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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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!
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!