Summer Diane Kimono Dress

It’s so hot this summer, I just want ice water or maybe the garden hose! Which led me to sew this little dress, a favorite pattern from Serendipity Studio. My first version, below, was sewn in March, 2012, and many subsequent versions are scattered on the blog.

I’ve always sewn this in a print, primarily in quilting cottons. All these fabrics are Keepsake Calico from JoAnn – I like the mix:

Sewing notes:

  • I sewed the Size small with minor tweaks to lengthen the bodice by 1 1/2″, and raise the v-neck by 1″. The designer, Kay Whitt, is a petite lady, and the pattern tends to reflect her dimensions. Adjustments are easy.
  • This version is between tea length and ballerina length, at 31 1/4″ long from my waist. The finished width of the three tiers, top to hem are: (1) 22 1/4″, (2) 3 3/4″, and (3) 4 1/4″. Hemlines are such a mystery and confusion – here’s a graphic I found on Fashion for Real Women:

Micro – high thigh
Mini – mid-thigh
Above knee – 1 to 2” above the knee
Knee length – at the knee
Below knee – 1 to 2” below the knee
Midi (or tea length) – mid-shin
Ballerina – between mid-shin and ankle
Maxi – ankle
Floor Length – floor length to an inch above

  • It’s really tempting to cut rectangular bands for the skirt tiers, but I wanted to preserve the A-line of the skirt, so I drafted tissue for each tier from the original skirt tissue.
  • I like using rounded buttonholes in general, but they really serve for use with ties. To avoid any raveling of thread tails, I work them through the buttonhole on the inside.


Ciao! Coco

Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono dress – Grunge Fish

Sometimes a print makes a sewing project so much fun. Check out this cotton twill from Cali Fabrics – I love it!

Going through my pattern stash, I realized I haven’t made a Diane Kimono dress in 4 years (Year of the Dragon print). Designed by Texan Kay Whitt and released in 2011, it’s a delightful silhouette and a wonderful palette for mixing prints.

I checked Kay’s Serendipity Studio site, but did not find the Diane listed. I did find the paper/envelope pattern (which is what I have) at WeSewRetro. The dress is so lovely, and the pattern costs less than you might think – you might want to snatch a copy before it disappears. BTW – Kay’s choice of quilting cottons for her garments is inspirational. It’s worth a visit to her site just to enjoy her creativity.

Here’s a collage of versions I made in 2012. I think I will revisit using multiple fabrics on my next version.

Sewing notes:

  • Size Small. I’m 5′ 7 1/2″ tall, 34/29.5/39 BWH.
  • Fabric yardage for my Diane Kimono dresses: 4 yards at 44″ wide, 3 yards at 55″ wide.
  • To take the dress to a maxi length, I added 13″ to skirt pattern pieces. For a midi length, I would need about 10″.
  • Added 1.5″ to the bodice length, front and back – 1/2″ at the bustline, 1″ at the bottom edge.  
  • Added 1″ to the neckline, fronts and back, to raise the crossover, and redrafted the facings to fit. The original was way too low without a cami. Below, on the left, with the original neckline – on the right, with the altered neckline.
  • Strangely, the pattern didn’t come with pockets. On earlier versions, I added side seam pockets and stitched them to the front skirt to prevent their waving around inside the dress. Ha! fixed that with this version, on which I added a pocket that sews into the waistline. On the left, old pocket – on the right, new pocket.

I borrowed a pocket from another pattern. In case you don’t have anything similar, here it is on a 1″ x 1″ grid, so you can draft one!

I love my grungy fish dress! Back soon with pineapples…

Bye for now – Coco

Wandering off-grid to a sewing tip…

Time for summer sewing, and I’ve been refreshing my maxi dress and tee shirt inventory. Wow, I managed to justify all that new fabric in just one sentence!

A lot of the patterns I’m sewing have extended shoulders rather than being sleeved or sleeveless.

I like the look!

And I’ve been thinking about my first encounter with an extended shoulder. When I tried to hem the armhole, a simple fold and topstitch, I couldn’t get the hem allowance to fit inside the opening! It just wasn’t drafted correctly for a turned hem.

Enter an easy re-draft. My example is the Sinclair Cachet Tee, a favorite for fit and silhouette, but it’s just one of many patterns that I’ve adjusted.

Here’s a look at the shoulder. On the left, the original draft, and on the right, the fix:

The underarm approach is similar:

And a look at the original and final draft of the armhole edges:

Other examples, both of these are woven fabrics:

Serendipity Studios Diane Kimono Dress
Butterick 6684 Pussy Bow Blouse

If you managed to get to this point, I hope you’re not sorry you read this! BTW, bet you noticed how you can change the hem allowance on just about anything to make it fit.

Bye for now! Coco

My Christmas dress – finally!


Christmas isn’t over yet –  I just finished my holiday dress today!

