Poppy Chitoniskos

I took a meandering road to this romper. First, I spotted Faye’s adorable playsuit over on The Fair Stitch. Next, I was overcome by the punchy color of the (free!) playsuit pattern sample. Then, I would have printed and assembled the pattern, but I realized…eh, my unused M7577 pattern was traced already. So I made that, but orange-red. And that’s how my cross-bodice shortie romper was inspired by a floral playsuit. You can totally see the similarity now, right?

I’ve been calling this garment my chitoniskos, after the trendy short chitons worn by fashion-forward Greek youths in the late 400s BC. I feel like a mango Artemis.

The Greeks didn’t have elastic, though. Sorry, classical Greeks.   

And elastic is the only notion you need for this McCall’s pattern! I sewed view B, but sleeveless, with Brussels Washer Linen in Poppy. It is the most (and only-est) orange thing I own. I graded from a 10 chest to a 14 waist. The pattern asks you to bind the armscyes and long crossover opening with what I recently read is called ‘the French method’, but I used traditional bias binding instead. The other sounded too bulky for summer! I also added inseam pockets. I caught the tops of the pocket bags in the waist seam so they don’t flop around, a tip I got from a Vogue pattern and really like.  

The bodice is obviously spacious, but I don’t regret a single quarter-inch when I’m wiggling in and out of this romper. The extra ‘puff’ above the waist is essential, especially on the way out! If you’re more flexible than me (either literally, like you can jump rope with your own arms, or metaphorically, like you’re willing to pop in an invisible side zipper) you could achieve a closer fit.   

It’s possible to wear this without the belt – the elastic is doing the meaningful cinching, if cinching is what you’re after – but I like it with! By sitting an inch or two above the elastic, I think it also helps keep the wrap wrapped shut.

I sewed the elastic waist casing as essentially a big French seam; first I sewed the bodice to the pants wrong sides together with a ¼” sa, then I flipped them and sewed them right sides together with a ½” sa, leaving a small gap. Then I threaded the elastic through the casing via the gap, joined the ends, and sewed the gap shut. A nice clean casing! You can topstitch it. I couldn’t. It got weird. I unpicked it. But maybe you can!

My major change (there’s often one) was to the bottom half of the pattern. I traced the largest size in my envelope, 14, for the waist and legs, but I just could not convince myself that my legs would fit inside. The pattern pieces looked darn small; but with straight inseams and outseams that were parallel to the grainline, they also looked easy to alter. I slashed-and-spread each leg front and back piece to make them 3” wider, so a total of 6” per leg.

First, I marked the new width on what would become my pattern paper. After cutting to but not through the waistline of the original pattern piece, I taped the outer bottom corners to my marked lines and futzed the middle bits evenly apart. Then I traced, cut, labelled, and ta-da! Like many people I use bum paper, a.k.a. medical examination paper. It’s see-through for tracing; easy to mark, fold, and store; and one roll is seemingly infinite.

You’re supposed to trim off the seam allowances before adjustments like these, but I wasn’t bothered. It didn’t affect the stitch line dramatically, and this linen/rayon has some give anyway.

Once you have a crotch curve and waist size you like, you can easily redesign a basic pants or shorts pattern into any non-fitted silhouette. Box pleats, inverted box pleats, gathers, a slash-and-spread technique like this – as long as you pay attention to the grainline and finish by fitting the legs to the original waistband, swooshy shorts/pants/culottes are your oyster!

I might have been able to squeeze inside the legs as drafted, but I like these. I think it balances the blousy bodice, plus “snug” is not a summery word. ‘Gimme some of those snug shorts!’. No. “Swishy”, that’s a summer word.

And I’ve never regretted extra thigh room for Terminator-style crouching!

This was always meant to be a straightforward summer sew – it’s not going to do double-duty for work, it’s not transitional, it’s pretty much just for hanging out with friends in hot weather. Which is why I find it bitterly ironic that it looks kinda frosty cool layered under a jacket.

Why?? Why you, when I have so much trouble layering actual fall clothes?!

