It's happening already. I can feel it as I sit here writing. The summer heat is upon us, and it won't let up for several months. In fact, it's only going to get hotter and stickier as the days go by. For some of you, this is your favorite time of year when you go outside, bask in the sun, flock to the beach or the pool, and soak it all in. And for some of you, it's a time to enjoy the AC, seek out shade whenever possible, and savor the 75 degree days that are few and far between.
No matter which side you fall on, summer heat means adjusting your wardrobe in order to be comfortable. For our July boxes, that meant sewing shorts. But for August, we're going a step further and embracing a different look: the breezy, floaty, lighter-than-air tiered dress.
Tiered dresses or peasant dresses or boho dresses or whatever you want to call them are made for hot weather. They are loose-fitting and float away from the body, keeping you cool while protecting you from the sun. In my opinion, they are the only thing to wear when the mercury is high.
And there are so many good tiered dress patterns out in the world today! In fact, one of the patterns we are using was only announced last week, and the timing couldn't have been better. All the more reassurance that this style of dress is ideal for the season and perfect for your next sewing project.
Because we wanted to keep the dresses as light and cheery as possible, we went with an earth toned color theme and ultra lightweight fabrics. In some cases, that means a bit of translucency, so keep that in mind when choosing your fabrics, but in all cases, it means a dress that will feel like you're barely wearing anything at all – or as close as you can get while still keeping polite society ;)
So without further ado, let's dig into the boxes!
Sew Fearless Box: Wilder Gown from Friday Pattern Company
In the sewing world, you've probably heard of secret pajamas. But I propose a subcategory: secret nightgown. Many of my favorite dresses could be described as such, and I'm totally cool with that. And it's also my favorite part of the Wilder Gown, which reminds me (in the best way possible) of night dresses from Victorian novels.
The key to the secret nightgown is the billowy, diaphanous fit. Fitted only around the neck, this dress wears like a cloud, enveloping the body without cinching or shaping. The raglan sleeves give more movement to the arms, and the empire waist is loose-fitting for comfort. Even the tie at the neck can be adjusted to your liking.
And the tiers! With your choice of either a top with no tiers, a midi dress with one tier of a max with three full tiers, you're able to level up or down as you please. This is a dress that is made for twirling and lounging and everything in between. And we want you to do it all!
For fabric, the key with tiers is to keep the fabric light and thin, so we've found three amazing options that will highlight the best parts of the gown and give you the best "secret nightgown" you can make. So here they are!
- Cream Scattered Flowers Rayon Challis - We actually used the inverse of this fabric last year for our Kalle Shirtdress Boxes, but we fell in love with the fabric and knew we had to use it again. And since the Wilder Gown lends itself so beautifully to light-colored fabric, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Tiny springs flowers of blue, aqua, and orange dot the cream colored background of the ultra-thin rayon challis, giving it a prairie feel, like a calico straight out of the Oregon Trail. If you want to make a modern peasant dress, this is the fabric for you! *Note, the light color of the fabric will cause it to be translucent in light*
- Marine Blue Moda Crepe - In summer, we wear crepe. Well not exactly the famous line, it's not a bad one. A thin, lightweight crepe is ideal for heat as its nubbly texture sort of skims across the skin without sticking and the silky hand is cool to the touch. In a deep blue - a shade darker than a royal - this fabric is like the night sky and will transform into a dream of a dress. The light weight will keep the tiers soft and the thin hand will gather beautifully. A classic and stunning choice!
- Burnt Sienna Monstera Print Rayon Poplin - The combination of color and print in this fabric is something to admire. The bright orange is vibrant and warm, like sandstone in the Southwest, and the line-drawn monstera print is bold yet minimal, somewhere between a botanical print and an abstract. Together, they make a gorgeous fabric that will be truly remarkable for this dress. The cool, silky hand of the rayon will drape wonderfully, and it will up your dress game for the whole summer!
