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


  • Jersey (Rayon or linen) 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

Opt In Image
Download the Free Pattern

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

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.53.16 PM

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.

Untitled design(2)

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.

Untitled design(3)

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.

Untitled design(1)

Pin the sleeve to those three points first.

Untitled design(5)

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.

Untitled design(4)

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).

Untitled design(8)

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

Untitled design(10)

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

Untitled design(11)

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.



summer dress

Bookmark the permalink.

145 Responses to Faviola, The “Housewife” Summer Dress

  1. Dawn Gilbert says:

    Can you give any yardage requirements for the different sizes?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI, Dawn, they are there, I am not being very specific but if you print your size it will be easy to work it out according to the fabric width you want to purchase.

  2. Kristine Born says:

    This is very pretty. I read your story and I see your point. However, I live in the U.S. in Wyoming. Our lifestyle here is very different, as is yours. How would it look with cowboy boots?

  3. Julie says:

    Lovely dress and thank you for the pattern. I think I figure it out becUse I’m an experienced sewer. But it might be helpful to add instructions on adding the flounce to the sleeves.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      The flounce is included in the pattern, this is a different pattern from the on you are looking at.

  4. Nora says:

    Can it be made as a one piece, no waist seam? I am very short waisted so a waist belt never looks right on me. Thanks!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Nora, I am short waisted as well. You will need to shorten the bodice by an inch or two. I thin belt, golden or silver chain tied on the side would be ok as long as you are an hourglass. You need the seam on the waist or you can change the pattern to a princess’ line.

  5. Cristina F. says:

    Hello! Thanks for this pattern! I used it and adapted a little bit – normally I am a size 8 but finally it was quite big for me, so I think size 6 was the right one… anyway, I mixed up the top with a circle skirt I used for a skater dress I love and it is ok ;). I can’t join a picture here – I took one for you. I will be happy to wear it soon. Ciao! Cristina

  6. Mindy Richmond says:

    Hi, I seem to have 2 versions of this pattern saved on my computer ( I love to save patterns, hoping to make one day) . I am FINALLY getting back to sewing after many years. I see on gives directions for a 1/5″ seam allowance (never seen that before) and the second one says 1/2″ seam. I’ll use the second one but wanted to see if the pattern piece are the same. Please let me know because I have already printed out one and don’t want to waste paper. Thank you.

  7. Lori S. says:

    Hi, I love this dress! Does this dress pattern have negative ease? I took my measurements and chose what size to make off of the size chart. I made a mock up out of muslin and it is about 3″ too small.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Lori, this dress is for stretch knits only.

      • Katherine Blocksdorf says:

        It would have been useful to put that the pattern requires stretch knit. Where I shop you often don’t know what the brand name of the fabric is and rayons are often woven, not knit. So now I must go and buy fabric, as nothing in my stash is suitable. Isn’t that just awful? 😀 It’s a lovely design, thanks for sharing it.

  8. Sali says:

    Hi, The dress looks lovely. How can I make this a floor length? I am 5 foot 4 inches or 164cm tall I want to make it into a full maxi dress. Can you help?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes Sali, i will write a tutorial on this so others can use the info as well. Keep tuned in, give me a few days to finish it up.

  9. Kathy says:

    I love the looks of this dress, but I absolutely HATE working with stretchy fabrics. Might be different if I had a serger, but sadly I dont. So I am wondering, why not just a simple cotton? Do you really need the stretch? It really does look like it would slip over your head and fall into place without any issues. Has anyone tried this and if so what were the results? I hope this gets to be my new dress for summer. Thank you for the pattern!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Kathy, if you know pattern making and how to fit a dress to your body, yes you can use woven fabric, just need to add a zipper either at the side or at the back long enough to cover the back and 4 to 6″ of the skirt. Not all knit fabrics require a serger in fact most don’t and the normal sewing machine are able to handle this type of fabric. A walking foot is highly recommended.

  10. myra says:

    The download will not work even though I have the correctprinting equipment

  11. analogue (@analogue77057) says:

    You mentioned “Orchard Road” in an older post and I thought to myself “… Singapore??” lol yes apparently as you mention it here. Been a long time since Ive lived in Sing. Attended Singapore American School, too.
    PS yes there IS a “housewife uniform” ha ha. The uniform is “I am tired and need something that is hard wearing and won’t show spills, and covers my fat parts” PPS I really, really like the dressing well even if going out for shopping, picking up things from the store. In France yes everything is perfect before they leave the house. I am in Arizona right now, and I must say (and I have lived all over different countries and cities) I must say, sadly, the citizens of Phoenix Arizona are the worst dressed in the world. I haven’t seen Latin America so I don’t know for certain, but it’s pretty pretty bad here. People wear things I would not wear out to mow the lawn or lay brick. It’s really bad. Description? well, lets say very slobby, ill-fitting, and ugly. It’s very depressing. I don’t dress up myself but I don’t wear pajamas to the store but people do here, and I mean adults not children. Something must be done about this!

