Pool Dress

Some projects jump the blogging queue and this is one of them. I’m so happy with how it turned out I just couldn’t wait to share it.

A little background to this dress. At the end of last year (summer time in Australia) I finally started using the pool in our apartment complex after it had been opened for over a year. To get to the pool and back I need to walk through a few common areas including those which have air conditioning. I didn’t like to wear just my swimming costume in transit so I would wear a t-shirt and wrap a towel around my waist. On more than one occasion the towel fell off as I walked, I struggled to hold on to it as I walked. I needed to come up with a better solution.

I decided a dress would be the easiest option as it gave me coverage over my torso area plus it was only one item of clothing I needed to make. I have many dress patterns in my stash but I’m a creature of habit and instead of trying something new and having to fit it I went with a top pattern which I had made 3 times before and lengthened it to a dress. Even though it is March and now autumn in Sydney we are having a period of hot weather, I wanted to get this dress made so I could wear it whilst the weather was still warm. The pattern I chose was the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman top. This is my TNT (Tried and Tested) top pattern and now dress pattern it seems.

This wasn’t the first time I had lengthened a top pattern to a dress. I’d previously made a dress using the tutorial from Wendy Ward’s a Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics. In essence all you are doing is adding length to the bottom of both the front and back pieces. If the top doesn’t fit over your hips you may need to grade out the angle to fit your hips. I measured Peak dress to get an idea of how long to make my pieces. I decided on finished length of 43″ from top of shoulder to hem which in hindsight was a little long so next time I think I could do only 40″. The length doesn’t restrict my movement and I can still negotiate stairs in it.

The fabric I used was a terry toweling knit which has been in my stash for over 10 years. From memory I picked it up at a charity shop and have only used a small portion of it in a previous project nearly 10 years ago which is how come I know how long I’ve had it. I knew it would shed fibres when I cut it so I used pinking sheers instead of regular scissors to cut it out. This saved my floors immensely from looking like a fight with Big Bird.

I make my Cedar’s a little different to pattern instructions. The design has a centre front seam which I eliminate. I cut my front piece on the fold just like the back piece. Due to the seam allowance the front piece is 1″ wider than the back. I can’t remember what I did on my 3 previous ones, I think I placed the front pattern piece 1″ over the fold line of my fabric to remove the extra fabric. This time I moved my back piece 1″ back from the fold of the fabric so that I it would have the same amount of fabric. To make this top as low fabric waste as possible I pinned my front piece to the fabric, measured down 21.5″ from the bottom of it and drew a rectangle to make the front of the dress. From the bottom of the rectangle, I then drew up another 21.5″ and placed the bottom of my back piece and pinned it. My fabric wasn’t directional and didn’t have a nape so I could flip the direction of the pattern pieces. I’ve done this technique many times before on bag pieces but not on clothing and it seemed to work well, there was very minimal fabric waste.

Whenever I make an item with shoulder seams I reinforce the tops of the seams. Normally I use stay tape which I fuse on to the back pattern piece. This stops the shoulder seam from stretching out. For this dress I decided to use some of the same fabric to reinforce the seam. I didn’t know how well the stay tape would fuse to the towelling fabric and I had scrap fabric leftover so why not use it instead. After I cut out my pieces I measured along the top of the shoulder and cut two pieces to fit which were 1.5″ wide. On each strip I overlocked (serged) the short ends and one of the long ends. I then placed them on each shoulder of the back piece and stitched my shoulder seams as normal. They are rolling a little as this is a knit fabric. I’d forgotten I have used this technique before but with a narrower piece as the shoulder and in a fabric that didn’t shed. If I do this again with a wider strip like in this dress I would top stitch down the pieces before I did my side seams. On this garment I’m not bothered by the rolling in. I constructed this dress all on the overlocker and only used the sewing machine for the binding.

I make 2 other small modifications when making my Cedar’s:

  • I add between 1″-1.5″ to the end of the sleeves as I don’t hem them the traditional way
  • I don’t put a facing on the neckline instead I use bias binding or a band

On this dress I used binding on both the neckline and sleeves. I had some leftover soft cotton twill bias binding I’d made previously so used that. Normally I sew the binding to front and flip it back to the inside of the garment and stitch it down so you don’t see it but I decided to have some fun and make the binding a contrast feature so this time I did the opposite sewing it down on the front. The bottom of the dress is a double fold hem. My hot ruler came in handy for this and it took no time to do.

I did have the thought I hope I’m more banana than Big Bird which is something I never thought I would ponder. I actually really like this dress hence why it jumped the blogging queue. It is functional, it used a fabric and binding which I had on hand so it is sustainable and decluttering at the same time. I was a little worried about the colour (I’m not a bright yellow person) but I think this dress actually looks cute.



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