It is the hottest summer here for 7 years – sundresses needed fast!
This cotton swimsuit (still my fave) I made from a vintage Butterick pattern a couple of summers ago provided the inspiration. I re-drafted a similar style bodice (bust 35-37ins/89-94cms) and the pattern is now up on the VV Free page for you to download and use with just about any skirt pattern you like or even sew it onto shorts or bloomers for a cute swim/play suit similar to the Butterick one.
Dress #1: A gathered scoop-neck bodice attached to a simple dirndl skirt – cut rectangle 28″ long x100″ around/71cm long x 250cm around; gathered evenly and sewn onto the bodice. The dress has a centre back invisible zip and I added two patch pockets. To keep the neck wide I spread out the front neck gathers towards the sides and hand tacked them firmly into place onto the strap otherwise they would keep sliding back down towards the centre.
Dress #2: A higher necked bodice with a centre front seam sewn to leave a split at the top and attached this time to a circle skirt. The midriff has been totally topstitched in rows. The appliquéd skirt is a project based on 50’s souvenir skirts that I recently designed and made for the Augusts issue of Making Magazine.
The tutorial pdf from the magazine, which you can download by clicking the little Making cover picture, explains how to draft a circle skirt to your own waist measurement, construct it and has a template for the boats which are appliquéd using BondaWeb. To use the circle skirt it with the Sundress bodice you simply need to add a centre back seam into the skirt. Due to the angled edge under the arm placing the zip centre back is easier than in the side seam .
Alterations: The bodice patterns fit a bra size 34C/D-36C. When altering the pattern for my two sizes smaller daughter I simply darted about 8cms of fullness out from the top of the neck to nothing at the under-bust seam on the pattern. I also lowered the front neckline about 3 centimetres. Next, to fit her smaller waist and ribs I took a couple of centimetres off the whole centre front of the pattern and off the centre back too. For a larger bust and waist those alterations could be done in reverse- so do a slash and spread adding fullness at the top neck and over the bust and also add some height rather than subtracting. Then add what you need for your waist/ribs divided evenly between the centre front and centre back. For grading up more than two or three sizes you may be better of spreading the pattern out at the side front and back too, rather than just at the cf. and cb. Have a look at the Threads Grading Guide I’ve got over there in the sidebar for an idea of how to do this.
I started out wearing both dresses with the straps tied behind my neck but finally decided shoulder straps would be more comfortable. Depending on how you choose to wear them you may find a little dart at the side bust is needed- usually not if you wear the top as a halter style but quite possible if worn as shoulder straps. I had to add darts to my blue dress and where I placed them is marked on the pattern. My brown dress is made in a quite soft rayon and even though I don’t wear this one as a halter either it didn’t need side bust darts. It seems to depend on a combination of your figure shape and the fabric you use.
What about a bra? – I prefer to present a firm front to the world so covered and tacked bra cups onto the lining. An alternative would be to get one of those multi-way bras and sew ribbon loops on the inside of the bodice that the S-hooks above the bra cups can be hooked onto so you don’t need to use and therefore see the bra straps. Is it a generational thing… my 19 year old daughter isn’t fussed if her bra straps show or not. I prefer not showing.
The pattern is marked to cut a lining (I simply cut mine from the same fabrics) so in construction all the upper edges are bagged-out. However if you don’t want the double thickness simply bind the edges with straight cut strips. Straight rather than bias because they then will help to keep the edges from stretching. Written on the pattern pdf are only the very basic sewing steps- no more or it would be many more weekends before I finally got this posted!
Please do make a toile to check fit on yourself first what ever you do!!
Off to sew my daughters dress now so she will stop harassing me! Its being made from a red cotton sari. I’ll post a pic when all done.