In April, we had our annual school auction to raise money for our school. Every year it has a theme, and every year I try to make a dress that will be an appropriate match for the theme. The first year I sewed my own dress for the auction, it was a "Kentucky Derby" theme, and I chose to make a Burda 7137 dress. The next year was a "Space" theme, so I chose to make a dress using a galaxy printed fabric using McCall's 2401. This year was "My Big Fat Greek Auction," so in keeping with tradition, I made a dress. ;-)
We were asked to try and wear blue and white, and I figured I had best get on finding some blue and white fabric, because even though I have a ridiculous stash of fabric at my house (thank you, Fabric Mart!), I didn't have any blue and white fabric. Wha? But fortunately for me, Fabric Mart at the same time I was searching for some fabric, had a GORGEOUS border printed (in what appears to be a dutch tile motif) stretch cotton sateen from Maggy London (used in a similar way as it turns out here and here for non-pinterest people). Not much was left in stock, and I was lucky to get the two and a half yards I did, which was just enough to fashion a really special dress for the occasion.
With the fabric in hand, I decided I needed a special dress pattern to highlight the amazing border print. I didn't need a lot of special seaming, but I did know that a princess seam would likely fit better, so I knew I wanted a princess seamed bodice. I also knew that a full skirt would best show off the border print (or at least make a big impact), so I chose a pattern with that as a feature, too. (I have seen some amazing shift dresses in a border print fabric, but because this fabric's border print was aligned so the stretch would be gone if I placed the border at the hem, I knew that my hips and I needed something less "wiggle" and more "full.")
I ended up choosing Vogue 1499, a cap-sleeve dress from Anne Klein. The original version is on the cover of the pattern, but there are also other versions floating around, like this one. The dress seemed to nicely fit what I desired, and even though I knew that I would have to work around some of the seaming with careful pattern placement on the fabric when cutting, that it would still look pretty and unique overall.
Because this was a border print fabric, I knew that I would have special challenges when working with it, and I can definitely say that these are things to keep in mind with most border print fabric projects.
1. This fabric, though a stretch cotton sateen, had the stretch only perpendicular to the selvedge. The border print was placed parallel to the selvedge, which means that if I wanted to use the very ornate and dramatic border at the hem, I would have to negate the stretch wherever I placed it. In my mind, I knew I wanted that super beautiful border at the hem of the skirt, so I knew that I would have to lose all stretch at the skirt, which is also where I hold my weight, in my hips and thighs. This is why I specifically chose to not use a shift/sheath dress. (However, it would work if I had placed the cool border going up and down the dress, which would still look awesome--especially with a center seam!)
2. The bodice retained the stretch because the pattern in the center was equal and spaced the same whether up or down. I was relieved that I could make the bodice fairly fitted without losing comfort.
3. I definitely had to watch how I placed my floral motifs. Those suckers were big! If I had placed them off by a bit here or there, it would have been immediately noticeable. I think the time spent on that and the extra fabric use was very much worth it, though, since the motifs line up properly, and the skirt's hem is at the right spot on the leg.
4. I had to add pockets because the original didn't include pockets. I think that's a shame, but because the Vogue markings are similar amongst patterns, I was able to take a pocket pattern piece from another Vogue dress and make it work.
The dress itself was straight forward enough to make (my pattern review is here), and the make was fairly quick and painless once started. The cotton sateen sewed up very well, and this is why cotton sateen is my absolute favorite fabric to work with. :-)
The hemming part was my favorite part since the hem was at the selvedge, it required no finishing, and it was easy to visually press up and pin into a proper position. This is a bonus for working with border prints, so yeah!
I absolutely loved wearing it that night, and felt like I had definitely taken on the challenge of the "Big Fat Greek" auction well.
I look forward to reading more about your border print makes (include links to your photos, would love to see the projects!).
Talk with you all again next Wednesday!
P.S. If any you are just desperate for this exact fabric, the Maggy London/London Times dress does pop up on ebay, but I know most of you would prefer to make your own. :-)
~Dina, My Superfluities.