Aqua dress, part one

After a long and very busy spring and early summer, I finally dusted off the sewing machine (or, more accurately, excavated it from beneath a pile of clothes) to begin a few projects. First on the agenda was a dress for an upcoming research trip. I will be in the Mediterranean area, so it will be quite hot, and I’ve decided to pack a few dresses for comfort. I used Simplicity 9175 from 1970, a simple shift dress with sleeveless and short-sleeved variations. I have made this pattern before with some success, though the dress was a bit too large, particularly in the back and shoulders. I discovered that I could slip the dress on and off without unzipping it, so I decided to make it without the zipper, which would be quicker and also more comfortable for travel.

I used a medium-weight aqua linen blend that I had in my fabric stash. It is a bit heavier than I would have preferred, but I liked the color and the crinkly texture, which will hide wrinkles. Since the fabric frays like crazy, I used French seams (I’m not ready to get out the serger quite yet), which I love. I fixed the neck issue in the previous dress with larger darts, which solved the problem. As I am generally lazy and impatient when it comes to sewing, and I hate making facings, I tried using bias tape instead. I had nothing that matched well so I ended up using a pale pink fleecy tape that I had left over from a project for one of my nieces. This technique didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, in part because the nap of the bias tape made it rather bulky, so I might redo the neck with quilt binding–my favorite super-easy neck finishing technique. I had planned to make sleeves, but I’m having trouble fitting them properly so I might make it sleeveless instead. Anyway, here is what I have so far.

I’m washing it now to see if washing and drying will improve the neckline, but I have my doubts. On the plus side, the dress fits perfectly–it is easy to pull on but the darts make it fitted enough that it doesn’t look overly frumpy. It will work belted or unbelted, and it can be layered over a shirt or under a button up shirt or sweater. Perfect for travel. Now I just have to finish it.

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