Paprika Patterns Zircon Sweater Dress

During Indie Pattern Month on The Monthly Stitch last year I took part in a pattern swap (twice, actually – well it was fun having someone else choose for you!) One of my pattern swap partners chose the Zircon Sweater/dress pattern from Paprika patterns for me, which I would have been pretty unlikely to choose for myself. I like it and I instantly started creating fabric combinations for it in my mind. The contrast panels make it perfect for mixing it up a bit.

I was a little intimidated by the shaped yokes on the Zircon, if I’m honest; I thought they looked complicated and fiddly. I’ll admit that they’re a little awkward in places, but mostly they’re pretty straightforward. I was pleasantly surprised by how little unpicking I had to do.

If you’ve made a few basic tshirts/jumpers/tshirt dresses in simple shapes then once you’ve done the yokes this is really quite a straightforward sew. I didn’t really need to look at the instructions much at all.


I was worried about the cocoon shape and whether it would work on me, but I actually quite like it. I’m not going to be wearing it everyday, but it does make a nice change to wear something with a more relaxed shape. It’s also ideal for those days when a waistband just feels like too much effort..

…I’m not the only one who has days like that right?


In case you hadn’t guessed, I decided to go with some pretty bold fabric choices. I like that you can use a fabric for the yoke that would be way too much for a whole garment. Although, the more I look at these pictures the more I think I could totally rock that. Oonaballoona is my role model, haha!

I got the sweater fabrics from, who have a really good range of sweater fabrics, lots of choice in both prints and solids. I teamed the geometric colourful yoke print with the grey marl pineapples because who wouldn’t want pineapples on their sweater, right?

Whilst we’re talking fabrics, it’s worth nothing the fabric requirements listed on the pattern are pretty generous, and I definitely have plenty of spare fabric for future combinations. Because of the size of the pieces, I’m not sure you could really get away with buying less, but if you lay out your pieces conservatively (which I try to do) then you’ll have plenty of leftovers.


I’m pleased with how neat the corners are on my shaped yoke and hem pieces. Precision sewing on my entry level sewing machine isn’t something it’s exactly made for, but I think I got away with it. Luckily, my lovely husband took my not at all subtle ‘hints’ on board and bought me a new, shiny computerised Janome for Christmas. How many other husbands would knowingly cuckold themselves in this way? I doubt there’s many.


Please excuse the wrinkled bum area, I’d been wearing the dress all day. Divert your attention instead towards the neckline, where you’ll see the neckband gapes at the back a little. It fits fine at the front, so I think I probably didn’t stretch it evenly all the way round when I pinned it. All in all, the back view is not the nicest.


Let’s go back to the front.

The sleeves are a little short for me and my monkey arms, but I always roll my sleeves up regardless, so I’m not even likely to bother altering this in future versions.

My favourite thing about this dress though has got to be that someone said to me on it’s first outing; “I love your clothes, where do you get them from?”

Lady, you can’t buy awesome jumper game like this in a shop.

Current Sewing Queue

Current Sewing Queue

Following on from my recent New Years’ sewing goals post; I thought it might be useful to put together a visual guide to my sewing queue, as it is currently planned.

*Disclaimer: I make no promise to sew these items in any specific order, nor do I promise that I will stick to any of these ‘plans’. Patterns and fabrics selected may become de-coupled at any time.

Tilly & the Buttons Rosa Shirt Dress

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I’m intending to make the Rosa shirt dress in two different bird print fabrics. The first (test) version will be in a cheap fabric I think I picked up at the Rag Market which is black with a simple flying V bird shape in white. The second version will be in the above cream and black bird silhouette, hopefully with black contrast piping.

Sew Over It 40’s Tea Dress


Both the Rosa dress and the 40’s Tea Dress patterns came to me via Dream Wardrobe, which if you’ve not heard of it is the sewing subscription service run by Fabric Godmother. I’m not ordinarily a huge fan of using paper patterns (all the tracing drives me crazy) but I love getting a pattern and some lovely fabric in the post every month. The fabrics are usually really lovely and I’ve been stroking this crepe backed satin pretty much non-stop since the moment it arrived. I’m nervous about fitting on this one, I’m not sure how well the neckline will work with Thing 1 and Thing 2, so I’ll probably do a test version of this in some other satin fabric I got as a Christmas gift.

