Heather: Abstract Date Night Dress

 
Summer is coming! Well at least it is in my sewing room, thanks to this fabulous abstract print date night dress, which promises to bring the sunshine with it*. For my latest White Tree Fabrics project I decided to choose an item that would fill some of the gaps in my casual wardrobe. Followers of my instagram will know that I love a smart, fitted dress for work, and a well-tailored shift dress is my ultimate wardrobe staple, so I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little. Plus, the Abstract Print Cotton Poplin fabric particularly appealed to my more ditsy side! (come one, we've all got one.)

*This fabric claims no meteorological influence... more's the pity!

 
Date Night Dress & Slip by April Rhodes in Abstract Pink Cotton Poplin both from White Tree Fabrics

Now I'll confess, I hadn't heard of April Rhodes patterns before I browsed the White Tree site. In fact, White Tree carries a whole host of indie patterns and it's great to find such a comprehensive UK stockist. I was particularly drawn to the floppy sleeves on this dress, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised with this pattern overall. The pattern pieces are printed on a fairly heavy paper, designed so that you trace your own pattern from it, and sizing is from XS to XL. As you will have read (hopefully!) in my previous blog posts I usually have to grade a pattern to fit my slightly-smaller-than-average bust and more-than-slightly-larger-than-average bum. For this pattern I went for XS at the bust through to M at the hips, but then tapered back in to an XS at the hem to avoid looking like a (glamorous) lampshade. 

The instructions have photo illustrations, in colour, in a little booklet, and really well thought out instructions meaning that this already super-easy make went together like a dream!

This dress is actually constructed of two garments; the outer dress layer and a coordinating slip underneath. The slip is constructed of two identical pieces, whilst the outer garment has front, back and sleeve pieces, all of which are constructed using french seams. Now, I'm not a french seam fan. I know, I know, it's proper sewing and they make clothes look really nice on the inside and they stop the seams from fraying... but I've owned an overlocker for over 10 years, and who's got the time to stitch everything twice...?! Anyhow, in the interests of a true pattern review I overcame my general disdain for the technique and (following the instructions) did probably the best french seams of my life... "Hello, my name is Heather and I'm a french seam convert".
 
The majority of the outer garment constructed, and hems finished during the process rather than left to the end, I had the task of making some bias binding to use both as a facing and on the slip. I've made my own continuous bias several times thanks to this really handy free bias binding calculator from So Sew Easy. Who knew you could get almost two metres of binding from a 12" square remnant?! Cotton poplin makes particularly good binding as it has just enough 'give' to bend around the curves, but enough weight to be easily controlled during the stitching process. 

 
Bias binding detail on the slip.
 
The slip can just be seen under the arms. it is an integral part of the garment- don't skip it!
This pattern is really intended for a drapy fabric, but I really think the 100% cotton works!. The dress is called the 'Date Night Dress' but the cheerful fabric creates a totally different look. It makes me want to grab a stripy towel and head off to find the nearest candy floss stand at the beach! It's going to be ideal for that really hot summer that's just around the corner...

 
 
 
 
 
 
Happy sewing everyone!