This dress is a mix of the April Rhodes Staple Dress and the Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt. I made it from Nani Iro double gauze (the print name is “Sound Circle”) which I bought from my favourite online fabric store, Miss Matatabi.
I absolutely love the Brumby Skirt (those pockets!), and I’ve been wanting to use it in a dress. Originally, I had planned to use the Papercut Patterns Clover Blouse for the top, but after two muslins I was unhappy with the fit. I think that I was being too fussy, and the main problem was just that with my bust the Clover Blouse requires something drapier. I’m planning to give Clover another go with a rayon and lace soon. I then considered using the Grainline Studio Scout Tee, but I had my heart set on trying out a split sleeve detail (inspired by a RTW top I have and love), and it wouldn’t work with set in sleeves. Kimono sleeves, however, are perfect for this detail, and that’s how I decided to use the Staple Dress for the top.
Honestly, I should have skipped the split sleeves and used the Scout Tee instead, and I’m really kicking myself that I didn’t. The double gauze just isn’t drapey enough and the split sticks out awkwardly when I slouch. I’m keen to try split sleeves again, but I’d only do it in rayon.
I’m not super happy with the fit of the Staple Dress- the neckline and upper chest gape a lot, and just don’t sit nicely. This is a problem which I have with my two previously made Staple Dresses (Sen Ritsu and Mountain View) as well. Given the fit problems, this wasn’t a well thought out pattern choice… I guess I assumed the problem would just magically go away. Imagine my sarcastic shock when it didn’t. Vigorous eye-rolling ensued.
Right or wrong (plenty of wrong), here’s how I did things. I cut the Staple Dress pattern off roughly at the waist, using my traced and altered pattern pieces from previous Staples. I swore profusely when I noticed I’d somehow managed to cut two backs, then calmed down somewhat when I realised it was an easy fix because the only difference between the front and the back was the neckline (no wonder it doesn’t work well on my shape!).
To make the split sleeve, I removed the seam allowance along the shoulder seams, and bound each shoulder seam separately with exposed self bias tape. I then sewed up the bodice side seams, and bound the neckline and sleeve hems with more exposed self bias tape, with the bound shoulders zigzagged up against each other, so that the neck and hem bindings held them together. I’m now thinking that I probably didn’t remove any seam allowance at the neck to account for the exposed bias finish, and maybe that could be contributing to the gaping neckline? I don’t remember, and unfortunately an unplanned phone sync wiped all my notes.
With the bodice done, I assembled the Brumby Skirt (size XL) according to directions, but cut the back piece on the fold to omit the seam and zipper, and left out the waistband. I closed the side seams, then gathered the skirt directly to the bodice. I used shirring for the gathering– it’s my favourite way to do it, so much easier and quicker than the normal thread pulling method! I just did a line of shirring on either side of the seam allowance, stretched and pinned the skirt to the bodice, stitched them together, then removed the shirring. This skips the drama of gathering the skirt to the exact right length, and it ensures that the gathers are even.
I was originally planning to elasticize the waistline, but when I tried the dress on, I had second thoughts. The sack shape doesn’t look so great on me, but it feels so free… and it’s a very Japanese silhouette, which seems to go well with the Japanese fabric. I asked for advice on instagram and most people suggested I just leave it loose, so I figured I would follow that advice, and try out this new look, at least for a while.
My feelings about this dress are mixed– the neckline gaping, and the way the split sleeves stick out as I move/slouch, really bug me. The lack of waistline definition feels unflattering, and the bodice feels far too wide. It doesn’t sit nicely around the underarms, and I feel like maybe I need to take it in. Yet despite all these complaints, I haven’t done anything about it- partly because I’m not sure exactly what to do, and partly because it just feels so good. Because it’s oversized and unfitted, It’s super comfortable, and I feel like the fabric (which I love) is interesting enough to compensate somewhat for the unattractive shape. I particularly enjoyed wearing it with leggings on the long plane trip to Australia over Christmas. I made this dress nearly two months ago, and although I’m not sure I really like it, it’s actually gotten quite a lot of wear.
I’ll to continue to think about about how I might be able to improve it (Elasticising the waist, re-doing the neckline, taking in the sides, stitching closed the split? Suggestions welcome!), and deliberating whether it would even be worth it. Perhaps it’s good for me to have one sack dress, for those days when a waistline is just too much of a struggle. I actually kind of want to make another loose (but not SO loose!) waistline dress, this time using rayon, and either combining the Scout Tee and Brumby Skirt, or a Southport Dress bodice and a simple gathered rectangle skirt, patch pockets, and waist ties.
In the meantime, however, I’ll keep wearing and enjoying this one!