Jamie Christina Lark Maxi Cardigan

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I treated myself to this gorgeous Hacci Sweater Knit from Girl Charlee at the Knitting & Stitching Show back in October. I instantly thought of this pattern when I saw it, walked away from it as it was quite expensive, then circled back later in the day as I couldn’t stop picturing it as a Lark cardi.

Closet Case Files Clare Coat

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This is one of only two entries which I don’t currently have the pattern for. I’ve never attempted a coat before but I saw this unusual fabric at the Knitting & Stitching show and loved it. It’s thick and wool-like and I think it’ll be pretty cosy. I’m thinking of the Clare coat for it because I think it needs a fairly simple shape as otherwise with the fancy fabric it could all get a bit too much. In a ‘there’s so much gold-plate in here that I need sunglasses just to look at it’ kind of way.

Mollie Makes Felt Bears


I don’t always make clothes, although I mostly do. Sometimes it’s nice to do a little something by hand. I fell hard for these cute little ‘Valentine’ bears in the latest issue of Mollie Makes and I *need* to make them.





Designer Stitch Kat Top and Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse

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I have a whole bunch of tops planned in various soft and drapey crepes, viscoses, rayons, and similar fabrics. I’m not 100% sure which fabrics will get used for what pattern but these are the patterns I’m planning on using. The fabrics below are the main ones (there are a few others too but I’m not too sure on the others. Ordinarily I would need a second mortgage before browsing the stunning selection of fabrics on offer at Guthrie & Ghani, but I was clearly feeling flush on my last visit as three of the four beauties below are from there.

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Can we just take a moment to admire how utterly spectacular the print is on that last fabric? Be still, my beating heart.

Muse Sophie Cardigan 

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Although I was initially sceptical about the Muse Sophie pattern (I really didn’t like any of the versions I’d seen), I gave it a whirl as I’d got a copy as part of a bundle of patterns I’d bought. I’m now planning my second, and I’ll be wanting to make at least one more. This one is intended to be for my sister and is in a fleece backed sweater fabric from The feathers in the fabric I have are actually lighter than the background colour but otherwise, this picture is pretty much identical.

By Hand London Zeena Dress

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I’m planning to essentially re-make this dress, which I loved the look of but the fit just wasn’t that great on. If it works well I may also make a version in a print fabric as it’s a lovely simple dress to make.

Named Olivia Wrap Dress

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I started making this dress in August (I think, it was so long ago I’m not sure!) and I really have no excuse for not finishing it other than that other more exciting ideas came along and distracted me. I didn’t have quite enough of the Mustard coloured jersey so I cut the wrap tie from black jersey, so there’s likely to be a fairly strong bumble bee vibe coming from this dress…

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

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This is the exact dress I started making whilst I was dieting, and which, by the time the dress was finished was around four sizes too big. I have kept the original oversized version, as it’s a great way to show off how much weight I’ve lost. But I’d also really like one that fits me too. There is also a strong possibility I might make one using the dinosaur fabric I’ve been hoarding in my stash since visiting Jo-ann‘s on a trip to the States.

By Hand London Sabrina Dress

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I love the 90’s feel of the button-down front on the Sabrina dress, I think it’ll be perfect for summer and will go great with this red viscose print I got from Crafty Sew and So. (Excuse the terrible picture, that’s my work, not theirs)

I’m well aware that I probably won’t get even half of these done this year, but it’s useful for me to have a reminder of what I intended that fabric to be used for so that I don’t end up staring at my fabric stash, scratching my head going ‘what did I ever think I would use *that* for?’

I also totally reserve the right to throw these plans completely out of the window the next time an exciting new pattern is released, which I’m sure won’t be too long now..



Time to reflect and hatch new plans

Hi guys! Hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. As is something of a tradition for me, I’m taking some time at the beginning of the year to reflect on what I’ve achieved this year, and what I’d like to change for the coming year. And, like every year, I assume this is going to be year I finally make them stick. After all, it’s a whole New Year, so obviously everything will be completely different from now on. Right???

