Vintage Blossom Summer Dress
The sunshine keeps making a brief appearance in West Yorkshire, teasing us with the hints of summer, at Fabworks we’re already dreaming of long sunny days and making a start on our summer wardrobe.
With the unpredictability of a cloudy overcast day or a downright scorcher, summer time sewing needs the flexibility to take you through the season, cue Vintage Blossom - Navy Pink to the recuse.
Being a viscose and polyester blend, it has enough fluidity to create fashionable beautifully draped garments but enough gusto to hold its own and not leave you a crumpled mess once a days frolicking in the sun is over. Viscose fabrics can be well known to be shifty when working with them, but the added polyester of Vintage Blossom - Navy Pink prevents too much wiggle through the cutting out and sewing.
Using McCalls M7381 dress pattern (we got ours free with Issue 37 of Love Sewing but you can pick it up on Amazon for under £5). The dress features a flattering almost empire waistline with a free skirt giving plenty of room around the hips. Several versions of the dress are available in a range of sizes, from XS to XXL. We chose Dress C with its short sleeves and sweet but sophisticated tie at the front.
Pre-washing for all dressmaking is essential (if you'll be washing your finished garment) and Vintage Blossom - Navy Pink is no different, especially with fabrics such as this where there are natural fibres present.
The dress is fairly simple to make up, with enough interest to make it a quick project for an intermediate sewist, or great for a beginner who's looking for more of a challenge.
The bodice is fully lined in several pieces, beautifully faced and finished. We found the front piece to be the most difficult part to put together. After that the project is super simple and quick to finish. Here are a few tips and tricks we recommend for this fab summer make!
Cut out your pattern pieces to size and lay out over your freshly washed (and ironed) Vintage Blossom - Navy Pink. This pattern is known to run on the larger side, so it’s worth checking all measurements at this stage. Take note of the grainlines, our fabric has a pattern that goes one way so make sure all pieces are facing the same direction.
Cut out all pieces, including linings and fusible interfacing, we recommend ironing on your interfacing to the front facing at this point so it’s ready to use when you’re in the midst of your sewing frenzy later on. We also added a small hack to our version, cutting the very front facing piece in the body fabric and not the lining. Its more our preference, but we think it gives the front a more seamless finish.
Finish off your pieces. With such a beautiful fluid fabric, we recommend overlocking or finishing off your cut pattern pieces to keep your summer dress looking as good as new all season. Then you can go back and mark in the shoulder and skirt front pleats.
Begin assembly! Take time to read the pattern, its tricky to sift through the information with so many versions of the bodice pattern available but the instructions are there!
Like we said, the most challenging part of the make is piecing the bodice together, and then stitching the bodice onto the skirt. The front ties do require extra attention, a step that isn’t entirely clear in the pattern. We found it easier to baste and stitch from either side of the ties onto the skirt, and then going back and sewing the crossover after the main bulk of the bodice is attached.
Finishing off the dress can happen at several stages, understitching the bodice lining gives a clean finish to the neckline while pressing the pleats and waist ties into place gives the dress a crisp polished finish. The pattern also calls for poppers to be stitched on the overlapping front pieces, giving you the choice of showing as much or as little cleavage as you dare!
Some last little notions:
We used 2 meters of Vintage Blossom - Navy Pink which gives plenty to play with and even a bit left over, 0.5m of a suitable woven lining (the one that we used will be coming to Fabworks Online very soon!) From your stash you will need 2 or 3 ¼” poppers, 1 meter of ¼” elastic and some of our woven Cotton Interfacing.