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.

SONY DSC

 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.

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6 thoughts on “the cotton forever dress

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