I have to admit, i’ve never really bothered too much with pattern matching on the clothes I’ve made so far – I love big and bold prints but nothing too geometric, so it’s never really been a big deal. Plus, with the amount the amount of gathering I do it seems like it wouldn’t make much difference…. but coming off the back of two dresses where the pattern was the focus, I thought maybe next time i should try a bit harder.
I was working with limited fabric with those cat dresses, I ordered just enough without much room for manoeuvre as I wasn’t going to use it elsewhere (I’ve gone off cats for good). The cats didn’t run in straight lines so it wasn’t so much of a problem, but looking back I could have made more of an effort I suppose!
Remember a little while ago, I totally fell in love with this fabric.
This is Scandi Leaves by Michael Miller, and it’s so great* – pretty turquoise background, little pops of pink and yellow, I know it’s supposed to be Scandinavian but it gives me Matryoska doll vibes, I just adore it. It hadn’t occurred to me how, er, straight the pattern is, until it was pointed out by my sewing teacher, Helen (aka my sewing guru). OOPS.
*for £12 a metre, you expect awesome.
Anyway, the pattern I decided to stitch up is from the wonderfully awesome ebook by Five and Ten Designs, I think it’s version 4 of the basic dress. i really love this book, it’s so inspiring, not just because it has ten very different takes on a basic tea dress, but because it encourages you to make your own customisation, and by including a long sleeve pattern it really does mean that the possibilities are endless. But, what I wasn’t prepared for, wad just how important the pattern matching was going to be, or how super-duper gathered the skirt is….
Hey, I was merrily chopping away, only asking her advice for matching up the front fastening part, but no, it has to match horizontal all the way around and vertically too! Not just the bodice, but also the skirt – wtf?! Argh!
So, thank god I had a metre and a fat quarter of this stuff, because I had cut parts of the bodice 3 times, but thanks to a few pointers – namely, match the pattern up along the centre line, make sure you check the seam allowances on the side. I lined the dress with Moda Bella Solid Cotton in 30’s Pink that I was going to make a dress for me out of ages ago, but decided it was just too bubble-gummy (I’ve used it in other projects on my blog). The collar’s a basic black cotton from my local, and there’s Kam snaps in black from LFB too.
I spent a long time making sure, if they weren’t going to match up completely, at least the leaves lined up in a horizontally, so you’d get a good flow all the way round, co there’s nothing worse than when a design is just slightly out.
Well, I don’t know what I messed up down the centre line, cos although it matches up, it’s left the tiniest overlap, not the 1.5cm I was expecting, but hey ho, it still fastens.
This is the finished dress, and actually, I really like it, it’s ever so slightly Christmassy, and it’s kinda grown-up at the same time. Black’s a really hard colour to find on children’s clothes, but actually, it looks really nice. Plus it doesn’t stain and that is always a good thing in this house.
Also, I ran into a few, well I don’t want to call them problems, more peculiarities, with using this pattern… (and that’s just cos I haven’t done things this way before).
First up – this is the first fully-lined dress I’ve stitched, I’m usually doing a half-lined dress with a free skirt, but I really love the way it looks. i should have under stitched the lining, but I couldn’t be bothered to change thread (I know, I know), and the heavier weight of the cotton really makes the skirt hang well. It’s been roughly treated and there’s no creases, so that can only be a good thing, right?
Second – it’s also the first dress I’ve done with a collar. It was kinda sandwiched between the main fabric and the lining, which didn’t cause a problem, I just haven’t done it that way before.
I think I’m going to regret not under stitching the collar/lining, but not to worry.
Third – the sleeves. Oh god, the sleeves, again they’re sandwiched between the lining and main fabric, but they were so tricky to sew because it’s pinning two curves that are kind of going in opposite directions. It really frustrated me on one side, I think I must have pinned, sewn, unpicked about ten times, but then on the other sleeve it worked out fine, so it might have just been me.
This is a picture of the back, I had to unpick both sides when I realised the arrows were pointing in the other direction, argh (again).
Fourth – this is the most gathered a skirt can ever be. I added a little bit extra to the skirt to account for the pattern matching, but really, it takes a whole width of fabric for each panel on the skirt, and that us a hell of a lot of gathering. I don’t think I could have got it any tighter without going insane.
I tried to pattern match the gathered section so there wasn’t too much of a duplicate in the design, but really, with both layer of the fabric, it was really hard work. I used Coats Moon Spools, and you know, they are so good for gathering. My machine is pretty hardy and will accept all types of thread (thankfully it’s not a Gütterman snob), and Coats is the best for gathering – it did not snap once, which is a lot to ask when you’re gathering a metre of double layered, thick cotton fabric.
I was pretty impressed with the pattern matching overall though, I managed to match up the side seams on the skirt so well that YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE THE MATCH! Oh yeahhhhhhhhh
The dress is pretty weighty cos of all that fabric, but it’s really lovely and twirly. Unfortunately mini really wasn’t in the mood for modelling today so this is the best I got:
It’s a weeny bit too big (plenty of growing room), the colourings are fab, so I’m really chuffed, and the fact it’s lined makes it feel like a ‘proper’ dress.
Anyway, I tried to get her to do a twirl in the Co-op and she was really not loving it. We are totally going through Daylight Savings hell right now, as she’s been up since 4:30am every day, so she’s getting a bit tired and emotional when I want to do things like take photos, or y’know, leave the house.
We did end up placating her by fuelling her pink Kinder Egg obsession, sometimes you need to take the path go least resistance, especially if it’s pink, covered in chocolate with a tiny doll inside!