This fall I've been trying to think more about how the things I knit, and sew fit into my wardrobe as a whole. These thoughts are the natural progression from one who sews to learn skills, so focused on a welt pocket or hidden zipper that the garment itself hardly matters, to one who sews to build a wardrobe, and has the luxury of taking a step back for a better view of the big picture. My frame of mind is also influenced by the general feelings in the maker community embodied in Slow Fashion October. Simple as this dress is, it is a step toward a handmade wardrobe that will last a long time. I'm also influenced by the indie fashion community and its current penchant for capsule wardrobes, sustainably made clothing, and minimalist closets.
All that to say that when I made my fall and winter sewing plans, I thought of the individual garments as a flexible collection of versatile layers. When these pieces are pared with the things I have in my current closet rotation they will make a more versatile wardrobe. Nothing that will stop traffic, but it makes me feel good. This dress in particular makes me feel very good. It is effortless to throw on, and when I get tired of its simplicity (could that ever happen?!) I can layer it up to add interest. It is a modified Lou Box Top that I am calling Layer #1.
If you're questioning the need for such a simple pattern, take heart, I have sewn the Lou Box Top from Sew DIY at least 5 times. It's a useful and dependable starting point for making all your unstructured top dreams come true. You could also use the Blanc Tee from Blank Slate Patterns (affiliate link), or Mariella Walker's Maya Dress/Top. I was uncertain about how I would look in such a shapeless dress, but after a little research (including the Sew Bon Lou Box dress, Erin's Maxi version, and a rayon tunic I tried on at Target) I determined that the key to a successful sack dress is the fabric. The right one would have a bit of body, and nice drape so my shape isn't completely overwhelmed. For Layer #1 I wanted something in the tan family so it could go with denim and black, and short sleeved so I can wear it in the summer too. I wanted a goldilocks length that could be worn as a dress bare legged, or with the skinniest of jeans as a tunic.
This rayon modal (so said the bolt) is from Joann Fabric. When I found it I wanted to scream and jump up and down a la someone who just found Chanel at the thrift store. I would call this fabric medium weight, it's heavier and more opaque than rayon challis. It has a beautiful drape, and a subtle chambray-like variation in the color from beige to white. The cherry on top of this delicious sundae is that is gets a uniform crinkle texture after it is washed and dried! The lady at the cutting table was determined not to share in my ecstasy, and kept tut-tuting about how tricky is would be to cut. It was actually pretty easy to cut, and sew. I went back for more a week later and couldn't find it, also can't find it online. It was in the denim section, and worth a thorough search if you're headed to Joann. I promise to be a very good girl this year if Santa would only bring me this fabric in a light washed denim blue, and a dark olive green.
The rayon is easy to cut and sew, but frayed like a son of a gun. I like the level of interior finish to be reciprocal to the complexity of construction. This top is the simplest construction around, so the finishes had to be top notch. Most of the body seams are clean finish seams top stitched to the body of the garment, and the side seams are french. I added 1 1/2" cuffs to each sleeve, changed the neck opening, and used a subtle hi/lo hem. That's the beauty of a simple pattern,scarf tutorial on Petit a Petit and Family today. It's a very versatile scarf, and very easy to make. Go check it out!
Dress Fabric: Rayon Modal (item #400152176316 not currently online) from Joann Fabric
Boots: Petty Ankle Bootie by Sam Edelman
Scarf Pattern: SweetKM Tutorial on Petit a Petit