Until next time, hypíaine! (<– Greek theme).

Pattern: M7577

Pattern cost: $4.49

Size: 10 at bust, 14 at waist

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in Poppy, $25.44, fabric.com; thread, Michael’s, $1.91; elastic from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $31.88

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Fumeterre skirt

I bought the Fumeterre skirt pattern in 2017 and then proceeded to waffle about it for two years, but less than a week before I left on vacation, I decided a skirt like that should come too. It felt touch and go at the time but the finished Fumeterre landed in my suitcase with a couple days to spare!

(It’s so not relevant to the sewing but we took these pictures in the ruins of Godstow Abbey after dinner at The Trout. This walk was on my must-do-in-Oxford list after reading La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. I loved it. Even though I had read the rest of the series as a romantic child and I read this entry as a brisk and sensible adult, I love it the best!)

Okay, back to sewing. I definitely made some choices based on time constraints. Most importantly, I couldn’t find buttons I liked and didn’t have time to check another shop, so I sewed the skirt with a blind button placket. A blind button placket is a delightful origami sewing technique that I sometimes use just for the fun of capturing all those neat folds with one line of stitching! It isn’t a view for the Fumeterre, but if you want to convert a regular placket to a blind button placket on really any pattern, I’ve made a diagram of how, below.

Hopefully it makes sense! Essentially, if you’re starting with a finished placket width of what I’ll conveniently call ‘1’, you just need to add another band of width ‘1’ plus a seam allowance of ‘1/2’. I prefer to then fudge the width of the folds, as noted in the drawing, so that the bottom layer (the buttonhole layer) ends up completely and easily concealed. If anyone has any questions please let me know. Making diagrams for instructions is trickier than I guessed, and I’d be happy to throw words at the problem, if that would help!

I used the buttons looted off an old shirt of Professor Boyfriend’s. For the visible one, I found a shiny yellow button in my sewing box, which I wouldn’t have noticed at a store but actually quite like.

The finished skirt is fine, but not great. While Dee & Doe theoretically accommodates a pear/hourglass/whatever-you-care-to-call-it shape, the angle of this skirt seems to assume a gentle slope from waist to hip. My ‘hip shelf’ (a term I just made up) is definitely more abrupt than that, plus I’ve got a tum. The waistband pieces for size 42 just about fit with a smaller seam allowance. However, the skirt panels themselves would not wrap around my hips and stomach.

Luckily it’s drafted very long, so I cut 3” from the top of the skirt. I then gathered the excess into the back waistband. The line drawing indicates long smooth gores but the back waistband has some elastic gathering anyway, and my midsection is not particularly long or smooth, so this was a body-friendly solution for me.

The silhouette was still not working, though, so I also shortened 6” from the bottom! I didn’t like the semi-sheer linen as a maxi – the transparency was much more apparent around my ankles where the fabric panels were wider. Luckily, the midi seems to work. I was thisclose to immediately donating or swapping the skirt, before it got the chop.

I can’t tell how apparent it is in these photos, but my hem here is wiggedy wack. I’ve already leveled it by time of writing this post. I had to trim as much as 1 ½” from two places and ¼“ from a couple more. I cut this skirt on the fold, so I suspect I cut two separate pairs of panels off-grain, one worse than the other.

The fabric was shifting all over the place and basically, I was just happy to get it hemmed and done the first time. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the wack-ness, let alone its wiggedy degree, until I fetched it out of my suitcase to wear (I wore it anyway, clearly!).  

I made myself unpick and redo the hem when I got home from travelling – nobody’s favorite sewing, I think. My happy ending, though, is that I ran out of bobbin thread just after finishing the new hem! Not 3” before, as is traditional! ❤ Meant to be ❤

Also, if you get the chance, I highly recommend cheesecaking around a ruined nunnery.

But be careful not to sit in rabbit poo!

I very nearly learned that the hard way…

Bye for now!

