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Casual Cate

Added Mar 25, 2008

by Lauren Fortgang

Brooklyn, New Yo...






I used the Cate pattern but very casual fabrics to make an elegant but wearable summer dress.

The top is cotten. The bottom is a stretch material…probably jersey.

I made some changes to the pattern to simplify this dress. There are no sleeves (but I think an optional, detachable halter strap might be nice), and I did not include boning or lining.

I’m thinking of putting in an inner “belt” that is sometimes found within heavier beaded strapless dresses to keep them up, but am not sure how to accomplish this without some trial and error. I could have also used some elastic in the empire waist. I’m pretty flat-chested, so it’s not a huge issue.

I’ve yet to hem, and don’t even know if the fabric needs it. But I’m open to suggestions! It may just need a clean cut line.

I finished with french seams since I omitted a lining for the dress (though there is a lining for the bust), and added a tuxedo ruffle as I decided I wasn’t crazy about the rectangle strip of fabric the pattern calls for.

The dress has been lengthened to the floor as described on the front page of the pattern.

*my pattern was pretty sloppy. mis-labeled pieces, and instructions that confused me a bit, but it could have just been me!

Material Notes

Cotton, jersey-type stretch material, invisible zipper, interfacing






28 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Yr_13_prom_dress_front_large

    Mar 25, 2010, 02.03 PMby jescarose

    This is really beautiful, very inspiring. I’ve had this pattern sitting around since last summer, intending to make the perfect summer dress but then the weather changed for the worse and i never really got around to it. Just wondering if you could give me a’couple of pointers on which pattern pieces are mislabelled and what you found difficult and altered in the dress (not including the bottom lining – i’m with you, linings are over rated) just so i have a bit of a heads up. Getting a bit worried about attempting this dress with all the problems people have been having but i still want that perfect summer dress now the weathers starting to change. I should be able to take it in my stride as i am going off to do a fashion degree and university, but i still dont have as much confidence in my ability as i probably should have haha. Thanks :)

    1 Reply
    • Bcfdf732ed0d1e0738afae99ad7b7a78d6d65e62_large

      May 18, 2014, 04.02 PMby Lauren Fortgang

      I’m only four years late visiting this page, but in case the questions remain…

      I don’t quite recall which pieces were labeled wrong. Though I think it had something to do with lining. Again, I did follow the steps to line the top and apply interfacing. And that just hangs unattached inside. I didn’t do much other than that. I lengthened the dress and omitted the sleeves. Changed the rectangle of fabric into a tux ruffle. Don’t be worried. The part that doesn’t make sense becomes clear as you’re working on it. If you understand even the basics of following a pattern, you’ll be able to say…ah, that’s funky. Skipping!

      And who knows, all these years later, perhaps they fixed the pattern.

      The key to this is paying attention to the top so the sweetheart shape works on the top of the bust and where the skirt attaches. Gather with some care.

      Then let the skirt do it’s thing. Pick a silky jersey or similar so that the fabric really hangs and drapes. Anything stiffer will seem like a ball gown. I may have leaned the cut a little on the bias for extra drapiness. And as I mentioned in a similar post, I narrowed the angle of the seams where I ran out of fabric width. Doesn’t matter because so much circumference is built in.

      The pattern hides a lot!

  • 7b5a3852c1397e80ffe709f37a5222ed54ff6406_large

    Mar 25, 2009, 06.06 AMby minid

    Wow this is such an amazing dress!!!

    I’ve been after a nice maxi-dress since last summer so this one I’ll wear my Cate – that is if I manage to get it right….! Maybe I’m a bit over ambitious as this is my first project but after seeing your creation I couldn’t stop myself…. I had to buy the pattern :) I’ve bought a beautiful 60’s style, flowery, white and green fabric very cheap so I’m going to give it a go!!

    Lauren, thank you very much for the inspiration x


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    Jan 28, 2009, 11.06 AMby dianneny

    I really love your dress! Do you think I can do a petite version?

    1 Reply
    • Bcfdf732ed0d1e0738afae99ad7b7a78d6d65e62_large

      May 18, 2014, 03.44 PMby Lauren Fortgang

      Why not!? The pattern is marked to lengthen and shorten! I’d just alter to your hearts desire!

