I am loving all the ‘7 for All Mankind’ stretch sateens that have been popping up on Cali Fabrics lately, and this is a dress inspired by my favorite print – Weathered Blue on White Lace Print. (Unfortunately, it is now sold out, but I see new prints being added pretty often, such as this one.) Because the print is busy, I wanted to pair it with a simple pattern with few seam lines and a sleek silhouette. I ended up choosing the By Hand London Kim Dress, because Elisalex refashioned a smoking version of it with the tulip / gathered skirt swapped out for a pencil skirt that never quite got out of my head.
Even though the Kim Dress, once hacked, only has 5 pattern pieces in total and could probably be sewn up in a few hours, I took my time with it because of the print. At first, I wanted a version exactly like the inspiration with a paneled bodice and skirt so I could try to squeeze the dress out of one yard of fabric. However, on second thought, I realized print matching on so many different pieces could be a nightmare. Here are the top three things I think about when sewing with prints:
- Pick a pattern with fewer seams to save time
- As mentioned, I wanted to have panels for the pencil skirt, but since I didn’t want to worry about seam matching, I made a straightforward pencil skirt with the one front piece and two back pieces.
- Cut fabric in one piece instead of on the fold to make sure print placement is even
- I learned this tip from Alison Smith’s Craftsy class, Couture Dressmaking Techniques. When you want to see if the print placement is even, it is best to cut fabric in one piece instead of on the fold. To do this, first lay the fabric right side up in a single layer on your cutting mat. Place the pattern piece down and cut around it except for the cut on fold line. Then, flip it horizontally over the cut on fold line and cut around the other side until you have cut out the whole pattern piece.
- Be wary of print placement at the bust, crotch and hip areas
- Cutting the fabric in one piece also helps you judge if the print placement is good, since the fabric is laid out and not completely obscured by the pattern piece you place over it.
- I like to avoid circle shapes at the bust apex, crotch or hip area because it will draw attention to the lady parts, and not in a good way.
- For short people like me (5’1″), I also try to avoid too many horizontal stripes or stripes that go across unflattering parts of the body. For this weathered lace print, I noticed there are two darker, almost horizontal lines on it, so I tried to keep them at the waist for the illusion of a slimmer waist as well as towards them hem so they don’t cut my legs into too many pieces.
Taking time and care sewing up a print fabric can definitely elevate a look. While I’m not saying this dress is perfect, I am very satisfied with it and can’t wait to wear it in the office or to celebrate in future summer weddings. Do you like sewing with prints, and if so, what tips would you give for sewing with them?