Pattern: Deer & Doe Fumeterre skirt

Pattern cost: $13.00

Size: 42, with changes, above

Supplies: 3 yards of jade green 100% linen, Sewfisticated, $21.00; elastic, $0.17, Sewfisticated; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 7.25 hours

Total cost: $34.17

Romy, oh Romy

For whatever reason I default to the same few pattern companies over and over, but that means I often miss smaller releases, like the Tessuti Romy top. But then I spotted one over on HollyDolly and it clicked! I’m sort of vaguely restricting my pattern purchases to ones that really do something different than those in my existing collection (not just wider/shorter/more gathered/more buttons, or whatever). I don’t have any tank patterns with a bust dart, and I thought the high necklines and strap placement could be transplanted onto dresses or jumpsuits.

At least that’s what I thought I thought, until I realized I just saw this neckline everywhere in street style and I’m as much of a susceptible muppet as anyone else!

Anyway I’d already made it twice by that point. Whoops. Don’t mind me, I’m just assimilating over here.

I sewed mine at size ‘95% of M’, because I forgot to check the printer settings. But I didn’t want to waste paper, plus the printer is upstairs, UPSTAIRS, PEOPLE. So printing once was enough. That’s roughly equivalent to a size S.

This top is surprisingly long (would I say…unnecessarily long?? Yes I would), but I didn’t need to grade out for my hips! What witchcraft is this? The pattern calls for 1 meter of fabric; I bought 1.25 yards of 60” wide linen, and I squeaked out a full-length and a cropped version, with an assist from some scraps of cotton voile for facing the cropped one. I think somewhere between full-length and cropped would be my sweet spot for tucking in.

I had some issues with my first draft. One was technique – I don’t have a loop-turner, so turning the straps was tricky, and mine ended up more like fettucine straps than spaghetti straps. The other was fit. I had read somewhere that Tessuti drafts for a lower bust point, but it was NOT low enough.

I feel like every time I learn something about fitting my bust I get confusion, not clarification. Normally I have to shorten above the bustline, but now these darts were floating well above the apex! Where are my boobs??? Do they wander?

Regardless of big-picture boob position, I would need to lower the dart. Also, I wanted to raise the bottom of the armscye, so my bra wouldn’t peek out. It seems to show more on one side consistently, so either my sewing or my top story is asymmetrical.

Plus back neck gape, which is pretty standard.

None of these changes are complicated, so I tried them simultaneously. I lowered the bust dart like so by ¾”. I also raised the bottom of the armscye by ¾” and made the curve shallower for more coverage. The back neck is narrowed by ¾”, so I guess that was my magic number. Finally, I had to extend the facing – I made it 1” longer so I’d have room for my lowered bust dart, plus a little extra for the hem! There wasn’t much wiggle room between the dart intake and the hem before.

I think it’s a definite improvement! It’s possible I would have avoided some woe by omitting the bust dart entirely, but dang it, I bought the pattern at least in part to try something new. And it’s much more accurate now!

Okay, so was it worth it? I bought the PDF, and it’s fine, but just fine. The lines for each size are hand-drawn with an identical weight and color. I ended up wasting a lot of paper printing out the pattern pieces for tear-away Vilene, which they recommend instead of stay-stitching. Needless to say I just stay-stitched! The directions also instruct you to interfacing the facings. Nooo, thank you. I changed the order of sewing, too, so that I could French-seam the side seams.

Basically I used the What Katie Sews order of operations for the Ogden cami, with the main difference being that I sewed and understitched the straight necklines first, and then sewed and understitched the armscye curves, instead of one continuous line of stitching per front or back. As long as you don’t get the pieces twisted, this is a much easier way to construct the top!

While it seems like this simple shape would be a good pattern for a beginner, I’d hesitate to recommend it. It’s not really a ‘teaching pattern’. That being said, I’m happy with the results!

I’ve gotten some good use out of these this summer. They’re not revolutionary tops, but they’re cool and useful. It’s possible I would have had more detail shots, if I hadn’t gotten distracted by some friendly strangers…

You don’t care that I don’t use tear-away Vilene, do you, pretty horse?