    PS thank you for all of your lovely patterns. I’ve already downloaded a couple, will try to post pics if I ever finish any!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I look forward to the pictures. So you are familiar with Singapore then, it is a fashion show everyday to pick up kids at school. Looking frumpy is a no, no. Smart but casual, comfortable but taking advantage of your best parts. I think people just need a bit of inspiration. What do you think?

  12. Naomi says:

    Would a cotton knit work with this pattern? It has a bit of a stretch. Thanks for all the wonderful patterns and tutorials! They helped me get back to sewing after many years.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      YOu are welcome Naomi, yes it would work. Before you cut the fabric make sure you measure the waist so you can be sure to be able to put it on since it has no zipper. In fact this would be a good tutorial, thank you for the idea.

  13. Mary Leonard says:

    I’ve never worked with jersey and am more of a quilter than a clothing sewer but I want to make this dress! I just need to get to the fabric store and tear myself away from the quilter’s fabric.

    For me, I’ve been noticing a lack of dresses in my closet. Skirts are nice but dresses are as well. Being a homemaker, homeschooler and homesteader, I don’t wear dresses too often – my uniform of choice being sweats or jeans. I do try to put on a skirt and make-up several days a week for the occasional errands or for my husband’s benefit. This is a good length to still be able to get around the farmyard and check for eggs or work with the goats…and I won’t have to roll up my sleeves 😉

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Now there is picture I would love to see, you collecting eggs wearing this dress, if you send me a picture , I promise I will add it to the article.

  14. Hi, I just downloaded your pattern from Craftsy, thank you very much! My measurements are 41.5, 33, 46. I don’t fall neatly into any of the sizes. Which size would you recommend? Usually I have to make bust adjustments. If I use the size that fits my bust it’s usually way to big in the shoulders. So can I ask, what bust size is this pattern made for? I’m a DDD. With stretch fabric it’s not quite as important, but I hate it when the fabric looks pulled across the bust. It just adds extra attention to that area, which I don’t need. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      In your case you should go with 10, please use the fabric I have recommended, the degree of elasticity in the fabric will allow you to wear a size or two smaller. Enjoy the dress, Love to see a picture of your dress. Kind Regards,

  15. Rainey says:

    I’m eager to try this pattern. I haven’t sewn much lately, and perhaps I’m more dependent on the pattern instructions than others who sew. What are the two straps for, and how are they to be sewn?

    Thank you for a lovely pattern and a thought-provoking post!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thank you Rainey, the straps are for the neckline should you choose to make your own bias tape, before you cut please measure the neckline to make sure you have enough, this dress is design to be worn with a belt or ribbon around your waist. Enjoy! I would like to see your dress.

  16. Pat Woon says:

    I love the dress but the instructions don’t mention that you have to cut 2 skirt pieces.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Apologies Pat, hope you were able to catch the missing info on time. Yes, the pattern should say cut 2 on fold. Enjoy the dress.

  17. sha says:

    are the seam allowances (1/2 “) already included in the pattern, or do they need to added on before cutting? Lovely pattern!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thank you Sha! all So-Sew-Easy Patterns have the seam allowance already included. Happy Sewing!

  18. Patricia Holmes says:

    I love this dress and will have a bash at it. I have some pretty stretchy fabric in my stash which I think work. By the way, thank you for the realistic measurements on your size chart – yippee, I shall be able to make my size – 18 – instead of size 22, which is of course, miles too big in the armholes etc. Thank you x x

  19. Loved this post! It is something I personally had an epiphany about Recently! I’m home with my children all summer (I’m a teacher). So after all the gardening, going to the park and working out I do, you can start looking a hot mess and not even realize it! I make most of G he dresses I wear to church and will be adding this to the list. Our experience with sleeves ( cause I love the sleeve!!) And one without!

  20. Linda says:

    I love the look of this dress and I’m excited to try it out. I just downloaded and printed the pattern. It looks like the largest size skirt piece will not fit on the regular cross grain of the the fabric. It should be ok to turn it the other direction as long as the fabric is 4 way stretch, correct? The pattern piece measures about 31.5 inches from the fold marking to the outer edge for the size 22. There’s no way that will fit on 60 inch wide fabric. Doing it turned the other way will take a LOT more than 2.5 yards of fabric, though. It will take more like 5 yd. by my calculation.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes the larger size would require much more fabric, but it does not need to be so long perhaps if you make it just below the knee will be enough.

