Sewing for Me: The Summer Salvation Dress (aka The Tent Dress) + Quick Tutorial


Today, I give you the one-hour tent dress. This was a completely unplanned sewing project, and I’m pretty sure that if I saw this on a hanger in a store, I would dismiss it as shapeless and unflattering. Then again, I so often feel like my signature style is the muu muu, and this muu muu has been saving me from the hotter-than-normal days we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest. It hit 90 degrees on Monday, which meant that it was about 110 degrees in our un-air-conditioned house. Not fun.


I needed something that wouldn’t cling incessantly or broil me alive as I tried not to wilt into oblivion, and this trapeze-style dress was the answer. I don’t care if it makes me look like I’m carrying quadruplets; I love love love it.


There’s really not a whole lot to this self-drafted garment. I grabbed a bodice pattern piece lying around on my cutting table and loosely traced it onto this ribbed heather grey jersey then extended the side into a trapezoidal configuration. I figured the hem would become slightly asymmetrical — I was right, and I like it. I cut three strips (1-inch wide) for the neckline and armholes running parallel to the width of the fabric to get the necessary stretchiness and bam, sixty minutes later, I was lounging in the world’s most comfortable dress. Using a rotary cutter really speeds things up and I didn’t even bother hemming the bottom. If you can tell, exacting measurements weren’t going on here and I relied on a heavy dose of eyeballing. Not bad for a slapdash effort, I’d say.

Okay, if I were to do it over again, I wouldn’t make the neck quite as scooped, but it looks intentional so I’m going with it. I even added a little pocket, mainly to remind which side is the front.

I’m thinking I might need a color-blocked Summer Salvation Dress – what do you think?


I created a bare bones, loosey goosey tutorial graphic for quick reference on how to construct a similar dress. It still needs to be refined, but it gives you the general idea.

What you’ll need:

– About two yards of knit fabric. Mine is a ribbed cotton jersey with a touch of  spandex. It has a nice drape but isn’t too thin
– Coordinating thread
– Ball point or stretch needle

I own a serger/overlocker which is great for knits, but I actually like to use my sewing machine zig zag stitch (width reduced to about 1.5mm and length increased to 3mm) to sew the seams and then I finish the raw edges with my serger. I do this because I’ve had problems with my overlocked seams unraveling easily in the past. Note: the finishing is optional since knit fabrics won’t fray. If I hadn’t taken the extra step of overlocking the shoulders, sides, neckline and arm holes, this might have been a 30-minute dress….


For reference on how to attach binding for the neck, this is an excellent tutorial. I used the same method for the armholes.

Viva la tent dress!




25 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: The Summer Salvation Dress (aka The Tent Dress) + Quick Tutorial

  1. Not only are you back from your blog break, but you’re back with such great stuff!! Outfit for K, awesome dress for yourself . . . and oh yeah, while writing two books! How do you do it all?! You say “one hour” dress – and I know it would take me twice that long! Such a great dress that looks simply lovely on you. Did you see the photos of yourself? There is certainly no quintuplet hiding going on there! Your running is paying off in dividends:) Thanks too for the tutorial!
    Hoping your heat wave abates . . . no a/c is no fun:(

    1. Thanks, Lucinda!! You should see that state of our house and while my mom was here, I did zero cooking. Gotta choose my battles…as for the preggo look, some of the rejected ones made me look like Octomom before she gave birth! 😉

      The running is slowly growing on me, but I’m still the slowest jogger on earth. I’ve given up any hope of losing weight via running, but I love the mood boost it gives me!

    1. Hey! Where did the rest of my message go? New mobile…
      Well, I lived in dresses like this in Greece and they are the best! I even think they are flattering. Thanks for the tute!

      1. It really is the best kind of dress for hot weather, isn’t it? I hope you had an amazing time in Greece – I expect to see pix, Ute!

  2. love it! and it looks good on you. i don’t own any dresses, but will definitely try this one. thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Tameka! I was reluctant to wear dresses for years, but now I adore them. So easy to get dressed in the morning.

  3. I think it looks quite nice! Very refreshing – it has been stifling in Vancouver also.
    I also love the lace blouse from your previous post – the skirt fabric is to die for! 🙂

    1. The heat wave has been nuts! And now it’s rainy and muggy, not quite cold. Such strange weather we’re having in this part of the world…glad you liked the outfit from Monday. It seems like a crowd pleaser 🙂

  4. Man that looks like one comfy/breezy dress! I need one too, it got up to 100 in places in Portland on Monday (then for some reason turned rainy and 70s the next day…?).

    Oh also I mean to say the other day that a MWF blogging schedule sounds awesome! I aim for Tues/Thurs myself and sometimes I don’t even hit that. 😉

    1. 100 degrees! Oh man, I would literally combust — our house would become a kiln!

      I have to say, I’m liking the M-W-F schedule so far. The two days off in between gives me some breathing room to get a lot more done behind the scenes, which feels great!

  5. Hi Sanae, I also just finished one dress for myself. Similar neckline and sleeveless too. Your tent dress looks comfortable to wear. I never sew knit before, but I’ll try it next time, thanks for tute!

    1. I love sleeveless dresses in the summer and I could live in them all season long! I’ll have to check out your dress and you should definitely try sewing with knits, Yeka. I think you’ll end up enjoying it a lot!

    1. Thanks Bella! You just can’t beat the comfort factor and I think it does look quite stylish when paired with cute shoes and accessories (sadly, I’m still incapable of properly accessorizing…).

    1. Thank you, Linda! I swear, I’m knocking myself! 🙂 Keep in mind that I have the power to select the least offending photos to display here…many of the images were so not fit for public consumption 😉

  6. It looks really good. Comfortable, sure, relaxed, that too, but you can still go outside in it and not look like you are wearing pajamas. I made a dress last summer out of double gauze that looked like I was wearing a hospital gown, despite the pin tucks and long sleeves. I shortened it to a shirt. Now it looks like a pajama top! Now I am considering cutting it up for a quilt. Needless to say, it took more than one hour.

    For your colour blocked version there are pros and cons. On the plus side, it would look really sharp. On the down side, you might fuss over it too much and may not be able to ‘eyeball’ everything.

  7. Quadruplets… you kill me! I love it! it’s such a revelation when you just sort of whip up something totally wearable in a matter of minutes. I made a maxi skirt that took me all of 20 minutes and I was pretty damn pleased with myself. I will always love an easy sew. Oh, and I really like the dipped neckline… I feel like this could be really pretty dressed up with some fancy jewels and a hot date on your arm! XO

    1. You go, Erin! I want to make a 20 min maxi too! I’m with you on the easy sew love. As much as I like sewing challenges, the projects that help me relax are the easy-peasy ones 🙂

  8. You look fantastic-and I can’t detect any quadruplets in there..they must be lego-sized. Hope you enjoy the good weather! It’s back to dreary rain here in our part of Europe.

    1. Ha, lego-sized! Love it!! We’re getting rain now too. It’s the oddest weather from scorching to drizzly in a matter of minutes, it feels like. Thank you, Marjolijn!

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