  • 2b38a9b08936dbbe9296f6a21c341ada0d6aaf05_large

    Oct 20, 2008, 03.00 PMby yoko-1

    This dress works really well…wow…the colours, style…length of dress – i really like it. This has given me ideas for my own dress if (when) i make mine. Thanks for sharing! :o)

  • 97dcc5cf9da23c373f5708cc2678bf647b9ef413_large

    Aug 12, 2008, 06.50 PMby dazzychica

    That is probably the single-most beautiful maxi dress I have EVER seen, and that includes the department store dresses! drool

  • B8b5105beba39fe1b529985ce9cf34b0843a4f61_large

    Aug 11, 2008, 12.13 AMby helenamarie

    oh my! This dress, I love!

  • 74976a1c15d4077d937cfe6f50c3b38acc9b8172_large

    Aug 5, 2008, 08.17 AMby hollyweird

    wow. I’ve seen a lot of Empire dresses on the runways lately.. more formal and hard to wear out.. But this is simply gorgeous! (and wearable) I might give it a burl with satin. seriously, wow. Great job! and the ruffles are too cute.

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    May 12, 2008, 10.28 PMby enero


  • 6f81e114e3ca4c834bda454c61aa6ac38403270b_large

    Apr 23, 2008, 11.53 AMby mokil

    Simply beautiful! Love the fabric combinations – very upscale!

  • Bcfdf732ed0d1e0738afae99ad7b7a78d6d65e62_large

    Apr 10, 2008, 05.35 PMby Lauren Fortgang

    Yes, it drags on the floor, but that’s because I didn’t hem it yet! I also sort of like that it drags about but, of course, I live in NYC, so ground-draggage isn’t ideal!

    YES, I lined the top…and trust me, I TRIED to skip it…because I skip or simplify where ever possible! But you really need to follow all of the top steps because there are several steps, and interfacing, all of which helps with the fit and sturdiness of the bust. So I would do it. But no lining on the skirt! Not for me!

    I think I only had a 2 yards or so of that fabric…maybe 1.5. Maybe I narrowed the skirt a bit just to get it to fit…can’t remember. But it’s so full, a small narrowing wouldn’t make a bit of difference. I think I followed the directions right on the Cate page. It said to lengthen the dress by 18 inches if you wanted floor-length. Worked like a charm. I’m 5’7".

    It does stay on the bust. No elastic. But I’m really flat..so..who knows. Often heavy, beaded dresses have a ‘belt’ on the inside that give extra security. So maybe look into that. I also thought a halter strap (maybe even removable with a hook?) might be appropriate!

    I’m so pleased you all like it so much! Me too! It was 70 degrees today…almost time!!! :-)

  • D396ea32db814cafb8c9e19242e4d7aa9e1c7c1a_large

    Apr 9, 2008, 12.09 PMby teamydear

    Waw! It reminds me of this H&M by Marimekko dress! Like here. How much fabric did you need to make it that long? I also wonder if it drags the floor! And doesn’t it slide off your bust when you move? Or did you do something to make it fit very well? I am adoring this!

  • Fe324b13f9df067efcbaa686c4f10c2353cb9fe8_large

    Apr 8, 2008, 06.13 PMby michalanne

    i like the dress a lot. just bought some jersey fabrics to create myown. did you say you did or didn’t line the top portion? the bottom doesnt need lining for the jersey but i’m wondering if i should line the top.

  • 14536_1168844113637_1603980154_30421967_5707101_n_large

    Apr 3, 2008, 09.44 PMby reneebeth

    I always thought long dresses were only fancy evening gowns, but this one looks so wearable and carefree (but still elegant, of course). Makes me want to try a long summer dress. Does it drag on the floor?

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    Mar 27, 2008, 07.51 PMby antigone

    This dress is so elegant!

  • 8b8ed299cab9df63e982a427f86a7bc79939c502_large

    Mar 27, 2008, 05.22 AMby keelysews

    Hi Lauren, this is GORGEOUS! I love your fabric combo and you look great in your creation!!

