I hate feeling hot. People who know me know that once the temperature hits 80 degrees, I start to freak out. By 90 degrees, I refuse to leave the apartment. If the weather ever gets to 100 degrees, I hit meltdown. I am lucky to live in Los Angeles, where summers can get hot but hardly ever humid. Keeping myself cool during summer is a priority, but it can get difficult sometimes—especially because black is my color of choice for about 90% of everything I sew.
Last year, I sewed three Plantain dresses based on a very simple hack: just add length to the pattern. The dresses were adorable thanks to some super cute prints I found at Michael Levine, and I got a lot of wear from them when I went back home to Brazil to celebrate the holidays with my family. As much as I love the simplicity of the Plaintain trio, I wanted a knit dress with some pizzaz. When I found the Bexley dress, I knew I had to buy the pattern.
The Bexley is a T-shirt dress with bust darts that give the dress a lovely shape. The dress hugs the bust and then opens to a very comfortable, super cute flared skirt. Because it is a knit garment, it is really comfortable—it feels like a T-shirt, but it looks fancy because of the bust details. And it is a perfect summer make; its flared skirt really lets the air circulate. A word of caution: You should avoid wearing the Bexley on a very windy day, or you may end up re-enacting Marylin Monroe’s iconic flying skirt scene.
The pattern suggests selecting a size based on the high bust measurement. I checked the size chart, and my high bust and bust measurements place me on the same size. I felt confident that XL was the right size for me.
I have a bunch of cheap knit purchased from Michael Levine, so I used some to sew a muslin. To save fabric—2 1/4 yards is a lot for a short dress like this!—I eliminated the back seam. I was able to use less fabric, probably 1 3/4 yards. I really like this knit fabric from Joann. It feels great on the skin, and it drapes beautifully. It has enough weight not to be too slinky, so it skims the body without revealing too much.
The construction of the Bexley is very straight forward. If you have ever made a T-shirt, you can sew this dress. I stabilized the shoulder seams with twill tape. I know some sewists prefer clear elastic, but I find it much harder to control. All seams were sewed using the sewing machine and then finished with the serger. I have finally realized my dream of buying a coverstitch (yay!!!), and all the hems were done using it. I am getting used to this new sewing addition, though. I had to undo the sleeve and dress hems a couple of times because I could not get the stitches to overlap perfectly. I need to play with the coverstitch a bit more to get the hang of it.
The bust darts are the true heroes of this pattern. The darts make the dress hug the body up top and flare at the bottom. I had never thought of sewing a dart on a knit garment, so this detail blew my mind. When I sewed the muslin, I felt the darts were hitting the wrong place. I move them two inches down, but that was a mistake. All the nice shaping got lost with the change. I decided I’d rather keep the pretty shape and live with the darts than destroy the Bexley’s prettiest feature.
A quick note on how to move the darts: I used the instructions from the pattern. I drew three straight lines—one from the apex of the darts, and the other two from the end of the dart legs. From there, I marked two inches down from the apex and the dart legs. Finally, I connected the top of the new dart to its legs. I have to say, the instructions of the Bexley are amazing. The pattern teachers sewists how to handle some of the most common fit problems—length, bust, bicep, sway back, and dart adjustments. The Bexley is a great option for beginner sewists or those who have been sewing for some time but feel frustrated by fit issues.
Summer Project #1: Completed
This is the first completed item of my Goth Summer 2019 sewing plans. I knew this would be a quick project, so I started with it. When I sew it again, I am going to add some inches to the length. The current length feels a bit too short for me. I love the neckline of the Bexley, and I plan to use it when I sew my next batch of T-shirts—a Bexley neckline on a Plantain body will make for the perfect work tee. This dress was the perfect warm-up session for the more complicated dresses I want to finish during summer.