Pecan Street Art Festival Dress


I debated calling this the “F*** it, I’m Moving to Portland” dress. Justin and I went to the Old Pecan Street Art Festival here in Austin today (they block off a whole street downtown and fill it with arts and craft vendors, food stalls and local performers) and even though we were there only about an hour we were at each others’ throats by the time we walked to the car because the heat turned us into angry, sweating monsters. That’s right, summer is upon us and I’m feeling a lot like I ought to up and move. The heat was so fierce today that I had soaked through my dress and I felt like a big, fat, disgusting mess. Ugh.


But luckily this is a black print dress that hides sweat discoloration pretty well. On the other hand, only Photoshop can hide the super red lips I had from eating a cherry snow cone.

The Goal: I’ve been sketching several dress designs lately. I seem to have ideas popping into my head out of nowhere all the time. This is the first that I decided to work on because even with the fancy back and sleeves, the base of the dress is simple – fitted bodice and gathered skirt – and if I get that to work for me I can use the pattern as a jumping off point for more designs.


The Fabric: Smooth and soft rayon floral print from The Common Thread. I love this stuff so much! Too bad the store is sold out or I might have to get more. Has anyone else found this online?

The Pattern: I used a basic bodice block with side and waist darts (hard to tell in the pictures). The sleeves took some time to figure out. I ended up folding what looks like an extra long oval in half lengthwise and gathered it (easier than trying to do a baby hem). The skirt is just two big, gathered rectangles. Had I paid more attention I would have added pockets!


As for the criss-cross back I used my handy dandy new bias tape makers that I got for my birthday (thanks Polly!). I used the wider tape for the “net” and narrow tape to bind the neck hole and as a facing for the armholes.


I did an invisible zip on the side for closure (center back wouldn’t have worked with the net design).

The netting took more effort than I thought. I had to stretch the bias strips more taught than I thought otherwise they hang all floppy and loose. It also took time to make sure the strips lined up correctly and intersected in the right place.


The Changes: Since this isn’t a pre-made pattern I’ll talk about what I’ll change next time. First I’ll probably use the bias tape as a facing around the neckline rather than a binding. It will probably help make the back netting smoother. In fact, I think that was my original plan but by the time I got to that point (the last step before completion) I forgot and just sewed it as binding.


It took me awhile to figure out a good placement for the ruffle sleeves since they don’t reach around the entire arm hole. At first they were way too high so I lowered the ends closer to the side seams. I’ll adjust the pattern for next time.

I love this rayon fabric but it has a rather loose weave and the weight of the skirt pulled the bodice down so much that I had to pull it up at the shoulder seams and re-stitch, making the bodice another 5/8″ shorter. If I used a more stable fabric I probably wouldn’t have that problem.


The Results: It’s super cute! These pictures make it hard to see the seams and detailing but this is a really pretty, comfortable, flow-y dress. I think it fits my sewing resolutions – a dress that I can wear everyday (but it’s also dressy enough to wear to a wedding, perhaps) that’s not too short, doesn’t require any extra clothing  or special underwear to wear with it (like a cami underneath) and it has sleeves! Well, sort of, I think they still count.


I have a couple other designs I’m working on next. I seem to be on a fancy-back kick lately with this dress and the crochet back dress I made last week. The next dress I’m drafting has a back cut out! Fun times!

I haven’t forgotten about my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe. I’m drafting a top soon and I’ve finished my last pair of shorts that I hope to share with you soon!

  • i love this dress. if you made it a pattern i would buy it for sure. it looks so adorable on you.

  • So pretty and that print is really awesome!

  • Amy

    The print, oh, the PRINT! I love it! This dress looks so breezy and has a nice casual but dressy feel. I love the sleeves (a lot, a lot, a lot) and how the bodice fits, and the back is really fun, too.

  • I think the sleeve treatment and the criss cross (jump, jump) detail really make this dress. It pairs really well with your shoes too.

  • I debated about going to Pecan St today, but after getting sun burned vending at the Violet Crown Festival yesterday I opted to stay indoors with the a/c, the heat was just too much yesterday. Maybe in September(ha).

    Your dress is super cute.

    • Thanks! I actually haven’t heard of the Violet Crown Fest. I really need to get some sort of local social calendar going or something.

  • Oh your dress is cute as can be! You can find more of that lovely rayon challis here for $5.75 a yard: Happy sewing!

    • Awesome! Thanks for finding it!

  • Hy doll! lovely post! what do u say about following each other?:X

  • Your designs are getting better and better. Beautiful job 🙂

  • Adorable dress. And that fabric is gorgeous.

  • I LOVE this! Absolutely gorgeous!

  • i love the back detail and the fabric is so fun. great dress!

  • The fabric is soooo beautiful! And I think those criss cross straps are amazing.
    Every year at this time I decide I have to move to the Pacific Northwest, and then every year in November I decide I can live here again. So that’s only 7 months of every year that I can’t stand where I live!
    Oh well. We survive. And you’ve inspired me to get back to the sewing table and make some summer dresses!

  • Omg. I love this dress. Like, I want it in my closet. The fabric is perfect and the cross-back details are amazing.

    You are on a roll! I loooove your lace back dress and I’m excited to see this next one with the back cut-out.

  • Love it!!! The back detail makes it super special. I’m really into back details right now, too. But my hair is so long, that you often can’t see my back anyway–ha!

    • Thanks! I wish my hair was longer. It seems to grow excruciatingly slowly. I keep telling myself that when it gets long I’m going to do all sorts of cute pony tails and braids and buns. At the rate it grows, though, that probably won’t be until I’m 30! Perhaps you can put your hair up and I can live vicariously through you, ha!

  • That dress is so beautiful on you. I think it is my favourite of all the dresses I’ve seen posted by you. The fabric is amazing (and so is the back detail of that dress)! Summer is upon us? You must be in Texas. In Ontario it was 9’C (48’F). It’s early spring here….

    • Thank you so much! I absolutely love this fabric and wish I could give every sewist in the world a yard or two. It really is great – nice drape, breathable, and a pretty print!

  • Your pattern drafting has really jumped leaps and bounds over the past couple years. This is an outstanding dress! What gave you the inspiration for the criss-crossing back treatment?

    I, too, despise hot weather. You are one tough cookie to live in Texas! OK, maybe one tough cookie that is served with a red snow cone instead of milk. 🙂

    • Thanks Rebekah! Wanting to do something with bias tape now that I have those bias tape makers gave me the idea. I liked the idea of pretty printed strips and I wanted to do something with them besides just using them as binding or trim.

      Milk or snow cone – so long as I have a cool beverage I might just survive one more summer!

  • Amazing, as always! The back is just so pretty. I love those rayon prints, too.

  • Oh I love it! Such a simple design with just the right amount of details. I’m really curious about this bias tape maker you have. You must spill the details. If such a machine existed. I would save myself so much time!

  • For some reason I have a hard time replying on my phone/iPad not sure why. Anyway I absolutely love this dress! I would wear it all the time. It’s like cake with a baby bit of frosting in the back. I have been really into buying/wearing/making dresses and shirts with interesting backs. I would definitely buy this patten if you made it. Love it!

  • This is too gorgeous for words. I adore it.

  • Great dress, Dixie. I love what you have done with the back and the sleeves.

  • That is SO lovely! I don’t usually like ruffley bits, but this is subtle and pretty and the back detail is gorgeous. You really ought to sell the pattern! I’d buy it! I bet loads of people would!