Pattern: Tessuti Romy top I & II

Pattern cost: $8.62

Size: 95% of M, with changes, above

Supplies: 1.25 yards white linen, Sewfisticated, $8.74; scraps of cotton voile from stash (for facings); thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours/1.5 hours

Total cost: $17.36 for both tops

Thick Thighs Save Lives

Several of our friends and family members are having or have just had children, so Professor Boyfriend and I took an international bambini tour! Plus we took advantage of this baby-greeting travel to revisit Oxford, a city we lived in for four years (him) and a year and five summers (me). This has nothing to do with my new shorts, but everything to do with these photos, since we took them in beautiful Port Meadow. I got nettlerash! Because I was wearing shorts. Sooo. Duh, I suppose?

To be specific, I was wearing the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts. I experienced an interruption of shorts service this summer; my body got bigger and all my existing shorts were suddenly up my crack. I couldn’t think of a shorts pattern I *had* to have, so I used The Foldline’s Pattern Database and rustled up the Ferns.

Pros: turn ups, high waist with a traditional waistband (I’m not hating on elastic, I just don’t like sewing it), and I saw it modeled on plenty of bloggers with a similar heft to their hips and thighs to mine.

Cons: invisible side zipper.

OR IS IT?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the invisible side zip to a full pirate’s booty of front fly buttons. I needed this pattern to work with a front fly if we were going to be a thing long-term, as every invisible zip I’ve ever installed looks like poo and breaks immediately.

I was mildly hornswoggled to print and assemble my pattern and discover all sizes shared one outseam line. My most meaningful grading, then, would occur along the crotch curve and inseam, and that’s where I proposed to make major changes.

Luckily I had a long enough straightaway on the crotch, grading from D to E, to pop on a ‘self-drafted’ fly extension (it’s a rectangle with a curved bottom, I wasn’t exactly designing a rocket ship). I made a decision on the fly (HO HO HO) to use my crotch to display a golden rivet trove and then enjoyed this very excellent button fly tutorial and did so.

My fly is actually longer than necessary! I don’t have to unbutton the bottom button to get in and out of these. But if you’re going to have four shiny gold eye-catchers up your front rise, why not have five?

I extended the waistband by 4” to accommodate the over- and under-laps. It’s a rectangle, so, again, ‘drafting’ seems like a strong word. I also cut two belt loop pieces and divided them each into thirds, instead of one piece into fourths, as directed.

First try-on was a success. I was really very happy with the crotch curve! It’s comfortable and stays the hell away from both North and South Wedgieville. And hooray, the buttons buttoned. The legs were a smidge too wide at the bottom for my liking, so I took an additional ¾” seam allowance on the outseams, starting from the hem and blending at the hip.

Hey, why is no-one talking about front darts? Front darts are THE BUSINESS. My diameter changes by a foot from waist to hip, give this girl some front darts. I look forward to playing with these – there are pleated shorts in my future!

Basically, I’m a happy bunny! I made this trial pair in leftover rigid Cone Mills denim, and I liked them enough to immediately cut into my other large denim scrap.

I had less of this dark denim so these have a 3” inseam and no turn ups. Also, a traditional fly zip. On this pair I curved the waistband slightly, removing about an inch from the top edge. Sorry for the lack of detail in these photos – we had to run home to change (I wasn’t getting my pins out in Public Nettle Meadow) and we lost the light!

I do have a fun story about this pair of shorts. I got to England right before that series of record-breaking hot days and tried to change into these shorts right away, only my dang button had broken at the shaft. Not the thread, the actual shaft. So no more button! I was staring down the barrel of 97°F with only one pair of shorts in my suitcase when I remembered…OXFORD HAS A JOHN LEWIS NOW.  

I’m not sure anyone who DIDN’T move away from Oxford months before the opening of its John Lewis can understand the slow but certain blossoming of joy in my heart. To those not yet lucky enough to go, it’s like an employee-owned Mega Target. And crucially, it has a haberdashery! So I could buy a button!

THIS BUTTON!

Separately, before setting off for England I bought a new watch (I don’t have a smartphone, so it’s a pretty crucial tool, especially when travelling). My last one was a $15 stopgap that lasted two years while the band slowly dissolved like wet cardboard, so I’m pretty pleased with the new guy.

