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May 27, 2021 2 Comments
We all do it. We see a piece of clothing and the first thought is “I think I could make that.” This is exactly what happened with the inspiration for this dress. I saw a young mom at the pool last summer wearing a white eyelet, 3-tiered maxi dress. It had a small v-neck with binding drawstrings and it looked adorable over her swimsuit. The top half looked exactly like the Rhapsody Blouse by Love Notions. I had just tested the top a few months earlier and knew it would do the job.
Obviously, Raspberry Creek’s Rayon Challis was the perfect match for this dress. The soft, flowy drape is perfect for ruffles. The light, airy weight will be perfect as it gets hot outside. And, the coral abstract print is so much fun for summer. I love that I didn’t have to focus on stripes or pattern-matching since the variance in shapes hide anything that doesn't exactly line up. I intended for this to be a pool-side dress but I really think it will get more wear at BBQs and dinners out.
I already had a couple Rhapsody tops in my closet, so it was easy for me to try one on and measure exactly where I wanted to cut the bodice off. I chose to cut it at my natural waistline to start, keeping in mind that I’d be able to trim it more before adding the skirt if needed. I eventually cut off another 1” once it was sewn up. I also omitted the back center pleat by placing my center back fold at the same width as the bottom of the yoke piece.
Calculating the tiered skirt:
This technique could be used to add a skirt to the bottom of any woven top. Just keep in mind that the weight of extra fabric could pull on your bodice a bit. Just in case, I reinforced the waist seam with binding around the seam allowance.
First, I tried on the finished bodice and measured from the bottom of it to my desired hem length. Mine came to roughly 38”. I divided this by three tiers and rounded to 12.75”. This is how tall each tier would be before adding seam allowances and the hem.
Then, I measured the circumference of the bottom of the bodice. This was 36” around, or 18” from side seam to side seam. I didn’t want to add too much weight, so I went with a width of 1.5 times the bodice width for a very slight gather. This made my pieces as follows:
Tier 1: (cut 2, one for front and one for back)
Height: 12.75” (see above) + 0.75” (top and bottom 3/8” seam allowances) = 13.25”
Width: 18” (Bodice width) x 1.5 = 27” + 0.75” (side seam allowances) = 27.75”
Tier 2: (cut 2, one for front and one for back)
Height: 13.25” (same as Tier 1)
Width: 27” (Tier 1 width) x 1.5 = 40.5” + 0.75” (side seam allowances) = 41.25”
Tier 3: (cut 2, one for front and one for back)
Height: 12.75” (see above) + 0.375” (top 3/8” seam allowance) + 1.375” (1” hem & turn raw edge under) = 14.5”
Width: 40.5” (Tier 2 width) x 1.5 = 60.75” + 0.75” (side seam allowances) = 61.5” *I just used the width of fabric, which is listed as 58-60”. If your measurements come out larger than this, you could cut with the length of your fabric or add an extra panel.
Finally, I constructed each tier and then the full skirt before attaching it to the bodice, but you really could choose your favorite method here. I also waited to hem the skirt until the very end to be sure the length was correct.
When I make another one (and I definitely plan to), I think I will size down on the bodice. The weight of the fabric pulls the armholes down a bit and the extra ease feels a little boxy . This would not bother me at all if I use it poolside over a swimsuit; but for other uses, I think I’d like it to be a little slimmer on top.
I love this dress and wearing it feels so dreamy. I couldn’t stop swishing and waving the skirt around while I moved. I won’t pretend that cutting rayon challis is quick and easy, but rest assured, you will not regret sticking with it. Raspberry Creek’s Rayon Challis just cannot be beat! It is soft as can be, and so much fun to wear.
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