Monday, July 8, 2019

New Dresses for the 4th of July!

Growing up, almost every 4th of July, my cousins and I would have brand-new matching American flag shirts to wear. I have fond memories of those July 4ths of my childhood, the family gatherings, the homemade ice cream, the fireworks, and the special red, white, and blue matching shirts. Now, as the Fourth approaches each year, I can't help but contemplate a new red, white, and blue outfit to wear on the holiday. It's just fun!

This year, my 4th of July outfit began months ahead of time. Back in March, my mom, sister, brother’s girlfriend, and I took a trip to a little Mennonite fabric store about an hour away from home for an enjoyable afternoon of fabric shopping. I, of course, left the store with a variety of fabric. Within the next week, I pre-washed all my purchases, ironed them, folded them neatly, and put them away. For once in my life, I was organized and on top of things.

While doing this, I considered what I might use each piece of fabric for. Most fabrics from this collection could be used for any number of projects. An apron? An Edwardian dress? A 1790’s dress? Anything was possible! There was one piece, however, that just begged to be turned into a specific dress for a specific occasion. The dark red, navy blue, and gray plaid would pair perfectly with Simplicity 8231, also known as the Mississippi Avenue Dress by Sew House 7, and I would have to wear it for the 4th or July! 

Thus, the fabric got put away until the week before the 4th of July, after I arrived home from my trip to Japan. At this point, out came the fabric, and I made my plaid Independence Day dress in one afternoon. The plaid fabric and my chosen pattern worked together just as splendidly as I’d hoped!

I had about two yards of this interesting 44" wide, plaid fabric of undetermined fiber content. This was just barely enough fabric for the dress I wanted to make - nothing but scraps were left over when I finished cutting the dress out!

I specifically did not match the plaid of the center front panel to the side panels, as I wanted the shape of the front panel to be obvious. That center, somewhat triangular, front panel is what drew my attention to this pattern when I first saw it in the Simplicity pattern book over a year ago.

I cut the length halfway between the two length options offered in the pattern. Thus, my dress ends right below the knee, rather than above it, or at mid-calf, as the pattern shows.

This pattern did not include pockets, which just wasn't going to work for me. So I added patch pockets to the side panels. I based these pockets on those of the Tea House Dress and Montevilla Dress, both by Sew House 7.

I also re-configured the shoulder ties so they threaded through the shoulder seams, gathering up the shoulders when pulled tight, rather than tying them around around the shoulder strap as the pattern recommended.

I finished off the neckline and armholes with some pretty bias tape I brought home from Japan last month.

Now, according to the Simplicity size chart, my measurements put me in a size 14 for Simplicity patterns (Please keep in mind that Simplicity sizing, and that of McCall's, Butterick, and Vogue for that matter, is vastly different from what current store sizing is.) However, I always cut a 12, due to the amount of excess ease added to the patterns. Simplicity size 12, has almost always fit me perfectly. This dress, however, came out a little snugger in the hips than I would have preferred and rides up on my backside a bit. So, I would have been better off to cut this pattern out in a size 14. As is, I find the dress perfectly wearable - this is just something to bear in mind for any future makes of this pattern.

After I finished my 4th of July dress, I decided I wanted to make my sister something new for the Fourth as well. At first I thought I'd make her a basic knit shirt or tank top. However, my stash of patriotic knit fabrics is woefully lacking, so that wouldn't have happened without a fabric shopping trip - which I'm trying to avoid at the moment as my stash is getting out of control. Then I remembered, I'd recently seen a length of red, white, and blue quilting cotton in my stash when I was looking for something else. I had no idea where the fabric had come from, but I decided it just might work for a top of some sort for my sister, so I pulled it out.

Upon unfolding the material, I discovered I had a good 3 yards of it - enough to make my sister a whole dress rather than just a simple top! Thus, a 4th of July dress she would have!

I didn't have a whole lot of time to make my sister's dress, just a couple of evenings after work, so I decided to just make her a classic, simple, sundress with a gathered skirt and a darted bodice.

I used the Night and Day Dress pattern by Charm Patterns, for the bodice. This was simply because I already had the pattern out so I could trace my size off for different project, and it was easy enough to trace off my sister's size while I was at it.

I traced off the size that corresponded with her high bust and bust measurements, and the bodice fits great through the chest. However, it is a little big in the waist - which I suppose is to be expected since her waist measurement is an inch smaller than the measurement listed on the size chart. Next time I use this bodice pattern for her I may have to mess with the fit a bit.

The skirt is simply two 44" widths of fabric, gathered to fit - no pattern required! I added pockets to the side seams, because a dress without pockets is just sad.

I made the dress without telling my sister about it - just in case I didn't actually get it finished in time. Thus, she was surprised, and thrilled, when I gave it to her on the 3rd of July! I'd finished it just in time!

She told me multiple times how much she loved her new sundress, and even let me braid her hair with ribbons to match!

I don't get to braid her hair near as often as I like!

And so, the new red, white, and blue outfit for Independence Day tradition from my childhood continues!

As does the homemade ice cream tradition! Yum!!

*The majority of the photos in this post were taken by my youngest brother, who is now the proud new owner of a camera!


  1. I remember for a couple years my whole family would get T-shirts for the 4th. They were so fun and ever since I have tried to have some sort of patriotic outfit for this grand occasion though not always new.
    I love, love, love your plaid!! (Like way too much) and those bias cut patch pockets are just the thing. I also like the fabric of your sisters dress and recognize it as the same print in my own stash! Unfortunately not nearly 3 yards, but I am equally unsure where mine came from; P
    Also glad to hear someone else has trouble with mainstream pattern sizing. I did not know there was an actual sizing difference between patterns and store garments, but I have learned going down 2 sizes from the written measurements generally works well for myself and others I've sewn for.
    Belated happy Independence Day!

    1. Thank you! 4th of July outfits are just so much fun! Isn't the plaid fabulous!?! I wish I could get more of it!
      Lol, it must be the fabric that mysteriously appears. . .
      Pattern sizing is definitely a strange thing!