Laura has made this completely gorgeous patchwork dress using the new ‘Exclusive Butterfly Garden Collection‘. Having been involved in the design process of this fabric collection, she couldn’t decide which fabric to make a dress out of so used lots of them.
These are Laura’s wise words about the sewing project:
“To anyone who has thought about sewing a patchwork outfit but then shied away from doing so, I would say to go for it! It is not at all as hard or tiresome as you may think and you will love it to bits, I am sure.”
“The fabrics used in the patchwork are 13 out of the total 15 Alice Caroline Exclusive Liberty prints. I would have used all 15 but I wanted the overall tone of the dress to appear more purple so I chose to leave out the two pinkest prints. I will admit that when I decided to create a patchwork dress I was worried it would result in something a bit more out-there than my usual style. However, as the patchwork came together, it was clear it was going to work very well indeed! It isn’t at all as mad I worried it would be as the fabrics in this collection are so beautiful- all marshmallow-sweet and delicate colours that coordinate so well together. Even the teal and yellow prints of the Anna’s Garden Teal, Felicite Teal, Danjo Dandelion and Capel Dandelion work wonderfully, as part of this patchwork they help break up the purple tones and provide fun points of feature without being unbalanced.”
“To make the patchwork, I used a 25cm x 137cm (width of fabric of the Liberty Tana Lawn) strip of all 13 fabrics. I then divided the 25cm strip into 3 smaller strips (about 8.3cm x 137cm each strip but I was not worried about it being completely perfect) and sewed these strips together along their long side using a 6mm seam, being sure the selvedges were aligned. I then sewed the first and last strip together so it formed a very large tube (i), folded the tube up lengthways as neat and even as I could manage until it was about the width of my ruler and placed it on top of a cutting mat. I then used a rotary cutter and ruler to cut the folded tube up sideways (ii) into strips about 8.3cm wide to make rings of patchwork fabric (iii). I then unpicked two squares from each other on each ring to make long strips of patchwork, choosing different but random points in the ring of fabric every time. Finally, these patchwork strips were sewn together down their long edges using a 6mm seam but this time I staggered the ends in the hope that none of the patchwork would be perfectly joined. The process was not unlike the diagrams below, but on a much larger, uneven scale:”
“I wanted the patchwork squares to end up all higgldy-piggldy but they turned out a bit too uniform in the end. Not perfect certainly, but still not as randomly cobblestoney as I intended. On reflection, dividing the 25cm strip of fabric into 3 uneven strips initially and then going on to cut more uneven strips with the rotary cutter would’ve achieved the uneven look I was hoping for, rather than my hoping all the randomness would magically happen in the final step… Seems obvious now but oh well- maybe next time! I still love it so no harm done!
The dream originally was also to have all the patchwork squares on-point on the dress but after putting the entire patchwork together I ended up with a piece that was much longer than it was wide so had to reevaluate. I opted for all the patchwork on the bodice to be on-point so all the bodice pattern pieces were cut out on the bias, and that left juuuuust enough length to get the skirt pieces out straight. Phew!
“The whole dress is lined in Plain Aubergine O Tana Lawn. This dark purple colour helps prevent it being see-through while also not impacting too much on the colour of the prints as they are seen from the front. Tana Lawn is so fine that the colour of the lining matters greatly. It is important to choose one that suits well. This lining also helps keep the many, many raw edged seams of the patchwork encased and safe, I don’t want to risk any fraying with this dress! Doubling up on the Tana Lawn all over also makes for a slightly more insulated piece than it would have been with just the one layer- perfect for transitional wear into the cooler months.
The main bodice and skirt pattern for this dress is based on a dress I wear often and fits well. The dress has no darts or pleats which makes it especially easy to trace and turn into a pattern! There are also no zips (yay!), just a keyhole back at the neckline and a button and loop closure. Somehow I managed to overthink my way to attaching the loop on the wrong side but oh well, still way easier than a zip! Just don’t tell anyone else my mistake, yeah? Thanks 😉
For a long while I was thinking I would use Anna’s Garden Teal for the back panel feature but I changed at the last minute to Mini Edenham Lilac and I am very glad I did. Many of the colours in the Mini Edenham Lilac print are found in the other fabrics, the smaller scale floral better complements the other prints and it works with the dress as the back panel rather than drawing too much attention.”
“This dress is great for twirling around in and flouncing about. I cannot help but smile feeling the soft fabric drape around me. I cannot wait to wear this dress out and hopefully see others in patchwork, too. I have noticed patchwork appearing in clothing more and more recently so it is an exciting rising trend. The colours of the Butterfly Garden Collectionare so beautiful and by working with just this collection alone a huge range of differently coloured patchworks could be made. Imagine a patchwork using just a few of the prints in more yellow and warm mulberry tones, or maybe picking out all the pinker fabrics, or even just using all of the Betsy Butterfly’s or Wiltshire’s. It really is so inspiring and I am sure there is a colour palette in there that would appeal to everyone.