Ta-daaaa! I finally finished my second Parasol Dress, a zero-waste dress sewing pattern by Cris Wood Sews. (You can see my first Parasol Dress here.) It’s essentially a dress made up of rectangles, which means you can use nearly all of your fabric. I was already planning on using this seersucker print for the skirt of this dress when I decided this would be my #So50SustainableSewing project — as well as making a dent into my Whole 30 Fabric Challenge. 😉
The SewOver50 sustainable sewing challenge is to “stimulate sewists’ creativity to use fabric that is already in the system.” This means you could use anything from tablecloths and tea towels to remnants and old jeans to make a garment. So I used this pretty blue plaid remnant (.75 yard) — a Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics purchase from a few years ago, a solid blue cotton in my stash (.5 yard), and this seersucker print that I got for free from a Bay Area Sewists fabric swap years ago (about 1.7 yards) to make this zero-waste dress.
I was just waiting for the right pattern for this seersucker print. I love the tiny drawings! They are each about an inch wide (2.5 cm). It’s a travel theme, with cruise ships, airplanes, suitcases, airplane tickets, hats, and more admidst the blue dots and squares. I used all of this seersucker fabric for the skirt of the Parasol Dress. I used French seams for the side seams.
Some of the drawings are right side up and some are upside down. So on the front, I had the hats right side up and on the back, I flipped the direction of the fabric so they are upside down. 😉 The selvage said “Printed by Daido Maruta,” which was founded in 1942 in Japan. I don’t think it is still in business. I couldn’t find much information about the company other than Toyobo Co. bought Daido Maruta Finishing Co. from Daido Group.
Remnants and swap fabric inspire me to mix prints, which I don’t do very often. It’s fun to play with remants and free fabric. Way back in 2014, I made a tunic using fabric I got at a Bay Area Sewists swap and a remnant from Britex Fabrics. They were both prints and not something I would have thought to put together.
Adjustments to the Parasol Dress
You can make a top or a dress from this pattern, which has the option of making the bodice 1.5 inches (4 cm) longer for a lower waistline. I added the 1.5 inches. You can make it sleeveless or with sleeves. My first Parasol Dress was sleeveless so for this one, I added sleeves.
The zero-waste dress is about knee-length but I wanted to try to use all of my plaid remnant, which made it more of a maxi dress. The width was determined by the fabric I had leftover after I cut the bodice. I really didn’t have enough fabric to do much gathering. But it is slightly gathered, which you can sort of tell in this photo. I used French seams to sew together four pieces of the plaid fabric to make the bottom panel.
I initially used the solid blue fabric for just the sleeves and the ties in the back.
And then I decided to use all of my solid blue fabric — and really make this a zero-waste dress. The best way to do that was to add a ruffle. I measured the circumference of bottom edge of the plaid panel. It was about 100 inches (253 cm). I measured the lefover blue fabric and pieced together strips to get to nearly 200 inches (~506 cm), twice the circumference. Using the leftover fabric, I cut three strips that were 42 inches long, three at 24.5 inches, and two at 13 inches — for a total of 198.5 inches. I sewed them together with French seams, gathered the very long circle of fabric and attached it to the dress. It took a long time to get that hemmed and done!
The finished height of the ruffle is 2.5 inches (a little over 6 cm). I’m not sure I like the ruffle — it’s a bit cutesy but it’s growing on me.
The pattern calls for two pockets but I decided that I liked one pocket better. I did cut two but I didn’t like the way it looked when I pinned them in place. My one pocket is smaller than the pattern because I didn’t have enough fabric to make them larger. The skirt fabric is rather lightweight so a smaller pocket is probably better. I reinforced the fabric behind the pocket by putting some woven fusible tape on the wrong side where the stitches are. The finished dimensions of my pocket are 7″ x 7.5″ (17.8 cm x 19 cm). I also placed the pocket about an additional inch away from the side seam, closer to the center of the skirt.
I added a small piece of fabric (part of the second pocket that I didn’t use) to the back to hide my bra strap, which was visible without it. The top edge of that fabric insert is 3.25 inches from the bottom opening. I forgot how low the opening is so if you want to hide your bra strap, you need to sew a much longer center back seam (more than 6 inches). And if you are making the sleeveless version, sew a longer side seam on the bodice or you will see your bra. Even if I didn’t add 1.5 inches to the bodice length, I would still see my bra strap. You can sort of see the fabric insert (behind the ties).
My measurements are bust, 39″, underbust 34″, hips 42.5″. I have a small bust, A cup and I’m 5’7″ (170 cm) tall.
Improv sewing for a zero-waste dress
I had some ideas of what I wanted to do with my fabric and used a custom template from MyBodyModel to sketch out what my second Parasol Dress could look like. Here’s that sketch.
Once I started sewing, I improvised as I went along. I was working with three fabrics of different lengths and I adjusted the pocket, bottom panel, and ruffle, depending on the amount of fabric I had. I wasn’t really planning on using all of the solid blue fabric I had but I thought, “Well, this is a sewing challenge. Let’s see if I can use all of these fabrics.” And that’s why I decided to add the ruffle.
I was going to add a small plaid ruffle to the sleeves but then I changed my mind and decided to use those scraps to make fabric flowers. The seersucker fabric had at least one uneven edge so I used those scraps along with the solid blue to make flowers. I didn’t follow any pattern or instructions. Instead, I just cut strips of fabric, sewed them together, pressed the fabric, and began making the flowers.
I did some slight gathering on the raw edge for two of the flowers. To make the flowers, I began at the center and just wound the fabric around and around. I hand sewed throught all the layers in the back. Here’s an image I posted to my Instagram Stories of my improvised flowers.
The flower with a lot of gathering (middle right image) doesn’t allow you to wind the fabric very closely together. I discovered this after the fact. That’s the finished flower on the bottom right. You can see that it has more open “petals.” Less gathering lets you wind the fabric more tightly around the center to make it look more like a rose. But that also means you need more fabric to make it. I sewed circles of blue felt on the back of the flowers to cover the raw fabric edges.
The flower I pinned to my dress uses the seersucker and solid blue fabrics.
I also attached one of the plaid flowers to my hat. I love embellishing hats.
Comfy and casual
The Parasol Dress is really comfortable and casual dress, just what I wanted to add to my wardrobe. I am still expecting warm weather in the fall, which is what has been happening in September for the past few years. So I think I will still be able to wear this dress for a while.
The only thing that I’m not thilled about is the profile view of this dress. My bodice fabric is a crisp cotton and the seersucker is, well, seersucker and kind of floaty. So it’s quite a puffy profile with this fabric. If you use a sofer fabric with drape, it won’t look like this. Check out Beth of Sew DIY’s beautiful version in silk.
That said, I still like how this dress turned out! Thank you SewOver50 for hosting the #So50SustainableSewing challenge and inspiring me to use all of these fabrics to make this zero-waste dress!