Saturday, 8 June 2013

Poppies & Tulips Dress

Lately I am bored with black and craving colour - can you tell?

I finished this dress late on the night of the 30th May - in time to wear as the sewing version of "thank you" flowers to Zoe and all the MMMers on the last day of May - with an artificial sunflower as a little extra je ne sais quoi:

Thank you for all the photos, Marylene):  I still can't quite believe we found such a colour and camera coordinated backdrop (I know that's completely off topic, and I'm getting straight back to it now). 

The amazing and rather loud fabric is "Poppy Filled Dreams", a stretch digital printed jersey from Tessuti fabrics; I'd bought just 1.5 metres of the delicious stuff. Since the poppies and tulips grow along both selvedges of the fabric - you can see this if you click on the above link and look through the pics of the fabric - I wanted to use a pattern that could work with a border print.  I obviously also wanted something that wouldn't compete with the attention seeking fabric.

Enter Vogue 8511... an oldie and now very much OOP...

I'd previously sewn this as an unlined blue merino wool dress that I wear heaps in winter, especially with the cashmere jacket pictured below (photos from MMM12, taken down at Barangaroo).

It turns out 1.5 metres is not quite enough, and that's why my sleeves have wide bands on them. I spent a long time on pattern placement for the sleeves to get a tulip just above each elbow, but those specially placed tulips aren't particuarly noticeable against a flower jungle backdrop. 

Don't worry, I'm not taking up the pigeon toed stance; I'm just mid-clumsy twirl


The pattern is an easy one, but I've come to think the "easy" Vogues are a lot less well drafted than the Vogue designer patterns (d'oh - that should have been a no brainer, shouldn't it!). I do find the Vogue sizing pretty consistent (and is it just me, or is Vogue sizing reasonably similar to Australian RTW sizing?) so I'm now making a couple of simple adjustments for my shape on all Vogue patterns: shoulders "in" a size, and waist "out" a size.

I knew from experience that the sleeves were unnecessaerily wide and floppy so I folded out two 1+cm sections from the full length of the sleeve pattern piece (ie taking a little width out of sleeve front and also a little width out of sleeve back), smoothed out the resulting sleeve head shape, and also went down a size in the shoulders. Narrowing the sleeves this way rather than taking all that width out of the middle of the sleeve, where the sleeve head is tallest, meant that (1) I didn't need to gather the sleeve to fit it into the arm scye, as you do with the pattern as is and (2) I didn't need to alter the shape of the sleeve head as it still had the original height. The sleeves still feel loose.

Because the dress is stretchy I left off the centre back zip (as before), which means cutting the centre back piece on the fold. I added a wide band to the sleeves (to make up for length I'd had to lose due to buying too little fabric )and a narrow band around the neckline too.  If I make this again I'll add a smidge of length to the bodice and more length to the skirt, play with the fit around the shoulders and upper bust, and narrow the sleeves and arm scye. Obviously only if I remember to buy enough fabric though.

And the skirt was shaped; not right for a border print. Easy fix. I laid the skirt front pattern piece on the fold and pivoted it so as to have the bottom hem along the selvedge. The shaping at the waist had to also pivot down from a curved shape to a straight line, keeping the pleats aligned with their original spots. In retrospect I should have taken a photo - I am not explaining this very well! Anyway, whatever it was I did for the front skirt I also did for the back :).

Here's a view of the insides of the bodice; I thought you might like to see that my lining is just as loud as my outer fabric. My lining is rather stretchy and a bit heavier than the outer so I treated it like an underlining and held it taut as I sewed it to the outer fabric pieces.

And that's it!

See you anon,


  1. STUNNING. Now I know I am going to have to buy it.

    Was the jersey very thick? 2 way or way stretch? I am too far away for a swatch!

    And what is the lovely sandstone church in the last few pics?

    Thank you,
    (A Sydney ex pat living in the midwest USA)

    1. Hi Joanne, and thank you!

      The jersey is medium weight: much thinner than ponti but thicker than a cheap t-shirt jersey. It clings and drapes, it feels smooth, and it's most definitely a 4-way stretch. I think Tessuti recommends it for tops and dresses. Hope that helps - let me know if you'd like me to email you more photos or something.

      I'm not sure what the sandstone building in the background is - it certainly looks like a church, doesn't it, but it's in the grounds of the Sydney Hospital on Macquarie St. Do you know the little courtyard cafe in the hospital? It's on the opposite side of the courtyard to the cafe, on the other side of the Australiana water fountain. I really enjoyed finding photogenic spots around Sydney in Me Made May :).

      Thanks, Gabrielle

  2. I am with you on the colour. Winter can be dreary enough! Not so with your wonderful floral dress! I love the colours and the style is a very good mix. I read once that black makes you look older. I for one do not want that so I am also trying to reduce the black.

    1. I know! And winter certainly looks cold in your neck of the woods. I'm sure black looked a lot more flattering on me when I was young :) but I will have to try to restrain myself from getting too flamboyant - I don't want to look like Dame Edna!

  3. Thanks for the info Gabrielle.
    I am not certain if I commented before but your black Elisalex dress is TDF.

  4. Love the colour of the fabric you've used, and the dress is a lovely shape on you. I walk past that bright pink shipping container in Martin Place and through the hospital grounds all the time - I wish I had of seen you taking photos, I would have known exactly wat you were doing!

    1. Thanks Kristy! I'm going to have to look out for you in that area now :).

      I wish you'd been passing too; I felt pretty foolish posing in public and it definitely would've been reassuring to see someone who understood what I was up to.

  5. You know I love this dress and I'm so glad you have finally blogged it. I hope you are continuing your colourful ways post MMM.

  6. I would never have picked this as the same pattern as you blue wool dress! I loved this MMM picture and it's great to hear all the details - beautiful fabric choice.

  7. This is really beautiful Gabrielle! And I love the comment about the accidental pigeon-toed pose ;)

  8. I loved this when you posted it on the MMM Flick group and it's nice to see it again! The bright colours must make this a very happy dress to wear.


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