We’re slowly heading towards summer here. In a two-steps-forward, 1.75-steps-back kind of way, that Wellington does so well. Sun so bright it burns in 8 minutes one day, winter coats and scarfs on again the next. But there is light coming – the days are longer, the weather is (overall) getting warmer, and, best of all, there are strawberries in the supermarkets! Yay!! (I love strawberries. They make me happy. I may have eaten a lot of them already this month. ;-)
Which is all a rather long preamble to… this dress!
Why the preamble? Well, strawberries! The common link. ;-)
The fabric here is Strawberry Thief, a William Morris print on a lovely cotton poplin. I got it from Minerva Crafts (as part of their blogger network) – sadly it’s sold out now. I’m hoping they’ll get more William Morris prints in the future – I’ve always loved his designs. So detailed and intricate and full of texture and life. (Maybe one day I’ll get a feature wall in one of his wallpaper designs. Mmmm…. Seems almost perfect for a sewing room, now I think about it. After all, he did a lot for the British textile industry! Right, putting that on my “things to do in the future” list. ;-)
Like other William Morris designs, this print is full of intricate detail. Flowers, swirls, points, and birds stealing strawberries. Love it!
When I spotted this fabric, I just knew it had to be the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress.
And then it arrived, and I must admit – I kinda freaked out a little. I didn’t realise just how large this print would be! The idea of pattern matching it across a shirt dress, yeah. Seemed kinda tricky. Especially with the tucks and the gathers thrown into the mix.
So I thought about other patterns. I considered making the Sew Over It Betty dress. Or another Cressoway dress. But I thought the print might be almost a bit too overwhelming with a plain bodice. Then I thought about the Grainline Alder dress (another that’s been on my to-make list since last summer!). But that just didn’t seem quite right for this print either.
Eventually, I went full circle – it just really wanted to be the SOI Vintage Shirt Dress.
So I pulled on my big-girl pants, got brave, and set to work. And let me tell you – this took quite a lot of thought!! (It also took 1.5 hours to cut out. That’s how much thought was required.)
I cut it all in a single layer, so I could best pattern match. There was a lot to consider – how to line things up so the design was running down the centre front and centre back of both bodice and skirt. Making sure there were no accidental pattern placements (giant flower boobs, anyone? Yeah, didn’t think so). Getting the pattern lined up along the centre front seam. All that tricky sort of stuff. Made a good deal trickier by the face I had ordered enough to make the dress, not realising how big the print was. It was pretty touch-and-go as to whether I’d be able to get it cut right, but I just squeezed it in in the end! (Look on the inside, and you’ll see one of the side seams is sewn right next to the selvedge.)
There’s also this little surprise, hidden down one side of the front bodice. Hah!
I’m pretty happy with my pattern matching though – check that out!
(Not so happy with my button placement though. I accidently stitched the buttonholes on the wrong side of my marker, so they’re out by a couple of mm. Ugh.)
I had a little mishap while sewing though – I managed to put a rip in the back neckline, just before attaching the collar. Argh!!! Thanks to some Instagram sewing helpers, I calmed down the panic, reinforced with iron-on interfacing, and stitched it together again with a narrow seam. I tried to find some fabric to do an invisible patch with, but didn’t have a piece that would fit the problem area and had the same pattern on it. So, a narrow seam it had to be! Luckily the print is so busy it’s not too noticible when it’s on. (But still – eek!!)
This is the second time I’ve made this pattern (the first one being in Hello Kitty print), and it went together nice and smoothly. :-) I made the same changes as last time – lengthening the bodice by 3cm. It’s actually a little bit short still – next time I’ll lengthen it by 4cm.
I made a couple of other alterations too – I lengthened the skirt by 8cm (now a far better length on me – the other one is just a fraction too short!). I also narrowed the skirt, so I could fit it on the fabric with the pattern placement. I found the armholes of my first one just a little too tight under the arm, so lowered them by 1cm.
All seams are bound with fushia coloured Hug Snug, and I did a blind hem on my sewing machine. The armholes are finished with red bias binding.
Next time I make this, I’ll be adding side-seam pockets. Because, pockets!
I’m really happy with how this turned out – the skirt length is definitely better for me at this length, and the pattern matching makes me happy – definitely worth the time taken to cut it out slowly! And hey, William Morris print of birds stealing strawberries – that’s a total win! :-)
Big thanks to my sister, who took the photos when we went to the zoo. I had to keep ducking to check where the Little Guy was as he ran around playing. Lots of photos like this happened as a result: