A New Summer Dress

I haven’t written much about sewing because I’m not that good at it and my technique is embarrassingly poor. I’m just too impatient to go through all the necessary steps, ironing, pinning, basting, etc. Despite this unforgivable laziness, I think this dress came out pretty well. I put it together in a couple days with some left-over upholstery muslin for the lining, and an old sheet of my sisters for the trim. The cotton print I got at a steep discount because it had a manufacturing defect (small holes every few feet) but I was able to cut the pattern around it. All told the dress cost about $5.

For the pattern, I used a comfortable dress of mine which fits well. I laid fabric and dress flat on the table and just traced with a piece of chalk the outline of each piece. I then cut it 1/4” bigger all around, for seam allowance. The most important thing to remember when you are laying out the fabric is to match the direction of the weave: the skirt and bust were cut on the bias, and the dress wouldn’t have draped properly if I had cut them otherwise. It’s also a good idea to match the weight and feel of the fabric. I once copied a slinky little number with some fairly stiff silk (designed for upholstery rather than dressmaking) and though the pattern was identical the end result was completely different. I can still wear the dress, but it’s not the same animal.

I won’t attempt to go into the details of manufacture, but my point is this: if I can do this, so can anybody. Just take a very close look at your favorite (and possibly threadbare) summer dress. Most dresses are really very simple to reproduce. This one was a bit more complicated than some because of the lining and cut, but an A line dress, for example, is no more difficult to sew than a square pillow.


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