Saturday, June 10, 2023

Sewing Hot Weather Dresses

Given that Peppermint Magazine patterns are wonderful; gingham is in fashion; and the weather is hot, my answer to the question of whether I should sew a Wide Strap Maxi Dress was: Yes, Yes, and Yes!

The dress came from 4 yards black and tan mini check homespun (100% cotton, 45" wide, made in India, $14.36). There is a huge, unbelievable and unexpected weaving flaw in this fabric. One of the rows of black is missing a few weft threads, making it obviously narrower that the others. Since it never occurred to me that such a flaw was possible in gingham, I did not look for it. That's too bad, because there was enough fabric to cut around it. Now, though, it is sewn up and it looks like a seam or something odd across the back. Since this is a house dress and not a big deal, it is staying. At least it is in the back where I will not be looking at it.
There were not many modifications, other than removing a total of five inches in length, an inch or two each in the bodice, the skirt and the hem. (Both the front and back pieces of the pattern are now permanently altered). There was another (optional) 1 inch taken off the hem. This version is a E at the top graded to a D at the bottom. A size D all the way would have worked. The straps are wider in the center and placed about a half inch further into the center back. The facing needs to be a bit wider to fit properly. Here, the facing seams are narrower than indicated to make it fit. It was very difficult to get the straps in the right spot to cover bra straps and to adjust the elastic in the back. Another approach would be to run a couple of ties run through two channels in the back to make the back adjustable. The length of the straps is ok, but could be a bit longer. Maybe, straps that tie at the shoulders would be better. This dress is my go-to at home wear on a hot summer day. Another option for those days is the Southwest Day Dress that is based on a photo of a RTW dress.

This project used remnants and 2 yards of the Taos Texture print cotton from Taos Adobe Quilting. The 16" of the Kokopelli print cotton from Taos Quilting was enough for the top and a patch pocket. Some leftover rayon/linen blend in teal from JoAnn was more than enough for the center panels, even though they required piecing. Simplicity 7024 vintage pattern provided the shape for the top. The center panel is cut at 8" and measures 6" across once pleated. The side panels are 14" wide from the center seam. There's enough ease in them for two small 3/4" to 1/2" pleats on each side. A repeat make should use the same print for the top and the center panels and possibly omit the center panel in the back. It could be wider, with deeper pleats, or it could have side slits or side pockets. There are a lot of possibilities in this design, especially since it uses remnants.

The Taos Texture was quite prone to ravel and is finished either with zig zag and pinking or by turning under the edge and top stitching.

ETA: This post was written in the summer of '22, only just published in the summer of '23 after finally taking a photo of the Wide Strip Maxi Dress. It is hot again, and more hot weather dresses are underway. If any get completed, they will be posted here.

Ok, one more, in a crinkle gauze using the wide strap maxi pattern.  This is now cut down to a size D all over.  There wasn't quite enough fabric, so it is 5" shorter at the hem.  I moved the dart point down one inch, a standard modification that I didn't mention above.  The crinkle fabric is difficult.  See my post on the Tosca Tunic knock-off for more on that.  This fabric is especially difficult in that besides the stretching, it has a rough feel.  However, it is very light and will be nice on those hot, hot days.

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