On a couple of separate fabric sale-shopping frenzies, both H and I managed to pick up a metre of the same Liberty print silk each. Quelle horreur! After discussing how we should probably diversify in taste we decided it would actually be quite funny to make matching dresses with our silks (so long as we never wear them at the same time…), and these easy shift dresses were born.
We’d been talking about self-drafting a pattern from an existing dress for a while so decided this was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. I bought a simple silk shift dress recently so we used this as a basis for our pattern. It’s really simple with just two pieces of fabric, no sleeves or binding and no darts.
To draft our pattern we stuck some baking sheet flat to the floor and laid the dress out on top. As we wanted the dress to be symmetrical we made the pattern to be cut on the centre fold so folded the dress in half down the middle. One of us held the dress in place while the other drew around it with a pencil. We repeated this for the front and back of the dress. We then added on a seam allowance of 1cm (we used french seams so this will essentially be made up of two 0.5cm seams) and drew it around our pattern.
We cut out our pattern pieces, clearly marked them ‘front’ and ‘back’ then got them pinned to our fabric. We folded our fabric so we could pin the pattern pieces along the fold and did out best to ensure the silk was lying completely flat and straight. It’s seriously slippy and difficult to cut but using lots of pins helps.
After cutting out our pieces we first had to stitch the two pieces together at the shoulders and sides with french seams. French seams get a bad press for being fiddly but they’re actually pretty simple and you can’t beat the finish – zero raw edges! To make a french seam, first stitch your two pieces together with WRONG SIDES facing (the opposite to normal). Trim your seam allowance then press your seam open, fold your fabric over so RIGHT SIDES are now facing and stitch your seam again, making sure not to catch any of the raw edge.
For the hem, neck and shoulder seams we ironed and pinned our fabric in by 0.25cm twice, then machine stitched it in place. This doesn’t give the neatest finish (we’d perhaps hand-roll and slip-stitch them next time) but for a simple dress it works fine.
Et voila! Our dresses were complete. We took them to the Olympic Park which is just a short walk from our house for their first (and ONLY) outing together.
The hems aren’t quite straight, the seams are a little puckered and they could probably do with a couple of bust darts but overall we’re pretty proud of our first self-drafted dresses! What do you think of them? Do you like the print?!