Suspended between two concrete buildings is a walkway that connects the halls of the science building into a circle. One could walk the entire perimeter of the building, and end up in the same spot where they started. Tucked into the far corner of the university, the marching band holds practices on the open lawn below on Thursday afternoons. The sound waves would travel through the walls to the third floor as the trumpets belt out notes and the drums echo in tune.
I spent many afternoons walking the same halls from one wing to the other. Sometimes, I walked to find a quiet study spot. At other times, I wandered only to see what life existed in the different parts of the building.
High above the ground, the wind is strong here as it always is. It makes my hair wild as though it has taken a life of its own, chasing the wind in a multitude of directions. Sometimes, I cannot see through it. All the while, the skirt billows against my legs. But the skirt will not fly haphazardly. This dress has been designed against such mishaps.
It makes my hair wild…chasing the wind in a multitude of directions.
This front-tie midi dress was inspired by the front-tie trend that seems to have taken over all the shops. It is on tops and skirts. It is on bathing suits. Even sandals! One of my favorite things about this trend is that it speaks directly to the petite lady. The tie at the front has the same effect as ruffles. It creates dimension at the bosom area and draws the eye upward to the top. For those of us with smaller bosoms, it is also very easy to wear without worrying that we will spill all over the place.
DRESS WITH A PURPOSE
Each feature of this tie-front dress was designed to have a functional purpose.
The exposed midriff looks incredible on some bodies. However, personally, a slight hint of skin is more sexy and tasteful. The longer bowtie serves this purpose by hiding much of the cutout. Only a little bit of skin is exposed as you move around.
The midi length helps to balance out the skin exposure at the top. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the midi length on the petite frame. With the right waistline, the midi length will elongate the petite frame.
HOW I STYLE THE MIDI DRESS
I mentioned above that the bowtie draws the eye upwards. In order to keep the attention on the bowtie and cutout details at the top, I paired the dress with minimal accessories.
A minimal necklace helps to fill out the empty space at my neck. A pair of nude, pointy heels I picked up on a solo trip to Singapore last year draws the eye into a single point at the bottom. The small heel makes these shoes so comfortable! I could walk in them all day.
Both accessories are minimal and play off the airy tones of the midi dress.
Create the bodice pattern.
There are three bodice patterns.
- Pattern A: Front bodice
- Pattern B: Back bodice
- Pattern C: Shoulder straps
Because the front has a cutout area and is secured with a bowtie, the shape of the bodice is slightly different from a traditional top. The bodice is a tank top with a horizontal band at the center front for the bowtie. I suggest using scrap fabric or pattern paper to play around with the fit. Try it on and adjust it to your liking before cutting the final pattern.
I went through three revisions before I was satisfied with the fit!
With the tank top on, mark the smallest part of your waist. Trace out half of the front and back down to the smallest part of your waist.
Add the cutout and bowtie.
At the bust area, add a horizontal band that is 1 ½ inches wide. Taper the end of this band into a point. This band will become the bowtie.
At the center, draw an arch from the bottom that is 1 ½ inches wide by 3 inches tall. This arch will become the cutout.
Create a sweetheart neckline. Bend the neckline and the arch into the horizontal band.
Add ½ seam allowance. Cut two pieces of the front bodice on fashion fabric and two pieces on lining fabric.
On the back bodice (Pattern B), add 1 inch seam allowance to the top. Add ½ seam allowance to the remaining edges. Cut one piece on fold.
Cut 1 inch strips for the shoulder straps.
Create the skirt pattern.
The skirt is an A-line skirt. There are two patterns:
- Pattern D: Skirt
- Pattern E: Waistband
Use a rectangle to create the A-line skirt.
Measure the widest part of your hips. Divide it by four.
Take a rectangle that is the same width as the final measurement above. Divide the square lengthwise into equal parts. Cut only to the top. Leave 1 cm intact at the top. Spread out the strips to create an A-line shape. Add 1/2 inch seam allowance on all raw edges.
Cut two pieces on fold (Pattern D).
Cut one 3-inch strip that is equal to the waist of the skirt (Pattern E). This will become the waistband.
Sew the bodice to the lining.
Fold the shoulder straps in half and sew. Trim away the seam allowance. Turn the shoulder straps right side out. Topstitch near the seam to keep the shoulder strap flat.
With right sides together, match the front bodice to the lining. Place the strap upside down in between the two layers. Sew along the top, bowtie, and center front.
Snip into the seam allowance at one-inch intervals to add ease. Also snip off the tip of the bowtie to eliminate bulging.
Open up the bodice to the right side. Fold the seam allowance onto the lining. Topstitch close to the seam.
The bowtie is quite narrow. Topstitch along the bowtie only as far as possible.
Attach the front bodice to the back bodice.
With right sides together, pair the front bodice to the back. Line up the hemline. The 1 inch seam allowance of the back will sit above the height of the front bodice.,
Fold the side seam allowance towards the back. Fold the raw edge of the back bodice over twice to cover the side seam allowance. Topstitch the folded raw edge in place.
Finish creating the shoulder strap.
Create the back part of the shoulder strap. To do this, take two small rectangles that is 1 inch in width and prepare in the same way that the shoulder straps were prepared.
Loop the strip through the O-ring. Attach to the back of the bodice.
Finish assembling the shoulder straps. Pass the long part of the strap through the slide, through the O ring, and through the slide again. Secure the end.
Finish the hem of the bodice with a zig zag stitch or a serger.
Sew the skirt.
With right sides together, attach the front skirt to the back skirt. Sew along the sides.
Sew the ends of the waistband together. Fold the waistband in half lengthwise. Attach it to the skirt. Leave an opening for the elastic.
Thread an elastic through the waistband. Secure the ends of the elastic together. Sew the opening on the waist closed.
Distribute the elastic evenly along the waist. Top stitch vertically at each side or each quarter of the waist to keep the elastic in place.
Attach the bodice to the skirt.
Line up the side seams of the waistband to the bodice. Pin the waistband directly on top of the bodice.
On the front, gauge how wide of a cutout you want. Distribute the elastic waist accordingly. The more elasticity you allocate to the center, the smaller the cutout will be when the dress is worn. In other words, because there is more elasticity at the center, the cutout will stretch less. Secure with a zigzag stitch.
Hem the skirt by folding under twice and topstitch in place.