I had planned to wear it up in Orlando later this week, my Christmas visit with David and Preston. But the weather is not cooperating – it will be too cool. Instead, I’ll be in leggings and long sleeve tunics. Not a problem – there’s always Valentines Day 🙂


I fell for this cotton/lycra poplin from Fabric Mart the moment I saw it. Sewing stretch wovens is generally not something I enjoy, but the print was reason for an exception. I was careful to practice tension, presser foot pressure, needles, and stitches before I began. And I staystitched all the edges that had any bias to them.


Not wanting something too fussy, I chose an old favorite, the Serendipity Studio Diane dress (last version here).

Diane Envelope Pic

As before, I raised the neckline, but I didn’t do anything fancy aside from rotating the print on the waistband.


I love Christmas, it’s simply my favorite season. And it’s just about the only time I paint my fingernails, mostly because sewing is brutal on nail polish! But my toe nails are always red. Florida is sandal city all year…

Polish: China Glaze “The Heat is On”

So, I managed to make this dress without too many major oops, although my seam ripper got a workout from time to time. I blew out my first waistband because the button holes were in the direction of the stretch, and I made a mess of them. Rather than replace the entire waistband, I practiced a bit, chose a heavier stabilizer, and made new button holes in a 4″ long patch. After getting it into the band, it’s not at all noticeable.


On to new projects for the new year! I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful season.


A little sleeve magic…

s3Summer sewing, and my closet has multiples of two great dresses: the Closet Case Charlie Caftan and the Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono Dress. Both are fun to sew, easy to wear, and comfortable in summer heat.

And, as it happens, they both have short kimono sleeves, very similar to a cap sleeve.

About 10 days ago, I got to thinking about those sleeves. I admit to being conscious of the inflammation on my upper arms, and many days I just go for a top or dress with a longer sleeve. Just a few more inches of coverage might raise my confidence level…

The Diane dress was easy to modify – I just extended the sleeve by 4.25″ (as far I could take the sleeve and still cut it out on folded 44″ wide fabric – very scientific). It not only worked, it worked great! I love this length.

Fabric: Audrey Medallion Calico, JoAnns.

s1line art


Changing the Charlie Caftan was also simple. I had changed the pitch on my draft of the sleeve way back when I made my first Charlie. So I just extended it as well, and, as before, used self-fabric bias binding to finish the edge.



Fabric: Packed Poppies by Tim Coffey, JoAnns.


And I’m off to the drug store wearing poppies! Bye for now – Coco

Diane Kimono Dress to the rescue…


OK – my recent wadder with this fabric has really been bugging me. I had such hopes for the fabric, and I’m very reluctant to give up on things.

So, I removed the bodice, cut a new one from the Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono Dress (fortunately I had left-over fabric ), and made a new dress! A look at the old yucky dress and the Diane pattern:

The skirt on the original was from the Diane dress anyway, so it just made sense to try it. Bonus – I discovered that the Diane works really well with challis. I was thinking it wouldn’t, that it would be too drapey. But it has just the right amount of swish 🙂


My original was hemmed at midi length, so I added a gently gathered 7.5″ ruffle/flounce to the bottom of the skirt. Squint, you’ll see it – it’s much more obvious in real life…


Rayon challis is obnoxious to gather on the sewing machine, so I made the ruffle on my serger. A couple notes on this:

  • I used two needles, 4 threads. This makes the serged/gathered edge a little ‘sturdier’ than a 3-thread ruffle.
  • The gathering is soft, maybe a 1.3:1 ratio at the most, because I didn’t want a frou-frou ruffle on this A-line skirt.
  • I enjoy new techniques, so I did a test with my serger gathering presser foot, unused until today. It creates a ruffle and attaches it to the main fabric all in one pass.  But the gathering was inconsistent, and it was a real pain to hold the two fabrics in the right position as they moved forward. Challis is shifty even when it’s behaving! I’m curious, though, and plan to do more tests with other fabrics.


So – end of the day, in the late afternoon sunlight in the kitchen – I’m really glad I didn’t give up 🙂

Ciao! Coco


Serendipity Diane Dress – a note on the neckline

Throwback Thursday post – to 2 days ago!

After I wrote about the Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono Dress recently, I realized that I left out a modification I made to the neckline. And I think it could be helpful to anyone who prefers a higher neckline and V-crossover.

In the pics above, the dress on the left has the original neckline. On the right, the dress I just made has a higher neckline.

The change is very easy:

  • I extended the shoulder by 1″ at the neckline, front and back.
  • And I raised the back neckline as well.
  • The new front edge is trued into the original pattern at the bottom edge.
  • The final step was to re-draw the neckline facings to match.

One last note – I didn’t use a drawstring in the waistband of any of my versions of this dress. I just inserted 1″ elastic, and, on my early versions, added a ‘faux’ drawstring, tacked to the band.

Hope this is helpful – have a great Thursday! Coco