The Ride-Sallie-Ride Dress
Posted in Projects on Monday the 9th March 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
There’s something about a maxi dress that just screams “summer” to me. And when that’s a sleeveless maxi dress in a tropical leaf print, you’ve just about achieved summer maxi dress nirvana. That’s what I feel about this make, anyway!
For my perfect summer maxi dress I
chose the Sallie Jumpsuit and Maxi-Dress Pattern by Closet Case Patterns,
available as a PDF on their website. I went for this pattern as it
had the features I was after: excellent bra strap coverage (with the
V-neck tee version, at any rate) and a relaxed fit at the waist, so
it doesn’t look too obvious if you’ve just scoffed a load of
cakes healthy salad. Also, pockets. Every dress
I’m not a big fan of dealing with PDF patterns but this was pretty easy as the front and back are almost the same so I traced off the back only, marking the pocket edge to fold back to cut the front. Simples! The front and back bodice are the same too, although you do have to cut a lining for the bodice which has a slightly smaller pattern piece to help prevent the lining peeking out on the right side.
The real star of this dress is the fabric: this gorgeous Lady McElroy Crepe Jersey Fabric in a monochrome tropical leaf print. It’s 96% viscose, 4% spandex so I knew it would be drapey and stretchy, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint on either score! It has a whopping 70% stretch on the cross grain and a generous 45% on the length. The crepe texture isn’t as obvious as I thought it might be and you can really only see it on the reverse as the pattern is so distracting. It’s one of those medium weight jerseys that would be perfect for pretty much any top, dress or trousers pattern that calls for a drapey, stretchy knit.
When I first requested this fabric I asked for two metres, thinking I’d make a summery cardie/cover-up. However, when the fabric arrived I realised it was begging to be a maxi dress or a jumpsuit instead. That was when I went hunting for patterns and came up trumps with Sallie, with options for both garments.
This is my first Closet Case Patterns make and with my current measurements I fit perfectly into their size 12. At first I did toy with the idea of making the jumpsuit version of the pattern but quickly realised I wouldn’t have enough fabric. This fabric shrunk up a bit during the prewash leaving me with only 1.8 metres in length. This is 50cm short of the fabric requirement for even the less-fabric-hungry strappy version of the maxi dress, and I knew I definitely wanted to make the tee version (did I mention those bra straps already?!).
Fortunately, with a bit of pattern piece tetris and cutting the bodice lining from some leftover Viscose Jersey Fabric with similar stretch, I managed to squeak out my Sallie Maxi Dress. This ended up almost being a zero waste project as there were only tiny scraps of fabric left over. I love it when that happens!
This was a fairly easy sew as the pattern is simple enough. Closet Case Patterns describe Sallie as Advanced Beginner, and I’d agree that if you’ve sewn knits before, this would be a good project to up your skills with the pockets, turning the narrow straps, elastic casing and lining.
The instructions suggest you stabilise the neckline with either clear elastic or fusible stay tape or interfacing. I tried clear elastic first, but this fabric did not want to behave when sewn to clear elastic—a problem I’ve encountered before with super-stretchy viscose. I quickly switched over to stabilising the neckline with strips of stretch interfacing and that worked like a charm.
My only major snafu when sewing this dress was almost at the end, when the time came to finish off the seam on the waist casing. I opted to overlock it and was merrily sewing along, congratulating myself on a project nearly finished, when I suddenly realised I hadn’t been paying attention to how the lower layer of fabric (the skirt) was feeding through the overlocker blade. Oops.
Yes, this is what happened to the top of my skirt:
Arrrgh! After a few moments of beating myself up for being so careless I decided to pull myself together and make the most of a bad job. The skirt was a little too long anyway and needed about 3cm of length taking off. This way I’d just be trimming it off the top rather than the bottom. And while I was at it, I took the opportunity to fuse some woven interfacing across the pocket openings as they looked a bit droopy with stretch interfacing. Both these things are down to the massive amounts of stretch in this fabric, so it’s worth checking length before you hem and taking care with any pocket openings or other parts of your garment that are likely to stretch out.
Luckily it didn’t take long to put things right and I was able to wear my dress to a friend’s baby shower barbecue the following day. It was absolutely the perfect dress for a hot summer day! The fabric feels cool and breezy, and has the most wonderful fluid movement to it. Honestly, the way the skirt swishes just makes me want to dance!
I love the way this print looks too. It’s summery in the sense that it’s got palm and monstera leaves on it, but the dark monochrome colours are more “me” than most tropical prints. Teamed up with this elegant and simple silhouette it’s a real winner. I’m particularly fond of the back neckline with those ties, and of course, the pockets, which are generously sized and allow me to ditch carrying a bag for some outings.
I would definitely sew with a Lady McElroy viscose crepe fabric again as it’s super quality and comes in some awesome prints like this tropical one and the famous Cobra Corsage. I now want a maxi skirt and a jumpsuit version of the Sallie pattern. But which fabric to use for which, I wonder….
Happy sewing, everyone!
The fabric for this make was kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!
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