It’s from The Horse, for any other analog fans.

To sum up: I dig my new shorts, sewing them was a snap, fly fronts + front darts 4 life.

I’ll be back soon to talk about the top I’m wearing in these photos – with other, nearly indistinguishable photos!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts I & II

Pattern cost: $8.14

Size: D at waist, E at hip, with changes, above

Supplies: scraps of Cone Mills denim in Mint; scraps of Wrangler overstock denim; 1/2 yard of Dear Stella Aweigh North Sailor Toile Sand Fabric, Gather Here, $5.75; thread, Michael’s, $2.39; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40

Total time: 6.5 hours/4.5 hours

Total cost: $17.68 for both pairs

Summer of Love, Part Five: Farewell, My Lovely

This is my final post in the Summer of Love series. I decided to include one more outfit – not one that got worn publicly much, but one I made just for me!

Luckily I only travelled locally for the weddings etc., but when I did spend a night away from home, I wanted to wear something a bit more fun than my everyday jimjams (I had a sort of instinct that my usual grey tee/sweatpants combo wasn’t maximum festive). Rare Device has a lovely post on investing in the clothes you wear when you’re by yourself, and while self love or care has been monetized almost past recognition, I thought my celebratory PJs were still worthy of being the finale of my Summer of Love. Not to mention I spent several weekends after the binge lounging around and recovering my social appetite and you know I spent that time in pajamas!

This post is a little disingenuous though – because while I made this robe/nightie combo last summer, I didn’t make the robe really truly wearable until the Sewcialists announced the Over/Under theme month. So 1. Oops and 2. Hooray!

The pattern is Seamwork Almada, and I fell for it immediately on its release. Many robes seem to be a collection of rectangles, but I thought the Almada looked like an Erté illustration, like an elegant twenties egg. I also loved the double gauze Seamwork used for their sample. It took me a while to make this pattern since it called for 3 ½ yards of fabric, and I was saving my credit card cashback rewards until I had enough for the big dog – Nani Iro! This is a fabric from her (their?) Rakuen collection.

I sewed a size large, originally with no changes. I was surprised at the Seamwork directions; I assumed that a pattern that called for luxurious fabrics would also call for fine finishing. Especially given that it only has four seams, I would have recommended French seams. They didn’t, but I used them anyway! I also invisibly hand-sewed the bias binding that finishes the opening – easy to do on double gauze, because you can just pick up the inner layer with your needle.    

My favorite homemade bias binding is from this super-soft grey-green-khaki cotton that goes with absolutely everything.

I needed every inch of my yardage – that’s how I ended up with the printed selvage visible inside one sleeve cuff!

I swanned around in my finished robe from time to time, admiring the fabric, but I didn’t use it much as a practical thing. The ties were placed low and wide, buuut so are my hips. The robe required too much arranging and tugging and still wouldn’t stay shut. I wore it as intended for wedding travel because inconsistent coverage was better than none, but after a year of non-use, I FINALLY unpicked and reattached the ties. And only because of Over/Under month!

Half an hour of sewing to move the ties six inches up and six inches towards the center, and now my fancy robe finally fits!

Double gauze is soft and vibrant, it’s like wearing a whisper, and it’s generally easy to sew. When topstitching, however, a friend of mine described it as “like sewing bread”.

Not my neatest sewing ever, but eulalia! I can wear it now!

On the other hand, there’s almost nothing to the nightie – no special saving for fabric, no long-awaited sew, no last-minute rescue. Just a 7” lengthened Ogden cami from leftover fabric I didn’t have quite enough of to make daywear. It’s my all-time favorite summer nightgown.

Love strikes willy-nilly!

Thus concludes my Summer of Love! See you soon, I hope, for more everyday dressing. : )

Previous Summer of Love: here (part one), here (part two), here (part three), and here (part four).

