I know the temperature has dropped and it's looking suspiciously Autumnal outside but I was adamant I could squeeze one more summer dress out of the season before I have to start donning wool tights!When choosing this project I knew which Sewing Pattern I wanted to use as I've had my eye on this design since it was re-released by Simplicity a few months ago. It's an original 1960s design but isn't your typical sixties shift dress, it's got a full, gathered skirt, fitted waist and frilly sleeves. It’s really feminine and totally wearable in everyday life.
There are loads and loads of summery fabrics to choose from on the Minerva Crafts website so I was spoilt for choice but when I saw this Fabric I immediately knew it was 'the one'. My two favourite colours with stripes, dots, florals and sea shells - how was I to resist?! Fast-forward a week and I'm sat in my insanely amazing, seaside holiday dress and couldn't be happier.
The fabric itself is super soft, a good medium weight (so not a problem for unlined garments like this one) and it barely wrinkles - I only had to give it a quick iron after washing and sewing. The colours are so beautiful, slightly brighter than pastel shades but still really gentle and summery. 
Before cutting my pattern pieces I double checked my measurements with the envelope as I wasn’t sure if Simplicity change their sizing for the vintage re prints. Normally with stripes, we instinctively arrange for them to sit vertically, but for this dress I cut the stripes horizontally. For one, the shells look the right way up this way and two; I didn't want the dress or particularly the skirt to look slimmed down at all. It's nearly 3 metres of fabric for the skirt alone so I wanted to make the most of the flare and for it to look as big as possible! Now finished, I'm really glad I went with this option but if you were unsure about all over horizontal stripes you could always have the bodice vertical to contrast.
I cut my pieces out like normal with any amendments needed (I generally always need to make the sleeves slightly wider around the upper arms and did with this one). With my bold and busy fabric design I needed to be careful with my placement so I matched the stripes on all bodice and skirt edges so the join would blend in, and on the sleeves I made the shells central on one arm and the flowers central on the other. For the belt and the sleeve frills I thought they would get lost in the rest of the dress if I had the stripe going the same way so instead, I arranged the stripe going vertically and centred the flower on all three pieces.
One thing I didn't include in my dress, which was in the pattern was the contrast panel at the mid-bottom of the skirt. Now normally I would say 'more is more' but actually on this occasion, I thought it would look too busy and then the beautiful pattern wouldn't be able to be appreciated in all its beachy glory.
Because I made the upper arm pieces slight wider I had more fabric to fit when attaching it to the armhole. They pattern tells you to press out any puckers but I purposely gathered my sleeves at the top to create a little puff sleeve and left this in as a feature (I wasn't adding the collar from the pattern so I needed something fancy on the top half!).
A small tip for the skirt would be to leave the last inch and a half of the back\zip opening un-gathered because I find its too bulky otherwise, once you've folded the fabric and then added the zip. This way you've got a flat surface for attaching your zip and are less likely to end up with stray gathers getting caught up in the stitching. I was so happy with how quickly this dress came together. I usually read the instructions about fifteen times before sewing so it can be a bit of a drawn out process but this dress used all the usual techniques for dresses this style and there was nothing fiddly to get my head around. This dress had the lovely touch of a waist stay like the last dress I made (a Vintage Vogue pattern) and I think I might start adding this to all the dresses I sew with fitted waists.
I am, without a doubt, going to be using this fabric and this pattern again. The fabric comes in a second colour-way - black and pink, so I'm going to get my hands on a few metres of that for a future project. Version C of the pattern has a huge, flamboyant collar and bow that is calling out my name (I'm imagining this in white with the dress in navy and red trimming - sailor style).
Thanks for reading - happy sewing!
Rebecca