Hot! The “Not So Sunny” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: 1.6 yards royal blue cotton sateen, $6; 1.3 yards grey Bemberg lining, $8, each from JoAnn
Pattern: New Look 6699, $3.99
Year: 2007
Notions: 14″ invisible zipper, $1, 4 faux-pearl shank buttons, from stash
Time to complete: ~10 hours
First worn: Sunday, to the lake
Wear again? Maybe
Total cost: ~$19

For this week, I planned to make a cute, nautical-inspired sundress. I had everything picked out: the fabric, the trims, the background. By the end though, nothing was as I had planned: not the fabric, not the trims, not even the backgr…ok, the background stayed the same.

Here’s what happened:

Originally, I had selected the “Sundress of My Life” for the “Made That Look” challenge. Once the “Down Under” theme was announced though, I thought it best to postpone it a week so as not to fall into last year’s sundress-making habit so early in the year.

What I loved about the ModCloth dress was it’s sunny yellow color and it’s potential for subtle nautical details. It reminded me of something I’d wear back home to lunch by the beach.

So, immediately, I set to find cute white anchor buttons and the perfect yellow fabric. I got it in my head that the fabric should be sateen because yellow cotton can so easily look cheap. (At least what’s available around here.) I rather easily found the buttons; but, as my complexion didn’t get the ‘summer look’ memo, and remained glaringly white, the perfect yellow was not to be found. There went the fabric.

On impulse, I decided on a somewhat more flattering royal blue cotton sateen. I had forgotten that the sateen was to improve the look of the yellow – a shine a blue sundress wouldn’t need.

Next, those white buttons I had to have looked odd against the new color. So, I bought my first dye and made them a warm grey, matching the Bemberg lining. I thought this was a nice improvement and stitched them to the loop on the bodice.

This dress went together with few problems. It wasn’t until it was nearly complete that my confidence in the dress dropped off.

I tried it on after installing the zipper (late, I know) – it was huge! I had to take an inch off the back and off each of the hips. I did so, hand-hemmed the dress and tried it back on. Between the bright color, the sheen of the fabric, and the overall shape, what I had looked a bit too…something…for a sundress. And, now the buttons looked underwhelming. There went the trims. To cover the small scars the grey buttons left on the loop, I stitched on four faux-pearl buttons that I happened to have in my stash. Finally, the dress looked complete and off to the lake we went.

Now, how do I feel about said dress? The jury’s still out on that one… I wish I’d used pleats on the bodice, as my gathers need a lot of work, and I feel the division of the midriff makes my torso look short and my hips look wide. Nevertheless, it’s actually fairly comfortable and a pretty blue color so, it’s not unlikely this one will see the daylight again.



Jennifer took up sewing in 2008 as a new hobby after a move. Now, with endless ideas running through her head, she's making an effort to fill hers and her fiance's closets with custom clothing.


Comments are closed.

  1. I think this dress is simply perfect on you! It is a flattering shape and the color is spot on. I do agree it seems more formal than a regular sundress due to the sateen shine but I absolutely love it anyway. Great job!

  2. This dress is gorgeous on you. I’m sorry you are disappointed in it. I think by warmer weather you’ll see the potential in it.

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    It’s a pretty blue. I think the shape of the dress is quite flattering and the pearl buttons adds a nice classy style.

  4. Well hello there! That dress is wonderful! I just Love that pattern, Sooo many options.

  5. Comfy and pretty are great places to start from. I like this a lot and hope that you look at your photos and see how great it looks.

    • I agree – comfy and pretty can make up for a lot. Actually, I didn’t care for the photos (my fiance helped choose these) but I’ll have to reconsider after everyone’s lovely comments. Thanks, Jen!!

  6. I think it looks lovely on you and the pearl buttons suit it perfectly.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your process. I have certainly done the same thing. I’ll get one fabric attribute stuck in my head and then change another on the fly and realize that I should have stopped to reevaluate. I’ve never really thought about the usefulness of a sateen to boost a dress to a more formal or expensive look. It was so interesting to me to read about your thoughts behind color choice, etc.

  8. That is one nice-looking dress! I would never have guessed you had such fit-problems with it – it really looks wonderful on you. And it really is funny how projects can morphe that much during the process!

  9. This dress looks fantastic on you! I think the shape, especially the gathers at the bust, accentuate the feminine silhouette.

  10. I think this dress is so flattering on you.

  11. Super cute and the fit is amazing. Love the blue on you

  12. The colour and fit are just perfect. The front bodice is gorgeous, fab photos too.

  13. It’s really cute! The gathers look great – no one will ever notice that you don’t think they are perfect.

  14. Well done. That blue is stunning.

  15. This dress is SO BEAUTIFUL! Such a stunning dress, great location, fabulous colour! Great job!

  16. You’re so sweet! Thanks so much, Debi!

  17. I think it’s just fantastic on you – the color is gorgeous!!! Love the bodice detail!

  18. This is a very pretty dress and it looks great on you. No need to be disappointed in it. I hope you’ll believe all of us and will wear that dress again. :)