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Gemma’s Rhea Dress

Is it finally time for dresses yet?? Spring keeps playing with us and giving glimmers of hope. I’m tired of wearing so many layers and just really looking forward to being able to throw on a dress and go!

When I saw this month’s fabric I knew it was just what I needed to get me in the summer mood, and the perfect fabric to create a fabulous, swishy dress! The print is incredible, so much visual interest and the colours are amazing, and such a busy print needed a simple pattern. Luckily I didn’t need to go far for inspiration, as reading through last month’s magazine I came across a great interview with Tammy Handmade, saw a picture of her pattern ‘The Rhea Dress’ and instantly knew that was what this fabric was to become!

Strangely enough I hadn’t come across Tammy’s sewing patterns before, so that was a great win for the magazine to introduce me to a new designer! Her patterns focus on being simple in design, which is great when you have a bold print fabric like this one. The Rhea Dress is an effortlessly stylish v-neck design with a tiered skirt, a semi-fitted bodice and loose, flowing skirt. It’s a good pattern for beginners as it is a slip-on dress that has no fastenings, so would be really comfortable when the weather is warmer. Sometimes you want a quick and simple make, and this looked to be it!

The only issue with this kind of fabric is that it moves a lot, so I definitely recommend lots of pattern weights and a rotary cutter when cutting out! The pattern really is quite simple – two rectangles for the skirt and two for the ruffle hem, and then 2 each of the front and back bodices as the top is lined. You also have two options for the straps: you can have simple spaghetti straps or create tie straps, I went for the straight ones. The dress has a good amount of ease – I made a size 20 and could have sized down a little, but love the volume to it.

Construction is relatively easy, the trickiest part I found was making sure to not twist my straps when attaching them from the front to the back. And as much as I love the ruffle tier, oh my that is a lot of fabric to hem! Perhaps it is time to get acquainted with my rolled hem foot…

One thing this pattern did not have which surprised me – pockets! That is just a no no for me, so I added in-seam pockets to my skirt pieces before joining them. I also found that the strap length was a bit too long for me, making the back bodice sit quite low and showed a lot of bra, so I shortened them considerably to raise the bodices up, which looks much better.

I like how the bodice sits, as it is slightly higher at the front, so with the gathering into the skirt it is really flattering and roomy.

This dress was just the ticket for creating the perfect summer dress, and is in danger of becoming my new favourite pattern, and we all know what happens when I decide I love a pattern – I then proceed to make 10 more versions! But that wouldn’t be a bad thing, as this really is the ultimate simple summer dress: effortless style and maximum comfort that shows off your fabric beautifully!