Tropical Prints for Steamy Days

Posted Sunday, 30 December, 2018

Hello sewists and welcome to the final post for 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was equal parts magical and restorative.

As for me, somewhere during the end of year craziness I’ve managed to sew up a tropical shift dress and I had the chance to help a friend sew her first dress! Despite the heat (temps around 43°C/ 109.4°F) confining us indoors, it has been a productive December. I will admit though, if I’d wanted to spend my days completely inside, I would have moved to Coober Pedy. That’s the only fly in the (very warm) ointment. 

Speaking of flies; these photos were taken in the early evening and you would not believe the numbers we had to contend with! It was straight out of a horror movie. Another very (un)glamourous thing we sometimes do for the ‘gram! It was funny and gross all at once.

To cope with this heat, I’ve been on a bit of a shift dress kick. Hence this Simplicity Jiffy Dress from 1969. I sewed Version 2, the "mini length".

Initially, I was hesitant to realise my desire for more floaty attire as I’m a bit self-conscious. Having had a baby this year I was concerned that people may think I’m trying to hide (I'm not). I’ll also admit to worrying about feeling chubby, which again is something that I almost feel bad saying in this age of body positivity and dialogue surrounding feeling “less than”. The thing is, I get it because I too am a proponent of those things. They are absolutely correct, strong and empowering. I certainly do not want anyone to be feeling negativity toward themselves. Ever.

However, I don’t think that that diminishes my emotions or tendencies toward self-criticism. They're there. I think it’s important to acknowledge that and to sit with them, identify why I feel a certain way, what I’m going to do and then let them go. I firmly believe that it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold onto negativity - despite that fact that the "letting go" part is what I find the hardest!

Pursuing a joyful life is so important. To me, that means accepting the good with the bad and knowing that it’s ok if you don’t “love” something about your attire, or even yourself. All feelings are valid. It’s what you do next that counts. That’s how growth happens.

Since having Bell’s Palsy (26 April 2017 – I still have a partially paralysed face. The muscles get lazy when I’m tired or nervous. Frankly, I don’t mind). I promised myself that I wouldn’t hide away, no matter how I feel about my reflection because I absolutely abhor the thought of another person doing just that. I want to be an advocate for positivity and love - even if it's just to those in my immediate circle. I say this and I do these things because I think that we should celebrate the beauty of creation, in all its forms. In a round-about way, I feel as though wearing this dress makes that statement.

That became rather introspective. I don’t know why I felt the need to write all that. Perhaps someone needed to hear those words today. If so, I hope it brings them comfort. If not, then I blame the weather again! It must be cabin fever!

I’ve also been thinking about the direction that I want to take my sewing for the New Year. Despite my reservations, in sewing this dress I felt very comfortable (not just due to its trapeze style!). This was because I found myself returning to my roots, after a fashion. I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve picked up a true vintage pattern and just sewn. I’ve also been obsessed with anything tropical, 60’s and Palm Springs Style lately (possibly due to missing home), so watch this space!

Weird Hair. Brought to you by high temperatures.

Sewing Notes:

  • Sewing in a cotton sateen from Spotlight (similar fabrics linked here, although this particular one may still be available. I purchased it on clearance).
  • This dress has a facing at the neckline and shoulders, making it the most straightforward facing I’ve ever done. No mucking around pulling sleeves/bodices through etc. Just a front piece and a back piece, right sides together and then turned out. Very true to the nature of the Jiffy Patterns.
  • I love the closures on this dress. The button detail adds a bit of interest to the design and is also practical. Easy to slip on and off and to lengthen/shorten on the pattern as required.
  • I cheated and machine hemmed the dress as I was a bit strapped for time. Due to how busy this print is, I think I got away with it. We can just say I was paying homage to the Jiffy style and being speedy.
  • The only adjustments to the pattern that I made was to add about 1.5cm to the centre front and centre back. I have a broad back so this sort of change is standard for me and easy to do on such simple patterns. If this is an adjustment that you feel you may need to make, be sure to double check the positioning of dart or any other features on the bodice. They may need to be realigned. Also, ensure that in adding your adjustments you don't alter the neckline too much and mirror any adjustments on the corresponding facing pieces.

So here we are. 2018 is done and 2019 beckons.

Wishing you all things merry and bright this festive season!



Clogs: Old, Lipstick: Clinique "Poppy", Bag: Old (made from African elephant grass, bought locally).