Bamboo Sahara

I’m a bit late for the Sewcialists’ Tribute Month, but this garment was very much inspired by Shauni of The Magnificent Thread! It’s a Ralph Pink Sahara shirt; Shauni has made two beautiful versions and slowly coached me into buying the PDF.

This was my first time sewing a Ralph Pink pattern, and it was a largely positive experience. The PDF layout is a little different to usual but once I figured out which markings to match it went together easily. The instructions are well illustrated but a little brief in places so a beginner may struggle, but this pattern is fairly standard shirt dress construction so I found it fine. 

The Sahara is obviously very oversized so I cut a size small without toiling and I’m pretty pleased with the fit. The only adjustment I did make was to take an inch off the hem length and slightly level off the dipped hem in the back. I did notice that my side seams are buckling a bit; I’m not sure if I got something a bit off-grain or the slightly bulky seams under the arms are causing it to drag a bit.

Collar open… I think I prefer it fully done up.

Having not sewn for a while I went to town with the finishing and used a mix of French and flat-felled seams throughout: no overlocking in sight. I also topstitched along the main seamlines to bring out the cool curved yokes on the front and back. Even so, I got the whole dress finished in a day of fairly leisurely sewing, buttonholes and all (I’m that weird sewist who actually enjoys sewing buttonholes…)

I especially adore the fabric I used which was a perfect match for the pattern: it’s an organic woven bamboo from Ray Stitch. I’ve never seen woven bamboo fabric before but it has the same silky smooth hand and soft drape of bamboo knits and was a dream to work with, taking a press beautifully and easy to manipulate around the curved hem yet still pretty stable so easy to handle. It has an almost sanded/peached finish and doesn’t seem to crease too badly. I used a size 60 microtex needle to make sure it didn’t snag. I might buy up some more of this fabric in white and try dyeing it as it’s basically dream dress fabric.

I feel rather like a fashionable bat wearing this, and I’m pretty into it! Needless to say, it’s insanely comfortable and being basic black it’s going to get a ton of wear. Much as it pains me to consider autumn weather, I feel like this’ll work great with tights and boots as the temperature dips. I feel like it’d work well worn open as an overshirt too. I’ve just got a new job after a summer contracting and having some delicious time off, so it’ll be great for work too.

More Saharas: Self-Assembly Required, Paprika Patterns, Frock and Sew, and of course thanks again to Shauni for the main inspiration!

P.S. If you’re reading in a reader, I gave my blog a bit of a fresh look – click on over to have a look!
P.P.S. If you’re not on Instagram, you may have missed that I was a guest on Helen and Caroline’s excellent new podcast, Love to Sew, talking about my sewing and blogging journey. You can find my episode here or on all podcast apps.

26 thoughts on “Bamboo Sahara

  1. AvatarFabric Tragic

    Great in the black bamboo – I just found some bamboo twill and snapped it up for some future drapey pants. I love the details of this dress especially that little pocket in the front yoke!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Ooh, that sounds lovely. I was debating pants for this too (the Style Arc Tullys), I might have to go back for more. It’s a fake pocket flap but I do like the effect!

  2. AvatarSam

    This looks really great on you! I love Shauni’s versions too and have been debating whether I’m cool enough and young enough to pull it off myself. I’m still not sure…

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Oh wow, hope you like it as much as I do! They’re my local fabric shop and it’s very lovely in person too.

  3. AvatarShauni S

    Oh my gosh I love it (of course)! It looks fantastic on you. I can’t get over the finish on your collar and the extra topstitching detail is lovely <3 Here's to many more from both of us I imagine! x

  4. AvatarBella

    I’m so tempted by this pattern! I think fabric choice is key with this one and that bamboo looks so luscious. Love the new blog look and really enjoyed your episode of the podcast :)

  5. AvatarGem

    Hi Katie! Long time reader, first time commenter. Wondering how you think this pattern would go as a much shorter shirt? Do the bat-ish sleeves mean that it has to/should be dress length?

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      I definitely think it’d work as a shirt! The underarm actually hits quite high so you could cut off any point below that without much bother I reckon.

  6. AvatarAlex

    Great dress, I especially love the drape!

    I am just putting together the PDF pattern for this now, obviously inspired by Shauni as well. As I clearly missed the train on the summer sewing, do you thing this could work in a more autumnal fabric?
    P.S. just listening to the Love to sew podcast, you were awesome! So cool to learn more about you. I especially love the sustainable wardrobe aspect, which is also a really important part of sewing for me as well.

  7. AvatarClaudia

    I love it!
    So many companies are selling these kind if items often for a very ridicously high price.
    I enjoy your blog and creations very much, I am a constant beginner and have a nice time admiring your work.

    Kind regards,

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