I’ve been quiet on the blog for a little while; for a variety of reasons, not least because of the flurry of pre-christmas sewing and crafting activity that takes place. I have been reflecting on some of the pros and cons of the blog in between the many sewing spells I haven’t gotten round to posting.

Here’s a photo of the pile of garments I’ve made for myself that haven’t made it on here yet:


There’s also a bunch of presents I made that I’ll hopefully be sharing soon too. These things obviously need to make their way onto the blog, and my main goal for this year is to keep up-to-date with my posts, but to achieve this something is going to have to change about the way I approach my blogging.

I thought it would be helpful to take a look at my goals from 2016 and see what (if anything!!!) I achieved in the past year.

So here are last year’s goals:

  1. Wednesday evening is for sewing.

    I failed on this goal almost immediately, if we’re going to be puritanical about it. I realised that I already had something on Wednesday evenings, so this had to move to Thursday evenings. I mostly kept to this, though there were times when I was too tired to sew. I had a friend come and join me on these Thursday evenings and it has now become a sewing group which I run on a Thursday evening at church.

  2. I will sew less selfishly. I aim to have made at least one garment for every member of my immediate family and a few of my close friends by the end of the year. As long as they don’t run away screaming when I try to measure them of course!

    I actually didn’t do too badly on this one either! I managed to secretly get my sister’s measurements and make her something for Christmas. I’ve made things for my Mum in the past anyway, and I also made things for my Sisters’ in Law and a few of my friends too. I still haven’t made anything for any of the men in my life, but hey, that’s already a whole lot less selfish than I’ve always been in the past, so it’s a great start.
  3. I will not rush.

    I have been more mindful of this whilst sewing, and although it’s hard to measure, I think that I have improved. I’m far more likely to make a toile/muslin before cutting into the ‘good’ fabric, and I take more care over my my seam finishes, but there’s always more to learn.

  4. I will sew every pattern I own at least once. Anything I know I won’t make again will be given away or sold.

    No. This one is not happening. I’m pretty sure that I have actually acquired patterns at a rate faster than I can sew them. I also quite like having a big stash of patterns to choose from when I need something for a particular purpose, and just because something doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be great on one of my friends or family. 

  5. I will de-stash the fabrics I have fallen out of love with, or that I have surplus left over after finishing a project. This doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of scraps I can use for quilting, but the fabric I know I’m not likely to use has to go.

    I did get rid of some stuff to a friend and took some and swapped it at SewBrum this year. I still have a huge stash, but I do feel that it’s more likely to be stuff I’ll use in the most part.

To be honest, I expected much worse! I’ve done pretty well really.

This year I will only be making one sewing goal, as I’ll also be setting myself a reading challenge and a learning or career related goal.

I’m considering making more tutorials and making posts more of a pattern review, rather than the ‘diary of makes’ format it currently has. I’d be interested to know what you all look for when you read blogs and look at sewing websites. What content bores you? What will you click away from? And what do you look for/ wish there was more of? Please do comment below or on facebook as it will really help me to develop the blog this year.

Three Annalexes

During Indie Pattern Month I sewed up this Annalex for the Pattern Hack challenge, which, I’m not gonna lie, I was really proud of. It is truly beautiful.


And now it has two friends. Who are equally, if not more gorgeous.

The first thing that happened was that a friend of mine saw it on my blog and loved it so much she asked me to make her one. Now, normally I’d hate this, however, this friend was getting married and wanted to wear it for her honeymoon, which seemed like a suitably special occasion.

I helped her find suitable fabrics and she chose and bought one. Happily, her shape is very similar to mine, so I didn’t even have to retrace my pattern pieces!

When I informed my sewing buddy that I was going to make this dress she decided it would be fun to sew along (we actually make items using the same pattern quite often).

I used french seams on the skirt to give it a nice neat finish and hand stitched the bodice lining to the dress to give an invisible finish. I also did the same to the thigh split on the skirt.

The only adjustments I needed to make were to shorten the dress about 4-5 inches and to add a little dart into the back neckline of the dress, which gaped a little when my model tried it on.


She’s really rocking it isn’t she?

