As fall rolls in with it’s brilliant colours, cool breezes and cozy inclinations, I feel a bit of a time crunch to post a dress that encapsulates the feel and energy of summer. This Sway dress is light and breezy to accommodate summer’s heat, complete with playful patterns to capture the energy of the goings-on, and a bright, natural indigo colour that pays tribute to the colour of the sky.
This dress is one of my most proud makes to date, not because of any complicated construction techniques or meticulous applique detailing, but because it’s the garment I’ve most had a hand in creating, start to finish. Not only did I sew this dress, I dyed the fabric myself too, using a technique with indigo dye called Shibori.
Shibori is a traditional Japanese method of dyeing fabric and is a resist dyeing technique, which means creating spaces where the dye WON’T reach to create your patterns. This is achieved by tying, clamping, folding, and compressing the fabric so that the dye can’t soak in. You’ll most likely have seen this technique done in the rainbow colours of Tie Dye. While the organic and unpredictable effect of the sunburst you get with tying, I prefer the more geometric outcomes you get with the folding techniques.
For the bodice section of the dress I went with a square fold, so I folded the pieces like an accordion lengthwise, then again crosswise and clamped a cardboard block in the centre to keep the dye only along the edges, creating the square pattern. For the skirt I wanted to balance the patterns with a simple stripe, which meant just a basic accordion fold and dip-dyeing one half. My friend Courtney and I also had lots of scraps and small pieces we also wanted to dye so we played with triangle folds, beads, and ombre effects as well.
The magic of Indigo is how it actually dyes the fabric. Unlike most pigment dyes, instead of penetrating and ‘staining’ the fibres, indigo actually starts out as a neon green liquid and when it is removed from the water and hits the air, it oxidizes and the chemical reaction creates the stunning rich blue you see. The best part is unfolding your creation and watching it change colour before your eyes. For this reason alone I recommend giving it a try!
Back to the dress. This is my second Sway dress and I really love the shape and fit on me and cut a straight size XS once more and created the paneled skirt by slashing the (traced) pattern from the waist line diagonally to the centre front/back seam. Normally, I would not have cut in extra seamlines into a pattern (though I am quite pleased with the results) but this dress was actually originally planned to have been marbled instead. I needed to cut the fabric into small enough sections to fit into the marbling tray. That whole plan was re-directed after the fabric proved not to hold the marbling paint, so into the indigo it went.
It’s been pretty much a year since I actually dyed the dress. Since September brought fall with it so quickly last year, I didn’t end up sewing it (why sew a summer dress in winter if you can’t wear it once it’s done?) and it sat in the to do pile for months. It wasn’t until an upcoming trip to Portland at the beginning of August (with daily temperatures of 30+ ) that spurred me to whip it up in a few days and bring it with me.
It was the perfect dress for the humid, sunny, hot hot heat of mid-summer and Rory and I took it on our visit to the International Rose Test Garden to snap some photos. Portland was such an amazing, creative, fun city and one of my favourite trips in a while. I didn’t nearly take enough photos of the rest of it. Looking back at these photos makes we wish we had just a few more sunny days to soak in summer, but I am already tackling my fall sewing plans, so maybe it ain’t all bad.