Last year about this time, I had the idea to use the Gemma Tank pattern and make some summer dresses. Rae posted a tutorial on her blog for adding a peplum to the tank which I tried and loved so I thought I would try just lengthening the ruffle to skirt length using two wider and longer rectangles for the skirt. Then I got distracted by other patterns and other sewing. It must be said that when I sewed my first version of this Gemma Dress, I used too long a bodice and it wasn’t balanced and I was too discouraged at that time to take apart the already gathered and attached skirt and shorten the bodice. It felt overwhelming. I did finish a version with a very long linen skirt and a Liberty of London cotton lawn floral top. I lined that version and it came out ok (pictures below) but I forgot to add a seam allowance to allow for the sausaging of the bodice and so the straps were narrower than I would have liked. All of this to say that this year, I had two versions of this dress cut out and partially but not completely sewn. One was made from a previously me-made chambray Bianca Dress
and a skirt I purchased about 15 years ago in a little boutique but rarely wore because I didn’t like the waist. I loved the fabric though so held onto it. The other version was in a beautiful cotton double gauze that I purchased on sale from Alewives Fabrics after years of wanting the fabric but not feeling that I could spend the money. This May one of my goals is to finish some of these projects that have languished.
First up, the chambray and upcycled rtw skirt.
The skirt was lined with a gauzy green fabric which I used for the bias binding and hem facing. I added bra holders made of ribbon as I sewed the binding.
I used elastic thread to gather the skirt which worked great. I made the front skirt piece wider than the back. I am not sure of the exact measurement, I just used as much as I could of the ready to wear skirt. Since I had the issue with the bodice length, I sewed the bodice together and tried it on and then figured out where I wanted it to hit on the dress which was just at the bottom of the rib cage. I think I must have originally cut these pieces out thinking I would sew french seams because the bodice is a bit loose on this in the finished dress but I really don’t care. I wanted a loose, floaty, summer dress and it doesn’t need to be perfect. This is something I will wear on vacation with sandals or over a bathing suit. The price was right too since it was all recycled from clothes in my closet.
And as worn:
The Liberty and Linen version was basically finished over the winter but I still hadn’t handsewn the lining to the waist, partially because I must have cut the two bodices slightly differently and things didn’t line up for me the way they usually do which threw me off. But I finally sewed everything in late April and it is ready to wear. It is a little sack like but I think will be nice for hotter days or with a jeans jacket or cardigan for cooler days. A good summer date night dress. Maybe a little bare for work although wearing a lab coat makes many less wearable options wearable. I bought the linen last spring and also made a Josephine blouse with the same fabrics.
I used the floral as a hem facing as well.
My gathering was a little rushed and the linen was not as easy to gather as softer fabric but I don’t think it really matters. It is linen and it will always look a little wrinkled-that is part of the charm. The skirt is also pieced so there is an extra seam. I was squeaking by making both of these projects with the fabric I had.
And as worn before I hemmed it.
I saved the best for last. I have loved this Cotton and Steel double gauze fabric since I first saw Rae’s Beatrix Blouse. At the time, the price per yard just seemed too much for me but I kept thinking about it and not buying it and then it was basically sold out everywhere and then one day, lo and behold, I found it on sale. I bought 2 yards thinking that I would make a Beatrix Blouse but I didn’t get around to it and then last year when I saw the Gemma with Ruffles, I had the idea to make this dress. I love everything about it. I sort of pattern-matched the sides of the skirt. I didn’t have enough fabric to really pattern-match the bodice but I don’t think it matters. I used two different techniques when I bound the neck and armholes. The binding is visible around the neck and turned under for the armholes. Ribbon bra straps are sewn in because I remembered just in time! One of these days I am going to thread a bunch of snaps on ribbon and have them precut in a dish on my sewing table because you can sew them in right when you add the bias binding. Really easy and it makes wearing tank tops so much easier.
I ended up hand sewing the neck binding down because the double gauze was so fiddly.
I used the elastic thread gathering technique for the skirts for all three of these dresses that Rae uses for the Isla. It doesn’t always work perfectly for me (it didn’t work as well for the linen) but for the lighter fabrics, it worked a charm. I used a lightweight cotton batiste for my hem binding. Here is the finished dress on the front door of honor! I love it! It was worth the wait.
I wore it today and I will wear it forever until it is worn to shreds and I know it will only get better with age and wear.
So good! So I am off to a good start this May! More to come.