Playing Catch-up and a Cote D’Azur Dress

This was a dress that started its life as part of my Mise En Place project over the fall.

Recently Amy of Sew Well asked me if I was back to working on one project at a time, or working on multiple garments at once. Coincidentally, I had just pulled out the remaining garments I cut for that project. My serger went on the fritz toward the end of a silk jersey dress, and I never got around to finishing the rest of the them so they’ve all been on my to-do list this spring!

One of the motivations behind the Mise En Place was to find an organizational system for myself. It seemed like every time I got down to actually sewing something I’d be missing something important–thread or notions, or forgetting to fuse part of the fabric and then having to salvage wadded up fusing. And it would just take so long to finish. I just wanted to sit down at the machine and sew when it was time to sew! This time I had a real pleasure out of having eight different projects all prepared to go, cut out, bundled up with their requisite notions, fused, etc. No more running out for something at the last minute. I liked pretending I was a small factory sewer for a moment.

I also really like working on the same type of project for extended periods of time. So all said and done it was a good experiment, allowing me to give all that attention to individual stages of the process. (And I got much faster at tracing patterns and refining seam allowances as a result.) Thinking eight projects ahead was fun, but I don’t know if I could do that all the time–no room for whimsy or the latest pattern a blogger made and I just have to have!

Speaking of which, I’ve been having a hard time coming up with a summer wardrobe sewing plan. There are just so many good ideas swirling around my head and my original list was about 10 or so garments. I’d love to join one of the palette challenges and I’m wondering if three is a better number. Leaving room for whimsy. I love the Me Made concept, too–but I think my personal challenges in the months ahead relate to fitting more than wardrobing. (I’m dreaming of a custom dress form. Just dreaming, at the moment.)

Anyways, that was a long answer to Amy’s question but I’m trying hard to put periods on some of my ellipses!

Now that you’ve made it this far: the dress!

Pattern: HP Cote D’azur Dress. Last summer I really wanted to try a Hotpatterns pattern. (And that sounds funny funny.) I have a few that I bought in some mad discount. I figured a knit dress was a good way to start.

Fabric: This is a somewhat weightier rayon jersey (I think 14 oz?) and it was purchased for a draping project for a friend, as a birthing dress. I will have to share that story some day but it remains my second ever draping attempt and it was a blast. Anyway, I’d ordered far more than her dress needed just in case.

Details: This is basically a t-shirt dress with seams down the center back and front. Super simple, the whole thing is serged. The special part about it is the bias shaping down the center front seam that forces it to drape as it does. (Sort of like a cut-on godet?) It also has hem facings, which I like, because it allows a for the nice, curvy hem shaping.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about a design with a gathered seam going down the bust, but I decided to give it a shot and just use up my fabric. It’s pretty cute, I think. I like the fact that it’s a maxi (or midi?) and that it’s purple. I’m not very good at binding knits yet, and I had to rip out this binding THREE times to get that V right, but I’ll get there.

One word about fit: I didn’t measure or alter this pattern before cutting (a risk, I know). And there were no reviews of it on PR at the time–but I learned afterward how much bustage is in this pattern. If I did this again I’d take out some little darts in along the neckline and gathers. (This review is helpful in explaining that.) Guaranteed, if you are a B or below, you will have to do some bust adjustment for this pattern. It’s not an ideal fit for me, as you can see:

It doesn’t bother me too much because the overall dress is nice, and looks even better when I don’t have a belt on–it weighs downward. There is a t-shirt version of this, which I doubt I’ll make but if I did there’s no way I could get away without taking it in in this area. Yes, this is going to be the summer I learn about small bust adjustments. No more balloons of fabric!

Summer + maxi(midi) dresses + my iris garden = happiness. (Sadly the irises have all bloomed and left by now!)


  1. Amy says:

    Gorgeous dress! And, thanks for such a lovely long answer to my question. I’m looking forward to the end of the SWAP since it forced me to juggle several projects at once in order to have any chance of finishing. I still have three items to make and 10 days in which to make them. My bombshell dress is almost done, my skinnies have been cut, and my final project is now going to be simple pajama bottoms, thanks to Karen at Didyoumakethat. Maybe I have a chance? Then, I’ll try to trim it down to three projects – a Craftsy class, a simple project for myself, and one of the many gifts I owe my mom and friends. Anyway, I look forward to reading about all that you learn with SBAs. My fear of them has kept me away from any Colette patterns with a top half.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Amy! Wow, you’ve accomplished so much sewing-wise this year that I am amazed. Marathons all around! (How is that going?) It seems like you’ve conquered so much for your SWAP, so many new techniques and patterns and TNTs. Skills that will take you far and maybe make things easier. I feel that way, at least. Nothing like getting over a big goal to handle all the smaller ones. You can do it!

      As for SBAs, I really want to tackle this and in fact already pulled out a pattern that has caused me a lot of problems. I don’t need to but I want to figure it out. I’m with you on Colette and I’d love to make some of their pretty patterns. I made so many adjustments to Lady Grey. I was totally winging it and wouldn’t know how to repeat myself!

