The Perfect Beach Look: Jessica Dress Bodice with Gathered Skirt

When I saw that Mimi G was offering the Jessica Dress pattern for free, I was over the moon. I’d been searching for a dress with a sweetheart neckline and classic princess seam bodice for a while.

This discovery was also just in time for a last-minute beach trip my husband and I booked. Making some changes, I whipped (most of) the dress up in one Saturday. There was a leeetle bit of hand stitching that occurred on location, but with a condo balcony view like this, who’s complaining?

With very little time to fiddle with buttons or button plackets, I opted to cut the center bodice on a fold and to fully line the bodice instead of using facings. I then created a gathered skirt to easily attach the whole thing with no side seams and to have the dress zip up the back.

I also wanted to preserve the border from the fabric I was using—of all things, a shower curtain I found whose print I couldn’t pass up. The best part of upcycling, aside from those eco-friendly vibes? I didn’t have to hem the already-finished bottom edge. #LazyGirlProblems

I used this tutorial to refresh my memory on the insertion of an exposed zipper. I’d referenced it for a cocktail dress I made before using the same zippers (I had to shorten one significantly for this light, airy dress), and it works like a charm every time.

To shorten it, rather than cutting the needed length from the bottom, I used pliers to remove about an inch of teeth above the place on the zipper tape where the top of the back bodice would be. This allowed me to neatly tuck the the raw zipper tape into the lining as I hand-stitched it in place.

You guys, this dress came together so easily and it fit me like a dream with no alterations whatsoever. I can’t wait to make another (and then another, and another), this time staying true to Mimi G’s original pattern, because who the heck doesn’t love buttons and pockets??

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