Sorbetto Sundae – simple summer dress

A few weeks ago, after months of rain, it suddenly got HOT. And I realised I barely had any clothes suitable for HOT weather, let alone driving around France in hot weather (I know from experience how hot that can be). I wanted something super simple and super lightweight, but I also wanted to make it myself and I had about two lunch breaks and half an evening to do it.

And so? The Sorbetto Sundae dress was born!

Bad picture! I was in a hurry! I’ll try and get some pics of me in it on holiday!

The fabric is a French (according to the man in the shop) cotton voile and it’s super lightweight. I bought just a metre of it and practically ever inch is used in this dress.

How did I squeeze a dress out of a yard of fabric? Well. I used the Colette Sorbetto pattern (I think you’ll get bored of hearing that phrase over the next few months), which is free to download from here. I omitted the pleat because I didn’t have enough fabric (this is simple to do, but here’s a tutorial if you’re stuck).

As both front and back need to be cut on the fold, I ironed my fabric to have two folds and then lay the pieces like this:


And then…(this is the bit where I should have taken a picture), I made sure the bottoms of my two pieces were level with each other, and then just continued the line down and out as far as it would go (basically making a very long top). It ended up being not that much wider at the hem than it was at the hem of the top, but that was fine.


Ok, so I can’t do anything about the fact I didn’t take pictures, but here’s a reconstruction using a post-it note! so the black is the original bodice/top pattern and the pencil line is how I extended it. Except… to make it even more complicated, I folded everything in half after cutting out the bodice/top bits (still lining up the bottom of the front and back) so that my skirt pieces would be mirror images of each other.

Still following? Phew!

This then came together really easily. I french seamed all the seams (like this! so fancy!), except after sewing the shoulder seams wrong three times I gave up and did normal seams, which I then bound with some very thin, light bias tape I found in my great aunt’s stash. It’s the short brownish line in this inside-out picture of the shoulder.

Check out my wonky stitching! This is why I always say if I can do this you can do this! (about sewing)

I did a bias facing… When I made my last sorbetto I thought I was just binding the edges with bias binding – I didn’t know that a bias facing (exposed or hidden) is a different thing! These were the two blog posts that helped me out: one and two. (I mainly followed the second but ran out of patience when it came to understitching).

Another inside out picture. See how the bias tape wasn’t at all visible on the outside? That’s the difference between bias binding as binding and bias tape as facing. On an exposed bias facing it would look like this, but when it was the right way out.

I sewed the hem with a baby hem/rolled hem done this way, but also a little bit bodged so the end result was smaller but nowhere near as neat:

Note, this is not what a rolled hem should look like! Done is better than perfect, right?

And finally, after all that boring detail, here’s two nice close ups of this delectable fabric. I love it! It’s just so summery, like an ice cream sundae in all my favourite colours (hence the ‘name’ of this dress).

This fabric is so lightweight that it’s practically see-through in the wrong light. For a day at the beach or in the car I’m fine with it being a tiny bit sheer, but I wore it to work with a cotton slip and it was totally professional. I could have lined it, but I like the flexibility of having a summery sheer dress for the beach but with the option of adding a sip to make it more formal.

It looks nicer with a belt but on really hot days when I stop caring about looking nice, I’ll wear it without.

So, my verdict on the sorbetto pattern? Dreamy. Seriously. The first time I saw the pattern I was like “eh”. But then, as it was free and I had that cheap fabric, I made one. And what do you know? Even though that thing is fugly and riddled with weird bits and the fabric is nasty to wear, I find myself putting it on all the time. And I can tell this dress is going to be the same! So, if you’re on the fence about the sorbetto, give it a go. It doesn’t take much money, time, or fabric and it’s a bit of a winner. Huzzah!

Edited to add – PSST – you can see a picture of me wearing this dress here.


  • August 8, 2012 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous! I am always in awe of your skillz.

  • August 8, 2012 - 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I love summer dresses! I’m so jealous of your sewing skills ;)

  • August 9, 2012 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Serious sewing talent! Love it!

  • August 9, 2012 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Super cute!! I have basic sewing skills but I don’t think I have the skills, knowledge or patience required for clothes making. You did a fantastic job!!

    • August 13, 2012 - 8:22 am | Permalink

      Thanks Christine! I’m getting the knowledge from the Internet and the skills by giving it ago! The patience is the thing that surprised me the most about myself- I think that’s where I thought I’d fail but when you get really absorbed in a simple but slow task I think it comes naturally? Like our felt wedding toppers and the ceremony backdrop! (I have no patience with paper or felt!)

    • August 13, 2012 - 8:23 am | Permalink

      Our=your, obviously!

  • August 9, 2012 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    So cute! I too am jealous of your skills! You make it seem so easy!

    • August 13, 2012 - 8:20 am | Permalink

      Aww thanks Ashley! This dress really was easy! The sorbetto pattern is free and comes with great instructions so it’s simple to try out if you ever want to give sewing clothes a go.

  • August 12, 2012 - 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I love the dress and the print you used! I feel like I should invest in some patterns or something…

    • August 13, 2012 - 8:18 am | Permalink

      Thanks Kristen! This pattern is the best price (free!) and comes together easily, so apart from a yard of fabric and a bit of time investment it’s easy to try out to see if you’d like garment making…

  • August 17, 2012 - 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Great idea to make the Sorbetto into a dress! I love the Sorbetto tops so I’m definitely going to have to give this a try. Thanks so much for sharing the technique! :-)

    • August 17, 2012 - 10:52 pm | Permalink

      Hooray! Glad you liked it. I’ll be putting up a pic of it on me (rather than the mannequin) in the next few days so check back!
      Look forward to seeing your version, it barely takes longer than just the top on its own so is a lovely thing to make.

  • August 20, 2012 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    Your Sorbetto dress is gorgeous – and what a simple technique! I’m really going to have to try that out soon! I didn’t realise bias binding and bias facing were 2 different things either – I’m learning so much about sewing from reading other blogs, thank you for this new piece of knowledge!

    • August 20, 2012 - 11:49 am | Permalink

      Hooray! Thanks Kathryn.
      I look forward to seeing your dress in due course!

      I should clarify that they’re the same thing (a bias strip in fabric) but applied in two different ways. You probably meant that but I didn’t want to confuse you just in case….

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  • September 19, 2012 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Hi, thanks for the comment! I would think it would work beautifully in a winter fabric. I made this dress during the cooler months and I wore it to work with a long sleeve top and tights underneath. I just had a look at yours and it is great! Yes I did like the curved hem, I think it softens the hem line a little. Sam xox

    • September 19, 2012 - 10:23 am | Permalink

      Thanks Sam! I’ll definitely add the curved hem to my next make! xx

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