The base of this dress is a pattern I drafted back in 2009.
While I was reinventing the wheel During the design process, I considered multiple neckline options. Shortly after I decided on a mock wrap with a contrasting trim, I received Christine Scaman‘s newsletter for Bright Winters in which she showed an Asian-inspired dress with a contrasting tie belt. That picture and Christine’s commentary sent me in the direction of incorporating the belt idea.
The neckline shape came from Burda WOF 2/2001 #112. I cut the trim piece 3½” across the width of fabric, making the finished width 1½”. Having the collar in the back meant stitching the center back seam closed above the invisible zipper but the neckline is large enough that this is not an issue when I’m putting on the dress.
After some experimenting with belt widths, I decided to make the belt the same width as the neckline trim. Wider than that looked too wide and out of proportion, narrower didn’t look like it had enough visual weight. So 1½” it is.
I used black Sophia knit for the main fabric and a white medium-weight cotton shirting for the trim and belt. Interfacing the white cotton is the Pro Sheer Elegance Light from Fashion Sewing Supply. It’s super easy to cut and fuse. I hope it remains perfect after washing (because I have another almost 10 yards of it).
I basted the belt to the front waistline, leaving it free at the sides to cross in the back and come back to tie in the front. The basting keeps the belt in place during wear but will be easy to remove when it’s time to wash the dress. I gleaned this neat idea from one of those vintage patterns I had originally considered for neckline options. Have you ever done this?
I’m glad I made it sleeveless. I had thought about short or ¾-length sleeves but in the end, I decided that sleeveless would be easier under a cardigan. Which it is. Only, this dress doesn’t work well with a cardigan. A shawl may be better.