A few weeks ago I shared my inspiration for the summer dress that I’ll be making for the #SEWTALLANDCREATIVE2017 Design Challenge. Today, I’ll be sharing the next stage in the process, selecting fabrics and a pattern. Usually when I’m making something I get to select everything from scratch and do whatever I like but this wouldn’t be a challenge if there weren’t parameters. I’m required to use two different fashion fabrics from the four that was given by Marge Clothing to make a dress for spring/summer. Combining two fabrics is not an easy task, especially when your selection of fabrics is limited. But that’s what makes it a challenge!
For my inspiration board (see this post), I collected images of things that I want to wear in the coming months without a lot of regard to the fabric. The longer I go on this sewing journey, the more I want to make clothes that will be worn often. My inspiration board includes lots of florals, v-necks, maxi lengths and a few shirt dresses. My next step was to look for patterns that matched those styles. I went to my trusty and rather large stash and oh boy did I find a lot to work with. I have so many patterns that I often forget what I own. It was fun to look through the patterns and see what I still like and to start thinking about a pattern that would work with the fabric.
When pairing a pattern and fabric, it is essential to consider the type and weight of the fabric and the amount of stretch. The four fabrics I have to choose from (seen in the top photo) vary in weight from very lightweight to medium weight. Only one of the fabrics, the tropical print, has any stretch but the stretch goes lengthwise so I decided to just avoid any patterns that are designed for stretch.
Next I had to consider patterns that would lend themselves to combining fabrics. This requirement meant a few of the patterns that I want to sew this year were cast aside. This is definitely the toughest part of the challenge. I did some brainstorming on ways to combine fabrics and thought of a few good options. The most obvious way to combine fabrics is to color block. This can be done tons of ways. You could add a different color hem band to a dress or mix up the fabrics in a pieced bodice. I was pleased to find that my stash actually had a lot of patterns that used two fabrics. Surprisingly a lot of the Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity patterns use two fabrics. I never would have realized that if I hadn’t been looking for just that style. (See above and below from some great color-blocking options that I pulled from my stash.)
Colorblocking is not the only way to use two fabrics in one garment. You can also overlay the fabrics, maybe eve in tiers, add fabric appliques or use the secondary fabric to create a trim (such as piping). Considering the style of dress I want to make and the fabrics, I’m leaning towards the last option and using one the solid fabrics to create a contrast trim.
I also had one more very important restriction on my pattern selection – the quantity of fabric I was given. The length of my fabric cuts varies from 2.5 yards to about 4 yards. So a few of the patterns I liked were eliminated due to not enough fabric.
I’ve narrowed down my ideas to two options. The first is to use the Clover Dress pattern by Papercut Patterns with the lightweight polka dot and accent it with the coral solid. The Clover Dress already uses a piping accent at the neckline and inset panels on the bodice so it lends itself well to combining two fabrics. (Rachel did a great job of this with her Clover Dress here.) The Clover Dress is oversized at the waist and hips and pulled in with a tie belt, which suits a lightweight fabric nicely. When I first opened my box of fabric, I totally fell in love with the blush colored polka dot fabric. I love the subtle texture of this fabric. It’s not a color that I wear often but I do think it would work for me.
My second idea is to use the tropical print lace with the solid purple for a vintage style maxi dress. I found three gorgeous vintage patterns in my stash that all feature a tropical/floral print. Two belonged to my grandmother and are too small for me but the third is just right. I have about 4 yards of this print so I think I’ll be able to pull off a maxi length. If I do a maxi length, I probably will go sleeveless.
[Now for a little tangent on choosing styles as a tall woman, because this competition is about being tall.] Being 5’11” I feel like a maxi length plus long sleeves plus a print could come off as too much of a good thing. I often choose styles that are a little less flashy because I feel like I’m already going to noticed just for my height so I don’t have to draw even more attention to myself. There are many outfits, that I think would suit a petite woman that I don’t think would suit me simply because of my taller frame. An outfit that would look cute on someone short might feel too revealing on me, simply because I have more skin to show. Do you choose fashion styles based on your height?
Right now, I’m leaning toward making option two – the 70s style tropical print dress. I haven’t worked with a vintage pattern in a long time so it would be fun to try out. I'm imagining it as the perfect brunch dress, especially if I find myself near the beach. It also seems kind of meant to be that I had this vintage pattern in my size. Most of my vintage pattern collection is too small because they belonged to my grandma so I rarely even look at them when planning a project.
Stay tuned for how this dress turns out and make sure to check out my fellow competitors: