Swingy Summer Dress

This dress started with a bra. My new handmade bra, in fact – it comes up so high and has such narrow-set straps that I can’t wear it under most of my me-mades. What’s a girl to do? Make more clothes, of course!

My starting point was this Old Navy kids dress that I’d pinned a while ago – yes, I officially hang out with kids so much that I want to copy their style. Hazard of teaching perhaps, or maybe kids clothes are just cooler than they used to be! πŸ˜‰ I like the crew neckline, drapey pockets, high-low hem and loose style – but of course, I wanted mine to be a knit.


I pulled out my trusty Mission Maxi pattern – seriously, everyone needs a good tank/maxi pattern! Jalie has a really similar one, and there are lots of Big 4 versions… I have used this pattern for tank tops, pjs, short dresses, as a skirt with other bodices, and out course, for maxis! I even got Leila of Three Dresses hooked on the Mission Maxi when she came up to visit.

And: voila!


The neckline is cut freehand higher, the straps are moved in an inch, and the sides are slightly more a-line (I meant to make it more swingy, but it turns out that if you only add volume at the sides, rayon jersey just drapes and makes it disappear. I guess next time I should properly slash and spread for more volume all around!)

hem Collage

The pockets are just trapezoids (British people, is it true you call them trapeziums? Everytime I teach 2-d shapes I come across that word in British resources online!) Β I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to put them on, so I ended up coverstitching them onto the front and opening up the side after sewing so they could be caught in the seam. The top of the pocket is the selvedge – lazy AND better for drape than a turned hem would have been!


There were moments during sewing that I thought this dress was a bad idea, but I really like the finished product! There’s something about big pockets that is just fun to wear. I haven’t worn a high neckline like this in ages, but I think it works to exaggerate the a-line shape!


In other news:

  • Look! I kept plants alive for a month! By leaving them outside and forgetting about them, yes, but it’s still an accomplishment for me!
  • I keep chopping away at my hair, and I’m liking it more and more! I caved and got thinning scissors last week, because really, if I’m going to admit that I cut my own hair after each haircut, I should stop doing it with nail scissors. Thanks to all of you who admitted you don’t love your hair right after a haircut either!
  • It’s been pretty hot the last week, and I’m obsessed with always havingΒ ice tea in the fridge. Just straight up cold tea – nothing fancy or sweet! Right now I’m working on mint and lime mojito tea, and next I think I’ll do chamomile or black tea… anyone have suggestions for tea that is greatΒ cold?


Next up is even more explorations into swingy, voluminous tops. Summer just seems like the right time to experiment, doesn’t it?

55 thoughts on “Swingy Summer Dress

    1. Oooh, trapezia – what a pleasing word to say! I looked it up, and our plural is trapezoids. How boring! (I looked it up just to make sure I wasn’t accidentally using the wrong terminology myself – somethings like 2-d “shapes” and 3-d “figures” just don’t roll naturally off my tongue after a whole life of calling them al shapes! πŸ˜‰


      1. Meh- figures and shapes are interchangeable terms imho. The important thing is getting them to nail the idea of 2D and 3D especially when it comes to area and volume…so dificult! I tend to do a lot of hand gestures when I’m taling to try to [subliminally?] reinforce the concepts. Sigh….


  1. Kudos on nailing the higher neck and A-line shape. I’ve seen a lot of advice to women of ample bust to avoid high necklines, but you’ve proven that the right combo of cut, color, and pattern makes it look totally awesome. Do you tuck anything into the pockets, or would it make them too saggy?


    1. My theory with the high neckline is that it helps accentuate the vertical – otherwise there’s be a whole lot of horizontal lines emphasizing width! I haven’t put anything in the pockets yet – the poor fabric is barely supporting them as is! πŸ˜‰


  2. The high neckline totally works with this, it looks sporty and comfy. As for iced teas, I think the fruity flavors are best iced. I made blueberry the other day and it might be a new favorite.


  3. Look at you, you gorgeous thing!!! I love this dress on you – it just screams ‘Gillian’ to me πŸ™‚ The pockets are amazing and your gold sandals are so pretty. I have up on plants a long time ago unless they’re in my garden. My cats are notorious plant eaters.

    This tea from David’s Tea is absolutely fantastic iced: https://www.davidstea.com/ca_en/lime-gelato?SID=ohe5j1ofne7lmj6lguglaolri5

    So is their Second Flush Darjeeling…yum!