Sew Confident Box: Myosotis Dress from Deer & Doe Patterns
One of the fun parts of choosing the patterns for each month's theme is that I get to explore the different variations of a basic idea. For example, this month, each pattern has a tiered skirt, but also each pattern has a different bodice shape, different closures, and different sleeves (or lack thereof). It's actually very cool to see!
In this box, the Myosotis Dress from Deer and Doe opts for a button front and a ruffle sleeve, which, like most of the Deer and Doe patterns, is a modern take on a classic look. Whereas the Wilder Gown evokes Victorian or even Georgian fashion, this dress is straight out of Bohemia and late sixties.
The flowing skirt combined with the button front harkens to peasant tops and skirts of the Hippies, but the band collar and dart shaping of the bodice keeps the design utterly modern. And it all combines for a dress that feels both retro and current. And oh yeah, it also makes for a dress that is light and summery and perfect for the beach, the park, and out on the town!
Being less billowy than the Wilder Gown, this dress is ideal for fabrics with drape and ease. For us, that meant viscose whose naturally cool hand works so well in heat and whose drape is so lovely for gathers. So here are the options!
- Navy and Taupe Abstract Zebra Viscose Crepe - We haven't used many animal prints in our boxes as they often fall into the "love them or hate them" category. But this print was hard to deny. With pinky taupe and purply blue, the coloring doesn't scream zebra, but the pattern has that feel to it. It could also look like koi swimming in a dark pond, or reeds in a river. The abstraction is really the appeal for this option! The fabric itself is very slightly textured and thin with a silky feel and fluid drape. And it will become one amazing dress that you'll want to wear all summer long!
- Canyon Rose Viscose Poppy Dobby - At first blush (pun intended), this fabric looks like hammered silk. The small dots, created in the dobby weave, give it a lovely texture and depth that catches the light just so to sparkle and shine. The rose color is simply gorgeous too. With a little more peach than a true pink, its muted hue gives it a sophisticated quality that contrasts nicely with the more bohemian style of the dress. Plus, since it's viscose, it will skim across your skin and feel absolutely amazing to wear!
- Twig Ochre Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill - We are so excited to finally offer Atelier Brunette fabrics! This viscose twill is all about subtlety. Just a hint of pattern goes a long way to making this fabric a knockout where the ochre hue is muted and navy and white twigs sparkle across the face of the fabric. The demure pattern really lets the shape and style lines of the dress shine, and it will become a one of kind dress you'll want wear absolutely everywhere!
Sew Curvy Box: Roseclair Dress from Cashmerette
I had already mostly planned our boxes for the month when I got an email that shook up the entire endeavor. Announced just last week, the Roseclair Dress was too good not to use. And it was absolute kismet that it came just at the right time to use it for this month's theme!
The Roseclair dress is like three dresses in one. A wrap top, a tiered skirt, and a statement sleeve mean you can mix and match the elements you want to create a look that is as unique as you are. Oh, and all while staying cool and collected in the summer heat. It's bound to become the new star of your summer wardrobe!
The dress at its core though is a woven wrap dress that you'll want to make over and over again in different variations. With a no-gape front, you'll feel such confidence when you wear this dress. With a choice between a bishop sleeve or a short sleeve, you'll be able to stay cool in the heat or warm in the AC. And with an option for a simple A-line skirt or a three tiered ruffles skirt, you'll have to fight the urge to twirl and swish your way where ever you go!
For fabric, there were lots of amazing lightweight options. But, since we are featuring tiers, we wanted to go with something that would be floaty and billowy. The tiers take a lot of fabric, several yards worth in fact, so that meant picking fabrics that wouldn't weigh you down or be too bulky. That led us to voiles and lawns, ideal options when you want volume without weight. So here they are!
- Wheat Viscose Mix Poplin - If you'd ever wondered what a cloud would feel like turned into a fabric, it is surely this viscose. Insanely light and soft, this fabric has a mix of different threads to create a minimalist, creamy yellow. Simple, clean, and neutral, this fabric will let the details of the dress shine. And the cheery color will make you feel like a ball of sunshine fit for the summer heat!
