Packing Light- Sewing a Summer Travel Wardrobe

For our 3 week trip to Italy, I was determined to pack light enough to fit everything into this backpack.  Everybody said that I couldn't do it, but I enjoy a good challenge.  I didn't want to have to lug around even a small suitcase up and down steep steps, over cobbled roads, etc, so I set about carefully picking items to pack based on volume and weight.  Since Italy in June was going to be hot, I decided to make dresses.

Silk Cotton Voile Dress that weighs 2.8 ounces!
See that fabric on the scale?  That is Dress #1.  I found that I had three pieces of Silk/Cotton Voile that was absolutely the lightest weight fabric that I owned.  This stuff is incredible- so light and breathable, it is just like you are wearing nothing at all.  
Travel Dress #1:  From Textile Studios Barcelona Dress pattern.

In selecting travel dress patterns, I was looking for three things:
1.  Loose-fitting- both for heat and for the likelihood of an increasing waistline (expecting to eat a lot!)

2.  Back and shoulder coverage-the last thing I wanted was to get a sunburn!

3.  No extra weight from facings or collars.

Even though I was using the same type of fabric for all three dresses, I wanted the dresses to look different enough that I wouldn't feel like I was wearing the same dress everyday. The first dress is made using the  Textile Studios Barcelona dress.   This striped one was my favorite.  It was easy for my family to spot me in when we were sightseeing.
Travel Dress #2:  Vogue 8985 without facings and lengthened.

 The other two dresses were from Vogue 8985 with the bodice cut on the fold, and the facings removed.  It doesn't really resemble the pattern, but it was a good starting off point for what I wanted.  For the maxi dress, I added a few inches, and added a self-lined slip and pockets.

Travel Dress #3
 The two short dresses weighed just 2.8 ounces each!  The maxi-dress weighed 4.2 ounces.  So, these three dresses alone were 10 ounces!!!

Silk/cotton voile half slip
I made one half slip out of a solid silk/cotton stretch voile that I could wear with everything.  And I invested in Ex-Officio underwear- a super lightweight underwear that you can wash and air dry in just a few hours, so you don't need to pack as many pairs.
Bra Wallet from the outside.
I had heard that Italy was home of many pick-pockets, so I also made a bra wallet- a little silk pocket, just big enough for credit cards and a little cash, with a velcro closure that tucks right into your bra.  I still carried a purse, but just in case that got stolen, I kept the important stuff in the bra pocket.   Here it is, inside out, so you can see the basic construction.  You don't need a pattern for it- just make a rectangle a little larger than your credit cards, and add seam allowances and hem for the top.  Cut a strip of velcro in half and sew to the center top to secure the contents.
Bra Pocket Inside-out

I don't want to leave you with the impression that this was all I took.  In addition to these items, I also packed two knit dresses,  pajamas, swimming suit, scarf, and lightweight sweater.  It really is amazing what you can fit into a backpack!

I wore my heaviest items on the plane- which included a denim jacket, sweat pants, tennis shoes, and t-shirt.  I wore everything at least 3 times, washed them once at a laundry facility.  We did have a couple of rainy days, so I was glad to have the jacket and scarf.

I also made and took a gauze jumpsuit for the trip that I'll have to review on another day.

My family enjoying a sunny day in Italy.
But it all fit in that single backpack!  And I even had room for in my backpack for a designer Italian dress to make it's way home in!

Happy Sewing and Happy Travels!



  1. I've made that Barcelona pattern many times. I just love it. Your version looks so cool and comfy!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I've made it a second time as well, and am sure that I will many more times! It's just so easy!

  2. All such beautiful dresses! I have heard Italy is amazing...maybe someday I will get there.

    1. Thanks, Melissa! I have wanted to go for years, and I'm so glad that we did as a family. It was a wonderful experience.


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