DIY Tropical Swing Dress

I know a lot of people struggle with buttons but I really love them. I’ve always had good luck with my machine’s ability to stitch them and I have a CRAZY large button collection. (Thanks to Grandma and Great-Aunt for that!) I also love a cut away, racerback style top so when I saw the Trevi Dress pattern by Hey June Handmade, it was an immediate “Yes!”. It’s the perfect silhouette for a versatile summer dress, not too bare but still cool and comfy. Wearing this dress makes me long to be eating brunch at the beach. Or maybe something more adventurous, like island hopping in Greece. 

This pattern features a top and a dress version. Both are fitted at the armholes with a high neck and a button band down the back. The pattern also provides a front dress piece with an FBA already done. WOOHOO! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’ve been doing a lot of FBA’s (full bust adjustment) lately and it’s so nice to have the work already done for me.

I cut a size 8 and added 5” in length to the dress so that it hits just above the knee. For reference, my upper bust is 35”, bust is 38” and I’m 5’11”. I think the sizing is really good. But, if I make it again I think I’ll lower the front neckline a little bit. It feels a little tight for me and I think there’s something about such a high neck that’s not as flattering to a larger bust. Do you remember that tv show What Not To Wear? I recall them saying that a scoop neck is more flattering than a high neck for the well endowed. The high neck just somehow makes it all seem bigger?!?! 

The fabric is a mystery crepe that I found at the Michael Levine Loft store. It’s a buy-by-the-pound store in downtown LA. It’s a lot of fun to shop there because you never know what you’re going to find. (By the way, I have a guide to LA fabric shopping right here.) I really like the subtle tropical print on the fabric. This is one of those weird fabrics that needs to be ironed very well to truly get flat. I have about 4 yards (or more!) of it so it was a little challenging to press. It’s pretty lightweight and drapey but not see through. 

After cutting everything out I realized that I didn’t have everything perfectly straight. It’s just a wibbly-wobbly fabric that didn’t want to cooperate. So, I was a little worried about sewing the button bands even with them interfaced. The pattern does not call for topstitching the length of the button band which I think is wise for a drapey fabric. To stitch the button holes I tacked down the button band with a glue stick and put tissue paper underneath to help move everything along. I spaced my buttons 3.375” apart and used 10 buttons (instead of 8) because of the length I added. For the side with the buttons, I added a strip of iron on adhesive tape to keep everything in place. The pattern instructions were really good and I didn’t have any issues. Because my fabric was cut a little off, I let the dress hang overnight and then trimmed it before hemming. 

I’m really happy with how this dress turned out and will likely be making it again. After all, I still have LOADS of buttons to use up. I've really enjoyed wearing this dress. It's great for summer. I'd love to try a top version because I always feel like I don't have any blouses to wear. So much to sew, so little time. :)