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

Materials:

  • 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.  62″ wide. I've put a couple of fabric suggestions from Fabric.com below.
  • 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
  • Double twin needle (Optional)
  • Serger (optional)

Fabric Recommendations from Fabric.com

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

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Step One: Prepare your fabric

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

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.

Step Four: sewing the sleeves and the sides

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

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.

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.

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summer dress


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Priscilla P Frye
Priscilla P Frye

Hi Mayra, love your patterns. I would like to make this dress & don’t think of myself as having an extreme hourglass figure but I’m about a 36-37″ bust with a 29″ waist. In ready to wear clothes, I’m usually an 8. If I sew the 10, to fit me in the chest, I feel like the waist will be pretty big.

Katrina
Katrina

Hi Mayra,
Thanks for the lovely pattern. I made a muslin out of this dress today with knit fabric and I have two questions: is this dress supposed to fit at the waist? Mine does not and it does not look good on my particular shape. Also, my sleeve flounces came out looking really circular instead of a bit angled like yours in the photo. Was I supposed to sew them on at an angle? I think with some tweeking for my body shape I could make this look good for me. Thank you again!

Susan Chinouth
Susan Chinouth

Where does one shop for pretty Jersey Knit fabric like this one?

Patti
Patti

Lovely dress ! I’m going to try to do it ! Can you tell me if the seam allowance is included and if so, if it is 1/4″ ? thank you !

Patti
Patti
Reply to  Mayra Cecilia

I tried it ! it’s awsome ! thank you so much !

Samantha
Samantha

Absolutely gorgeous, love the dress but especially love what you wrote. I’ve fallen into the trap of not getting dressed up when I am home OR go out for a quick errand. But when I have been dressed up, boy do I feel special, I feel like I could conquer the world lol I may just take you up on this task and sew up a few “house” dresses. Thank you for the great pattern.

Lauri Márquez
Lauri Márquez

Hi! I love this dress it is just the right dress to make for summer. I have been looking for something like that for months for Thanks for this pattern.

Amy
Amy

What a beautiful dress! I’m a beginner but can’t wait to give this a try! Thank you!

paula
paula

Hello, i have printed the pattern and i have cut is. But the back and front don’t match ?! One is much wider than the other one! Is that correct?

lisacurt
lisacurt

I understand not to reduce the waistline but approximately how much do you overlap the skirt when reducing from half circle?

Lisa Curt
Lisa Curt

Can you use fold over elastic bias tape?

Lilly Grace
Lilly Grace

Ooooh….this dress is so beautiful. How do I increase the size of the arms? I had a gastric bypass a few years ago. My body got smaller (thankfully) but, like others who have had this surgery, my upper arms are still large. Thank you.

Wendy
Wendy

Thank you for this dress pattern. I have downloaded it. Can’t wait to make it. I am wondering if I should buy fabric using the yardage specified in the downloaded pattern or the yardage in this post? They are significantly different.

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[…] our take on something like a retro dress, have a look at this summer dress free […]

Maureen
Maureen

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.

Kathryn MacDonald
Kathryn MacDonald

Hello, Lovelies.

Thanks for a fab pattern. I am looking forward to getting this right. I know this is an older pattern and you’ve probably got all kinds of other fun stuff lined up BUT…..is there any chance y’all might could do a step-by-step video tutorial on this dress?

There appears to be a lot of assumed knowledge for a beginner pattern…for instance, I am instructed by the pattern to construct and cut out 2 rectanglar straps. I have no idea why. Apparently, you assume I instinctively know how and where to attach the straps and at what point in the process I am supposed to do so. I am not THAT smart. LOL.

The pattern instructs me to sew the shoulder seams at 1/5″. I’m guessing that is a typo but is that a special seam allowance (1/4″) at the shoulders and 5/8″ everywhere else? Or since we are instructed to clean the seams, is that 1/4″ (assumed) what I’m supposed to be left with after cleaning?

This appears to be a rather popular pattern (at least it shows up in my Fb feed quite often) and I’m just thinking this may be one of those times where it is just easier to show folks than it is to try to tell folks.

Cindy Smith
Cindy Smith

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?

Kelsi Dredge
Kelsi Dredge

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

Kelsi Dredge
Kelsi Dredge

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

Lana Prince
Lana Prince

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?

Christina F
Christina F

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.

Hélène Wilson
Hélène Wilson
Reply to  Christina F

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

Kelsi Dredge
Kelsi Dredge

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?

Karen Blackburn
Karen Blackburn

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.

Lana Prince
Lana Prince

I wish I had your talent. You have done exactly what I want.

Hélène Wilson
Hélène Wilson

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).

Demetria
Demetria
Reply to  Mayra Cecilia

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.

Linda G.
Linda G.

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

RRIS
RRIS

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!!

Maggie Drafts
Maggie Drafts

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!!!!!)

TerriSue
TerriSue

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

Suzanne G
Suzanne G

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!

marie-laure loiseau
marie-laure loiseau

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

Kathryn Biallas
Kathryn Biallas

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

Brenna
Brenna

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?

Agathe Meherio
Agathe Meherio

? 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!

Barb Funk
Barb Funk

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!!

Elsie Bulva
Elsie Bulva

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

Heather
Heather

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. 🙂

Cynthia
Cynthia

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!

Karena
Karena

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!

Jeanna
Jeanna

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!!

Bonnie Richardson
Bonnie Richardson

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

Sonja Taylor
Sonja Taylor

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