Hi everyone and happy Australia Day (or Straya Day as some say 😀) to everyone at home and all you expats around the world! I hope you have all had a great start to the new year! Being a working mum, things have started off very busy for me after a short Christmas and New Year’s break. I didn’t get to anywhere near as much sewing or blogging as I would have liked to last year. I hope this year won’t be a repetition of that… I have become too smart to make any new year’s resolutions for this sewing year, because I know myself and never really keep them. So I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens…
I had this blog post flying around cyber space, almost ready to go and since it’s Australia Day, I thought it would be perfect for our national day, photographed on Australia’s most beautiful and iconic Whitehaven Beach.
We were about to leave on our sailing holiday around the magical Whitsunday Islands and me being me, had to make something special for the holiday. All I knew was that the something had to be red and BIG to stand out on the pure white sand at Whitehaven. So I was looking for inspirational photos of maxi dresses. You really can’t get any bigger than a maxi dress, right? I found this one in red on Pinterest and it was a winner for me.
Unfortunately I had no idea who the designer was and what the front looked like. I was having a total creative blank and had no ideas on how to make the front work with such a low cut back. I had also left it so late, until we only had a few days before leaving on the holiday, that I just decided to do the first thing that came to mind. In retrospect, not a good idea.
I cut the back of the dress to the lowest cut possible without showing too much and thought I needed to compensate the front by cutting it as high as possible without it being in my face!
In order to make the dress as big and flowy as possible, I used the full width of the fabric for the front and back.
First thought was to make the back gathered and the front more fitted. But I had bought a lot of beautiful red cotton voile from The Fabric Store and decided to make a gathered front as well. I wasn’t exactly sure how to cut a wide and deep enough back, so this is the very archaic method I used:
First I machine sewed along the width of the fabric in four rows, very unevenly as you can see… and gathered the fabric as evenly as I could. Then I made a paper template for the back cut out, lay it on the gathered back and used soap to mark the curve on the gathering.
I used the bias cut fabric strip I had prepared, pinned it onto the soap marking and then hand sewed the bias strip to keep it in place before sewing it with the machine. After it was machine sewed, I cut away the inside of the back as close as possible to the bias strip, folded the bias cut strip to cover the edges of the low cut back and sewed it in place on the inside of the dress.
After the back was done, it was time to get onto the front. All I did was fold over the top of the fabric to fit the bust in, about 30 cm. So the front bodice is made of a double layer of the cotton voile. For the front top edge, I made a tunnel about 5 cm from the very top to fit in a narrow elastic. Then I measured how far down I would need to go to make the second tunnel for the elastic just under the bust line.
I pulled the elastic through both the tunnels to a comfortable fit and then fixed the elastic ends so that they wouldn’t slip away. Then I joined the front and back together, leaving enough of a slit for the arms.
Next up was making the straps using the bias cut strip that I had attached to the back. I simply measured a comfortable fit and hand sewed the narrow strips in place.
The fabric is beautiful and perfect for a summer dress. It’s quite thin but not see through, so there is no need for lining.
After the dress was completely finished, I decided that the back was so wide with it’s low cut that it would be good to have some versatility to it by either wearing it completely open or using a corset effect to tighten it and give it a different look.
For this, I bought some very narrow red ribbon and sewed it on the inside of the back cut out bias strip. I left a gap of about 1 cm every few centimetres to pull the ribbon through in a zig zag. I used the same ribbon for the loops as the ribbon to zig zag through it. If I decide not to wear the ribbon in the back, the loops are well hidden and not visible from the outside.
Finally, it was time to hem. The hem on this dress is extremely wide. Only because I had enough fabric to make it that wide and I love a huge hem. Sometimes it gives the garment a more generous look than a minimal, narrow hem.
This is one garment that I am not entirely happy about. The back is great and a real eye catcher. It’s also nice ventilation on a hot day. But I don’t like the front at all. It was a very rushed job and will have to be redone to something that I like and will end up wearing.
I’m someone who will often make a garment for the sake of making it, but the full intention is to be able to wear the garment and not have it hanging in the wardrobe, taking up space. While I really dislike redoing things I thought were finished – and that is putting it mildly – I will redo this one! Just to have the self satisfaction of having a wearable dress in a beautiful fabric.
Despite this dress being a flop in my books, it really is about the back view and at least that part worked!
It will be back to the drawing board to brainstorm some new ideas on how to save this maxi. I already have one idea that I may utilise. When that finally happens, I will blog the revamped dress!
All in all, a lesson learned: don’t make things in a rush and especially not when you have no plan!
Magical Whitehaven Inlet with it’s pure white silica shifting sands
Scenes of Whitehaven Beach
Wandering red lips on Whitehaven
STYLING: hat – Myer (no name brand), sunglasses – Chloe, ring – Apart Fashion, red lips float – funboy
LOCATION: Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia