The Essential Denim Dress is a design that has ben whirling round in my mind for a while now, and I have finally got it down on paper. It’s perfect for everyday, utilitarian wear. The cap sleeves are part of the main body (how easy!). It pulls in slightly just under the bust and splays gently over the hips. Diagonal lines are always flattering and the under-bust seam balances nicely with the oversized practical pocket. (There is an interesting article here about how diagonal lines work on the body.) There is one dart in the top bodice section and the other dart is neatly hidden in the seam between the bodice and front panel. This tunic is super comfy, but with enough fitting to make sure you have a shape!
The multisize paper pattern is available here. (I’m afraid, after 3 years of being FREE, the single size version is no longer available. Sorry for any disappointment but there are other free patterns available in the website shop.)
As you can probably see from my initial sketches, it was 70s style patchwork denim that originally inspired me. It may be the big thing at the moment but, regardless, I have always loved the 70s look. I have an EXTENSIVE collection of inspiring dresses on my Pinterest page. I have included a few here to give some ideas about different ways of using your denim. (Far left is Junya Watanabe, middle is Anthropologie and right is a recycled project I found on Pinterest.)
In fact, I’ve done a whole post on the mix and match denim look, complete with advice about how to achieve a TRUE denim feel with a twin needle to create a double line of overstitching (just like on your favourite jeans). I used bright orange stitching on the Essential Denim Dress in proper Levi style.
Denim, by nature, is quite thick, and this slight stiffness helps the dress hold it’s A-line shape. You can find a great range on denims available online at Fabric Time. They do lots of different weights and patterns at a good price.
Obviously, you don’t have to stick to denim – you can make up this pattern out of ANY mix and match of fabrics providing they are all a similar weight to one another. For best results, to maintain the boxy tunic look, the fabric needs to be quite substantial. To get this utilitarian look, I would stick to medium / heavy cotton and wools, scuba, ponte or heavy linen.
However, if you are looking for something a bit lighter and softer for the summer then have a look at my other version here. It’s made from a textured denim-look polycotton and is paired with a very pretty floral devoré fabric that I picked up on a market stall. The sections of flower fabric that look blue are actually transparent, with a blue lining. Shirting weight fabric would be fine for this look. It’s finished with white twin needle top stitching. The dress has a much lighter prettier look in these fabrics but still holds its shape well. I think it would look great with flip flops and would be perfect to throw on over the top of a bikini.
The mix and match style of denim in this dress makes it particularly suitable for an upcycling project. Take a look at Vicki Myers fantastic version of the dress that has been made from several old pair of jeans. She talks you through her process of making it step-by-step and I love her positioning of some of the pre-existing seams. And yes, she has also made that fabulous necklace she is wearing – her website, Vicky Myers Creations is here.
The Essential Denim Dress comes as multisize paper pattern available here.
You can find other versions of the Essential Denim Dress to inspire you on the Summer Style blog post.