There are a couple of back stories to this particular dress, but firstly let's talk about the most exciting part: I printed my own fabric! I've been interested in doing this for a while. If you follow me on Pinterest you will notice I've been spamming your feed with print related pins (my board is here if you are interested), and buoyed by my recent stencil success, and some successful potato printing that Small Boy and I did at Christmas, I finally got round to executing the idea. I already had the ink, and most of the necessary tools, so I bought some linocutting tools on Amazon and I was good to go.
The fabric printing process was really good fun and I definitely want to do more of it. A lot more. I read a few different tutorials online before starting. Rochelle has written a few posts , which were really helpful. I bought the same ink and carving block she uses (I've linked to the products I bought, but I'm pretty sure I did not pay that much for the ink). I will state that I am most definitely not an artist. I cannot draw for toffee, but all that Pinterest-ing made it clear that simple, geographical shapes can work really well. I had a play around with a few different shapes, and made a few stamps before settling on the really simple cross stamp.
|I will definitely revisit the triangles and the cross-hatch circles at some future point|
Rather than over-complicate things, I went with random pattern placement, which I like and which, I think, suits the style of the dress. I did ensure all of the crosses were the same way up by marking the back of the stamp, and I tried as much as possible to keep the crosses parallel to the grainline, but this was done by eye. As you can see from the above photo, rather than print 1.5m of fabric, I cut the pattern pieces out first and printed each separately. The main reason was that I cut out the pieces before deciding to print them, but I would have done so anyway, as I simply don't have the room to print large pieces of fabric. It also allowed me to consider how I wanted the pattern to look on each piece, and helped to avoid any awkward "X marks the spot" faux-pas on my bust, or anywhere else!
The fabric itself is a very lovely chambray from The Sweet Mercerie (sorry, not sure which one to link to it), that I bought in their Black Friday sale. It's beautifully soft and has a nice drape and a really lovely weave to it. I wish I had bought more.
Now for the dress. The shape was inspired by the below dress that I spotted in this season's Hush catalogue. I'm really loving their aesthetic at the moment, and thought this dress looked really cool, comfortable and stylish.
The shape looked very simple, so I thought I could emulate it cropping a Grainline Scout to waist level and adding a gathered skirt, which is what I did. I also added the button back detail because I like it. To do that, I didn't cut the back bodice on the fold, and added a further 7cm width to make a grown on placket (is that a term? it is now). The placket was 3cm wide, based on the size of my buttons. I doubled this over and used a 1cm SA (3 x 2, +1 = 7) (I just used a comma in a sum). In the end I sewed the placket shut, as I don't need it and it saved me making button holes. Had I decided to do that initially, I could have just created an external box pleat and saved myself a bit of work!
Other alterations included raising the neckline slightly, and reducing the shoulder to a size 0. Recently I've been thinking that my Scouts are too large on the shoulders, so this modification has given me my preferred fit through the shoulder. I also cut the size 0 sleeve. I'm not convinced this was the right thing to do as my notches were totally off, but I think the worst thing that could happen there would be less sleeve cap ease, and having made this previously with no sleeve cap ease, I knew this wouldn't be the end of the world.
I think it has worked well. My version is somewhat looser fitting than the Hush dress, and initially I thought I had wasted my lovely printed fabric on the frumpiest dress ever - both the volume and the initial length seemed off - but as ever Instagram saved the day.
My gut feeling was to chop considerable length off it, to counter the frump, but as sewsarahuk pointed out, it would have thrown the garment off balance (she also suggested that if all else failed, I could crop it to a peplum top, which I would never have thought of and made me so relieved that I had a back up plan. Thank you sewsarahuk!). So, instead I hemmed it at just above knee level. This has the added bonus of meaning I will be able to wear it in the summer - while I like my legs clad in black opaques, I'm not so keen on them bare, so my hemlines tend to be much more modest in summer!
It's funny because even after hemming it last night, I still wasn't completely convinced, but when I chucked it on today with tights and heeled ankle boots to take these photos, I completely fell in love with it. Yes, some people will probably still think it's unflattering (husband's comment: "it's really nice. It's meant to be wide isn't it? I like it, but you don't look like you have any boobs"), but I really do like it.
And should I decide that I'm not in the mood for loose and flowing, it actually works pretty well belted!
But mostly likely I won't, and I'll happily wear it like this!