Faviola, The “Housewife” Summer Dress

summer dress

A couple of days ago, I went to a local store to buy a floor runner for a hallway.  After looking for a while, I finally decided on one and proceeded to bargain the price –a common practice here in Singapore.  After much arguing, I actually decided not to buy the rug.  It wasn't anything special and the price was indeed inflated.  When the salesman perceived I was backing away, he proceeded to use the old flattery tactic, but having grown up in Latin America I was immune to it.

summer dress

What did catch my attention though, and despite me wearing a rather obvious wedding band, he continued to use the word “miss”.  I corrected him and said “missus” –after all, I am married.  The man said but you do not look like a “housewife”.  I was a bit taken aback and asked him why he would say such a thing?  He said, “housewives” wear “a uniform” and you can spot them a mile away.  I looked at my dress which was the first thing that had caught my eye in the closet.  Normally, I dress casually and according to my mood, but today I would be having lunch with a friend I have not seen in 5 years, furthermore, she is French, so not a hair out of place….”ever”.

summer dress

In Latin America where I grew up, when we get up, we shower and dress ready for visitors.  After all, when we say “Mi casa es su casa” we mean it.  People often do not call before dropping by.  Of course, they don't expect you or your house to be perfect, but just looking plain is actually frowned upon.  I'm not suggesting you take on the practice.  But, then again why not?  After all, you never know who you might meet while at the supermarket?  Needless to say, “Fabio” did not get to sell his floor runner and I ended having a great time catching up with my friend.  But the thought kept bugging me.  Are we so comfortable at home in plain clothes that we have begun to become invisible?  How does wearing super casual clothes every day affects our mood?  Why do we think dressing nice has to happen only when we go somewhere special?

summer dress

This dress is very easy to make.  It does take a bit of effort to prepare the fabric, but once you are ready, it can be sewn in 30 minutes.  Make it and try on the dress to go the supermarket or take a stroll around the neighborhood and see how many people ask you if you are coming or going to a party.  What are you celebrating today?  You!  Yes, I am wife inside the house, but I'm also a keeper, a cook, a nurse, a mother, a friend, a lover, a woman with many hats.  I think this dress says all that.

summer dress

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Materials:

  • Jersey (Rayon or ITY) only 2 1/4 yards for the sizes 2-14.  3 1/2- to 4 yards from 14 to 18.  4  1/2 to 5 yards for 20 to 22.  I've put a couple of fabric suggestions from Fabric.com below.
  • A ballpoint or jersey needle.  I always use Schmetz.
  • Stretchable interfacing cut on a bias or stay tape
  • Satin bias tape.  This is what I used but any kind should do.
  • Thread to match your fabric
  • A double twin needle (Optional)
  • A serger (optional)

Fabric suggestions from Fabric.com

Download the free pattern

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Summer Dress from our account at Craftsy.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Size chart for the summer dress

The measurements below indicates that if your bust is 40″, use size 14.

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Step One: Prepare your fabric

Apply stretchable fusible interfacing on the neck, shoulder and arm holes to both front and back of the top.  Please notice that ITY jersey does not need to have the seams finished.

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Step Two: Attach the front and back

Take the front side and back side of the top of the dress right sides together and pin at the shoulders.  Sew at 1/2″ seam allowance.

Step Three: Apply bias tape to the neck

I like to apply bias tape to the neck area when the neck is wide enough for the head to go through without the need of a zipper.  It provides both a decorative detail and prevents the neck from losing shape with time.  Pin the tape starting at the shoulder seam on the right side of the fabric and fold in sewing it on the first fold of the bias tape.

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For a more detailed explanation of how to apply bias tape to a V-neck line please have a look at the following article.

Easy way to apply bias tape to a v-neck tutorial

Step Four: sewing the sleeves and the sides

Mark the middle of the sleeve top and bottom and each half of the sleeve.

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Pin the sleeve to those three points first.

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As you start sewing stretch the fabric between those three points. Proceed to sew at 1/2″.  Clean the seam (use serger of 3 step zigzag) and iron towards the sleeve.

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Sew the sides and clean the seams.

Step Five: making the flounce and skirt

Because both skirt and flounce are a circle we are going to treat them the same way.  Sew the sides and clean the seams (use a serger of 3 step zigzag).

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Use the serger or a 3 step zigzag at the hem. (Optional you can leave it raw)

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I have applied stretchable interfacing to the hems because I do not want it to buckle or look wavy.

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Step Six Attaching skirt and flounce

Pin the skirt at the sides, front and back and stretch the fabric in between while you sew.  Clean the seams with a 3 step zigzag or if you have a serger use it.  The dress is done and all you need now is a to iron the hems using a cloth and some steam.

Put on the dress, strappy sandals and some lip gloss, and you are ready for anything!

Step Seven (Optional)

The pattern is drafted for a full circle skirt.  (half circle is shown below) however, on the bigger sizes, 14 and up and when using ITY knit will make your skirt too heavy.  In that case, you can reduce the width of the skirt.  The important thing here is not to reduce the waistline while reducing the hem width.

This is how to do it.

We are going to work with one-quarter of the pattern. Take half of the half circle.

Trace a line from the waistline to the hem and cut the pattern from the hem to but not through the waistline.  You will stop the scissors about 2mm at the waist.

Using sticky tape overlap the pattern pieces one on top of the other the amount you want to reduce skirt by and tape. 

Add the cut on fold pattern marking and you are done ready to cut.

 

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summer dress

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120 Responses to Faviola, The “Housewife” Summer Dress

  1. Pingback: The Return of Nonchalant Retro Dress - So Sew Easy

  2. Maureen says:

    Good day! I have printed out the pattern from the Craftsy platform and in your instructions it says to cut 2 straps 4” x 22” (rectangle). There is no reference as to where these are used. Please explain??? Also, when using a server, do I use the universal needle or put in a stretch needle?
    This is the first knit dress ever for me. It is a beautiful pattern.

  3. Cindy Smith says:

    Hi. I printed the pattern out. (25 pages) but page 6&7 have a dash dash dot line on it that doesn’t match anything that I can see. Is that a ‘extra’ line?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Not sure what you mean, but can you send me an email with a photo so I can have a look, thanks!

  4. Kelsi Dredge says:

    disregard my last comment i didnt look through the entire pattern before commenting….theres a size chart

  5. Kelsi Dredge says:

    I don’t understand the color-coding for the sizes, what color matches what size on the pattern?

  6. Lana Prince says:

    Does this dress pattern have bust darts? I find dresses without darts or princess seams pull across and flatten my bust . Is this pattern suitable for knit fabric or two way stretch?

  7. Christina F says:

    I am Australian so I understand your purchase of fabric from Spotlight. However I don’t understand the reference to ITY in your recommended fabrics, ie rayon or ITY. Can you explain please?

    Thanks for the story too – I spent 3 years in Penang as a young teenager and loved shopping and haggling for fabrics in the bazaar. And yes, the badinage was the same, lol.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Christina, the reason I give fabric recommendations is that when I draft a pattern I have the fabric then I think what to do with it. If you want to have the dress looking as it is in the picture use the fabric I recommend. You do not need to use the same however the pattern calls for a minimum percentage of stretch.

    • Hélène Wilson says:

      Christina, ITY means ‘interlock twist yarn.’ It’s an industry description for one type of stretchy jersey.

  8. Kelsi Dredge says:

    I tried to get the pattern from the link provided, but it kept coming up with this message. What can I do to get the pattern?

    Here's my pic:

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      NOt sure Kelsi. I can assure you is not the site. Could be your service provider or your browser.

  9. Karen Blackburn says:

    I made a similar design from woven fabric – cotton poplin – for a baptism last year and, being in a hurry as it was short notice, I fitted it to my bust measurement and the waist measurement was given 2″ ease. I added a slight bit of elastic to the waist to ensure that it fitted as I didn’t want to wear a belt and had no problem with getting it on/off even without a zip. I have frequently made dresses from woven fabrics and while they aren’t skin tight they are fitted and they don’t have zips. I may add that I am a curvy hourglass.

  10. Hélène Wilson says:

    I grew up in a time when women and girls put on a dress if they left the house. I vividly remember how shocked my mother was to see women in trousers — or even shorts! — in the grocery store, when we came to Florida in the US. Her friends made fun of her for ‘dressing’ before she went out. I still wear dresses most of the time, as they are much more comfortable in hot weather. It’s so nice to see simple housedress patterns like this that look neat and trim but don’t require fussy details (or a zipper).

