Sign up for my weekly sewing newsletter or send my a comment or question

Sign up for my free monthly sewing newsletter

Sign up for my weekly sewing newsletter or send me a comment on this blog


Email *

Message *

Book a free sewing SOS video session

Book a 30 minute FaceTime or Skype chat to help work through a sewing issue.

About me

My photo
I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Review of Jalie 3911 Michelle summer dress

Of all the new Jalies I made this spring I think I had most fun making the Michelle summer dress.

My absolute favourite thing in the world, next to my family, dog, and rhubarb is discovering a nifty new way to sew something familiar - particularly if that new way is:

  • easier
  • faster
  • slicker
  • smoother

... than the way I would have done the same task myself.

The Michelle dress and tank was that kind of nice construction surprise. Here are the pattern pieces and line drawing:

I made the dress. The skirt part was as expected- a big gathered rectangle set into the bodice in a waist seam somewhat above my natural waist, by say 2-3 inches. So raised but not empire.

The top part of this dress is fully lined. If you don't want that much fabric, this lining can be cut off shorter to make as sort of all in one facing for the neckline and armholes. You might want to do this if you were just making the dress top as a tank top only, and didn't want to figure out two layers at the hem.

Now you might think that making this top fully lined would be tricky with those kind of complicated bagging instructions those of use who have bagged vests might be familiar with, but in fact it is so easy. 

I really can't do the instructions justice here. Basically it amounts to sewing the front lining and front together at the neck and armholes, and doing the same at the back, turning one set to the right side, sliding one unit into the other, machine stitching across the shoulders, turning it all to the right side and then sewing the side seams.

You really need the pattern for the complete process if the above run-on sentence makes little sense.

The resulting bodice with this technique is clean and fast and definitely something a beginner could do successfully. As method it eliminates the need to finish the neck and armholes with facings or bindings too, which is a bonus.

Note that the front and back pattern pieces are identical, which makes matching the pieces fool proof, and because the neckline is very open there is no need for zippers or other closures.

I made my version with a navy lawn from Fabricville with little white birds printed on it. Because the fabric was so light the lined bodice was perfect as was the gathered skirt.

It seemed odd when we took these shots on a cold, grey May day here to be putting on something so bare. I am sometimes aware too that as I get older and am no longer a spring chicken that my arms remind me more and more of chicken's wings but there are times and locations when something to wear in the heat are really important.

I am thinking here of the heat of Austin Texas where my middle son now lives. Those of you who know that climate can appreciate why I appreciate a dress like this for when I am there in the hotter months.

I also could see this as a dress, since this Jalie pattern comes in size 2 as in toddlers right up, I can make for the little and bigger girls. Definitely for summer sewing for children the fact this could be whipped up so easily means the Michelle is going to have multiple iterations around here. 

I am thinking too I may even do a shell too for myself - how useful would one in white, self-lined be?


Linda T said...

I think the method you describe for sewing the shoulder was something Nancy Zieman used with one of her vests she demoed on one of her TV videos.

Anonymous said...

That is interesting! I want to make a double-layer tank from white gauzey stuff and I've been trying to work out how to clean-finish the neck and armholes. The result isn't bulky? I presume the seams go to the back...

Anonymous said...

Your arms look great. All of you does, and the dress is flattering! Thanks for your blog.

ג'יל said...

Thanks for your recommendation - just purchased the first Jalie!

Unknown said...

This is a great dress...could maybe be a jumper, too? I love a clean finish at armholes, and facing the front give my thinner fabric a chance to shine! I might have to get this, and make a few dresses...thank you! PS I believe I have those sweet summer shoes, too...makes it a perfect ensemble...

paloverdeblooms said...

Much as I'd like to see the instructions for this method of doing the bodice and lining, I think I'll pass. I'm large busted and short waisted, and 2 to 3 inches above the waist hits the underside of the boobs. That's pretty empire on me. Not a good look at all. Thanks for the review!

Kamchick said...

I am someone who avoids gathered waists. How possible would it be to change the gathers to a few strategic soft pleats in this pattern? I'm tempted...