Pattern:  Seamwork Almada

Pattern cost: $3

Size: L, with the ties moved

Supplies: 3.5 yards Nani Iro Gauze in Rakuen Flower, Etsy, $69.20; thread from stash

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $72.20

Pattern: Ogden cami

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8 at bust, 14 at hip

Supplies: leftover rayon poplin from stash, thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Summer of Love, Part Four

Why hellllooo, here’s the fourth entry in my self-declared Summer of Love series! This outfit is sort of a round-up of my greatest hits: slouchy linen-ish outerwear, short shorts, and a wrap top that needs a safety pin so my bra doesn’t fall out. And guess what? I LOVE IT!

Yes babies, ignore the stink-face (why do I always have such a stink-face? I promise I’m very smiley in real life), I finally worked out a dressy(ish) outfit I feel comfortable and happy in! First, the creative brief: I needed something to wear to a rehearsal dinner with the equivalent fanciness of an average wedding, but since it was immediately followed by, you know, the actual wedding, my Kielo had to keep. Also, it was in a country club! First and only time I’ve been in a country club. Country club tip: forge an alliance with the man who holds the crab cakes. Yesss. Now you are ready.

Also, I was being romantically haunted (think Phantom of the Opera, Patrick Swayze as Ghost, basically those but with boundaries) by the idea of a Summer Suit. And I figured what the hecko! If not now, when! And because I love ongoing usefulness I decided to sew another Victoria blazer. I made all the changes listed in this blog post, and also I swapped in pockets purloined from the Lupin jacket (mine here).

Here is a picture of a pocket for anyone who is recently born or very forgetful. You’re welcome.

Another Patented Poundcake tip (I’m sure that crab cake thing is already paying dividends): make sure your shorts are at least a little longer than your jacket, so you don’t look like a flasher from behind.

So that’s the outermost layer of my onion! Next is a sleeveless Anderson blouse, and I made the adjustments listed in my post here, except for the armscye because this was my first draft in fact and I hadn’t noticed that issue yet.  Simple pimple.

Finally, the third piece of the ensemble – pants. I imagined cropped, pleated trousers with a tapered leg. “But Lia,” I hear you say, “Surely that’s your knees I see before us?”

PATIENCE.

Exactly at the equator, these are MN Flints. I used its (dare I say iconic?!) waistband and pocket construction.

There’s a hook and bar fastener inside, and the ties outside. Also, for once, my waistband isn’t crumpled horizontally by my mighty middle. I used BanRol! I’d bought some in a hazy panic when a local fabric store was closing, with the vague sense you put it in bag straps, but it’s for waistbands. It really stays flat! I only realized its use because of the magically impressive Shauni (she’s so cool).

So I had my waistband figured, but I wanted tapered pants and the Flints, well, aren’t. So I used the leg (sans pockets) of the Turia dungarees! I darted the back to fit, and pleated the front. It was actually pretty straightforward to get these patterns to mesh.

Then, an eagle-eyed observer might be able to spot, I just went ahead and cut the legs off anyway.

Frankly the pattern mash-up made for a nice pair of dressy slacks, but when paired with the blazer, I was getting major zoot suit vibes! So chop chop, now they’re shorts. The finished inseam is 2.75”.

This isn’t my finest sewing (those pleats are not centered on the front crotch seam, for one) and there’s some practical issues (the shorts wrinkle like crazy where they’re crushed by my butt, the blouse is a little too short to tuck in *really* securely), but for once, I don’t care. Because I feel like myself in this outfit and that makes me happy.

You may also notice, despite my claims, that I have HEELS ON! These were grandfathered in because I bought them for my sister’s wedding in 2012. Even just taking these pictures reminded me why I only wear them once every 20 months. They gave me that lift to spot my crab cakes friend from a distance though. Plus who can resist a classic grey…beige…combo? LISTEN I’m good at wearing normal clothes, okay!

My embroidered pin is from Coral & Tusk, by the way.

And my face, as apparently always, is right out of stink-ville!

See you soon!

Previous Summer of Love found here (part one), here (part two), and here (part three).

