Summer Dresses: Catalina and Santa Fe in Italia

Summer is my favourite season for sewing! I love working with bright floral fabrics and making floaty tops and dresses, not to mention the instant gratification of knocking out a summer garment in an evening or two. Here are a couple of simple dresses I made in a mad binge of pre-vacation sewing last month.

Frivolous at Last - Catalina Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

First up is the Catalina Dress by Blank Slate Patterns. I had 2.5 yards of this rayon floral and managed to get this dress, as well as an Ogden Cami, out of it.

Frivolous at Last - Catalina Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

To be honest, this dress is kind of a disaster. You can see in the picture above that the elastic waistband is all wonky — a result of not being careful enough while cutting this shifty m*^@f^%# of a fabric. The bottom of the bodice piece was uneven but that didn’t become apparent until I had attached it to the skirt.


The neck binding doesn’t lay very flat. And to continue the disaster, while trimming away a seam allowance, I gouged a big crescent-shaped chunk out of the fabric on the back bodice. Gah! Here it is after a quick and dirty repair:


So crooked cutting, hole in fabric, wonky neckline, wonky waistline…but you know what? This busy print disguises EVERYTHING. It’s aaaaall good.

Frivolous at Last - Catalina Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

I even felt confident enough to wear this around Milan. There are some *very* fashionable people in that city. I certainly didn’t measure up but neither did I feel like a smelly old dog-chewed shoe next to all the beautiful people. LOL

Frivolous at Last - Catalina Dress - at a market in Milan

Frivolous at Last - Catalina Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

Oh, and one other thing to add to the disaster-that-wasn’t-really-a-disaster story: I washed the dress during my vacation and hung it on our little patio to dry. The patio also happened to be where the air conditioning unit was located, and it proceeded to blow very hot air on my drying laundry. Which was basically the equivalent of throwing this rayon dress into the dryer! So it shrunk. But la vita e bella, because I think it looks even better now that it has shrunk a bit. It’s taken some of the wonk out of the whole thing. Compare the picture above (before shrinking) with below (post shrinking).

Frivolous at Last - Catalina Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

You may have seen in my recent posts (here and here) that I’ve made a couple of Santa Fe tees lately…it’s my new favourite t-shirt pattern. And what is summer without a t-shirt dress? So I ‘hacked’ the Hey June Santa Fe pattern by adding some length to it to make it an easy-going, loose dress.

Frivolous at Last - Hey June Santa Fe dress hack

Frivolous at Last - Hey June Santa Fe dress hack

Love the bound neckline on the Santa Fe…

Frivolous at Last - Hey June Santa Fe dress hack

…as well as the gently curving hemline.

Frivolous at Last - Hey June Santa Fe dress hack

Here’s my favourite picture featuring this dress, taken at the San Miniato al Monte abbey in Florence…photo by Dave Rose.


Elastic waistlines and no waistlines at all were the central theme of my sewing list before my trip to Italy. I planned on expanding my own waistline while there…and I certainly didn’t disappoint!

Let me show you some of the challenges the waistlines of these dresses faced during their time in Italy:

Possibly the happiest day of my life.
My second cone of gelato, the first being about 20 minutes earlier.


Deconstructed lasagna. I actually made this at a pasta-making workshop I attended in Milan.
Oh wait, THIS might have been the happiest day of my life.
Another occasion on which I finished the first cone of gelato and went straight back in for numero due

Ok, now here’s the picture I debated myself about showing you. This was an attempt to show how giant our apartment doorknobs were, but really it turned out to be evidence of my GIANT ITALIAN FOOD BABY that isn’t even hidden by the “loose” dress I’m wearing!


So now I’m off to sew a whole new wardrobe to fit my post-vacation bod. Oy.

Thanks for stopping by!

— Lori



17 thoughts on “Summer Dresses: Catalina and Santa Fe in Italia

  1. I actually started to salivate! So… deconstructed lasagne recipe please? And thanks for the elastic & tent packing tips! Back to my Ogden…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melody! The recipe was basically:
      Saute various veggies such as red peppers, eggplant, etc. in oil with garlic and onions.
      Boil flat noodles.
      Put a flat noodle on a plate, spoon some veggies on top and repeat for 3 layers.
      Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil.
      Can be served cold.
      It’s easy but it’s quite elegant, especially if you use fresh pasta.
      Let me know how your Ogden turns out!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Highly recommended, Kathleen. Although it is a pretty basic swing-shaped tee with cut-on sleeves and sleeve bands. Might be able to draft one without the pattern? Me, I hate drafting, though–always prefer to cut from a pattern.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s what always stopped me! I have a Jalie Tee pattern that looks an awful like this one that I love and fits me so well – at the least I could fiddle around with that 🙂 Thank you for resisting the any temptation to enable 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful that your AC shrunk your dress to great effect and how jealous am I of your Italy trip. Must make that deconstructed lasagne. Am such an admirer of yours that you would go back for a second cone. Must admit that I had gelato every day in Italy but not two at a time. Salut

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I quite agree, all of the busyness from the fabric hides any mistakes there maybe. It looks beautiful on you, and I do like the shrunken version. I also love that blue! Looks like such a great holiday.


    1. Thanks, Cherry. I got really lucky with the shrinking thing. Although if it had shrunk beyond hope I think I would’ve been mentally ready for that, since it was on the edge of being a wadder the whole time I was working on it.


    1. Hi Ramona. I bought some fabric (a couple of pieces of silk) but not the ones shown in the picture in the market. It was actually difficult to find fabric in Italy — many of the shops I found were super high-end and way out of my price range. And my internet searches for markets with fabric didn’t turn up much. I actually just stumbled across the market pictured above by accident, and there was just this one stand with fabric.


  4. Oooh, I made a flowery print Catalina summer dress too! I really like your print! The waistband gave me trouble too, but I thought that was because I was using stretch-fabric which went all over the place. Fortunately the busy print also fixed my problems, but I guess I won’t try to make it in a solid color now. The rayon you used is not stretchy, right? I was surprised you can make the pattern in both knits and wovens but don’t need to adapt the size :O

    I also like your t-shirt dress, usually I’m not a fan of shapeless waists but it looks super classy on you! By the way, there’s no food baby visible on that pic at all! 😉


  5. HA! You are living right! It’s true that we’re our own worst critics, I can’t see anything wrong with your floral dress even after you pointed it out.


  6. Hahaha! LOL on the whole mishap of a dress, which turned out to be gorgeous after all! What a champion and a survivor! The pics are lovely, they are so inviting that I must travel to Italy NOW! I miss some fabric shopping guide though…


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