For my sewing buddy’s version, this was her first real attempt at using a pattern. (We’d made the Sew this pattern Kimono before, but that’s only two pattern pieces, so hardly counts)

If I’m honest, I think that maybe we should have started a little bit slower, there were a lot of new skills in this – lining a bodice, easing around a curve for the princess seams, inserting an invisible zip, plus just generally learning to follow pattern instructions is quite a steep learning curve. To be fair to her though, she’s done a great job.


Sorry about the rubbish photo, we just took a very quick snap on my phone so that I could feature it.

It’s not totally finished, in this picture, but not far off and she finished it shortly afterwards. Most the work that needed to be done at this point is the handsewing.

I’m a little (a lot!) behind on my blogging, so this is a catch up post, and I’m hoping to post a little more regularly (more catch-ups) in the run up to christmas, although much of my sewing is now secret squirrel christmas present stuff you won’t get to see until January.


A final IPM update

The final Indie Pattern Month challenge was actually in July not June and was a bonus contest for those that had purchased a pattern bundle during the sale.

I’d actually purchased two bundles, although both of the patterns I sewed up for this challenge came from the first bundle.

The challenge required a minimum of two garments, and I was poor as a church-mouse so I needed to sew something that would work with fabric I already had in my stash. This ruled out a lot of the patterns quite quickly, and not feeling up to the challenge of trousers (I’ve never sewn them before) with a time constraint I settled on the Sophie cardigan by Muse and the Zeena dress by By Hand London.

The Muse patterns are described as “modern sewing patterns with vintage touches that are easily wearable and customisable by everyone”. I’ve never used one of these patterns before and, to be honest, probably wouldn’t have bought this one if it weren’t bundled with other patterns I wanted. I’m not into the vintage look, so the sample garments I’d seen didn’t appeal to me at all. However, I had the pattern and a suitable fabric, so I decided to give it a try.

Spoiler alert: I actually really like it.


I chose to make the zippered V-neck variation, and cut a 34, grading out to a 36 over the bust.

My fabric didn’t have heaps of stretch, it was stretchy but thick and firm (if that makes sense?) so it fits quite snugly. This doesn’t bother me, but I might be tempted to go up a size all over if I were making it again with fabric like this.

I was wary of the circular pocket openings and nearly went for the patch pocket as I thought they’d be fiddly but I forced myself to attempt them as there’s only one way to get good at something, isn’t there?

To my mind, it shouldn’t be possible for a flat piece of binding fabric to sit nicely when sewn to a curved seam, so I was expecting all kinds of ugly creases when I tried to press these edges, but it actually worked really well.

It has raglan sleeves, so inserting the sleeves was a total breeze. The instructions are very thorough and easy to follow, and I would say the pattern is probably suitable for an adventurous beginner or intermediate sewist, as construction gets a little bit fiddly when inserting the zip, neckband and zip facings and someone with limited experience might struggle a little here.


I made a slight error when inserting my zip as one side of the zip sat slightly too high for some reason, meaning it overlapped the neckband ever so slightly (and I really do mean a tiny amount). Not a problem, until I came to insert the facings and needed to turn the facing to the inside. It wouldn’t turn because of the zip and I had to unpick a little bit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell the thread apart from the zipper tape and ended up with a bit of fraying zipper tape sticking out at the top. It’s not hugely noticeable, except to me.

Despite my initial dislike for this pattern, I was really pleased with my version and have worn it a lot since making it. It has also attracted the highest number of compliments ever, and my sister has requested I make one for her too.


I will definitely make more of these for myself, as well as one for my sister (if I can find fabric she’ll like!), as it turns out it’s something of a wardrobe essential!

Sometimes when you’re working on a project it’s a real chore, I find, and other times a project is just a real pleasure to sew. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s a skill thing, perhaps it’s just down to different moods, maybe it’s the way the instructions are written… I don’t know, but this one was one of those projects that feels like a treat to sew.

The details
Fabric:  Cream star print 95% cotton sweatshirting from MyFabrics, purchased in June 2016.
Notions:  Thread, interfacing and a open ended zip.
Pattern:  Muse Sophie cardigan, V neck zip up version in a size 34.
Changes made:  Graded out to a 36 at the bust
Another one/recommendations: Definitely! I’m totally converted.

