May 15, 2024

We're Going Back in Time This July with Retro Inspired Sundresses!

This month's box started out with the simple "sundress" idea, a theme of which we've done a few iterations in the past. However, over the course of finding patterns, it sort of took on a life of its own to become either the "Button-front Sundress" box or the "90s Sundress" theme.

Depending on your age, you may prefer one name to the other. For me, a teenager in the 90s, the recent trend of retro styles is giving me Delia's catalog flashbacks. I'm not one who wants to go back and embrace the many questionable fashions of my youth. However, not everything about the era was terrible. I do love a bootcut cord and a flannel shirt. And I do love the sundresses I used to wear.

The patterns we've picked this month are a nod to the era without feeling dated or costumey. They have a vibe of the 90s but are also current and modern. And we wanted to chose fabrics that would achieve the same effect. That led us to a mood of turquoise blues, oatmeal creams, and deep, dark plums. And if you really want, you can break out so dark lipstick and your choker necklace to complete the look. It's up to you!

So, without further ado, let's dig in!

Sew Essential Box: Ophelia Dress from Tessuti Fabrics 

Tessuti Fabrics released the Ophelia Dress back in January (when it is summer in Australia), and we could not wait to use it in one of our boxes. We love so much about it. The straight neckline that matches the thickness of the straps. The clustered buttons that look almost like bridal buttons. The A line, shift shape that is loose without feeling baggy. It all adds up to a gorgeous whole.

We especially love the timeless feel of the dress. While it would definitely be apiece with Friends era fashion, we could also see it in the 50s or 60s, though people of that era would probably have a matching hat and handbag. For the modern era, it's a wonderful dress for weekend leisure or weekday cookouts. Comfy and chic, it has it all!

For fabric, the pattern calls for linen, and nothing else. That's why we've chosen two linen blends and a cotton that has the feel of well-worn flax. The colors are stunning and we can't wait to see your make with them. So here they are!

  • Sandcastle Floral Linen Cotton - How can you not love this fabric? A gorgeous, neutral oatmeal linen is covered with white leaves as if it were cyano-printed in the sun. Airy and dreamy, the fabric feels like a fresh summer day. Plus the combination of linen and cotton gives the fabric softness and sturdiness, all the better to match the straight shape of the dress. A gorgeous fabric for a stunning dress!
  • Rain Blue Brussels Washer Linen - There is little more classic than a blue chambray. It's part of the American psyche; I swear we have genes for jeans. But we've added a twist with this greenish tinted blue. This lighter wash chambray is a linen-viscose blend, giving it structure and lightness, breathability and softness. And the color is so serene, like fresh rain on a hot day. The perfect summer color!
  • Mulberry Sandwashed Crinkle Cotton - We're absolutely obsessed with this crinkle cotton, so forgive us if we love to use it for everything. Completely opaque yet thin and supple, it's the ideal combination of structure and softness. Plus, the crinkle texture gives a lived in look, like you've loved your handmade makes for years, even when it is fresh off the sewing machine. And the color! The deep plum red is dark and dreamy, and straight out of the moody part of 90s. We love it!

Sew Select Box: Hughes Dress from Friday Pattern Company


Somehow in all the Friday Pattern Company patterns that we've used (and it's been a bunch), we've never chosen the Hughes Dress. But we can rectify that now because the pattern is too good to be left unnoticed. Ahead of the recent 90s trend, this pattern has actually been around since 2018, with a size update in 2020 when the company made all their patterns 0-30. Either they were psychic or they lucked out that fashion would catch up to their fashions.

Beyond the 90s vibe, this dress has so much going for it. The button front creates a gorgeous center line that is mirrored and curved by full length princess seams. The seams create a gored skirt for a bit of extra swing, while longer short sleeves balance the dress. A square neck really ups the 90s look, and a tie back adds waist-shaping. All in all, if this dress had existed in my youth, I wouldn't have worn anything else.

For fabrics, the long lines of the dress make it an ideal canvas to show off so color and pattern. We have medium weight cottons and rayons (another classic 90s fabric) to complete the vibe, in dreamy purples, creams, and blues. Let's have a look!

