Tropical Breeze dress

For my first sewing project once home from Ireland, I was in the mood to do a dress with a slightly different bodice. Something kind of easy breezy, loose-fitting for summer. So I whipped this up, and named it the Tropical Breeze dress. And I think it fits the bill!

Tropical Breeze dress

The construction of this dress is basically a dirndl skirt and an inset waistband (like my Cliffs of Insanity dress), with a loose-fitting bodice that was cobbled together from a 50s blouse pattern. Amusingly, the pattern was one I’d never sewn up into a finished project, but when I opened up the envelope, I found my own traced off pieces inside!

Advance 5509 (c. 1950)

I then remembered I had started this blouse and had bailed on it over a year ago because of crappy fabric and some dumb mistakes, but I’d kept it around stuffed in a ball in my failed projects corner. (No really, I do have one of those.)

When I tried it on, I realized it would work great for my dress bodice! And so with a few minor tweaks, that’s what I did. It features kimono sleeves and slight gathers at either side of a bound neckline.

Tropical Breeze dress

Tropical Breeze dress

There’s a fine line between purposefully-loose-fitting and sorry-that-is-actually-too-big-for-you. I know the latter all too well, as I’ve been discovering nearly my entire wardrobe is too big for me (vintage included… cringe). All I can say is thank goodness I’ve been sewing dresses like mad this year, they’re about the only things that fit now.

Anyway, I think this bodice works, since the dress is fitted in the waist, so it doesn’t look like I’m swimming in the whole thing. I ended up having to gather the bodice way more than I expected, however. I think next time I’d cut about 2″ or 3″ out of the bodice overall, and it would be perfect!

Tropical Breeze dress

Although let me take a moment to complain about the gathers. I don’t know what the deal was, but I couldn’t get the gathers on the bodice front to look decent to. save. my. life. Do you ever just have one of those days?! This was one. I finally gave up and called it good enough as I was dangerously close to chucking the entire thing out the window.

Tropical Breeze dress

Tropical Breeze dress

I love the look of bound edges, but I always kind of groan when it comes to doing it. However with gathers at the neckline, there was really no decent way to finish it except a visible binding. (And I knew that from the failed blouse attempt a year before… yay from learning from your mistakes ages later!)

Tropical Breeze dress

I used the method where you make a bias binding, sew it to the outside, and bind the raw edges by folding it to the inside and slip stitching it down. (You could always stitch in the ditch but I just can’t ever get precise enough for that to work, and I don’t mind hand stitching in the least.)

Having not bound a neckline in a couple of years, I can give you one tip that I remember vividly from the last time I did it. Why did I remember it so well? Because I had to bind that damn neckline three times before I got it right. Good grief. So this time, I knew right off how to approach it: I slightly stretched the binding as I pinned it to the neckline. That, coupled with clipping all the curves before turning the binding to the wrong side, really helped to get it to lay nice.

Tropical Breeze dress

I know I named it the Tropical Breeze dress, in part due to the fabric print and in part due to the easy, breezy nature of the bodice, but the wind kicked up while taking these photos. So hey, it really did get breezy!

Tropical Breeze dress

Tropical Breeze dress

Oh, speaking of the fabric, can you believe it was from JoAnn’s? Yeah, it’s really nothing special, in fact I don’t even remember what it is, it was in my stash that long. It feels like a somewhat loosely woven cotton, and it looks a bit like linen, but it’s very drapey. Oh, what a pain it was to work with, too! Frayed like crazy and just turned all mushy when I was gathering it. But in the end I think it made for a really pretty choice for this dress. It definitely has a very vintage vibe!

Pia and the Tropical Breeze dress

I’m quite pleased with this dress, and I think a couple of slight tweaks and I’ll have another go-to dress pattern to copy endlessly. Seems like it’s all I want to do lately, and I’m totally okay with that!

Pia and the Tropical Breeze dress

outfit details

dress – made by me
head scarf – misc.
necklace – Luxulite
Bakelite earrings and bangles – misc.
shoes – Worishopfer

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , ,

Golly, 42 Comments!

  • Gorgeous!! The neckline looks great, love the little gathers and the binding finish. And that fabric was an absolute find!

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  • I love it! That fabric is really beautiful, and the colours could easily work throughout Autumn as well :)

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  • I really love the way your bound neckline looks! It’s really beautiful. I think you absolutely achieved breezy and tropical! With warm weather in the forecast, it’s smart to ready the troops! I need to continue to sew more everyday essentials.

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  • Awesome fabric :) I think the top part is really nice. It definitely looks looser on purpose, especially with the fitted waistband. I think I might add a waistband to one of my looser fitting patterns, as I always thought it would look unintentionally too big and unflattering. Thanks for the idea!

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  • First, this is a pretty summer dress – nice and breezy for the hot summer we’re (supposed) to have at some point. :)

    Yes! Binding necklines like this is so tricky. A while back I attempted to stitch in the ditch and it was just so bad. Hand stitching is sometimes (well… a lot of the time) the best way to go about such things. You’re such a pro seamstress now, Tasha. :D

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  • I love, love, LOVE this dress!! Absolutely perfect. And you know what it would be so appropriate for? TIKI OASIS!