Pattern:  BHL Victoria blazer

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/14

Supplies: 2 yards of Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in grey, $20.78, fabric.com; 1.5 yards of Cambridge Solids cotton lawn in Grey, $13.20, Gather Here; thread, $1.79, Michael’s

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $35.68

Pattern: SOI Anderson blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: XS (!!!)

Supplies: 2 yards of ivory rayon, $15.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 3 hours

Total cost: $15.00

Pattern: MN Flints/Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: L (Flints)/44 (Turias)

Supplies: 2 yards of Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in grey, $20.78, fabric.com; thread, hook and bar from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $20.78

Summer of Love, Part Three

This dress was pants! Briefly! Well, culottes. This is the tale of its transformation. Welcome to episode 3 of the Summer of Love!

This was very, very temporarily a pair of midi-length Tania culottes, size L in old money. I’d been wild to make them for a while, but I rarely buy 3+ yards of fabric at a go. Happily Gather Here had a summer sale at the beginning of wedding season, and the Tanias seemed just right for an upcoming casual-nice engagement party!

I finished the culottes with about 18 hours to spare (maybe you’ve sung this song yourself) and popped them on for a triumphant fashion show. Twist!! I must have fudged the grainlines because instead of falling from the widest part of my hip, they hugged my leg to about mid-thigh and then abruptly belled out. NOT triumphant. Not even close. Triumph sent its sincerest regrets but would not be attending my legs.

Without a back-up plan, I unpicked the ol’ leg-bags and freestyled a dress. The culottes became its skirt. This was simple to engineer – I cut off the crotch extension of each piece and smoothed the waist, like so.

Then I pieced the skirt front and skirt back at the center seams. Since the Tanias are so full, that left a respectable amount of swing and flare, even sans crotch.

Unfortunately, I ended up with four little holes, from what used to be the ends of the big box pleats (the red dot on my diagram above).

Using about a square centimeter of scrap fabric and fusible hem tape, I ironed a jiffy patch to the wrong side of each hole. So far they’re holding!

For the bodice, I used the Workroom Social Tate Top (free to newsletter subscribers) in the cropped length. I had previously made this pattern as a scrap-buster. As a crop top, you can really squeeze it onto random odds and ends, especially if you add seaming. I got this from the culottes off-cuts with nothing to spare!

Rather than using a zip, as the pattern recommends, I divided the back bodice horizontally about 5” down. Then I cut the two upper pieces and hemmed the vertical edges separately for a simple opening. It closes with a thread chain and mother-of-pearl button, but I can get in and out without unbuttoning. I’ve definitely made versions of this with no opening at all, but you know your own coconut best!

Then I just gathered the skirt top to fit (it didn’t take much gathering), stitched them together, pressed that seam up, and topstitched. Crossed my fingers for another first try-on and hey presto! A dress!

With a handy belt leftover from a Halloween costume (I was an Egyptologist, Professor BF was a curséd mummy, it was adorable, we’re very proud), I was party-ready.

Oddly I find the Tate cropped length borderline too short for a shirt but definitely too long for a dress bodice! But by then I was sleepy. So I wore the finished dress to the engagement do, and then forgot to adjust it, and then wore it to other Summer of Love events – a bridal shower, another engagement party. It’s not quite fancy enough for a fancy wedding, but it worked great for these Bacchanals/Burning Mans/just kidding we ate finger food in a backyard.   

I wore my Halloween belt with this each time, but I might prefer it casually unbelted!

You know what – seeing this steadily and seeing it whole, I’m gonna tweak it again. I love the color and the weight of this fabric, but the bodice never sat quite right, especially in the back, and it’s a smidge tight at the underarms.

Once more for the chop, dear dress!  

Previous Summer of Love found here (part one) and here (part two).

Pattern: MN Tania culottes

Pattern cost: $9.50

Size: L, in the old MN system

Supplies: 3 1/4 yards Kaufman Essex linen/cotton in Seafoam, Gather Here, $28.60; zipper and thread, $4.60, Gather Here; button from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $42.70

Pattern: Workroom Social Tate Top, as dress

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 8

Supplies: disassembled Tania culottes + leftover fabric

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $0.00