Simple Modern Sewing Boat Neck Jumper Dress or An experiment in dyeing linens

I came across this Japanese sewing book (Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu-To-Seikatsusha) while browsing the local library catalogue. This book has eight simple patterns used to make 25 garments. Borrowed it and lucky for me it had the pattern sheets so I traced off the pattern! Yes! Pattern cost = £0!! I chose the boat neck dress because I liked its simple lines and crisp look. With some linen fabric I bought dirt cheap from a closing down sale, I decided to tackle the project.

Cutting out easy and I made the dress in one sitting. I used  pinking shears on the facing edges but they quickly unraveled and had to go back and serge a week later (after 1 wash). While I like the dress, it did not sit very well on the neck. You can see on the pictures there is a lot of gaping there. Basically I need to learn how to fit necklines. Spent time fiddling with it but eventually I decided it didn’t matter for now. The lesson was I need to learn more about neck construction. Getting past the gaping neck my next major problem the colour. This dress started off as a pastel like coral colour linen fabric. Pastel coral peach does not suit me <full stop>. So I started looking into dyeing.

On to some interesting facts I learnt about linen during my little dyeing shenanigans. I found that linen fabric has its pros. It’s lightweight and cool, with a crisp, fresh appearance. But is also has its cons, a tendency to wrinkle after only a few minutes of wear! However one of linen’s benefits is – it readily accepts dye without too much fuss or special supplies. Apparently linen is woven from fibers derived from the flax plant,
What a flax plant looks like..interesting!

a cellulose fiber (cellulose is the primary structural component of plants). Cellulose fibers are dyed most successfully using fiber reactive dyes. Linen takes fiber reactive dye very well because the fiber reactive dye actually forms a molecular bond (think marriage instead of a hook up ;-) with the cellulose fiber. I had to select a dye colour darker than that of the dress. Enter Dylon Tulip Red. There was the option for washing machine dye but I decided to hand dye cause well it was cheaper. Although I did wince a bit as watching the dye go down the drain….

Side Profile coral
Before dyeing.
Red Dress final
After dyeing and adding trim. Poor weather and lighting = foggy pictures.

I think the colour change was a success and I like the new colour. But that was not all, I decided the dress needed a little something to detract from the neckline issues. Hence the trim on the neck and hem. I used my maching to sew it down with stabilizer at the back so the trim would not pucker.


I considered putting trim under the hem but that would have meant having always iron it out after a wash. I try to reduce ironing as much as is possible!

Full outfit Collage
Duh! I should have ordered the pictures BEFORE then AFTER! Instead its like ‘Look how it is now but look how it Was…..
Yeah I am just gazing….
Drying out after a dye bath
Before and after lace
Without trim….with trim….sans trim….avec trim…..Amazing how much difference a little trim makes
Back neck gaping issue
That gaping neck!

I left the gaping neck till last since my take away from this project is to learn more on fitting a neckline especially a boat neck. Have you ever adjusted fit on a boat neck and know a quick fix? I am planing on making another one in spring, having worn this a lot layered over winter long sleeves – a spring time version would be a most welcome addition.

Thanks for stopping by,



22 thoughts on “Simple Modern Sewing Boat Neck Jumper Dress or An experiment in dyeing linens

  1. The new and improved version is a great colour on you and adding the trim really finishes it off. It maybe worth grading the top of the dress into a smaller size or taking it in an inch or so by folding over the pattern on the central lines before cutting. It’s worth having a measure up first just to see if this would work… It’s a lovely style though and it would be worth having another go at it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a guess, but did you choose the pattern based on your full bust measurement? I ask because I see a couple of issues that indicate this might be the result of trying to avoid a bust adjustment. The neckline gaps across the back, which indicates that the cross-back is probably too large. The side seams pull forward (toward the kneecaps) and the hem hikes up in the front, which indicates the front fit is closer than the back fit, proportionally. Even with a loose, roomy dress, if those proportions are off, the fit will be off. The best solution is to pick a pattern based on high bust size (rather than full bust) or by cross-back (if that measurement is available), and then alter the rest to accommodate your figure. It’s much easier to add/subtract room at the hip or bust than to add/subtract room at the shoulder.

    But that’s all for the next pattern, when you’re picking the size to cut. For now, with this dress, probably the easiest fix for the neckline would be adding small darts on either side if the spine on the back piece, or trying to pinch out some of the extra volume at the shoulder seam, or a combination of both. You probably don’t want all of the adjustment to come from the shoulder seam because this will alter the boat-neck shape and make it almost more jewel-neck-like. I don’t know if any of the experts would tell you to do these things, but that is what I did when the cross-back on a boat-neck shirt was too large for me, and it gave me a fit I could live with.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow thank you so much for this advice Theresa! Yes I did choose the pattern based on mu full bust size. The pattern doesnt have a cross back measurement unfortunately. All it has is a full bust measurement for size selection. You are spot on with the fit issues as well – I do have to keep ‘straightening’ the dress when I am wearing it. I do like the fit on the front bust, that bit doesnt move around so much. It makes sense to add the darts on the back piece and I will certainly try that. You are a fit maestro! Thank you again!


    1. Thank you Linda! Its amazing how colour transformed it into something I could live with. The silver lining with the neckline is that I am going to learn and improve my skills 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Amanda! It felt like an impossible challenge, but it really wasn’t that bad! It’s amazing how nervous you can get about things that really aren’t that difficult. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Boat necks are really hard to get right. I have to agree with Theresa, the dress is too big at the shoulders, it’s very clear in the last image. I have a boat neck dress that I love and i had similar issues to yours – the solution was to add small darts at the neckline.
    The tulip red looks great on you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s really pretty! I love the color and the trim. I don’t have too much experience with woven fabric necklines. It seems hard though! I like knits where I can stretch the collar on and make it behave 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s