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      There are still places like you describe in the world. I agree with you that dresses are much more comfortable in warm weather. I particularly enjoy wearing long dresses since it is the easiest way to keep the mosquitos off my legs.

      • Demetria says:

        I’m not overweight. I’m 4′ 11″ & 110 lbs. The lil extra pudge I carry is on my tummy, rear, outer & inner thighs. So I wouldn’t mind wearing dresses if my inner thighs didn’t rub together when I walked, lol. I have to find control underwear that have legs that are just the right length to solve the problem but not too tight.

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Hi Demetria, you are in luck! just purchase some power netting and will be sharing a pattern for control underwear especially for the purpose you are mentioning above. Stay tuned.

  11. Linda G. says:

    I love dress except for the flounce on the sleeves. How would you finish the sleeves if you do not use the flounce?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Print the pattern and try to work out the length you want then add 3/8″ for hem allowance. I have this dress in a small puff sleeve and as a long sleeve stretchable lace.

  12. RRIS says:

    Lovely dress, pattern and tutorial. I am a “Goddess-“ sized woman, so I will be upsizing this pattern significantly (about a size 40/44 US women’s). Having multi sizing on the pattern, and the skirt hint and information, means it is probably possible to do — with a trusty muslin first!!

    I’m looking forward to it, ‘cuz this looks so cute & good looking, as well as comfy to wear.
    Thank you for sharing it!!

  13. Maggie Drafts says:

    Ha, ha, ha!!!!!Love your story, wish that I could be so impressed with your reaction, but, alas, I fear that I am just too lazy to get all “dolled up” anymore.
    Love the comment from Jeanna from South Carolina, I suppose that she was not raised on a farm where a woman, lady or not, would not be expected to look dolled up in the hay field, driving a tractor, nor in the barn feeding the cattle!
    I will try to do better however, just for you, Myra! (I do look my best when the occasion calls for it; i.e. church!!!!!)

  14. TerriSue says:

    Hi Mayra, I am a 60 year old housewife and I loved your story. Every night before going to bed I check the weather for the next day and then pick out what I am going to wear the next day right down to the jewelry. I do not own a pair a pair of pants except for two pairs of 1930’s style beach pajama pants I got when I was going through physical therapy. Lying on my back with my legs in the air I had to have something a bit more modest for wearing than a skirt. lol I want to to let my husband to know that I care about my appearance and that I truly care about the JOB he has allowed me to have for the last 38 years. I try to take care of my clothes by wearing an apron when working around the house. It really makes a difference. It takes the beating and spares my outfits but if someone comes to the door I can quickly untie it and look nice. When I leave the house I am never without a hat and gloves. My 33 year old son usually takes me grocery shopping as my husband hates it and I no longer am able to drive due to disabilities. My son enjoys keeping a tally in his head of the number of compliments I get on my appearance. It amuses me. Here are people complimenting a grandmother on how she looks! If this was 50 years ago I would have gotten no looks at all!!! I would have looked like everyone else and believe me no one would have singled me out. I am being singled out because I take the time and energy to put some thought and care into what I wear. I don’t wear anything that is torn and worn out. I keep my clothing in good repair.
    This dress is just my style and I cannot wait to sew it up. I think circle skirts are just about the most becoming style there is. I will definitely wear it with a petticoat! I am also thinking about putting in some side-seam pockets. I really like pockets so I have somewhere to put a hankie rather than sticking it into my bra like my mother always did! lol

  15. Suzanne G says:

    FINALLY! I have found the dress pattern I’ve been looking for! I’ve been searching for months for just the right dress to make for summer. I have a gorgeous border print cotton and will need to make a few changes for a little ease here and there and a zipper. I’ve done this many a times so I’m good to go and can’t thank you enough for this GORGEOUS PATTERN!!!! I love the sleeves, they are perfect for an “older” girl like me who has somewhat large upper arms – very flattering design.
    You are a darling; thank you for sharing this.
    Have a safe and enjoyable trip!

  16. marie-laure loiseau says:

    bonjour
    bien jolie modele cette robe mais en taille francaise sa fait quoi merci bonne soirée

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Bonjour, Marie-Laure, la talle 2 coreesponde a la talle 34 en France. 4-36, 6-38, 8-40 etc…la robe est tres facil a faire:)

  17. Kathryn Biallas says:

    Such a beautiful dress! Can you share the specific fabric you used? Because those flowers on the green background are gorgeous.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Kathryn, I bought it at a shop in Australia ages ago called Spotlight. I am not sure if the fabric is still available. Please check fabric.com they have lovely print and similar fabrics.

