I’m sure I’ve said this before, but this is my new favourite thing I’ve made. It feels like a well-loved quilt in dress form. I’ve worn it for two days in a row. I’ve hung it on the wall to admire. I’d sleep in it if that wasn’t a bit weird. I even went and did a nice photoshoot for you at the beautiful Victoria and Albert Museum to show it off (well, I was there anyway with my sister to check out some Design Week goings-on and got her to snap these).
This dress feels ever so London-appropriate. I like the feeling of blending into the grey pavements and buildings, or in this case the V&A’s stunning marble staircase.
Blogger cliche red phonebox klaxon! At least I ignored my sister’s art direction request to pretend to speak into the receiver. London is having one final lovely warm snap, hence the bare legs.
So the idea to patchwork a dress basically came out of necessity. On my trip to Merchant and Mills I was kind of plagued by indecision and foolishly bought all these short lengths of narrow linen and cotton, none actually enough for a garment. I kept petting them and placing them together and realised they’d probably blend nicely into a single garment. I was pretty inspired by this Rachel Comey dress and the clothing line Ace & Jig to take the plunge and go for it.
The pattern I used is the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges with a round neckline adjustment. This isn’t my first go at the DR, but I’ll chat more about it in another post coming up soon. Spoiler: I really like it and it fitted basically perfectly right off the pattern.
I didn’t overthink the stripe/block placement too much, just tried to be a bit organic about it. I made panels roughly the same size as each bodice pattern piece, French seaming the pieces together before cutting out the pattern piece from it – easier than chopping up the pattern and adding seam allowances.
I love the neckline binding on the DR, it’s done in a really nice way to get a clean finish around the placket. I decided on a whim to use one of the decorative stitches on my machine for the topstitching around the neck, down the button plackets and for the hem. The sleeves are cuffed on the outside, slipstitched invisibly down by hand.
I think I like the back piecing better than the front – it’s a bit more random. The grey and white stripe linen is probably the nicest fabric I’ve ever worked with: it feels like silk, I want a whole dress in it. I grabbed the very last 90cm that M&M had – it you spot it somewhere else pleeeease let me know.
This dress was really, really enjoyable to make. It was a pretty slow sew in my terms: I took my time doing a little bit here and there almost like an actual quilt project. It’s all French seamed where possible and the remaining raw edges are overlocked. The fabrics feel quite delicate but I’m hoping it holds up to washing and wearing OK. Because I want to wear it all the time.
I’m so pleased with how this dress turned out; it’s all the more special because it’s unrepeatable and it actually looks hand-made – but in a good way, I think/hope! An interesting thing I’m finding lately in my sewing is that I’m becoming less interested in emulating ready to wear garments and more into making things that you can’t find in rtw – hand-dyed textiles, fabric piecing, self-drafting, luxury fabrics that would otherwise be out of budget. Perhaps that’s a natural evolution?
I’m also chucking it into this month’s Sewcialists theme, Scraptember, led by Morgan. I’d definitely have a go at piecing a garment from scraps again – such a good way to use up those sub-1m bits you can’t bear to chuck away.