I have a new strategy for keeping cool this summer and it involves wearing a surprising amount of fabric. I like a voluminous, billowy maxi-dress because it lets the bod breathe and saves money on sunscreening the lower half. It’s a little sexy and a little modest; I’m calling it the halftan.
This pattern is Butterick 3407, a vintage favourite from my stash, and one I’ve been meaning to sew again. I first made it way back in 2011 (one of my first blog posts!) when I was much less experienced sewing with knits. I remember cutting it out on my best friend’s floor, using a serger for the first time, and then sewing the neckline by hand. While I LOVE that dress, these days I basically need to wear it with 3 pairs of Spanx on top of each other because the fabric is light coloured and super slinky and shows off every everything, and I have put on a little weight since that summer when I gave up sugar, wine and processed carbs for health reasons (aka the summer of WHY GOD WHY). I have a different body now so I was excited to make another version in a sturdier, less slinky fabric.
Enter Art Gallery Fabrics. They got in touch last month and asked me if I’d like to try something from their new solid knits collection. I’ve been curious about this company for a while since I think they’re doing some truly original work (I love the April Rhodes collections) so I was curious to see what the quality was like. I wasn’t disappointed; the navy cotton lycra they sent me is gorgeous. It’s super soft with great recovery, a nice weight and good 4-way stretch. It’s the perfect choice for leggings or a Nettie bodysuit (or a drapey summer halftan).
I’m super into blue these days so I’m not surprised I gravitated towards something called “Deep Dark Ocean”. I looked at my stack of spring and summer fabric the other day and realized almost 80% of it was some shade of indigo. I’m not sure when this colour shift happened but I’m not complaining; navy is a softer alternative to black, and I love how it reads classic or modern depending on the context.
The best thing about this project? I think it took an hour and half, tops. The dress itself is only two pattern pieces, with one seam going up the center front and two along the sides. The back seam is folded and sewn over a piece of elastic, and the front is folded over and zigzagged to create a channel for the halter strap. I left the hem unfinished because the length was perfect as is and I like a raw knit hem every once a while. Most of the volume is happening in the front which creates these deep drapey folds, nicely highlighted by the weight and hand of the fabric.
I love the easy-breezy bohemian feeling of this dress so it felt natural to throw on a bunch of art teacher jewelry and my handmade Greek sandals. I expect I’ll be wearing it pretty much non-stop all summer. Who else is riding the halftan train with me? Has anyone else sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics knits before?
Art Gallery Fabrics supplied me with 3 yards of fabric to review; all opinions are my own.