    1. It’s a Fabricland special! I found the jackpot of $3/m rayon knit on the ends table a while ago. Why oh why don’t they carry stuff like this all the time?
      BTW, I’m meeting Andie (from Toronto) on Ottawa st on August 6th at 3pm to go to the bra store and explore the street, then we might meet some people after around 5 at Boston Pizza (wherever that is!) If you can join us, I’d love to see you! πŸ™‚


    1. High-low is so tricky! This started off as much more high-low, and I ended up evening it out quite a bit. The long back just makes me feel frumpy! (Maybe because I’m not willing to go very short in the front? πŸ˜‰


  4. I adore your dress! So cute! The pockets really make it fun. As for tea, most of mine come from England and the shipping to the US is terrible so I can’t imagine shipping to Canada is any better! πŸ™‚ However, for iced tea, Teavana has some excellent blends. I love this one: http://www.teavana.com/the-teas/best-tea-blends/p/raspberry-limeade-tea-blend
    As an added bonus, if you have a Teavana near you, you can have them make you up a cup and you can try before you leap off into a big lot of tea only to find you don’t care for it. πŸ˜€


      1. Look on their website for a store near you and go! Their staff is always super helpful and they let you smell any and all of the teas on their wall o’ tea. It’s a wonderful experience! I’m a big fan of their JavaVana Mate for first thing in the morning. Their summer blends are superb for iced teas, though.


    1. Thanks! Knit dresses forever! πŸ˜‰
      Do you ever wear maxis? I can’t picture one you’ve sewn, but they are so nice for summer! (NOt that this is a maxi, but the pattern is!)


  5. This dress looks fabulous on you. I’m all for having a favourite pattern you can hack multiple times, this one definitely works for you!


    1. I think the magic of the Mission Maxi pattern for me is that it’s got a really dramatic curve from waist to hip. It means it can fit nicely over the but and have room for my large hips, without draping like a tent in between!


  6. Lovely dress. The pockets are genius and I love the shape. It looks like it would be fab in the heat (that we don’t have any more). I get green tea with pineapple and grapefruit flavour and that is nice cold. What about a chilled chai? Xx


    1. Is it? How fascinating! I love seen what the various British colonies kept or rejected form British English. Do you say “math” or “maths”? “Knickers” or “underwear”? “Chips” or “Fries”? “Soccer” or “Football”? (So many nerdy questions, forgive me!)


  7. what a versatile dress! it looks so comfy for summer, but add tights/leggings, a cardi and boots, and it’ll take you right through the winter, too.
    as far a tea goes, and since most people in TO aren’t too far away from a David’s, ask for a sample of their ‘pom tango’ – it is fabulous cold, straight up, no sweetener. and just about everything else there is worth a sip, too πŸ™‚


  8. Oh man, my mouth started watering like crazy when I saw that glass of iced tea! How do you make it? Are you just steeping fresh mint & lime?

    We’ve been doing ‘sun teas’ a lot lately. I kind of love how hippie-ish it feels! We just fill a growler with water, drop in a bunch of loose-leaf tea, let it sit in the hot sun for a few hours (just taste ever hour or so to get to the potency you like), and then strain out the tea. I love doing it with herbal teas like blueberry or strawberry tea, but my husband’s favorite is ginger-rooibos. If you ever visit Austin, I’d have to take you to this awesome tea shop called The Steeping Room. They have an incredible tea selection (and actually sell online too, but Idunno about shipping), plus amazing healthy food. Mary from Idle Fancy is a huge fan too!


    1. That sounds SO HIPPY-ISH – and I love it! I’ve never tried anything like that – not sure if our balcony gets enough sun for it to work. Sounds really fun though!!!


  9. Such a fun dress! Looks perfect for summer. And I also look at kids’ clothes for inspiration… sometimes I like those looks more than the adult clothes!


    1. I went shopping for fun colours of leggings this winter, and realised nope, they only make those in kids sizes! Kids get all the fashion fun! πŸ˜‰


  10. I love this!!!! It’s such a great dress! I want one, too! My favorite iced tea is the Tazo Passion tea… it’s really hibiscus-y, which is so nice in the summer! I brew it very strong and drink it super cold. I also love a southern-style sweet tea, but only when I brew it myself. πŸ™‚


    1. Ahh, that brings back memories of working at Starbucks one summer when I was 20! I still like that tea, though. I think that was the first place I ever had iced herbal tea instead of Liptons classic!


  11. I know that I read this post but why the heck didn’t I comment!? You are in the middle of a heat wave and here on the coast it’s been rainy and foggy. Must be what’s affecting my brain. The freakin fog. Your tea looks good but I’m going to need something a little stronger if summer doesn’t soon show up! It makes me cranky, can’t you tell? Anyhoo… Great dress Gillian! What I wouldn’t do for two days of sewing knits with you. Yours always look so good.


  12. That looks like a perfect summer/beach dress. With huge pockets to carry seashells and interestingly shaped stones and stuff… πŸ™‚ My favorite tea to drink cold is 1. black tea with lemon juice and 2. peppermint tea with lemon juice. I also once had a fancy tea that was a blend of herbs (including peppermint) and fruit, which was gorgeous cold.


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