      • Amy says:

        Ah, the marathon. I ran Boston earlier this month in the blistering heat. The Bay Area just didn’t prepare me for 26 miles in 87 degree heat (so I heard). I walked, I cried (or, I tried to cry, not enough water in me to make tears!), and I finally crossed the finish line in just over 3 and a half hours. My 3 hour dream was over at mile 3. But, I’ve had many people tell me that renowned coaches have predicted that times for this particular marathon were 20 to 30 minutes slower than expected. So, I can kind of pretend that I ran a 3 hour effort!

        I look forward to seeing how the SBA goes for you. Thankfully I’ve avoided it thus far since I match pretty well with the sizing of the big 4 and Sewaholic. And, I probably could have used a slight FBA for my bombshell dress. Fitting is a crazy and magical thing…

  2. Heather Lou says:

    Love the colour. Looks super comfy and I like the hem length change. Can I have those shoes? As for the summer plan – I’m too much of an impulsive fabric buyer to stick to anything too hard. I tried to make a plan based on what I had in my stash and all the patterns I hadn’t yet used but I keep getting distracted by new projects. I’m about half way through my list and may not get to a few things after all… However, I found just sitting down to think about it and get organized was really helpful. There is no reason you have to follow any plan 100% but it does make you feel like less of a flighty maniac.

    • Amy says:

      Haha, these shoes are surprisingly so comfortable! I wore them all last summer. You’re right, sitting down to think ahead does help… at least I get an idea of what kind of colors or shapes I’m into even if I go astray!

  3. oonaballoona says:

    i adore your posts. in fact i was just stalking your tracey reese dress before your new stunner popped up today. furthermore, i was drooling over your assembly line table and here’s the skinny on it!

    the red and purple combo is YUMMY and i love that hemline! i’m sure i’m repeating myself, but all your makes look so effortlessly chic, yet at the same time you can tell so much careful work went into them. love it.

    • Amy says:

      Gee, I’m blushing. Thanks! You really should make that Tracey Reese dress some day… or gosh, you’d probably drape it overnight! it was so easy and I’m sure you have a blast of some jersey hangin out in your place! I feel like knit dresses are like a secret weapon. They can look so cool but feel like pajamas. (Easy to sweat in. That’s what my friend told me.)

  4. Sallie says:

    This is the kind of dress I could live in! Everday – purple maxi/midi dress. Sounds like a plan. I love hearing your thoughts on organizing and preparing to sew – my mind has been in overdrive lately and I feel like the only way to reign it in is with a plan – but like you, where does that leave me when whimsy strikes?? I feel like I’ve been shoving my whimsy to the back of the brain closet.
    I may just follow my whimsy and buy some bold colored knit and make a dress like this. A hem facing is a revolution to me! And I also ALWAYS have a tough time with knit bindings!

    P.S. Your Hasbeens have me drooling. Perfect summer shoes.

    • Amy says:

      I’m with you on the brain overdrive… I think it might be a hazard of spring! It’ll all come down. Right now UT is in the midst of finals and it’s like everyone’s in on it–all those minds buzzing (and probably not sleeping!). Anyways, knit maxis are really perfect in the heat. It helps me feel groomed! But they’re not too much of a distraction, much quicker sewing than most things.

  5. Maddie says:

    The dress looks amazing! I like that it is a maxi dress but not a floral or crazy print like all the maxi dresses out there.

    I think you just discovered my sewing routine. I usually like to spend my entire day sewing but in order to achieve this, I prep my garments throughout the week, stay stitching one night, fusing the next, etc. Although I don’t finish the project in a day, the extra days give me time to think about my order of operations for sewing. It also gives me time to think through the whole project and mentally figure out any obstacles I might occur. It took me a long time to discover my routine but I love it now 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Maddie! Sounds very similar to my process, which is evolving but definitely developing a pattern. I do most of my sewing prep in spurts, an hour here, an hour there, and then often have one day maybe on the weekend where I can just solidly go at the sewing itself. I use the extra time to take notes on my order of operations, too. (I even draw little diagrams!) I like all the prep work 😉

  6. Lizz says:

    I love reading about your mis-en-place project. I’ve been really interested in trying something like this out in an effort to refine my sewing skills. I think it would be interesting to cut several of one pattern and then make them up assembly-line-style. However, I can’t find a garment that I’d want more than two or three of – maybe underwear but how hard are they to make?

    Anyways, gorgeous dress! I love this length in really bold colors. It’s such an effortless way to make a statement. I want to live in maxi/midi dresses in late spring / early summer (before it gets too hot).

  7. dixie says:

    1. I love the dress (as usual). I’ve never made any hotpatterns patterns before.
    2. I wish my yard looked that good!
    3. You live in Texas. Summer is like 10 months of the year. I think you’d have enough time to finish 10 summer wardrobe garments by November 😉

  8. Lavender says:

    Gorgeous dress, and I’m a sucker for a purple/red combo. I always admire this length on other, but don’t feel comfortable in it myself. As Oona said, effortlessly chic, as usual! I went back and re-read your original mise en place post, and am so glad I did… it’s such a thoughtful approach, which struck a chord with me then and now.

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