This, pals, is my RTW favourite dress – from ASOS many moons ago. It was cheap and is quite poorly made (look at that atrocious unevenness across the waistline!), but I seem to yank it out of the wardrobe for any occasion – work, drinks, holidays, summer days bare-legged and winter days with tights – and it suits them all just great. I love the colours and the print, and the loose smocky shape is so comfortable yet a bit more formal than a knit dress. I’ve been meaning to make a rub-off of it for a while, and finally got round to it just before MMM.
I used quite a similar technique to that outlined here to trace off the dress’s pieces: bodice, sleeve, skirt. In fact I just placed the dress over a roll of Ikea drawing paper and pin-pricked through both layers along all the edges and seamlines, which gave me my cutting lines. It was a very easy task as there are no fastenings, darts or other shaping; the only thing I couldn’t do was figure out the width of the skirt top because it’s in gathers, so I made a guess that it tapers in a little from the hem width.
I made the task even easier by assuming that the sleeves were symmetrical and that the front and back bodice are the same pattern piece (just with a scoopier neck on the front). With a loose shape I think you can get away with a little corner-cutting. Then it’s just a case of ‘truing up’ to make sure the edges that join up are the same length, then adding seam/hem allowance (in my case I only added 5mm because I overlocked for speed).
I knocked together this test version from some batik lightweight cotton that I bought as a large remnant from Minerva. Amazingly it basically worked great first try, feeling very similar fit-wise to my old dress. I actually really love this fabric: it’s super soft and even looks OK a bit rumpled so I don’t need to iron it every time. Happily I have quite a bit left over for another project.
In fact, this has shot up the charts to being one of my most-worn dresses. I wore it twice during MMM and just like my RTW inspiration it’s become a pull-on dress for any occasion, from house-slobbing to casual dinner out.
I just need to do a bit of fit finessing – looser sleeves, higher back neck, longer hem – and I’ve got a simple self-drafted pattern that I know I’ll make and wear over and over.