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  • I like it! Sometimes we are, our worst critics. I looked at those gathers to try and see what you were talking about and they look lovely to me. I need to add more breezy dresses like this to my sewing wish list.

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  • Love this, fab fab fab! Great accessorising too xx

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  • What a fabulous dress, it looks really cool and perfect for the summer. I’m frantically sewing a summer dress at the moment as we are having a mini heatwave here in the uk, I’m hoping it lasts until the weekend so I get chance to wear it!

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  • You look so cute and Summer ready! Alex

    tobebeautifulingodseyes.blogspot.com

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  • rachlovespenguins May 21, 2014 at 1:01pm

    Thanks for the binding tip! I’ve got several projects on my list that I haven’t even started on because they’ve got similar gathers at the neckline and I get all “argh..binding….”
    And I can’t stitch in the ditch to save my life.

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  • You look SO FABULOUS! I love everything about this look – the print and shape of the dress, the turban, that adorable necklace, your bangles. Perfection. Whatever issues you had making the dress, it turned out really well.

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  • This is lovely! Someone’s already said it, but I think the looseness works with the fitted waistband – it shows that it’s meant to be loose, as opposed to it’s just a bit big (also the shoulders fit properly, another indication of meant to be loose-ness). Lovely print too – and gorgeous necklace.

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  • Love this dress – the fabric is perfect for this style. It matches your scarf well too:)

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  • Fabulous! The print is just marvelous!

    Gathers can be a pain! But I think they turned out just fine!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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  • The neckline does look smashing! We see our own mistakes under a giant microscope. Love the fabric, it reminds me of a bark cloth-esque print.

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  • Love the dress! The colours would transition well for wearing into fall, just add a cardigan!

    Here’s a tip for sewing bias binding onto a curved edge…take your bias binding over to your ironing board, put your iron down on one end of the binding, pull the binding gently into a curve shape while gliding the iron along. You’re essentially using heat & steam to manipulate the bias-ness (is that a word? lol!) by stretching the outer edge and shrinking the inner edge…the binding will already be curved like your neckline, so you don’t have to even think about it when pinning and sewing it to the neckline edge!

    Hope that made sense!

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    • Thanks for the tip! Also, it was cooler when I first finished up this dress, and I wore it with a cardigan and leggings and it was totally cute. Win win for making dresses work in other seasons!

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  • Oh a tiki land !!! Yes it’s really a dress which is for a tiki land…. I love the bodice, it’s really cute and certainly nice to wear in summer’s days. Congrats !!!

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  • This outfit is completely perfect and it’s completely ME! I would wear everything exactly the same!

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  • I love this dress. The colours and pattern of that fabric are just gorgeous. I hear you on the gathers. I love the full 50s swishy skirt look but getting the gathers to look even can be a mare. You’ve done a great job with the binding on the neck line too.

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  • Love the dress – it looks comfortable too – I’ve shied away from more fitted looking patterns for fear of loosing the ability to stretch any which way…
    But beware – it looks like you’re standing close to some poison ivy lurking at the base of those vines!

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  • The fabric is lovely, and I love how you name your sewing project, such fun names!

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  • Super vintage-y cute, the dress, you and puppy too ;)

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  • I love it, and also how you styled it!

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  • Really pretty dress, gorgeous colours.

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  • LOVE this dress! LOVE the fabric! LOVE the styling to your whole look here! LOVE!!!!

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  • That’s a splendid dress, and the fabric really does have a vintage vibe.

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  • Another beautiful dress!! I am a bit curious to see what the bodice would look like a little smaller like you mentioned, but only as a fun comparison because the way it looks right now doesn’t look overwhelmingly big at all. It looks great! Super comfy and perfect for summer! …is summer here yet, by the way? I certainly can’t tell with this odd weather we’re always having lol

    xo

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  • How cute!!! :-)
    I love that fabric print and colors. Looks so confy for hot weather! I’ve been looking for the perfect fabric to make my new project, a Summer dress. But because I don’t have experience I get really confused for buying the right fabric, you know, easy to sew, but with a fun tropical print. Any advice? :-)

    Have a lovely weekend!
    Miss Beta xx

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  • lilpeasofhappiness May 24, 2014 at 12:19am

    Long time reader, first time commenting.

    Love how this dress turned out. I doesn’t look too big at all. Loving the fabric as well. I thought it was vintage until I saw that you bought it Joanns.

    Have a great weekend!

    DeAnna

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  • this dress looks really like a summery breeze! wonderful!

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  • Sizzlingly sensational tropical inspired dress! I love the punchy, cheerful accessories you partnered it with (that dangle necklace – oh my gosh!!!) and the overall Pacific seas vibe that the whole picture presents.

    ♥ Jessica

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  • Tabby Bane May 28, 2014 at 8:26am

    Where can I get that fabric? It is fantastic!

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  • I really want to shop your wardrobe!!

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  • That fabric is beautiful and I love your styling with the hair piece and earrings. So jealous!

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  • […] ruin the skirt in the process. (The pocket had used leftovers of the tropical print I used for this dress, if you were wondering what that was at the […]

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