  18. Brenna says:

    You mentioned in another comment that there is a bit of ease in this pattern, could you share the finished garment measurements for the bust and waist?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I will but I am waiting to board a plane and will have to wait until I am back into my sewing room. Go for the size you normally wear at the bust. Then print the top of the pattern in three sizes closest to your bust and check your measurements leaving the one you are in the middle, that way any adjustment is easily done.

  19. Agathe Meherio says:

    😆 I am French, and very glad no one can see the state of my hair today! I just moved, well, nearly two months ago, and am still emptying boxes etc. this week-end…
    I loved this post and just had to to go and get this pattern. It does look like it can be both stylish and easy to throw on. Just the thing for me.
    Thank you, once again, for being so inspiring!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      It is my absolute pleasure, given that I have over 32 times and 5 continents I can empathize with you:) One box at a time that is all we can do slowly returning a house into a home. There is the magic…I am sure it will be a lovely place after all the hard work:)

  20. Barb Funk says:

    Can you tell me the finished garment’s measurements in size 12? I always have to do an FBA and then grade out the waist to the hips (an hour -glass I am not!!) So knowing finished measurements is critical.

    I assume that with a knit the pattern has negative ease?

    Thank you for your beautiful patterns!!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Barb, I don’t think in this dress you will have to grade the hips since it is a full circle. I am about to get on a plane to Africa and won’t be able to load those finished measurements until I get back. This is a very generous dress if you use a rayon or ITY fabric. I am not sure which sloper I used. I have four for knits, one for 10%, 25%, 50% and 75%, I would have to measure the size ten to find out how much negative ease there is. If you do not want to wait, please print the size you need and make all the necessary adjustments by comparing it to your Bust.

  21. Elsie Bulva says:

    Lovely pattern and much of it could easily be made with a serger. Your comment on how we dress affects our mood made perfect sense to me but I never thought of it in those terms. At 70 I feel better about myself and I how I look then I did for years. Yes dressing affects how you feel or how you feel affects how you dress. This article will probably come to mind now every time I dress to go to “town” Thank you from another housewife

  22. Heather says:

    Beautiful dress, thank you!

    I find myself dressing up more when we’re overseas. In the U.S., I tend to go out in leggings or jeans all the time. Overseas, I’m in dresses, with make-up. 🙂

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      You are welcome Heather, I hope you surprise your significant other for no particular reason and see what happens…do tell…

  23. Cynthia says:

    So beautiful! I will add it to my project list. I would love to make this and I totally agree with the article. Thank you!

  24. Karena says:

    Thank you for the pattern – and also, the commentary! I have recently begun wearing dresses (or skirts) routinely: they are more comfortable, and I *feel* better about myself in them. I was tired of feeling sloppy all the time! This dress looks really nice – and I think even I can sew it!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Nothing like a nice dress to make you feel beautiful and comfortable, wait to see people’s reaction when you tell them you made it yourself.

  25. Jeanna says:

    I LOVE this dress and can’t wait to make one….I also LOVE your story and, here in “The South”, (SC-USA), I was raised to always look your best and when leaving the house, “fix yourself up a little more”…. When a “housewife” goes out in public, she is a reflection of her husband and her family, how well she is cared for and how well she cares for herself and her family….this sentiment was taught to me from a very early age. I continue to practice it and have passed it on to my daughter. It has served me well!!

    Here's my pic:

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Jeanna, I must say you are a stunning woman and bless you and the lovely “South” for passing on these lovely traditions. Love, love your comment:)

  26. Bonnie Richardson says:

    This dress is just beautiful. I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful patterns.

  27. Sonja Taylor says:

    Could you use a woven cotton for this? Jersey is too hot for me.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Sonja, despite the fact that I did use a sloper with ease to draft this pattern, I have not made it using woven fabrics. if you are an advanced seamstress and able to do fittings you will be able to add a zipper and alter the pattern to fit your body. Otherwise, I recommend the use of bamboo, linen or rayon knit, Lovely alternatives but much more expensive fabrics due to their natural fibers.

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