- Sparkle Tangerine Atelier Brunette Cotton Lawn - Another amazing Atelier Brunette offering, this cotton lawn is so fun! Almost a polka dot, the tangerine background is speckled with twin specks of white and navy, evoking a ticker tape parade or confetti. The fabric itself is soft and finely woven, with a lightly crisp drape that will play with the volume of the tiers. Plus, it's ultra-lightweight will keep your dress breathable and airy for the late summer heat. A perfect combination!
- Navy Blue Swiss Dot Cotton Voile - If you want just a hint of texture in your fabric, look no further than swiss dot. Little bumps of thread dot this navy blue voile, and it creates a beautiful polka dot pattern that will look amazing for this dress. The fabric is wonderfully lightweight and will float lightly through the tiered skirt. All the better for twirling, right?!
Sew Indulgent Box: Marcel Dress from Chalk and Notch
This is the first time we're using Chalk and Notch patterns, though not for lack of beautiful patterns. Just, for some reason, it hadn't happened yet. But it would've been impossible to do tiered dresses and not offer the knock out Marcel Dress. I mean, this is THE dress, the go with everything, wear everywhere, never want to take it off dress. It's really that good.
It all comes down to the shape of this dress. A fitted band across the high bust opens up to a completely loose, swishy trapeze shape. But tent this is not. A center panel creates a smooth, sleek front and back, while all the volume is focused on tiered side panels that are just waiting for color-blocking or pattern.
Plus, the tank style makes it perfect for nearly every occasion. With variations from a camisole tank to a tunic to a midi dress, this pattern can be customized to your wardrobe and needs. And the fabric can make all the difference too. In a silk or satin, it would work for a beach wedding. And in a light gauze, it would make for a lovely poolside coverup. A gorgeous, lightweight linen creates a day dress for everything from brunch to errands.
Because this is the luxury box, we wanted to choose fabrics that are lush and heavenly as well as ones that can be worn for all sorts of activities. That led us to linens and cottons, and an extra special color-block combo that we are simply dying to make. So, onto the fabrics!
- Mirage Chestnut Atelier Brunette Cotton Double Gauze - After perusing Instagram makes of this pattern, it was clear that we needed to use a stripe of some sort for the tiers. Alternating the direction of the stripes from vertical to horizontal on the panels created an amazing effect that really amplifies the side panels. But we didn't want to just use any ordinary stripe. That's why we chose this Atelier Brunette double gauze with a hashmark stripe and red clay moons. The combination of pattern and color is simply divine and will make for a dress that is out of this world!
- Atelier Brunette Canopy Cactus Viscose Crepe/Blush Colorblock - Color-blocking was a must for this pattern, and it was made incredibly easy when we decided to use Atelier Brunette. All their fabrics coordinate in color so we were able combine a lush fern and blush abstract viscose crepe with a matching blush color. Light, neutral, yet full of texture and interest, these two fabrics complement each other so well! The viscose drapes so nicely through the tiers, and you will feel like the beach itself with this fabric choice. Simply stunning, if you ask us!
- Mediterranean Blue Checked Linen Jacquard - Similar to the linen check gauze we've used before, this linen is woven with a grid of large rectangles that adds amazing texture and depth. Unlike the linen check, these shapes are not translucent so there's no need for an underling. Plus, the weave acts as a tone on tone stripe, allowing you to play with directionality, like with the mirage gauze. And the color! A deep blue green that will have you dreaming of the Amalfi Coast, this color is perfect for hot summer days and warm summer nights. A no-brainer of a choice!
In this month's Classic series, we're reviving our Airy Dresses. It's actually something that we've been meaning to bring back, but keep getting tripped up because Papercut Patterns completely discontinued their Sway Dress pattern. However, we've found a near match from I AM Patterns, and we've brought these boxes back to life! So if you're not into tiers but still want a lovely, airy summer dress, these boxes are for you.
Until next time. . .