Paisley Summer Sun (Bear) Dress

When summer comes around obviously all us sewists want is a floaty sun dress. I decided that after the success of using my bodice sloper for the Glastonbury Circus Dress I would have another go at self drafting. And so the Paisley Summer Sun (Bear) Dress was born.

Perfect Paisley Summer DressThis time I cut out the bodice exactly from my sloper pattern and the skirt I took from my Moneta pattern. For the skirt I cut out a size down since I didn’t want to gather all the way round and I also cut out sections on the front pieces for pockets in the same way I did for my Red Wool Skirt. I know Moneta is a knit pattern, but I figured that the pattern woudn’t be hugely different for a gathered skirt and I didn’t have any issues. I wouldn’t recommend using a knit pattern for a woven bodice though, because of the negative ease.

PaisleyBlueDress1PaisleyBlueDress3Construction was fairly simple. I sewed up the bodice apart from the left side seam. I always prefer putting zips in the side rather than the back – first, because it’s one less seam to sew, second, because the zip stays hidden under your arm and third, because I don’t have to contort myself to get dressed in the morning. Does anyone think there’s a benefit to having the zip in the back? I feel like there must be a big secret I’m missing? Maybe everyone else is just more pedantic about symmetry than me (I find that hard to believe).

PaisleyBlueDress7I then constructed the pockets and sewed the right side seam of the skirt together. I remembered reading in a blog post somewhere that a pattern was flattering because the gathering didn’t continue round the sides. Can’t for the life of me remember what the pattern was or where I read it, but they had a good point! So I only gathered a section in the front and the back leaving the sides gather-less and oh my were they right, you get the cuteness of the gathers without any fullness round the hips. From here the skirt and bodice were sewn together. PaisleyBlueDress8PaisleyBlueDress4To finish off the neck and arms I used bias-binding. This time I decided to make my own, which is actually a first! I have always been of the opinion this would be a fiddly pointless job when you can buy it in such an array of pretty colours and patterns pre-made. As is often the case, I was entirely wrong about this: making your own means the colours match, the fabrics have the same rigidity, you can choose your width AND you have a way to use up your fabric scraps. It’s win-win really! Obviously I’m not going to give up the anchor-print bias-binding in my stash altogether because it’s easy and is going to look extremely cool on the inside of a garment, but in future I will not reach for it without considering the self-fabric type first.

Once the neckline was done, I just had the concealed zip and the hem to do and voila! One lovely cool sun dress.

PaisleyBlueDress6Let’s start with some positives. The fabric is a lovely drapey cotton from Masons with a cute paisley interspersed with flowers; I like that it looks a bit denim-y. I’m really pleased with the skirt and pockets and with the fit around the bust. I also love the gathering not going all the way round, I agree that it’s really flattering (thank you mystery person and apologies for not linking you).

However as usual there are some negatives. You can probably see in a few of the pictures that the shoulders are just too big. This is giving some gaping at the front of the armhole and also means when I put a cardigan on over it, the neckline can ripple quite a lot. I’m not sure if this is because the fabric is drapier than the muslin used for the sloper? Maybe it was just me cutting out inaccurately? Despite the good shape around the bust, the whole of the bodice actually feels a little loose – I can’t tell if I’m just used to RTW dresses being too tight? For a summer dress I don’t really mind it being a bit airy, but I think I do need to make a couple of tweaks to the pattern. The other negative is the colour. Yep I know, it’s a lovely colour, that’s why I bought it! I just feel like maybe it’s not quite ME. I like bright, contrasting colours, so this leaves me feeling a little muted. Maybe part of the problem is that the only bright cardigan I have is blue, so I’ve been wearing this with a dark grey cardie and black tights most of the time. Perhaps if I brighten up the accessories (or if the summer will brighten up to accompany it!) I can learn to truly love this dress.

PaisleyBlueDress5Despite the negatives, this is a dress that I will definitely wear a fair amount and I’m looking forwards to making again. I think I’ve got the foundation for a wardrobe staple that I could end up sewing quite a lot.

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