So Summer vacay is right around the corner.   You may have exotic travel plans, or you may be stuck at home with screaming children for 9 long weeks.    

Either way, you are going to need to be comfortable in the heat, while still looking glam should you bump into a) a famous celebrity in the South of France or b) a fellow school Mum in the supermarket whom you desperately want to invite you/your kids around for some company.Off the shoulder top Cotton Sateen

Enter SEWING.  If it hasn't already ignited your creativity flame, let it begin now.  After all, it has been said that "the desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul".   So, give yourself a new hobby, unleash your inner yearning and end up with a fabulous Summer top/dress you can make in several colours and lengths, slip on with sandals, and be gorgeous whether on the beaches of Monaco or the detergent aisle at Waitrose.

DIY Dress - Off the shoulder print fabric

This month, we have chosen this simple off-the-shoulder dress which is totally in trend and as far as we're concerned, always should be, given that it highlights one of the most elegant parts of the female form, while hiding some of the more squishy parts.   

Here's how you do it

1. Print up the pattern on a regular printer here and tape them together to make the four large pattern pieces.    You should end up with a top front, top back, sleeve and wrap belt like this illustration.  We are not bothering with the belt today, btw.

Pattern pieces after taping together

2. Gather your supplies: 

  • 1 meter fabric (make sure it is at least 125cm wide).  We love Brazil Prints or Monet Satin Print or even Linen Basic for this one (for that French Riviera look!). Seriously though, you can make this with just about anything as the design is super forgiving!
  • 1 meter of elastic for the shoulder.  It should be about 2cm wide.
  • Scissors, measuring tape, pins

3. Fold your fabric in half (with the stretchiness going horizontally if there is any) and pin the pattern pieces onto it, so that the Front and Back pieces sit exactly on the fold where indicated on the pattern.  

You don't cut on the "fold" line of the pattern, so that when you open up the fabric, it will be twice the size and able to reach right across your front and back!

4. Cut two sleeves pieces from your remaining fabric

5. With right sides together (ie good side of fabric), pin the "Back" to the "Front" at the sides leaving 16cm open 10cm from the bottom, sew sides together.

6. Attach the sleeves, matching each sleeve end to the corresponding front and back pieces and sew together.

7. Fold the neck line over 3.5 cm to the inside to make a tunnel for the elastic around the entire top of the dress.   Feed the elastic through one end of the casing, checking for a proper and comfortable fit before stitching the elastic in place at the ends.

8. Finish the bottom hem and sleeve hem by turning up the hem 0.5cm twice and machine stitch or hand stitch on the good side of the fabric.   It is always wise to iron this flat before you start top stitching!

Et voila!  Add the belt, lose the skirt.  Up to you, you creative genius!

      Off the shoulder pattern top cotton