Introduction: Wing-it Dress (welcome to Easy Street!)

About: Sarah has taken her love of fish and is learning to love other animals too. constantly sewing, cooking, baking and making, I have lots of trouble sitting still. I'm spending my time becoming a vet, and trying…

This is my favorite dress for summer. I have one with me at all times rolled in the bottom of my purse. It's perfect to tossing on over a bikini to run an errand, or to dinner, it's super comfortable and doesn't matter where I'm coming from (beach, work, bed) it wears as easily as it's made. It hangs really nicely, so you don't need much underneath which is really pleasant in the warm weather.

There are a few things to note, it's hard to hide a bra, so if you have a lot of real estate up top, you may need something underneath. That said, you can leave as much material as you need up top, so it will give you great coverage, just minimal support.

Secondly, slippers and dog bed stage are not included in this 'ible, sorry.

Step 1: Materials

  • Any sewing machine
    • We're only going to sew three straight lines, so don't stress
  • Scissors
  • Iron
    • this goes for any sewing project, if you get in the habit of sewing your edges first, things will come out a lot nicer in the end.
  • Two yards fabric

So picking a fabric is key here. We're not really going to measure or cut much of a pattern. This dress really comes down to a fabric that hangs well. In this, I will use a thin jersey knit. This pattern also works remarkably well with silk (or something similar) but those are a bit tougher to work with on the machine. If you are feeling frisky, I've included a schematic of the pattern to use with silk. As silk (or similar) fabric is lighter, you don't need to remove any extra fabric from the back, and can just leave it to hang.

Step 2: Iron Your Edges

To me, this is the brushing your teeth chore of sewing; it only takes a minute, but you will suffer later if you skip this step.

Once you've ironed, cut a 2" strip from the short axis of the fabric and set aside. We will use this strip as the draw string later.

Step 3: Measure

Ok, this is the only thing you actually have to measure in this dress, and you don't need to get to critical.

  • Measure from the top of your shoulder to the part of your chest you would like the to "V" neck to land.
    • There is plenty of room to wiggle with the ties later, so don't get too into this
  • Fold your fabric in half along the long axis
  • On the folded edge, measure your chest length, plus about 10" and mark with a pin.
    • This is where you will sew a 'tunnel' for the draw strong along the whole long axis
      • You don't need to be super exact on marking and sewing the tunnel, just be consistent
      • I pin the tunnel at the same distance the whole way down, and then only sew as wide as the foot of my sewing machine. This way my tunnel is fairly straight down the material, and consistently about 1cm wide.

Step 4: "Measure"

Now that the tunnel is in, you are going to cut the neck line.

  • Fold the fabric along the long axis and cut the folded edge from the top (your chest measurement + ~10 inches) until you are just above the tunnel you created
  • Put your dress on and tie the halter
    • this doesn't need to be exact, just get the neck line about where you would like the "V" to fall
  • Pinch the tunnel behind you and mark where the tunnel touches at your mid-back
  • Also mark the bottom of your back (or top of your pant line) with another pin

Oh my goodness, you've nearly made it!

Step 5: Get Rid of the Excess and Shuttle the Tunnel!

Because I'm using the jersey knit (and not a silk or super thin fabric) we've got to take a bit of extra junk out of the trunk.

  • Cut on a swooping diagonal line from the mark/pin you put at the bottom of your back (or top of your pant line) to the top of the halter straps
  • Cut into the tunnel 1-2 inches forward of where you marked the tunnel touching at your mid-back
    • use a safety pin to shuttle the drawstring we made at the beginning though the tunnel
  • Now sew the back unfinished edges up from the bottom, and then turn the corner to the pin at the bottom of the back
    • I don't know what it's called, but it's important to use that back stitch button to reinforce the end of the stitch where it hits the bottom of your back. This keeps it from fraying apart over time. You can always just throw an stitch in by hand if your machine doesn't do this.
  • You can also serge the edges if you're into that kind of thing. I like working with the jersey because you can leave raw edges, but, knock yourself out.

Step 6: You Did It!

I told you it was easy street!

Now, you can customize the neck however you like,

  • just tie it
  • knot each side
  • wrap some fabric around each side and tuck the edges in
  • add a couple large beads to each side
  • make two legthwise cuts and braid each strap

I've also included the slightly different pattern for working with a thinner material. You can use this pattern with the jersey fabric as well, it will leave you with more fabric over your butt, but that also means a but more coverage if you'd like

You can also use this pattern to make a floor length version, just start with larger squares, shoot for the diagonal measurement of the square to be your shoulder to the ground. The front and back will come to mid-shin if you do this.

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