Friday, October 11, 2019

New Look 6500 Shift dress, Hawaii vacation version

It's been kind of an odd week here in N. California. Or maybe just a bit out of the ordinary for me, as I returned from a two week vacation in Hawaii and fortunately got back just in time to meet a couple of my international sewing friends in San Francisco. Yoshimi and Carolyn made a trip to California and New York and it would have been so disappointing if I had missed them! But fortunately my schedule coincided with theirs and I had a very happy couple of meetings with them, more details in an upcoming blog post.
Then I had the usual chores of dealing with the pile of laundry, catching up on mail, trying to do some fall garden cleanup etc. but our power company decided to cut the electric power to large swaths of Northern California because of extreme winds and fire danger. Everyone can agree we don't want any chance of more devastating fires but it's so strange to have no power! and they said once it was stopped it could take 1-5 days to restore. Which was infuriating but fortunately ours came back on after 24 hours. We all said it was kind of a forced drill for our unavoidable future earthquake (which we Californians refer to as "the big one" to distinguish it from the fairly common small ones we have regularly) Anyway - I have more ideas for prep for the big one although none of them involve sewing, they are mostly about survival!

Let's move on to a more cheerful topic, sewing. In between all my other summer creations and some necessary projects such as making samples for the studio or checking out new patterns for a future class, I snuck in a couple of completely unnecessary summery things in anticipation of my Hawaiian vacation. I say unnecessary as I have enough summer dresses to last for a tropical vacation of any duration but I like to make new stuff, don't you?

So the front is a simple shift dress, with neck binding and a small cutout, but the back.....

blue dress2 front

blue dress back view2

It has a simple circle cutout with a tie that I've been wanting to do for ages and this dress was the perfect canvas for that.

Here's a closer look at the front and back neckline of the dress.

blue dress front back closeup

For the front I used an idea from several different top patterns that I've made, where the neck binding is a folded over piece, so it has no topstitching but is stitched on and wrapped around the seam allowance of the dress, then hand stitched to close. It may look continuous with the bow tie but actually it ends and then I sewed some straight grain ties on the dress, after all this was quick pre-vacation sewing and the less than lovely stitched-on ties don't show when the bow is tied :) Also another perfecto invisible zipper - I am on a roll! Watch, I will be making something special this winter and be struggling to get that perfect zipper finish at the top.

The pattern I used for a starting point is this New Look pattern which I've used several times before, my favorite version is this embroidered denim one.  Here's the pattern envelope.

New Look Shift dress pattern

I think when I made the previous versions I lowered the neckline some as it felt way too high for my comfort, so for this one I raised it back up a bit, maybe 1/2" but not as much as the original pattern. I did also reshape the armholes a bit, carving them in at the shoulder about 1/2" but not too much as the back cutout precludes wearing a racer-back bra which I often do with my cut-in armhole style tops and dresses.

blue dress close up on form

The fabric is something I added to an order this summer from Fabric Mart. I have had okay success with orders from that fabric store but nothing has really thrilled me. This fabric has a great color and nice weight but it a bit stiffer than I expected for a cotton of this type and also wrinkles more than I expected  - or at least more than other cotton lawns I've used. But the color is great and I think it worked perfectly for this style.

Pattern adjustments, here's a look at the cutouts I drew on the pattern pieces. I didn't cut them out with scissors, but instead traced the cutout line onto the lining which was white cotton voile. Then I used the cotton voile lining pieces as pattern pieces to cut the blue print fabric. Now my pattern is retained and I can use it for the plain shift dress again, or maybe even next summer just a simple top with the cutouts - note to self, remember to make that next spring - I love tops with some back interest! It would work well for another of my faux jumpsuits. 

Blue shift circle dress pattern

Another look and a peek at the variety of tan lines hinted at in that back cutout - all my swimsuits are different and I have a nice variety of tan lines. Which are even more pronounced after a couple of weeks there, although it doesn't matter as I'm home now wearing jeans and a long sleeve tee!

Blue dress back view1

This trip was extra special as it was family and friends on the island, a celebration for my Mom's birthday back in July. Here she is wearing a top I made for her, that fabric was from Stone Mountain and I am wild about that color as well. I have enough left to make a dress for myself but I am not yet ready to go full tourist with matching outfits! Although one evening I did see a youngish couple wearing a matching dress and Aloha shirt, they looked kind of hipster-ish and I wonder if they were wearing them ironically or sincerely, anyway they looked cute.

Blue dress and tunic top on mom

And yes, I know what I will look like at any age - just have to look at my mother Jackie to know. p.s should I tell you her age? No one believes it :)               ok I will tell you, she turned 90 this year!

Ok that's a wrap on this cotton shift dress, I have another dress to blog about that I made for vacation and then it's back to autumn sewing, catching up on sewing examples for Hello Stitch and hoping that our warm weather (minus any wildfires) hangs on for a few more weeks.

Happy Sewing, Beth

And a couple of moments of relaxation, if only of the virtual kind.  First is Kailua Beach, where we rent a house. Second is a Waikiki sunset.

Kailua 2019

Waikiki sunset


  1. How wonderful to still have your Mom at 90, she is looking great!
    Also, I love when you note the little changes you’ve made. Gives me so many ideas. Thanks for blogging.

    Mary in Thailand

  2. Cute dress and it looks great on you. I love seeing ladies in later years looking as great as your Mom. And no, I would have never guessed her age - what a treasure.

  3. Beautiful details on your dress, easy how we can change the look of a simple shift dress. Your Mum looks fabulous.

  4. Gorgeous dress! Glad you had a wonderful tropical vacation. Your mother is very pretty and does not look like she is 90!

  5. Your mother doesn't look near 90! Great genes. The dress is just adorable - I LOVE the back detail. It's perfect. Can't tell the ties are grafted on, as you say. Super cute.

  6. So so nice, beautiful wish to be your apprentice, always love the work of fashions.