To go with it I made a Zeena dress – version 2 (short-sleeves, scoop neck, mini skirt), in a lovely soft chambray fabric which I bought at the Sewing and Hobbycrafts show at the NEC last year.

I have used a few By Hand London patterns in the past, and generally find that I can go down one size smaller at the waist than my measurements suggest.

According to my measurements I would need a UK 14 at the bust, 16 at the waist and a 10 at the hips. Since the dress is not fitted in the skirt, I disregarded the hip measurement, and based on the aforementioned theory about my waist measurement decided to cut a straight size 14.


I should have known better. Although the measurements seemed to add up, I actually should have cut a smaller size over the bust, graded out to a 14 at the waist and done a full bust adjustment in order to get a good fit across my shoulders. Going by my high bust measurement, I ought to have cut a size 10 in the bodice, graded out to a 14 at the waist and done a 3″ FBA. I didn’t do this because I couldn’t figure out how to do one on a dartless bodice like this. Hopefully By Hand London will do a sewalong for this dress at some point and cover this.

The pattern suggests french seams, which is a good idea and would help to give a neat finish to the curved underarm seams. Unfortunately, I didn’t read through the pattern properly before I started, so didn’t notice this until I’d already finished my seams.

The neckline facings are not interfaced, and the pattern directions do not advise you to understitch, which seems like a bit of an over sight. I understitched them anyway, but they still didn’t sit nicely inside the dress, so after I’d finished I added a line of decorative top stitching which will keep it in place. This matches the decorative stitching I did on the sleeve and skirt hems too. Which obviously I forgot to photograph. It was super cute too.


The most complicated part of this dress is the box pleats, so it’s a really simple make. I wasn’t expecting a pleat in the side seam, so I matched my pleats up wrong on my first pinning, but I figured it out in the end. The pocket being hidden inside a pleat seems a bit odd to me, but I guess maybe it would look weird if the pleats didn’t go all the way around?

There’s no notch on the skirt centre back to show you where to fold the last pleat to, so mine ended up going into the seam allowance and got closed up when I inserted the invisible zip. It’s kind of annoying as it makes the back seam rather bulky, but I didn’t really fancy taking out the zip, removing the skirt from the bodice and unpicking the pleats on the skirt centre back so that I could fix it, as even writing all those words was exhausting enough.

I had hoped to put in an exposed zip with metal teeth on a fuschia pink zipper tape, but couldn’t find one anywhere, so ended up putting in an invisible zip instead.

I want to love the finished dress but there are just too many fit issues for me really. It’s slightly short at the waist seam, so might be worth lengthening if I make it again, although this might be due to the need for a FBA.

I’d like to say that this is a dress I’d recommend for beginners as there are only a few pattern pieces and no need to insert sleeves, but I don’t really think the instructions are thorough enough and the issues with the facing and the pleat notches I mentioned earlier could make for some major frustration for a beginner. With a few updates to the instructions it could be the perfect beginner pattern.


I’m not sure whether I’ll make this pattern again, who am I kidding? I’ll definitely make it again, as I won’t be able to rest easy until I’ve fixed the fit issues. I do like it, but I don’t see it becoming a tried and true pattern any time soon. I’ve already given this one away to my friend, who I hope will wear it more than I would have done. I think it looks amazing in the pictures and it makes me a bit sad to have given it away, but I just wasn’t comfortable in it and knew I wouldn’t wear it.

The details
Fabric:  Denim Chambray from the Sewing & Hobbycrafts show, purchased in 2015.
Notions:  Thread in denim blue and fuschia pink and a 22″ invisible zip.
Pattern: By Hand London Zeena Dress, size 14.
Changes made:  Added understitching to facing, added decorative topstitching.
Another one/recommendations:  There will be another attempt in order to iron out the fit issues and then we’ll see.


I’m calling this one The Traffic Stopper…

For IPM’s Pattern Hacking week I chose to use By Hand London patterns and put the Elisalex bodice onto the Anna maxi skirt. I’d been meaning to make an Anna maxi for a while but never got around to it. I should totally have prioritised this as it’s awesome.

I took it on holiday to Venice with me for it’s first outing – it also happens to be a great place to get photos of it. How convenient.


