Every Event Needs a Little Sunshine

Patterns for Pirates Sunshine Dress

If you’re in any Facebook sewing groups you have to know the sunshine dress has been all the craze. However – I feel like I got in over my head with this one – and I did. But I learned a lot (I’ll spell this out later)…probably the biggest being that for our next black tie event I should just buy a dress…

I saw a tester picture (the fourth photo of the light grey dress) for the Sunshine Dress that I loved and I wanted to try to duplicate. I ordered a charcoal Cotton Lycra fabric (learning experience #1) from Purple Seamstress.  Let me tell you, Melinda was a pleasure to work with and she will be one of my first stops if I’m looking for quality knits!

I’m not going to lie, this pattern was very overwhelming for me. Gathers, a crossover bodice, maxi length (that’s a lot of fabric to work with!).

But I dove in and got started. I chose a size Medium (learning experience #2). The instructions were pretty clear, however there were some instances that I felt lost or felt like I needed additional information.  Because I had never gathered before I was confused as to how it was supposed to go down. I googled additional instructions and watched a few YouTube videos.

The overall construction of the dress was pretty simple. I just needed to take my time and really follow the instructions.

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So far so good – the bodice fits amazingly! Then I went off the deep end.

I wanted to modify the dress a little for this event because I felt it would add some additional flare (learning experience #3). So I decided on a thigh high slit and a key hole in the lower back. Y’all, the slit was a pain in the you know what. And the key hole was not far behind. I couldn’t get the slit to lay right – it kept puckering out making my thigh look like a discombobulated mess. I was so frustrated every time I tried it on that I didn’t even get a photo. I ironed, and sewed, and ironed, and pinned, and I felt like I kept making it worse. I finally got it to where I thought it was OK and left it. Really and truly, no one was going to notice…we are our own worse critics.

The key hole…such a simple concept, such a difficult execution. I cut a hole in my back piece.

Everyone scream with me right here for cutting into that beautiful bodice…

I folded under the edge and ‘hemmed’. I tried it on. I liked the way it looked but I was worried about someone stepping on my dress and the hole just ripping! I felt it needed more reinforcement. So I thought I could add a band, just like you do for a neck hole. Well, I was wrong. I didn’t even think about how the corners would pucker. (Again, I’m sorry I didn’t photograph this, I was just so frustrated and ready for the dress to be done). So I ended up having to do this…see picture below.

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I know. HOT. MESS.

I know – it looks like a hot mess. BUT seriously, no one was going to notice unless they were all up in my personal space. So I called it a day and nervously wore the dress to the event.

I was not under dressed, but I probably could have stepped up my game. But hey, I’m learning and I’m loving every step of it. This will only make me a better seamstress (at least that’s what I keep telling myself.) It helped that I had some nice arm candy!

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Learning Experiences:

  1. Because this is a maxi length dress there is A LOT of fabric! Fabric is not weightless. The fabric I chose was a little too heavy and therefore the waist line seamed to sag throughout the night. I would like to try this dress again with a lighter fabric (or with adding elastic to the seam). I think it would lay a lot better.
  2. I measured as a medium for the bodice but my waist and hips measured as a small. I was nervous about grading, so I made a medium. I should have made a small. I felt like there was a lot of extra fabric around my waist/hips area. I kept taking it in on the sides and my inside seams look tuuurrrible.
  3. Modifying a pattern is HARD if you are not a very experienced pattern maker (or not one at all…). I like to think I can take on anything and sometimes I let my creativity get the best of me. But this was frustrating and I’ve learned that I maybe need to try with muslin first before making all kinds of crazy changes to a perfectly good dress.

Overall, I LOVED how the bodice fit. I feel like I can never pull off crossovers because they show too much cleavage. But this was very flattering (up top). I really do want to try this dress again in the right size and fabric weight…with no modifications!

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