Finally some productivity around here!
This is one of my favorite summer dresses because it's easy, fast, doesn't involve shirring and the straps stay up. What's that bit about shirring again, you ask? Considering that I've actually posted tutorials on shirred sundresses, mass-produced doll clothes with it and prettied it up to impersonate smocking, I'm really not one of its stronger proponents. I think it's magical in action, but it's very inexact, with no consistent relation between pre-shirred and post-shirred fabric width, making it very difficult to estimate yardage. Also, with a non-chain-stitch home sewing machine, the stitches come apart over time, especially with repeated, high-abuse wearing by small children. Which makes it actually not the best method of sundress-making for beginner sewists, if you think about it. I mean, sure, it's easy, but it isn't great. And it's certainly not robust. So while I still love it, I now reserve it for cuffs of sleeves and openings of pockets. In main bodices or midsections of garments, however, if I can possibly use elastic (or a totally different style altogether), I'll pick those over shirring any day and twice on Sunday.
Back to the racerback sundress now.
Growing up in South East Asia meant regular trips to beach resorts on tropical islands. And every decent beach resort will have sundresses like these for sale in their gift shops. Usually made of batik or supersoft tie-dye rayon, they appear in various manifestations of the racerback style. I've always had a soft spot for cross-back-type styling (you should have seen my swimsuits in the days when I actually swam) but the traditional cross-back dresses can turn out hideous if the chest girth is inaccurate. You've seen the consequences of such unfortunate drafts - big gaping sags in the middle back, or pulling at the shoulders, or cross-straps that are wider at the top and convergent at the yoke. So people put elastic and shirring between the straps and work it somehow into the design to keep it all snug or just recut the pattern altogether.
Again, inexact, especially for beginner sewists. So I thought I'd show you this style of Y-back sundress instead. The front looks like a classic tank
but the back is oh-what-fun!
great for lounging
and you can customize it for snugness, ease, room-for-growth, room-for-shrinkage - whatever you need.
We'll be deconstructing it in the following posts!
Check back for a pattern in three sizes, the full tutorial and a bonus lesson on seam allowances!