Years ago our wardrobes included something we in Calgary termed “buffet pants.” Drapy evening pants with elastic in the back of the waist and plenty of gathers. We thought they looked “elegant” with a pair of high heels and a black sweater. The key benefit of the style was that they were comfortable no matter how many times you visited the chocolate fountain. In homage to buffet pants everywhere, I give you my buffet dress.
New Look 6340 is a ‘tent’ shaped dress designed for lightweight wovens. I selected this pattern for fabric I had in my stash. I specifically wanted something loose fitting for hot and humid Southern summer days, because last year we had 90+ days of 90+ degrees. I made View A.
The fabric used is a rayon batik that I picked up from Sew Batik at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo here in Atlanta this past spring.
Let’s face it, this dress is a tent (the envelope calls it a ‘trapeze’) that is slightly fitted through the bust and then just flares out. I cut a straight 18 to fit my bust and it’s still pretty darned roomy. The only adjustment made wasn’t for fit – it was for the fabric. Details below in my process.
So this fabric has a very prominent border pattern, which is what attracted me to it but also really limited the number of patterns to choose from. Plus, I bought just 2.5 yards, and it’s only 44″ wide. (When will I learn! Always buy 3 yards.)
When I looked at the line drawing for this dress it was not clear that there is a slight curve to the bottom of the hem, which meant that I would need to cut into the bottom border. I didn’t want to do this.
Once again, I went out to Pattern Review for guidance. Several people told me to buy another pattern, however I couldn’t bear the thought of driving to Joann in rush hour traffic. Plus I really like the dress. Instead I took the advice of “Mamadams” who told me this:
Before cutting out the pattern, trim off a band of the “bottom” fabric, the width you want plus seam allowance. Cut out the skirt that much shorter, plus seam allowance. Shape that bottom according to the pattern. Add the straight band of border print to the bottom of the skirt.
First, I carefully cut off the bottom border band, then I placed the pattern pieces on the fabric and cut out the front and back pieces even though the bottom of the pattern was much too long for the fabric. Then I used chalk and a divider from a geometry tool kit to trace the bottom curve of the skirt onto the fabric and trimmed the slight curvature of the bottom of the dress. Good thing the engineer in the house has kept some useful tools around. 😉
The sewing was easy – stitched on my regular machine, then serged the seam allowances. This is a relatively simple design – two front pieces, two back pieces, front and back neck facings. The arm openings are finished with single fold bias tape.
The band at the bottom was added after the dress was constructed, and I used one long strip of the border piece with the seam placed at the back. It was suggested that I add eight 1/8 inch darts to the border strip to make up for additional fullness at the bottom, but after pinning and basting it appeared that this was not necessary. The last thing I did was add the pockets. Since I used the selvedge at the bottom of the skirt, hemming was not necessary.
A note on the mini darts: if I had more time (was rushing to finish for a cruise) I would have made them. When the dress is hanging on the dress form or I’m standing straight, they don’t appear necessary. But when the fabric starts to move I see that there is a slight columnar effect. Every project has a lesson!
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough fabric left for the waist ties so I omitted these. If I make this again I will include the ties because they add some shaping to what is a fairly voluminous dress.
1 1/2 hours for cutting pattern and fabric
+ 4 hours sewing
Super easy, super casual summer dress with a bit of interest at the neck because of the slash. The opening is not deep or low, it’s quite modest. I did wind up doing some handstitching around the bottom of the neck opening just to tidy it up. Otherwise this is a really quick project that can be stitched up easily in the course of a couple of evenings. I think I’d like to make in chambray, or even in a novelty print.