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    Mar 26, 2008, 10.01 AMby marcy harriell | oonaballoona

    wow, lauren, this is awesome. i bought this pattern months ago and it’s been sitting in my computer. i LOVE the tuxedo ruffle, it changes the whole dress (raises hand mischievously to steal brilliant idea as well), and your fabric combination is genius! and i did wonder if you were freezing on that balcony… you are going to tear brooklyn up come the summer. i am a bit afraid of the wonky instructions now… too bad it’s on a paid pattern, but oh well, i always skip the lining anyways :)

  • 7c30f6418f01dc532834a62c338538b3e026cd7a_large

    Mar 26, 2008, 08.20 AMby lybu

    This dress is beautiful. Looks fresh and lovely. I like the fabric combination and colour

  • Bcfdf732ed0d1e0738afae99ad7b7a78d6d65e62_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 10.40 PMby Lauren Fortgang

    absolutely karen! of course i don’t mind! that’s what we’re here for, right! i wish it were summer here! i was freezing out on the fire escape taking that picture! i’m just waiting for the weather to heat up so i can wear all these dresses. and thanks to all who like the fabric. i think i’m going to buy more cotton solids (maybe orange or yellow) to pair with this fabric. i love it. and the vivid solids remind me of lollipops or candy!

  • Burda_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 06.04 PMby emilywirt

    This dress looks beautiful! I love the green with the black and white pattern. I want a long dress like this now. Nice work!

  • Eba31fd13ba8df2a4b1efa0700fc4d7e8318c661_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 05.31 PMby olar

    Beautiful dress! it is very special!

  • Photo_on_2011-01-23_at_15_34_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 04.54 PMby allie31991

    simply gorgeous! it looks so versatile and fun! great job!

  • Dsc00515_copia_-_copy_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 02.14 PMby karencilla

    I love it! I should do something like that (if you don’t mind! haha) but shorter, you know here in my country is Summer ALL the time!!

  • Bcfdf732ed0d1e0738afae99ad7b7a78d6d65e62_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 01.06 PMby Lauren Fortgang

    Yes, yes, yes..I had TONS of problems with the pattern! I thought I was just an idiot because I could not make it make sense. But since I didn’t use lining, I just ignored most of that and just made it work. I also found the pieces mislabeled… But now that I’ve gone through it once, I’ll just not try to figure it out next time…and just go for it!

    And thanks for all the great feedback…as always!!!

  • F708b828ff4de7f20f1d12321273f3105c1a8b0d_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 11.49 AMby lcavagnolo

    This is fabulous! If the bottom is a stretch knit, you can probably just cut it straight and it will curl up on itself slightly with washing. Did you have problems with the pattern instructions like I did? Seeing your casual version makes me want to retry it using my own directions! :)

  • E751d66d50aa9f9bfde4cb1b25bcd2fe30268e43_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 11.30 AMby kasia26

    Great version of Cate! I like the fabric combination.

  • Cc70b9fbdade3e83318a66551dbff7f825f48286_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 11.22 AMby sabine

    Wow, seeing it here makes me think of buying it! Did you have any issues with the pattern itself?

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    Mar 25, 2008, 11.06 AMby polychromatin

    Yeah, you’re the first to have the heart to do this dress! It looks really beautiful! I thought about it, too, maybe I’ll make also one for summer :)

  • 9042c0bf5223511d5cc13e721fdeef21914bb56c_large

    Mar 25, 2008, 10.47 AMby lauriana

    Wow, I like it! Now, I really want a long flowy summer dress too… To answer some of your questions: most types of jersey don’t really need hemming. A strapless dress needs to stay up, so if you feel secure yours will, just leave it like this, if you don’t I’d recommend going for an inner belt or/and halter straps, rather than elastic. The only inner belt I’ve ever made was very simple: just a strip of about 2 cm wide twill tape with the two halves of a trouser hook at the ends. It needs to be as long as the piece of the bodice it’s attached to and can be tacked in place at the side seams and maybe some other places with a couple of hand stitches. However that was a waistband for a strapless dress which was fitted down to the hips, yours might need a different approach.

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