One of the great joys of sewing is the freedom to sew yourself something pretty to wear. Summer is about sunshine and family and dinners outside on the patio and walks after dark when the pavement is still warm. The perfect summer dress makes all those memories that much sweeter, and knowing that you’ve got just the one in your closet, in fabric that you adore, handmade by you in just your size? Well, that’s the sweetest of all.
These three original patterns really want to be your favorites this summer. Each has a different silhouette, and different vibe, but they all have the easy fit and flattering lines that make for a perfect garment: simple to wear, but always looks great. The skills you’ll build as you sew them are ones you can use forever, in all areas of your sewing, and you’ll be so excited at how quickly and painlessly these dresses go together that you’ll be planning a dozen before you know it!
The Modern Babydoll
You might not remember the 90s, but I sure do–and the babydoll dress was a hot ticket item. Easy fitting, looked great with everything, and somehow both feminine and innocent. This pattern is a modern take on the babydoll dress, updated with details that make it stand apart now that we’re all grown up: kimono sleeves and a slightly raised waist; front, back and sleeves all cut as one with no seams; very slightly gathered skirt for fullness without bulk; a deep V-neck back neckline; bust darts for shaping; French seams and narrow hems for a pretty interior. All combined to make a lovely dress that’s fun to sew and easy to wear! Looks fabulous over leggings, shorts, jeans or on its own. Easy to layer, so it transitions from spring to summer to fall. Simple to adjust the skirt length to make a tunic! I adore this dress, and think it’s a style that belongs in everyone’s closet–in volume.
The Button Swing Dress
Bare shoulders say “beach” to me, and this dress reveals just enough shoulder to be summery without losing any modesty. A circular yoked collar buttons on one side with two small buttons, adding a sweet detail to a classic A-line shape. The flowy skirt moves as you walk, and creates a clean silhouette that looks great over loose linen pants, your swim suit, or all on its own. Learn pocket variations that work with lighter fabrics, how to embellish the neckline for some summertime bling, and how to get flawless narrow topstitching that looks like it was done with a magnifying glass–but took a lot less effort. The techniques you’ll use making this pattern are core to garment sewing, but the effect of the shape goes way beyond just the sewing: you’ll get compliments from ladies of every age and maybe an appreciative glance or two from your main squeeze. A fantastic dress for your summer vacation!
The Drawstring Shift
I love a pattern that gives you a lot of options, and that looks great no matter which option you select. This shift dress is an easy pull-on style that has side bust darts and a racerback for a clean, flattering shape. Plus, the drawstring casing can be adjusted to fall at the waist, below the waist, or above it, giving you piles of options to make very different-looking dresses, all from the same amazing pattern. The armholes and neckline can be finished with bias tape, or use the facings option for a cleaner, more formal look. Pocket variations dress this puppy up or down, and it’s so comfortable and fun to wear that you’ll find yourself wanting ALL the versions: with the Peter Pan collar, with side pockets, with in-seam pockets, longer, shorter, empire waist, drop waist, and on and on! Very nearly the perfect summer dress.
All three original Whipstitch patterns come in sizes XS-XXL, for bust measurements from 32″ to 45″. Patterns are INCLUDED in the registration for the class and can be downloaded from our class site as PDFs to print and sew!
Skills You’ll Build:
It’s always a good time to add new skills to your sewing repertoire, or to brush up on skills you haven’t used recently. While making these three dresses, you’ll polish your sewing abilities and not even notice that you’re flexing those sewing muscles!
I call this class “quilter friendly.” That means that if you’re confident at your sewing machine and are willing to do some pressing, you can totally make these dresses–no matter how many or how few garments you’ve sewn before. You don’t need to know how to accomplish any of the skills listed above–all of those are covered in depth and on video during our lessons together, and you’ll get an up-close view of how to accomplish each step in every pattern we’re sewing. You should be able to thread your machine and wind your bobbin, and feel reasonably assured that you sew a straight line 90% of the time–if you can do those things, you’re set! (If you’re brand-new to sewing, or would like a refresher at your machine, this might not be the best class to start out–I recommend my Essential Sewing course for that. Good news is that the Essential Sewing class is available all the time and you can start whenever you want, so feel free to hop on over there before coming back here and joining us to sew some Summer Dresses!)
As part of the five weeks of the class, we’ll cover the three dresses above in depth and one step at a time. In addition to that, you’ll receive a bonus dress and a bonus pockets guide!
After we’ve made the three original Whipstitch patterns, we’ll also dive into this Martha Stewart beauty, a simple peasant dress shape with a sweet drawstring collar and raglan sleeves. This pattern was originally published in the April 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, and is now available as a free download online–but the pattern can be challenging to read and reviewers have complained that the sleeve treatment wasn’t as straight-forward as they’d like. Fear not! We’ll add this cute style to your summer dress wardrobe, too, with a video guide to constructing the pattern step-by-step as a bonus to the other class material! That means you’ll get patterns and video instruction for FOUR different styles of summer dress over the course of the class. Score!
To top it all off, and because I sincerely think everything ought to have pockets, I’ll be sharing with you the pockets handbook I created for my class at Sewing Summit in 2012, with 16 PDF pages of full-color images walking you through the construction of seven styles of pocket that can be used to make each of your summer dresses stand out, all season long.
Seriously, it’s time to REGISTER!
The Summer Dress e-course runs from June 3 to July 5, 2013. Class is taught through a combination of video, audio, live chat, downloadable PDFs, and a class Flickr group, along with email access to me as your instructor throughout the course. Lessons are posted live on the private class site daily Monday-Friday every week for five weeks, and remain live for four months so that you can work as your schedule permits. Each lesson constitutes about 30-45 minutes sewing time, on average, for a total of nearly 20 hours of instructional video.
Registration of $109 includes five weeks of daily lessons; video, audio and PDF content; all three original Whipstitch sewing patterns for the dresses listed above; two live chats with the instructor and class; access to the private Flickr group to share group projects; and on-going email access as you complete each project. You can totally do this–you’re going to look amazing this summer!