This is one of those styles that I knew I wanted to make the moment I saw it. Style Arc released the pattern for the Toni Designer Dress last month, and it wasn’t long before I had a copy. And then it wasn’t long before I was cutting it out. And then sewing it up!
I sewed this in Thai cotton double gauze, part of my Chiang Mai haul. This fabric is absolutely NOT the recommended fabric for this dress. It really should be made in silk, crepe, rayon, or a soft drapey knit if you want to maximise the effect of the side drapes as per the pattern illustration and original design.
Nevertheless, the dress still works well in my fabric of choice. It just makes the side drapes much more architectural and triangular in appearance. This dress isn’t actually all that hard to sew. I think that perhaps Style Arc have overrated it a bit with a “challenging” rating. You do need to be careful to get the collar points meeting nicely at the centre front seam, but otherwise it is a rather straightforward garment to sew. Even easier if you leave out the side pockets like I did!
I did have to pay attention to line up the squares, both when I was cutting out and when I was sewing. The unpicker was required more than once!
(The above photo was taken at night in artificial light – the fabric colour is more accurate in the other outdoor photos). The collar can be worn up or folded back. The rest of my family liked it down. I like it best up.
There is a centre back seam that contributes to the shaping of the dress. The sleeves are cut on and are just turned to the inside and narrow hemmed. The dress hem is a narrow machine stitched hem as well. Simple.
Style Arc describe this pattern as follows: The simplicity of this pattern is the key to this designer dress. The wide side drape falls softly into the narrow hemline. You will love the flattering collar that sits high on the neck and continues into the front “V” insert panel. This is such a comfortable, easy dress to wear with a designer look.
If you would like to shorten this dress, please see this tutorial – Shortening Designer Toni Dress“.
Now, I did follow the tutorial and I did shorten the dress. I sewed size 12, but took a total of four inches from the length by folding two inches out at each of the shorten/lengthen lines. I am 158cm tall. That was the only alteration I made.
This is incredibly soft fabric. It took me some time to decide which side to use as the “right” side, as the square colour way is reversed on the other. I also tossed up using both sides of the fabric in different parts of the dress, but eventually decided to keep things simple and in one colourway. I am definitely going to make this dress again. The fabric – a rusty orange crepe knit – has already been chosen!