We're going to be vacationing with the kiddo's soon and I was looking for an easy shift type dress to whip up. I had a vision in my head (and even sketched it out quickly) of what I wanted it to look like. What I imagined was something a bit boxy, with a somewhat ombre effect, but more splotchy, almost watercolor looking. I actually toyed with the idea of watercoloring right on the fabric, but decided that dip dying would be a better way to go, even though I didn't want a uniform, ombre look. I searched the internet for a basic dress patter and this tutorial in particular gave me the general shape and structure of the dress, however, I made a few changes which you can see below. If you're interested in making one yourself you could whip up this little number in a couple hours...add another hour or so for the dip dying and you've got yourself a new dress. One word of caution... pre-wash your fabric. I always pre-wash my fabric, but decided against it this time thinking that if it was a little shorter, oh well... um I washed it in cold and line dried it and it shrunk inches! I was actually hoping to have this as more of a summer dress, but seeing how it's a little shorter than my norm, it's a perfect swimsuit cover-up. So we're good. Here we go:
2-3 yards of fabric (mine is a thick, white muslin--almost like a shirting fabric)
sewing machine + supplies (scissors, measuring tape, etc)
(ps--I did most of this at night, so the photos for the construction of the dress are terrible!)
Measure around the largest part of yourself, then add 25cm give or take--this number is your width. (I was a little generous with this just to be safe.) Then measure from the top of your shoulder, to wherever you want your dress to hit--this is your height. (If you do a high-low hem, make sure you measure to the lowest part of where you want your dress to hit.)
1. Take your width and divide it by 4. You will need 4 pieces of fabric to cut to width/4 and your height. You may want to take the time to finish your edges with a serger or a zig-zag stitch first.
2. Take two pieces of the fabric and sew them together on the long side with a 1/4 seam allowance. (To avoid an unfinished edge I did a French seam.) This is going to be the back of your dress.
3. Take the next two pieces of fabric and sew them together on the long side, except this time stop about 20-30cm before you get to the top. This is going to be the front of your dress.
4. Open the top flaps to the side and adjust your v-neck for length and width. (If you want it not quite so deep, well then sew it up a little more.) Pin in place.
5. Once you have the v-neck width and depth figured out, trim the sides a little then fold under twice, and press and sew in place.
6. Now you can place your two dress sides together (right sides together) and sew across the top connecting the front and the back along the shoulders. Then sew up the sides together leaving about 20 or so cm for the arm openings. Turn the dress inside out and finish the arm openings by folding them under, pressing and then sewing in place. Also, finish the back of the neck opening by ironing down and sewing in place.
8. You should now have all 4 pieces together with the v-neck and arm holes finished.
At this point you should literally have a large rectangle, with a neck, some arm holes and of course one side that is completely open because that is what a dress is. Lets finish that side now.
First, I wanted this to have a slight cocoon shape, so I took it in on the sides towards the bottom. Using my french curve (you could just draw a straight line) take about an inch in on each side...just make sure the final opening is not smaller than your overall width measurement....you have to fit this baby over the largest part of your body!
For the high-low hem this is SO easy...I was imagining all sorts of complicated things like drawing a semi-cirlce on a cardboard cut out...thank goodness for Google! So just turn your dress side ways and figure out where you want your highest point to be in the front and where you want your lowest point to be in the back (it's a good idea to try the dress on to see for sure.) Then simply cut an elongated "S" shape from the front to the back. That's it! Here is another tutorial that shows this process a little better.
Hem up the bottom and you're done.
Now if you do this in a print and fabric you like, great...you're dress is finished! But if you want to dip-dye it like mine, then you should really try that too. Read the back of the RIT dye bottle (and here is a good video on doing Ombre technique) and go for it! It's not that hard and since I knew I wanted a more splotchy + uneven look, I knew I couldn't screw it up.
Overall I'm really pleased with how the dress/coverup turned out! In fact the more I try it on, the more I love it.
I already did another dress in a beautiful indigo linen, but this time with pockets! I have a feeling I'll be living in this dress all summer long...I'll try to post pictures soon.