If ever there was a time where the fabric led in the creation of a garment, this maxi dress is it for me. When I saw this “Blooms Cotton Voile Print” in Mood Fabrics’ online collection, it just screamed, “Make me into a summer maxi dress – right now!!” Well, maybe it’s a bit too dreamy and romantic to actually have done any yelling, but you get my point. In my mind it was a maxi dress even when it was just a small square of digital fabric on my computer screen. Editor’s note: Lots more cotton voile prints and solids at MoodFabrics.com
When it came time to choose the pattern, I went to one I’d made earlier this summer, the Sewaholic Saltspring dress. The pattern recommends using lightweight wovens, but none of the examples given are cotton voile. Even so, I forged ahead, trusting that this fabric would blouse and drape just as I wanted because of the loose fit and the clever design of the bodice lining. And, I have to admit, I’m quite pleased with the outcome.
The fabric was a breeze to work with, which gave me the confidence to change up the pattern just a bit. My first change was to the straps. Instead of having two straps on each side that tie at the top of my shoulders, I cut each side as a single strap. First, I measured the length of the tied straps on my first Saltspring dress and added seam allowances (10 1/2″ + 5/8″ + 5/8″, if you’re curious). Then, after sewing the strap onto the front bodice, I carefully wrapped it around to the back and pinned it in place, making sure not to twist the strap in the process.
The second big change I made was to eliminate the zipper in the back. After figuring out I could easily put my first Saltspring dress on and just as easily take it off without messing with the zipper, I decided all future makes would be zipper-less. But, when I was cutting my fabric, it didn’t occur to me that going zipper-less meant I could also eliminate the back center seam. Thankfully, this print hides the unnecessary seam pretty well.
Though it was made by total accident, that little white squiggle on the left strap (above) makes me really happy. I found that one of my favorite parts of making this dress was seeing what crazy abstract patterns appeared as I was turning the tubes to make the straps. It’s always the little things, right?
One final change I made was to grade the pattern down to a zero below the waist since I don’t have the pear shape that Sewaholic patterns are designed for. I’m not sure I notice much of a difference though. The skirt if full and flowy either way!
Hidden in the skirt is another favorite feature of mine: the side seam pockets. I really like having a place to put my hands and keys and such.
Though I have begun to think about my fall sewing, I’m not ready to let go of summer sewing just yet. Thankfully the Seattle weather seems to be cooperating with me. Here’s to a few more weeks of strappy summer dresses!