New Years REVOLUTION: Sewing Something New

We are continuing our New Years REVOLUTION today with Lisa and her gorgeous version of the Pattern Emporium Summer Breeze Dress.  She's sewing something new and trying some new techniques for the new year and I think she rocked it!


Hi, Lisa here from Not Sew Selfish, with my New Year’s Revolution project.  There is always a  focus at this time of the year on diet and exercise - lose weight, join the gym… I prefer to think of the new year as a fresh start, time to set some positive goals, time to try something new.  In Australia we have our main summer holidays at this time of the year, so it’s also a good time to have a play with something new, before the regular craziness of the year kicks in again.

I’ve been sewing for myself for about 4 years now, but I haven’t really branched out much beyond the scope of the patterns as they are designed. This year I want to challenge myself to try some new things.  If you’re like me, and you’re not even close to being a pattern designer or getting adventurous with pattern hacks, one easy way to mix things up a bit is to play with different fabrics to change the look and style.

For my New Year’s Revolution project, I’ve used the Summer Breeze Dress by Pattern Emporium.  I love this one because it feels both boho and a bit glamorous.  The loose, drapey fit is not the kind of style I normally choose - I tend to find fitted things more flattering -  but this one really works for me.

The Summer Breeze Dress is designed to be an easy floaty dress for those hot summer days (with apologies to those of you reading this in the Northern Hemisphere right now in the snow).  I decided to use some different fabrics to see if I could turn it into an evening dress.

I love the look and feel of wearing lace, but I have a lot to learn about how to work and sew with it.  I came across this designer lace in a local trims shop - they had both the main lace and the matching wide trim.  It’s made from a thick cotton, which was perfect for my boho / glamorous vision for this dress.  

The Summer Breeze Dress is a pattern that needs a fabric with lots of drape, so I’ve used rayon for the front bodice and the main part of the skirt.  Adding fairly heavy lace to the back and hem was a bit of an experiment for me - I didn’t know if it would be too heavy, or whether it would work at all.  The heavier, stiffer lace at the back doesn’t drape as the pattern intends, but I like the effect it has sitting out a bit wider to create a different look, while getting that lovely drape with the rayon at the front.  The wide lace around the hem is very heavy relative to the rayon skirt, but the drawstring around the waist gives it enough support that it doesn’t feel like it’s pulling down when I wear it.  The maxi skirt in the pattern comes designed with this split up the side, so I just cut the length about 10” shorter on the front and back pieces, and stitched the lace to the hem.

There was a fair bit of trial and error in working out how to use this lace - I started by trimming it around the shape, but it just looked messy, so the straight cut through the design worked much better.  Rather than folding the lace over for the seam around the back neckline, I just trimmed it down to match the width of the hemmed front pieces at the shoulder line.

It’s not perfect, and I still have a lot to learn about better ways to do seams with this kind of lace, but I’m very happy with this as a summer date night dress.  Rather than trying to hide a bra under the lace back, I’ve chosen a fancy-back bra which has a halter neck type of style at the front and a strap all the way down the middle of the back, which I think really works with the low V.  The only downside of this dress is that it tends to collect greenery in the lace hem!  On the upside - if you are carrying a little extra festive cheer weight at the start of the new year, this is a great dress to hide it!