I don’t have much to wear in beautiful sunny weather with temperatures in the upper 80s to mid-90s but that’s the kind of summer we’ve been having for the last month so I was very inspired by Carolyn’s recent maxi skirt project. I planned to copy it. But when I started draping the fabric around my hips, I realized I had nothing to wear with a skirt like that, nor could I imagine anything suitable that I could make to wear with it. Hmmm, but 2½ yds of this fabric could be enough for a dress! Maxi dress even.
Too lazy to trace a Burda pattern, I looked through Rhonda’s Fabulous Free Pattern Friday posts and found the perfect starting point: the draped neck top. Two rectangles, practically no neckline finishing… this would be my pattern. (Thank you, Rhonda!)
The finished length is 57½” from the shoulder. I am not entirely sure where my head was when I was calculating the width of the rectangles (21″ for the back and 25″ for the front) because that gave me a full 10″ of ease through the hips. You can see in some of the pictures how full the dress is. I shift most of the excess to the back when I wear it.
To reduce the excess ease, I took in the sides an inch on each side (4″ total) from the armhole to the waist and tapering back to the original hip line. Next time, I think 4-5″ of ease would be plenty all the way down to the hem.
I added a short slit on the left side to ensure comfortable stride (no hobble skirts for me, thank you). It’s only about 12″ long, which is just right for this dress. With a slightly narrower dress, I may need a longer slit. We’ll see.
Last but not least, I added a belt. Just another rectangle, 4″ wide across the width of fabric, sewn with ⅜” seam allowances, turned and pressed.
This is a rayon challis from Fabric Mart. I had ordered 2½ yds, not really sure what I was going to make with it exactly. Mostly, I wanted to see if I would like working with it. It’s a little shifty, but otherwise easy to sew. And I really like how it drapes and feels almost floaty when I walk.
Viewed from the front or back, this isn’t my best sleeve shape even though it looks fine from other angles. I think my best bet is either sleeveless like a tank top or a longer sleeve to just above the elbow. Also, I shift the shoulder seams forward a little when I wear it because I prefer a deeper neckline so then the dress looks a little shorter in the back. Not really noticeable while I’m moving, but you can see it in the side view picture.
This was a great learning project – I learned to work with a new fabric, found out I love how it feels and looks, and figured out my preferences in maxi dresses. And as always, what I had intended to be a faithful copy looks nothing like the original but it is definitely me.