I love how mix-and-match By Hand London patterns are, most of their bodice designs can be matched with the different skirt shapes with minimal or sometimes no adjustment needed.

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I cut a size 10 and needed to do a full bust adjustment on the bodice. It is a princess seamed bodice, which I’ve struggled to do successful FBA’s on before, but I had plenty of fabric, so wasn’t afraid to redo the bodice to adjust the fit if needed. As it turned out, the fit was just perfect on it, so this wasn’t necessary.

I normally lengthen everything I make but I held up the skirt pattern piece against me and decided it wouldn’t be necessary this time. The finished dress is a good length with heels, but probably a bit too long really with flat sandals.



To combine the Elisalex bodice with the skirt pieces I needed to make sure the seams would match, as I was swapping a bodice with darts for a princess seam bodice. To do this I placed the bodice pattern piece next to the corresponding skirt piece where the seam would join them. I measured the difference between the two pieces and added or removed that amount from top to bottom of the skirt panels so that the skirt would maintain the correct level of fullness.

There’s a tutorial on BHL’s website which is helpful if you want to attempt it yourself.

The fabric is a nice soft, drapey viscose that I picked up at the Rag Market in Birmingham and has been lurking in my stash ever since.


I really love the finished garment, and aside from taking it on holiday with me (where I took these photos), I’ve also worn it to a christening. It’d also be a great dress for summer weddings and concerts in the park. Anything where you want to stay cool but look glam really. I don’t think there’s room for all that many thigh split maxi dresses in my wardrobe, but I would definitely like to make another for more formal occasions in a luxury fabric like a silk.


Check out the little dude photobombing me. How rude.




I won’t tell you how early we had to get up to get photos of St Mark’s Square looking that empty. I loved it though, so peaceful.

Due to how clearly awesome this dress is, I have been strong-armed into making another for a friend who is about to get married. Look out for that one popping up on the blog shortly.


Plantain Dress hack

I’ve been thinking about my wardrobe – which didn’t take long as I’ve recently had a clear out of everything that no longer fits (leaving me with fewer clothes than some people’s pets) – and reflecting on the gaps I have. I’m trying to be more conscious of my personal style when sewing and make things I’m actually likely to wear, but theres still a long way to go.

Anyhoo; one of the things I started thinking about was the clothes I’ve loved in the past which no longer feature in my wardrobe. In particular; I had a couple of fitted jersey dresses I used to wear all the damn time.

I decided to see if I could make something like it and chose to use the Deer & Doe Plantain tee as my starting point. From making this previously here, I knew that I found it to be a bit on the loose side around the waist and over the hips.

I’ve seen people make the Plantain into a t-shirt dress before, but these versions were all loose skirted. I wanted something more fitted so I decided to try to combine it with a pencil skirt pattern.

The skirt pattern is one I drafted myself using a tutorial online (I think it was this one, but I’m not sure), which I’ve used several times and I know fits me well.

I took photos of my pattern pieces so you can hopefully see what I’ve done, in case my explanation is rubbish (which it probably will be)

First I took the t-shirt front and back pieces and lined up the waist and hip with the waist and hip of the skirt piece.

Then I drew the shape of the skirt onto the t-shirt pieces up as far as the waist.

I re-drew (is that a word??) the curve from the waist to the bust by hand.

Finally, I cut along the lines I’d drawn to create my new pattern piece. I left the skirt piece loose rather than taping it to the ‘bodice’ piece as I wanted to still be able to use it as a skirt pattern too. If I want to make another Plantain Tee I’ll need to reprint that pattern, but it’s a small price to pay.



As you can see from the photos above this drastically alters the shape of the t-shirt piece. You can see the original lines of the pattern piece and how much of the new shape goes inside even the smallest of the original pattern lines.

I used a textured poly scuba from The Textile Centre to make up my dress. Here’s a close-up so you can see the embossed texture.


Once I’d made the alterations to the pattern and cut into the fabric the construction was the same as for the Plantain tee.


To my amazement, it worked. The dress is super close to what I imagined in my head. I’ve worn this version quite a bit since making it and think it’ll get fairly regular outings, even though it’s floral, which isn’t normally my style. It’s the secretest of secret pajamas.