is made up of four panels, each containing only two scallops. The black underskirt is made of 4 panels also, whereas the tulle layer is a lightly scalloped circle skirt cut in one go.

 

corset dress with layered skirt top view1

 

The finishing touches were made by adding an exposed zip at the front, bindable straps at the top and bias binding around the top edge of the corset. I used a rolled hem on all other exposed edges. Even though I think I could have done better, given a bit more time and a sturdier boning, I still really love this dress and am incredibly proud of it.

I have had the feeling lately that my sewing has massively improved since last year and that I can actually realise my ideas in a way that is pretty close to the original thought. This came out almost exactly the way I imagined it, which makes me so happy.

 

corset dress with layered skirt back view1

A 70s-inspired Summer Dress

A modified Butterick B5209

vintage B5209 me front view

Right, first of all, I apologise for not being very active (especially after my promise to post more…) I have this tendency to be a little bit overwhelmed when I have lots of time to be creative, but I think I’ve sorted it out now and actually accomplished something I am quite proud of. Which brings me to this project. I think Butterick’s B5209 is one of the easiest and quickest patterns to sew. It’s very straightforward and lends itself to making summer dresses like nothing else.

When I think of the summer, it always brings up images of flowy gowns and, for some reason, the Seventies. I absolutely love the dresses of that time, or as I should specify, of the early Seventies. I would have very much liked to live in that time period, although there are certainly things I would have missed. Above all, with HTID in the Sun coming up, I am glad to be alive in a time with raves. I don’t think I could live without electronic music, although as my husband pointed out, you can’t miss what you don’t know and it would have also been cool to dance around to Jefferson Airplane.

Now, this is not a flowy gown by any definition. If I could have, I probably would have made it into a maxi dress, but I sadly had to think of the practicalities of a long cotton dress in the heat. Not only am I going to wear it in Spain, Switzerland also gets really hot in the summer, so a short dress is preferable. Plus, I don’t think I would have had enough fabric. I bought this Rose & Hubble print cotton over a year ago and then could never decide what to do with it.

B5209 is a vintage 40s dress, which lends itself incredibly well to being remodified into a 70s dress. To achieve this, I made the following alterations:

  • I shortened the midsection of the dress. I kind of need to do this anyway, as I have a very high, very short waist (I am only 5’5”). The inverted V-shape of the lower bodice is certainly something this dress has in common with the dresses of the 70s, and their waist usually sat a bit higher than in the 40s.
  • I changed the skirt. I don’t think I have ever used the gathered skirt pattern that comes with this dress. I usually make my own skirt. It’s so easy to make a skirt that I know fits my proportions, rather than trying to adapt one that comes with the pattern.
  • The other major alteration I did was to add puff sleeves. Personally, I love these. In fact, I was thinking the other day that with my love of puff sleeves, maxi dresses and princess seams, maybe there is some suppressed wish somewhere in my head to be a princess. Well, let’s say I just like a certain elegance. 😉

I made a little tutorial on how I modified a normal sleeve pattern to a puff sleeve pattern here.

The sleeves and midsections are made of black Duchesse Satin. To be honest, I just wanted them to be a contrasting colour and this scrap of satin seemed fine for it. Ideally, I might have used a black cotton, but it works quite well as it is, I think.

Now, without further shenanigans, here is the dress in all its glory.

vintage b5209 front view

 

vintage b5209 side view

 

vintage B5209 back view

 

vintage B5209 me front view2

 

 

 

A flowery Burda 124b-072014 summer dress

This weekend was hot. So hot, it felt like I couldn’t leave the house. Even opening the window, nothing but warm air would come in…

I took this opportunity to make a summer dress for myself. I wanted to play it safe and use Burda 124b-072014, which I had made twice before. The second time, I added a full-bust adjustment. However, it being Burda, there were no seam-allowances added and I couldn’t remember how much I had given it before. (The version of this dress in question has a lining, so I couldn’t check without taking it apart.) This lead to some fit issues, which I am still working out (most apparent in the side view.)

It seems that even when I think I play it safe, I never get consistent results. The solution to this is obviously to be more dilligent and write everything down. I simply cannot trust my memory.