  21. Shirley says:

    I looked at the fabric link suggestions, but am looking for some more options. Do you have any other favorite fabric sources?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I think it will depend where you live, as long as you use a 4 way stretch fabric it really does not matter where you get it. I bought that particular one from an Australian store called Spotlight.

  22. Janet says:

    What a lovely dress, I always remember my nana being well dressed, at home “in case of visitors”, can’t wait to make it. Thank you

  23. Geralda says:

    Nice dress, thank you for sharing the pattern; please, could you include the sizes and material needed in Metres and Centimeters, if possible..I sew as a hobby, as I have free time, now that I’ve retired, and would very much like to try making the models, which are shared……

  24. Maria says:

    This looks like wonderfully comfortable dress. I have one question though. Is the skirt cut on the fold, and do I cut two or just one?

  25. Laurie says:

    Can I omit the sleeves and finish the armholes the same as the neckline for a tank style dress? Any tips on doing this?

  26. jojo says:

    Your dress is lovely.

  27. Joy says:

    Thank you for this pattern. I do have a question, “Are the seams really 1/5″. I’m from USA and our seams are usually 5/8″. I’ve never seen anyone use 1/5”. Thank you for clarification.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Joy, thanks for pointing out this typo, since corrected in the article. Seam allowance should be 1/2″. Kind regards and happy sewing.

  28. Denise Cornell says:

    I love the dress and want to make it. I am having a duh moment and don’t understand what “clean” the seams mean. I am new to sewing stretch material.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Denise, I do this quite often unfortunately, I assume people know what I am talking about and since English is my second language, sometimes it gets lost in translation,(my fault) lol:) I meant use a 3 step zigzag or a serger. In the photos you can see I have not used my serger because it has a dull blade. Please do let know how you go with the dress, anything else do not hesitate to contact me.

    • Valerie says:

      Clean finish the seam edges – either with zigzag, serger or your preferred method.

  29. Linda Goschke says:

    This is a nice basic knit dress, but I am confused about the seam width mentioned. I have heard of many different seam allowances, but never 1/5″. I don’t even have any rulers with this measurement noted, and I have rulers that measure down to 1/72″. Nor do standard sewing machine plates note this measurement. Do you mean a 1/4″ clean finished seam, like with a serger? Or, is the seam allowance 1/2″ or 5/8″, which are more typical commercial pattern seam allowances? Or have you tried to convert this seam allowance from a metric measurement to get this odd measurement?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Linda, thanks for continuing to point out this typo. Seam allowance should be 1/2″. The pattern is perfectly correct but this typo in the text. Again, I really appreciate you bringing it to our attention.

  30. Barb says:

    Wonderful dress, can you explain what you mean by clean the seam? I’m not familiar with that term. Also do you think cotton would be a suitable fabric to use to make this? Thanks for sharing your pattern.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Barb, I meant use your 3 step zigzag or a serger, the pattern is for knits only. And it looks better on a rayon or ITY knits because the skirt is a full circular one so it will fall very nicely on the hips.

  31. Maria Hoffbeck says:

    Its a lovely vintage dress, I love it 🙂
    Have a great day.

  32. Rebecca E. says:

    Lovelovelove this dress! So cute! Anxious to get some pretty fabric and get started. Have you considered using the new fold over elastic around the neckline? Just curious. So you are in Singapore? We used to live there. I miss it and would love to go back.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Denise, I meant use the 3 steps zigzag or a serger to tidy the seams, but since you are just starting I have to tell you ITY ( Interlock Twist Yarn) do not need a serger so it is the perfect for those without one. Mine has the blade dull which is why I do not use it at the moment.

  33. robbie says:

    I probably won’t make this style dress, but I do appreciate what you wrote. I need to make a daily effort to dress like I’m meeting someone important. It’s nothing worse to run into someone when you’re looking frumpy. Thanks for posting your beautiful dress and a great reminder.

  34. Wendy says:

    Love the dress! I always dress for comfort though, and if my friends frown on me…. I’ll get better friends!

  35. Liza says:

    I love this! Can’t wait to download. Thank you!

  36. A wonderful dress. And finally something in my exact body size. I look forward to making this beautiful dress.

  37. Kristie says:

    Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing! I love wearing dresses and skirts, especially in the summertime when most others are in shorts. I often get asked why I’m dressed up. I just say I’m more comfortable in skirts, but it is fun to feel “pretty.” Always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed!

  38. Christa says:

    I might reconsider wearing more dresses, now that I ‘ve seen your project. It looks stunning!

  39. turnofcloth says:

    What a lovely dress – and a great story! I am downloading this dress pronto – many thanks!

  40. Melissa Paruzel says:

    Nice dress. There is a housewife uniform? I must have not got the memo since I tend to dress up even if I am just going to pick up my daughter from school. Plus dressing up makes me feel happy.

What do you think?