the cotton forever dress

batik voile 1

I got into sewing mainly because of polyester. In the summer, I can’t deal with it. I see women floating around in these chiffon day dresses, and they look so pretty and effortless, but I KNOW what kind of sweaty mess I would be if I were wrapped in layers of poly and acetate.

(Side note: Who are these women? How do they do it? Teach me your secrets, people.) Here’s the thing: Have you tried to buy an all-cotton dress recently? They’re damn hard to find. So when I started getting invitations for summer weddings, I knew that shopping for dresses would do me no good. There’s a wide spectrum of acceptable wedding guest misbehavior — dancing like a maniac, booing the DJ for asking us to turn down — but generally, it does ruin the mood when a sweaty-faced guest is surreptitiously flapping her skirt around during the ceremony in an attempt to get a breeze going.


 I’ve been trying to stock up on pretty cotton dress fabrics whenever possible, and Fabric Mart came through with this cotton crinkle voile. (The dress photos are a little washed out — the color is closer to the top photo, a sort of soft aqua.)

I figured I’d use the bodice of Simplicity 1873, which I’ve made/muslined before … but, you know, I’ve made it before. I wasn’t getting excited about it. Then my friend showed me this cute wrap-back RTW dress, and then I remembered a couple of sewing blogs taking on the design (here and here), and we were in business.

batik voile 2

I got out some parchment paper and went to work tracing new bodice back pattern pieces. Then I took shears to fabric, and it worked … after a lot of fitting. You know — baste, try on, grumble, take off, unpick, baste, try on, grumble.

I needed to take a lot of length out of the back pieces to get them where I wanted, which is odd, since I don’t think I have that problem with the regular bodice. I also tacked down the point where the two back pieces intersect, which mostly solved the last little bit of wrinkling.

The edges of the back V are reinforced with selvage; otherwise, they would have stretched out like mad. I’m not convinced they didn’t, in fact. I might hang this by folding it over the hanger bar, like pants, to avoid putting weight on those edges.

Because I am far too lazy to do whatever complicated pleating is on the skirt of this pattern, I just folded over the fabric, cut it selvage to selvage in a rectangle, and box-pleated it at the base of the bodice darts. Boom, instant lined skirt — and only one seam, for the side zip. I used the same method, except gathered, with my cotton lawn version of Simp 1873, but I like the sleekness of the pleats a LOT better.

And yes, I booed the DJ when he asked us to turn down, and then I danced some more.

(P.S. Since I bought this fabric in May and sewed the dress in July, it qualifies for the Summer Stashbust over at The Quirky Peach! Hurray! I’ve got a couple more works in progress going for that.)

Pattern: Hacked Simplicity 1873 bodice, box-pleated rectangle skirt, self-lined, side zip.
Fabric: 2.5 yards of 55″ wide cotton crinkle voile from Fabric Mart, about $14 on sale.


6 thoughts on “the cotton forever dress

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