Hot! The “Tropicana Maxi” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: 4 yards cotton gauze from JoAnn, about $50
Pattern: McCall’s M6558
Year: 2012
Notions: 1/4-inch elastic
Time to complete: Should have been super quick, if not for a time-sucking detour.
First worn: Memorial Day weekend 2012
Wear again: yes
Total cost: about $50

I haven’t been to Las Vegas in at least fifteen years, yet I remember it clearly: loud, bold, and more than a little tacky.  Also sweltering hot outside.  I took this opportunity to make a maxi dress– a style I’ve never worn before– out of printed cotton gauze, and I named it for one of the hotels on the strip.  I hope I got the name right.  The hotel I’m picturing had a swanky pool and a mod quasi-60s tiki style lounge area.  My dress might be a decade or so off with its 70s silhouette.  Still, it would fit right into the mixed-up mishmash of Vegas.

The construction of the dress was simple, but I ran into a roadblock when I realized I’d cut only one collar piece with no fabric to spare.  I fell in love with this fabric at JoAnn’s on my last visit to my parents in Ohio.  It wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t even have a coupon!  I couldn’t go back to the store or find it online.  I did find a sparkly navy and gold striped lightweight knit in the stash that fit the theme but was too much of a contrast once I attached it to the dress.  So that came off and I ended up piecing the back collar from the three inches I took off the bottom of the dress and what I could scavenge from the scraps.  It’s not the best, but it’s in the back where I can’t see it, in a busy print, and DONE.

Just in time, we had a sultry hot day here, and I loved wearing this dress.  I felt chic and cool, even though I was sweating buckets and there was nothing to do with my hair in the humidity except pull it back while it was still wet.  We get our share of this kind of weather in the summer, and this dress will make it better.



Lee is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.


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  1. It’s BEAUTIFUL!! And so Vegas in the sense that it’s hot and what else would you do with your hair but sweep it up especially if you just got out of the pool at the Tropicana? Good job “making do” with your scraps and collar issue. Don’t you love it when its finally done? Keep in mind that fashion is 90% attitude and your attitude makes this a winner : )

    • Aw, thanks! Wish I’d hit the pool (and the swim-up bar) that day. Now that I think about it, most things are 90% attitude.

  2. Oh Lee! You look so pretty in this dress. The back looks great! I love the print and the color-love it!

  3. Very pretty!! I can totally see this in a 70s tiki lounge, but it also works today! The drape is fantastic. Great job!

    • Thanks! This pattern just came out, so I guess it’s supposed to work today, you know, in the masterminds at McCall’s.

  4. Great that you didn’t have to buy any more fabric, you did a good job – so elegant and cool looking – well done.

  5. I love it Lee! It reminds me of an episode of Charlie’s Angels where they go to Vegas, so it totally works :)

  6. Gorgeous! What fantastically bright, colourful fabric, and a great simple pattern to pair it with. The only problem is that you look way too sophisticated for Vegas ;-)

    • Thank you! I was making an effort to look tacky, but hey, I’ll gladly take “sophisticated” and “elegant.”

  7. A nice cool dress in the hot weather makes life worth living. You look goooorgeous, love this dress on you. :)

    And Vegas is such tacky, tacky place… hehe.

  8. Hi Lee, the Maxi dress came out gorgeous, way to pitch hit the back. It was a really hot weekend in NYC. I went to the “Monet” Bronx Botanical Show and your dress would have been perfect in that background too.

  9. Yes it does and yes it is! Thanks, Steph.

  10. Ohhh! Love the colors and the cut. I’ve had my eye on this pattern. I don’t think you look outdated at all. Very cute.

  11. I saw the picture and thought, ‘oh so perfect for a hot day!’ glad to hear that is the case…you look lovely in it!

  12. Love this floaty dress….and well done making it work with the limited fabric, it really is excellent. It’s 109 in Phoenix today and I could really do with a dress like that. The fabric is quite gorgeous. The Botanic Gardens look adorable.

  13. It’s so pretty!! I love the color and print of the fabric. Anything goes in Vegas, so 60s inspiration with a 70s pattern is par for the course ;o) And I think you look nice with your hair pulled back!

  14. Beautiful dress! It’s such a perfect summer outfit! And great job on piecing the back collar piece together with the limited fabric!

  15. Wow! That’s so pretty and such a popular style right now. You look cool and sophisticated. I love the collar and I’m amazed that you were able to “Make it work!”

  16. This is such a pretty summer dress! I love the fabric. The color looks wonderful on you!

  17. What a gorgeous, breezy, summer look for you, Lee! It’s so romantic and pretty…I love it! Great job rescuing the collar issue, the dress looks flawless from here.

  18. I love this dress Lee. The colours are beautiful on you. You need a tropical holiday stat!