Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lou Box Top as Dress

For the last little while I have been chasing the perfect sack dress. A dress that can hit the moving target of what to wear today, without too much thought. Something that works for mothering, and satisfies my need to be a little bit pretty. A phantom most-basic dress, in a most-basic black.  This solid attempt to check all those boxes is a Sew DIY Lou Box Top modified into a dress with cuffed sleeves. I made a few rough drafts (one here) to experiment with key elements such as the ideal hem length, a neckline that just grazes the collar bone, and a fabric interesting enough to act as the only detail across a large blank rectangle. 
Part of the beauty of a simple dress is its versatility. Shoes, and jewelry (or total lack of it) can make very different looks. I've styled my dress two ways, whose dramatic difference is possibly only noticeable to me!

This fabric is Tencel Linen from Joann. I carry a running list of things I want to make in my head, and sometimes when my hand hits upon a particularly nice fabric, one item on the list jumps to the front of the line. The drape and subtle texture of this fabric compliment the pure geometry of the dress.

The material is substantial enough to be a bottom weight, and would make great wide leg pants, or billowing shorts. The only downside is its ability to carve the wearer's movements in permanent relief across the front. By that I mean, it wrinkles easily. There is a crease down the front where I cut the front pattern piece on the fold (no iron, just pins). I've steamed, and ironed, but it won't budge. I'm afraid Photoshop is the only way to fix it! Maybe the evidence of wear will add to the character of the fabric (that's what I'm telling myself :).
MODIFICATIONS: Narrow hipped ladies can probably sew the same size dress, as they would for a top. Ladies with a bootie (ahem, me) should choose their size based on the hip measurement, rather than bust. I compared the width of the Lou Box Top sizes to the width of a few of my other woven dresses, and chose a similar size.

The Lou Box pattern is drafted with different hem options that are separate pieces. The top shirt piece has a straight seam along the lower edge that I extended to just above the knee length.

I tweaked the neck curve a bit based on previous versions. My neck opening is big enough that I didn't need to use a button back neck opening, but I cut the back as two pieces anyway. The seam gives a more structure to the shape, and counteracts the tendency my full back version has of sticking to my butt. There are other sway back shaping tricks that would achieve the same goal, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

Inspired by the many sack tops and dresses floating around the sustainable fashion inter web (here, here, here) I wanted to add cuffs to my dress. I like the addition of the clean detail to a very plain dress. Accentuating the shoulders, also gives visual balance to my pear shape.

HOW-TO ADD CUFFS to the Lou Box Top:
To add the cuffs cut a pattern piece based on the dimensions in the image above. This creates a 1 1/2" cuff. The long dimension will vary depending on the size you are sewing. With right sides together, sew the short edges with a 1/2" seam allowance. Press seam open. Fold the loop in half with wrong sides together, and press. Then make a 1/2" fold along one raw edge of the loop and press. With right sides together align the other raw edge of the loop with the arm opening, aligning the cuff seam with the side seam of the dress. Sew with 1/2" seam allowance. Press the cuff and seam allowance away from the body of the dress. Using the creases made earlier, fold the cuff in half toward the wrong side of the garment. Pin the smaller fold just over the previous seam line with the seam allowance sandwiched between. Pin. With right side up top stitch as close to the seam line as you feel comfortable (I stitched in the ditch). Be sure you are catching the inside edge of the cuff as you go.


Dress Pattern: Modified Lou Box Top by Sew DIY
Dress Fabric: Nicole Miller Solid Linen Blend from Joann Fabrics
Necklace: Tutorial Here
Bracelet: Wrist Ruler from Tolt Yarn & Wool



  1. You do the minimalist look so well! The dress seems pretty perfect to me; the cuffs do add balance. I had no idea you could get tencel at Joann, I'll look for it next time I'm there for a pattern sale!

    1. Thanks! This is the only tencel I've ever come across at Joann. You just never know what you'll find at Joann, and when you find something good you just have to buy it! :)

  2. This looks great. Love a simple black dress. I agree that the cuffs give the sack some balance, that's why I've left them on each of the Butterick Lisette sack dresses I've made, while others leave them off. This dress looks a lot like that pattern, have you tried it?

  3. Your posts are always so helpful. This dress looks stunning on you.I never would have dreamed of finding Tencel at JoAnns.

    1. Thanks Francis, so glad you like it! I think Joann is branching out! I've found some nice rayon, and not this tencel there lately.

  4. Oh gosh! I'm reading this in 2019...wondering what the yardage requirement is for your lou box dress. It turned out great!!!