Summer Dress Season

The big swooshy dress

Blog / 3 July 2015

In the midst of a heat wave here in the UK, it seems perfect timing to start my Summer Dress Season Series on the blog. I’ve been busy sewing up lots of lovely summer dresses to share with you over the next month as part of Summer Dress Season and I’m really excited about sharing my first one today! It’s the…

For me, the big swooshy dress had to be one that makes you feel like you want to spin around like a kid again!

I’ve chosen the Sew Over It Betty Dress, which I think is such a gorgeous style - very classic and feminine! At first I was a bit worried that the full circle skirt would be too much for me but now I’ve made it I love it!
Once you make one, before you know it you’ll find yourself spinning around like a kid with the skirt flaring and swooshing out all over the place!

If you’ve got any weddings, garden parties or just want to feel super summery – then this dress is awesome!

The Betty is described as a 1950’s style dress inspired by Betty Draper. It has a really lovely fitted bodice and then my favourite bit – a full circle skirt!

The bodice has a high curved neckline at the front and a really flattering V-neck shape at the back.

There are 6 darts altogether in the bodice, two at the bust and then two front and back at the waist. It means it really helps to give your waist definition against the fullness of the skirt.

This dress took me by surprise a bit. I first made one last summer for my nieces naming celebration and I wasn’t sure that I was going to like the fullness of the skirt. Once I tried it on I loved it. The skirt just seems to hang really well and despite how much fabric is in the skirt it doesn’t feel bulky at all when it’s on.

The neckline at the front and back is really flattering as well. For me, I prefer not too much boobage going on in a dress and the height of the front neckline is perfect for that, while still flattering your collarbones.

The lower V shape at the back is as equally flatting and is still high enough that it will hide your bra.

For me a dress as lovely as this is more suited to a special occasion, I don’t feel that glamorous on a day to say basis to just wear while I do the invoices or clear my inbox. That said, there is no reason why you couldn’t!

I think it looks really lovely with high heels and if I had any summer weddings to go to I’d probably sling a pashmina over my shoulders, find a cool pair of shades, try and do something 50’s inspired with my hair and be ready!

I wore it about a month ago on a night out with the girls and loved it!

The Pattern envelope recommends using a drapey light weight cotton. That means a fabric that is going to hang nicely. If you are ever in a fabric shop and not sure whether something is suitable, just unroll about a 1m section of it and hold it up. Move the fabric around, scrunch it up a little at the top and see how it falls. You need something that will fall into soft ripples, rather than hold its shape. Otherwise, the skirt section of the dress will stick out quite a bit - maybe too much.

Due to the way that the skirt is cut out, it is also best to use a fabric that does not have a strong one way design - so a print that can never really look upside down.

For sizes UK8-12 you need 2.5m of 115cm wide fabric and 1.80m of 1.4m wide fabric. For sizes UK 14-20 you need 3m of 1.15m wide fabric and 2.3m of 1.4m wide fabric.

I used this gorgeous summery vintage style floral print called Twighlight florals. It's a cotton lawn, but not too fine that you would feel like you need to line it or anything.

My other top fabric picks for this dress are....

Left: Navy and Yellow Dot Fusion Middle: Summer Butterflies Right: Navy Fine Cotton Floral

Alll my four top picks have 15% off for the next week only. The discount has already been applied and will expire at midnight on the 9th July.

The Sew Over It Betty Dress Pattern also has 15% off for the next week too! Yay!

Just click on the highlighted text to see the fabric and pattern listing in the shop.

  • The facing section of this top incorporates the armholes to so the way that you attach it is different form attaching a simple neckline facing. Just pay close attention to the instructions, and don’t worry if they don’t make sense first time round.
  • I forgot to turn things out the right way at a crucial stage and ended up doing a bit of unpicking. Oh and when the instructions say to leave 5cm unstitched from the shoulder seam – make sure you leave at least that, if not more. I regretted sewing a bit too close.
  • As the order of how you put the dress together is changed slightly due to the facing situation, it means you have to baste the shoulder seams together to check the fit. I ended up lifting the shoulder seams up by an extra 1cm as I felt the bodice was sitting slightly too low on me. It’s worthwhile checking that - once the facing is in place it would be really fiddly to change, so it’s better to check early on and make any changes as needed.
  • I also shortened the hem by about 3-4 inches, as I wanted it to sit just at the top of my knee.

Next week I'm going to show you my Simple Classic Dress - I've got two versions ready to share that will show you how different they can look. Tune in next week to find out what pattern I've chosen!

Are you making any summer dresses at the moment? What style have you gone for?