One of the most satisfying things about sewing (and, I imagine, many other creative endeavours) is being able to dream up something new in your head, think through the how-tos, and then make it happen, more-or-less exactly as you envisaged.
Lovely Jennifer of Workroom Social recently collaborated with McCALLS to create a fun series of videos called “Fashion Sewing + You”, encouraging exactly this kind of creativity. Each video focuses on a different technique or material, which you can use to customise a basic pattern. I found the videos really inspiring, and decided to challenge myself to use one of the techniques – flat piping – to customise a dress pattern.
For the base pattern I went with the BHL Kim for her lovely neckline and princess seams. My vision was a neutral-tone dress, with pops of neon along the seamlines and hem. I had the perfect chartreuse in my stash, used only for the pockets and buttons of my Zinnia skirt. It’s too bright to be a full garment (at least with my celtic skin tone) but I love it as an accent. Pinterest confirmed that the neutral/neon colour combination was legit, so that was a good start.
images via Pinterest
To add the flat piping, I cut bias strips that were 2 x my seam allowance, plus 2 x the amount I wanted to have showing on the right side of the garment. I then folded them in half, pinned and basted these on to the princess seamlines of the centre front, before piecing together with the front sides. I did the same thing at the side seams, back princess seams, shoulder seams and all around the waistline. I trimmed all the seams with pinking shears, cutting close to the stitch line to minimise bulk.
Whilst I love a good gathered skirt, I wanted to try something different, so “self drafted” a box pleat skirt instead. After googling around for tips, the most useful info I came across was that essentially you need a piece of fabric that is 3 x your waist measurement, plus seam allowances. From there it’s up to you to decide how many/how big pleats you want. I took off some length and added a wide band of neon around the hem. It’s just a simple rectangle folded in half, enclosing the seam for a nice neat finish.
I also added secret neon pockets, because of course.
This was a really fun project. It wasn’t a quick sew, but I really enjoyed the careful planning and process of adding the extra details. And I love the finished item, a perfect summer party dress.