Made it up as I went along Border Print dress

fabricSo, in preparation for my article on Bernina’s We All Sew blog, I dove deep into the world of border prints. That was easy to do since I had been unconsciously collecting them for a while, so when I pulled out all the border print fabrics I had amassed, I had a sizable pile. I think I had 7 or so, in addition to the romper I had started last year. I was spoiled for choice!

border-print-gathered-dress-1But, as is my habit, I waffled a bit on how to use my precious pieces. Ugh, I always do that, and I don’t know why, since I obviously have more fabric than any reasonable person should have, so I should just sew it up already! I have this conversation in my head like every time I decide on a project. I exhaust myself sometimes, you know?

border-print-dress-1This beautiful rayon is special because of the really unique double border than transitions in such an interlocking way. I could not imagine how I could just chop it up! One of my favorite shops is Anthropologie, and they use border prints in so many of their clothes (which is one of the reason I love their designs so much!). I noticed that they will use the border print symmetrically down the center of a garment to really draw your attention to the bodice and create a very custom look. I wanted to try that, so…

border-print-dress-backI just didn’t cut my fabric! Well, I did cut it into an neckline and armhole shape on the top, but there is no seam separating the front and back of the dress. Tricky, huh? I used a shape similar to this dress, but without the yoke. Then I gathered the top and the back and added bias binding. Easy and fun. Except…I had to handstitch the binding together at the center front. People, that took forever! I hate handsewing AND I’m horrible at it and slow as hell. I seriously had to break up that long long seam into 4 different sessions. I’m still not very happy with it!

border-print-dress-with-bias-bindingThe continuous bias binding is made from mustard flannel and was quite a project in itself. I enjoyed that process, actually, and can add that new skill to my repertoire. I have made bias binding before, but this was sewn together into a tube and cut out in a continuous strip. Then I ran it through the Clover bias maker with the iron. I have a bunch left, oh yes! I severely overestimated how much I would need. But nice cotton bias binding is always handy to have around, so I’ll squirrel it away.

border-print-back-2One casualty of my slapdash dressmaking approach was that the gathered back edge ended up being too long and it droops. Oops, it droops! I wish it was straight back there. Also, you can see in these pictures that I quickly ran outside and took the pictures before I tacked down the back straps. Silly me! I came home, looked at the pictures and realized my hasty mistake and quickly sewed them down with a little stitch in the ditch, but there is no way that I am retaking the pictures. SORRY! Imagine the cute dress with the strap ends neatly sewn down, please.

border-print-maxi-dressThis dress is funny since it looks like a totally different dress from the front vs. the back. Gray and yellow vs. black and white. Which dress do I like better?

Main points:

  • Border prints are fun but agonizing to display to their fullest potential.
  • Despite my deep aversion, I had to handsew the bias binding down the center front so it would lay flat and butt up nicely
  • I may make this made-up dress again, since I like the simple shape with the strap detail, but I’ll make the back edge shorter and perhaps the front triangle smaller

bias-binding-detail


Simplicity 1158 Border Print Romper

Simplicity Sure, maybe it took me a year to finish this guy, but it was worth the wait. My first romper! I feel very sassy wearing it, and I love saying the word romper and the whole concept of rompers. I am really into wearing shorts right now, so this is a solid move into the zone of wearable but trendy for me. Simplicity 1158 got lost in the move, but it has been found and finished!

Simplicity 1158 crossover backWho is excited about border prints right now? This was one of the first I bought (maybe close to 2 years ago now?) but since then I have been acquiring them like mad. There are so many cute ones out there, and they can give such a custom look to garments. In this case, I used the dark border on the bottom of the shorts, then flipped it over and used the dark up at the neckline to emphasize the halter style. It turned out really cute!Simplicity 1158 jumpsuit

The crossover back is such a clever design detail to make the romper easy to get in and out of. The ties that extend from the neckband thread into casings at the top of the back and you can tie them in a bow. In retrospect, it would have been cuter to have shorter ties so that the crossover detail isn’t hidden, but for you guys I did get a picture while the wind swept the bow to the side.

Simplicity 1158 romperSince completing this romper, I’ve also made another pattern up and I see that a big question with the romper is how to get in and out. The whole thing has to come down over the widest part of your body, so that neckline opening must accommodate it. The crossover plus the threaded casings really allow you open that top part up, so this is definitely a pattern I’d recommend for someone with a wider hip measurement. And the sexy emphasis on the shoulders is great, too!

The neckline has lovely pleats and a beautiful finish that lies really nicely. This fabric is the lightest, floatiest, slipperiest poly something and it was very difficult to work with, but the neckline turned out fantastic. The back diagonal seam facings are supposed to be reinforced with interfacing, but in my floaty fabric that was too much weight. I put it in, saw how it hung, then cut almost all of it out.

Simplicity 1158 necklineI also realized, rather late in the game, that it would be wise to line the shorts. Since I started these while I lived in Washington, a much cooler climate, the floaty fabric might have worked, since I never perspired. But, now that I live in California, my bum and back thighs stick to any and all chairs as soon as I sit in them. I have found myself in the uncomfortable position of peeling my unlined dresses off my backside after sitting down for any length of time. Super classy. So, after the shorts were assembled it occured to me how urgerntly I needed to line the bottom half. I cut another pair of the shorts out of nude rayon lining fabric, sewed them up, and dropped them into the outer ones, wrong sides together, and joined them at the waist seam. All fixed at the last minute and no more sticky buns.

S1158 liningMy biggest piece of advice with rompers is to try them on again and again to make sure the proportion is correct. Specifically the length of the bodice + the length of the shorts rise = perfect. Depending on a longer or shorter bodice, you must consider how it will all hang together, in addition to shorts length. I am tall, so I always add length. To a romper I add to both the bodice and the rise so I have plenty to work with. Then I have to experiment, and this can take some time. It just does, I’m afraid, but I know that was time well spent. Everything here hangs well, with the top blousing gracefully and the shorts smooth, not bunchy.

Simplicity 1158 border print romperGear up to gaze upon my rompers and jumpsuits, my friends, because I’m on a roll now! There is more to come. In the meantime, go ahead and listen to our 4th episode of Clothes Making Mavens where I get to interview one of the most talented (and nicest) people in our sewing community – Lori from Girls in the Garden! And answer our burning question “What was your proudest sewing moment?” by either calling, writing us a message, or leaving me a comment here!

Ep4 Lori V