With that in mind, here is the more or less finished product. I have not decided what to do with the hem yet. Part of me wants to drape it nicely, and the other part just wants to shorten it. With the length it is at the moment, it doesn’t suit me at all. Plus, it’s too hot to wear anything longer than above-knee-length.

 

 

 

Some details

 

burda 124b-072014 front neckline

burda 124b-072014 back neckline

burda 124b-072014 open back

 

And here is some of the construction process:

 

burda 124b-072014 constructed bodice

 

burda 124b-072014 inside

 

As you can see, I overlocked every single edge. I had originally planned to line it, but the hot weather made me think twice about this idea. “The less fabric, the better.” had become my motto.

I used a lightweight cotton, which is really the best material for summer dresses in my opinion. I don’t particularly like working with it, and as you can see, I have some issues with puckering around the topstitching around the shoulders.

I bought this fabric mostly for its pattern and I can’t say I’m disappointed. I might just have a thing for little flowers on a black background. It is really forgiving when you don’t pattern match and I find it rather hard to find the seams when I don’t look too closely.

Also, I could have basically used any colour thread, as long as it was present somewhere in the pattern. I chose light blue, as it was prominent in the flowers and I think that came out rather nicely.

I added some alterations to the pattern (not including the FBA). The original dress asks for a gathered  circle skirt. I made some skirt panels and matched them with the vertical seams of the bodice instead. I also shortened the straps, as they were falling off my shoulders.

Once I have widened the seam allowance on the bust and hemmed it in one way or another, I will finally be done. I have definitely spent a good 6 or 7 hours on this dress so far.

The summer dress made of “blue lizard” fabric

When I got all my new fabrics, I knew which one I wanted to work on first. Even though my husband said I would look like a blue lizard in an item made of this, it just had to be the ridiculous snakefoil jersey, didn’t it?

It’s a pretty lightweight fabric with plenty of stretch, so I knew a summer dress would be possible. Where I would wear such a thing, is still a mystery to me, but I somehow couldn’t keep away from the fabric. Maybe it was because it is so shiny, or maybe I have a yearning for outrageous dance clothing to an extent that even I didn’t realise. Somewhere in my mind, it says that it would be perfectly ok to wear a dress made of blue lizard fabric to a summer festival.

In any case, making the pattern was really easy. I simply used the pattern I made from taking apart my old dress in this post and changed the neckline so it wouldn’t be as low as it was before. I basically just cut the whole top of the bodice as a square to adjust later.

The neckline I had in mind, would be gathered at the top and end in a collar around the neck. I actually ended up pleating it, cause I felt too lazy to gather.

I also attempted to make more of a molded shape for me, not by adding darts but by cutting out and reshaping a whole section of the bust:

DSCI0210

 

 

I forgot to line up the seams with the skirt seams, so I need to remember to redo that for future dresses. I added a waistband to “hide” that fact a bit, or at least in my mind, make it look a bit less obvious.

This is the dress:

The back of the skirt is slightly longer, although I realise now that to really get the effect I wanted, the difference in length between front and back should have been larger. Since I only had about 1.5 metres of fabric, that was not an option though.

The waist sits a bit lower than I wanted and the bust seams sit just a bit under the bust, so I will redo the collar and shorten the bodice a touch.  The whole dress was sewn with my overlock machine.

To finish the edges, I used the rolled-hem foot of my overlocker. This is the second time I have used it, and while the hems are not as rolled as they could be, I really like the finish.

Here is the finish on the arm:

 

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And here it is on the skirt:

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Unfortunately, the fabric has a tendency to lose it’s colour. While trying it on, I suddenly saw lots of white specks all over the front of the dress. When I tried to brush them away (don’t know what I was thinking), more appeared! It seems the blue “varnish” comes off the edges of the little metal plates that the coating is made of. I wonder how that would fare in a washing machine. I probably have to hand wash it, and even then I’d be worried about the loss of colour.

I am very tempted to do this again and improve on it, but since the quality of the fabric makes it so hard to rework it or even wear it more than once, I think I might have to find a better fabric first.