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Relaxed Fit Dress with Carpe Diem

In her quest to add looser fitting garments to her summer wardrobe, Carrie is experimenting with her TNT Carpe Diem Dress & Tunic pattern.  She started by collecting images of shift dress variations on a Pinterest board (check out Inspo: Shift Dresses on Fit for Art’s Pinterest page).  Many of those pins feature a yoke or upper bodice with pleats or gathers below.  She took her inspiration from a couple of examples with a V-shaped split in the dress’s yoke.

Pattern work: Build on Previous Modifications

Carrie turned to a Carpe Diem pattern with a yoke that she developed a few years ago for the Plum Dobby Tunic and Cozy Flannel Tunic. Rae suggested putting a seam up the center of the yoke as a way to create a more stable V-shaped opening than the technique used for the Notched Carpe Diem Tunic, which required clipping into the fabric.   

Carrie was able to re-use the back yoke pattern as drafted and the front yoke pattern was reshaped as follows:

  • placing a dot ½” inside the center front at the neck seam and a second dot on the CF line 2” above the yoke seam,
  • connecting the dots with a ruler to draw the new V-shaped seam line, and
  • adding a 5/8” seam allowance to draw the new center front cutting line.

The revised front yoke pattern was quickly tested in white cotton/poly broadcloth, which is always in our stash for just these types of occasions. This mock-up became the yoke lining during construction.

The large print floral fabric, a linen/cotton blend, was purchased in France last summer.  The only seam in which Carrie worked to match the print was at the center front yoke seam.  After cutting out one front yoke, Carrie pinned that front and the yoke pattern together along the straight part of the seam line. This allowed her to see through the pattern paper as she moved it around the fabric to locate a good matching point.

Add Ease for Gathering

Carpe Diem patterns for yoke and lower front and back.

To cut out the lower front and backs, Carrie folded the yoke out of the way on her Carpe Diem front and back pattern pieces.  She added ease for gathering by increasing the width of the lower front and back sections by roughly 1.5 times the original pattern width.  Rather than draft new pattern pieces Carrie used a shortcut, simply pinning the lower front pattern 5” away from the fold (a tad more than the 1:1.5 ratio) and the lower back pattern 4” away from the selvage. The cutting length was determined by how much fabric was left after cutting out the yokes and cap sleeves; it ended up being midway between the “mid” and “full” length lines on the Carpe Diem pattern. 

Carrie’s existing Carpe Diem patterns were used to cut out the sleeveless sides and cap sleeves

Construction Modifications

The order of construction was guided by the directions in the Carpe Diem Dress & Tunic instruction book for View 3, Cap Sleeve dress, with a few modifications:

  • The fronts and backs had to be assembled, gathering the lower fronts and backs and then attaching them to the yokes.
  • Instead of using the View 3 facing patterns, Carrie used her front and back yoke patterns to cut out a full lining for the yoke area of the dress.
  • Both the dress yoke and yoke lining are supported with fusible interfacing to keep the points of the V from collapsing.
  • The yoke lining was inserted into the dress before inserting the sleeveless side and sewing the side seams, making it easier to maneuver all that fabric around while stitching the neckline. 

To finish the yoke, Carrie securely hand tacked the lining to the dress fabric at the point of the V opening and topstiched the neckline. Finally, she pressed the linings’ hems under by ½” and hand stitched them in place to cover the yoke seams front and back.

It takes a little longer to make an experimental garment from a tried and true pattern, but we enjoy the challenge of working out the details and order of construction. The reward comes in wearing a garment that matches your vision and fits the way you like it! Please share your variations of the Carpe Diem on social media with our hashtags to inspire our sewing community.

Happy Sewing Adventures! Carrie

6 thoughts on “Relaxed Fit Dress with Carpe Diem

  1. With the split in the front, did you need the zipper in the back?

    PS – That’s a pigeonneir behind you!

    1. Good question Sue. Having worn the dress, I can report that the zipper was not necessary!

  2. Love the style and obvious comfort that this dress will give you. I can see making many of them for our hot summers.

  3. Love it Carrie.

  4. Love this. Brilliant. I’m going to make this and will send a photo

    1. Looking forward to seeing your version!

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