Sewing · Style · Thrifts

Etsy Love + House Dresses

I got out my sewing machine this morning. It’s been a long time. I’ve had a couple of projects to work on since school got out, but I haven’t made time. I finished them both in 30 minutes. Why do I procrastinate?!

orange house dress

This is my quintessential summer dress. I love this thing. It was a Target dress that I thrifted years ago. Actually, seven years ago, because it was the summer I was nursing Boy, and I was looking for any clothing that didn’t feel like I was actually wearing clothing. I needed “breezy” because I had a big, hot baby attached to me most of the time.

breezy dress

This dress was actually several sizes too big when I bought it, but I loved the super soft, lightweight cotton, and the bodice actually fit at the time. Ahem.

Fast forward a few years, and it’s way too big. I have to keep hoisting it up to keep it in place. I still love it, though, and have worn it hundreds of times – the perfect thing to pull on after you get home from the pool, shower off the chlorine, and pour yourself a wine spritzer. A modern day house dress, if you will.

Did you ever see As Good As It Gets? It was a quirky movie that was, for me, at times, painful to watch, but it also had lots of great moments and random quotes that have stuck with me.

“Good times, noodle salad.”

“Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”

And for some reason, I will always remember what Jack Nicholson’s character, Melvin, says when they go out to dinner and he is forced to wear a dinner jacket.

“They make me buy a new outfit, and they let you in in a house dress.”

It made me so mad! First of all, I loved her dress. Red! Polka dots! Lovely drape and flattering cut. And it CLEARLY wasn’t a house dress, because a house dress should look something more like this:

house dress

But apparently, the original style of the house dress was more like this:


And it came with a coordinating oven mitt attached! It was meant to function as a house dress, a dressing gown, and even a swim cover up. Exactly!


For this to continue to be my go-to summer house dress, I realized, Hey, I should add some straps!

So, this post would look similar to the one I did here (red polka dots!), except I found something pretty cool that made this process even easier.

I didn’t have any orange elastic in my stash, so I turned to Etsy. But how would I know which color would match best?

colored elastic

Ta-da! The multipack!

For less than $5, I ordered elastic in a variety of colors from Sunshine Shoppe Supply so I could match it up perfectly.

colored elastic

When it arrived, I was surprised at how much I got of each color. I could add straps to a dozen dresses, but I think I’ll be making headbands for Girl and me instead. (And, it turns out, elastic is also great to use when making a bow and arrow set out of bamboo you just cut down in your back yard. And by “you”, I mean my seven-year-old. Summertime creativity at its finest!)


This morning, when I went to sew it, I looked at both sides of the elastic and realized I liked the back much better. Instead of shiny (shown bottom), it is a softer, slightly deeper color that looks even more like fabric (shown top).


I measured and pinned and sewed the straps in less than 5 minutes. I have worn this dress all day (not just in my house!), and I have not had to adjust it once.


This is my summer house dress. Now with significantly less hoisting.


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