Summer uniform

I know, I know. Two posts in a week. Wild. But here's the thing: I made a dress and I'm obsessed.

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See? It's fantastic. It's awesome and I feel awesome in it.

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I visited my parents in the spring and came across an old shirt of my dad's that I wore through high school. It was a white and blue striped loose weave cotton shirt he go from Greece in the early years of my parents marriage. I became fixated on finding a similar fabric to make myself a breezy summer dress. I was prepared to drop a bunch of money on yardage to make my vision reality. (I never do this. I am a fabric bargain hunter to the core.) And as if I had forgotten the wonder of a true find, the perfect fabric showed up at my usual place, Gaffney Fabrics. It was exactly what I wanted, white with an uneven blue stripe on a loose weave cotton. Oh, and did I mention it was $3/yard?

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Knowing how in love with the fabric I was I searched around for a pattern suitable for my summer uniform dreams. I was wavering on the Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress, a pattern I've been keen on but not entirely won over by since it debuted. In the end though, I worried that it was a style that had just as much potential to look like a sack as it would to look amazing when cutting the biggest size and I wouldn't know until the whole thing was finished. Then my online sewing friend/muse Bianca posted this dress.

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It just screamed summer. Plus, it was a free pattern! (I am not opposed to paying for a pattern, not in the slightest, I just know how much information I can get from looking at the actual pattern rather than the pattern description. You can see the quality of the drafting and instructions, the style lines, how everything is organized, whether it's the type of pattern that just comes together beautifully or is a headache every second you touch it.) The pattern is the Jessica Dress by Mimi G. and it's a free pattern download when you subscribe to her newsletter. I highly recommend it. It's a well drafted pattern with a good size range and clear instructions.

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I "color blocked" my version by playing with the directionality of the stripes. This meant that the only stripe matching I had to do was across the center bodice pieces whose stripes I wanted to line up. Everything else was perpendicular to its neighbor. The bodice button band is grown on so that made things even easier. I had originally planned to make the bottom hem a big ruffle (that huge 70's ruffle is so in right now) but I only had 3 yards and that just wasn't going to cut it. In the end I cut one strip as wide as the hem of the skirt and as deep as 2(band length + seam allowance) and folded it in half wrong sides facing. This makes a lovely visual addition and also mean my very favorite thing in sewing: NO HEMMING! I widened the straps a touch so that they are the same width as the button band and can cover a bra strap. I interfaced them so they wouldn't stretch out on me (they still do a bit. Best laid plans and all that).

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I used my new snap setter and some pretty grey pearl snaps from an etsy shop called Bags, Beads and More. I ended up with 15 sets of snaps down the front so the setting took forever but I think it was worth it! Plus, no buttonholes to sew or buttons to sew on so there's that. I also got a set in black and a set in peacock teal that I'm sure will make an appearance at some point. As for sizing I graded the bodice between the top two sizes and I believe I used the largest size for the skirt (extra fullness on a gathered skirt can only be a good thing) and shortened the length a touch to hit me at a better length. It fits beautifully but I have a bit of extra room in the underarm so I'm debating sizing down in the bodice for the next time, but I'm having to weigh that against the loose weave of the fabric and the likelihood that it stretched beyond the original size as cut. That said, there will totally be a next time. I think I need this as a top with a peplum, a dress with a skirt hitting just above the knee and a full on maxi. I'm planning a version with a lined bodice and one that has topstitching everywhere.

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Basically, I freaking love it and you should make one.