  • Meadow Dusk Ditzy Floral Rayon - If you remember the 90s, you remember all the ditzy floral patterns. Laura Ashley florals everywhere! So we wanted to hint to that trend without getting too country. This dark, muted floral was perfect with its plum, blue, and peach flowers, all smooshed together in a ditzy pile. The fabric itself is a supple and drapey rayon challis that will show off the swing of the gored skirt and feel nice and cool in the summer heat. A lovely floral option!
  • Oatmeal Linen Cotton Jacquard - We have been itching to use this wonderful jacquard for a while now, and we finally found the perfect match! Medium weight and oh so soft, this checked fabric is neutral but never boring. We love the hint of pattern on what looks like a solid beige fabric, and we think it will look lovely with this dress pattern. A fantastic canvas to accessorize for any occasion!
  • Ocean Blue Sandwashed Cotton - With a soft hand and lightly crepe texture, this fabric is a step above your typical cotton poplin. This fabric has a soft drape, slightly numbly feel, and a dry hnad that makes it ideal for this summer dress. Plus the solid color will show the princess seams and tie backall the better. Like a perfect summer sky, this fabric will have you beating the heat in style!

Sew Indulgent Box: Lora Dress from True Bias


While searching for sundresses for this month, the Lora Dress was the first one we picked out. We could NOT get over the button front, and so we built this entire month around the idea. Somewhere between a slip dress and a shirt dress (both big trends in the 90s), the Lora feels elegant and unexpected, a mixture a relaxed, bedroom ease and sophisticated, ballroom elan.

The mutability of the pattern is what really clinched its spot in our theme. With three views, a sleeveless midi, a sleeved mini, and a sleeved midi, you have three notably different dresses. The sleeveless version resembles a traditional sundress, with a gathered cup bust and the button front. It's a great dress for picnics and barbecues. The sleeved version, however, with voluminous balloon sleeves, looks like a romantic date night ensemble and would be a fantastic option for a wedding or cocktail party.

With that duality in mind, we wanted to chose fabrics that could work for either, and in some cases both. We chose a gorgeous crepe, a Tiffany blue poplin, and a unique embroidered linen. All in our beautiful color theme. So take a look!

  • Turquoise Blue Floral Rayon Poplin - It's been a little while since we've used our favorite rayon poplin, but we had to bring it back for this dress. Completely opaque, with the feel and drape of silk, this fabric is ideal for the feminine shape of this dress. Plus the Tiffany blue color, printed with a wallpaper-esque damask floral, is sophisticated and elegant. A dress that is made for summer parties, wedding receptions, and more!
  • Berry Linen Viscose Crepe - The soft drape and cool hand of this fabric is such a great match for this dress. And the color! The deep, dark plum, like summer fruit and full bodied reds, is sophisticated and stunning. The fabric itself is sort of the lovechild of a rayon challis and a crepe, combining the silky hand of your favorite challis with a slightly nubbly texture you get with crepe. The combination will give you a dress that is both relaxed and elegant. A lovely choice!
  • Ivory Embroidered Linen Viscose Poplin - When this fabric popped up at one of our wholesalers, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to put it to good use. A simple rayon linen cloth, slightly heavier than our favorite silky noil, has been embroidered with a delicate, beige and white floral. It is simply a sight to see. The fabric is the heaviest of our three options, suited best for the sleeveless dress, but what a dress it will be. The embroidery gives it a couture feel, as if you spent hours hand stitching your dress to perfection. A fabric as unique as you are!

Whew! Did anyone else feel like April and May flew by? The fact that it will soon be summer is blowing my mind a bit. But it does mean pretty dresses, so I can't complain too much. And if 90s dresses aren't your thing, we're reviving our Day Dress boxes from last year, complete with a Barbie color theme, so you can pretend it's Barbenheimer all over again! A bit of nostalgia worth getting behind, amirite? 

Until next time. . .

Happy sewing!



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Start Building a Handmade Wardrobe

We bundle modern patterns, drool‑worthy fabrics and all the notions you’ll need — then deliver them straight to your door each month.

Choose a subscription box