In this instance it was the Francoise Dress by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons, a classic style sheath dress, with or without sleeves. About a month ago she kicked off a competition - with some pretty impressive prizes! - and since I'd had a white summer shift planned, I thought I'd have a go. Here's mine, in plain white cotton sateen, with pattern over the front drawn with fabric markers (close ups to come!):
I'd seen this dress (below) on Pinterest back in the depths of winter and thought I'd try recreating it come warmer weather, without the sleeves and with a bit more length. I think, though it's hard to tell, that the pattern is formed through a fine variegated trim sewn down in place, or possibly embroidery. This was my first plan, then it occured to me that there might be one or two other things happening in December, and as much as I like the idea of embroidery, it wasn't really a time-efficient option...
I thought fabric marker pens might give a similar effect overall. I do have confess though that it took me a while to get past the idea of 1980s kiddie craft; remember those t-shirts and canvas shoes?? But, I think it actually worked out alright!
This was my first experience with a TatB pattern, and I was really impressed. The drafting is beautifully done, the instructions are clear and comprehensive, and every step is photo-documented on her blog. The sizing is spot on too, and since I'd sewn up a commercial pattern (not yet blogged) immediately prior to this, I very much appreciated not having to take out massive and unwarranted amounts of excess ease!
There were only a few fitting modifications I needed to do, and (unlike the commercial one...) these were all to do with my body shape and preferences rather than trying to make it fit.
- I made the front darts finish 1cm earlier so they didn't finish on the apex of the bust.
- I took in the centre back seam at the neck by 4cm and tapered back down to original seam line
- I took the side seams in by 1.5cm at my waist
- I slimmed the skirt's A-line shape down to make a slightly straighter silhouette.
To do the pattern on front, I cut out a front piece (main and shoulder yokes in one) out of tissue paper and sketched out the design in a normal marker pen. I kept the rough shape of the original design - and the feathers at the waist, love those - and then just doodled until it looked finished.
Ideally I would have had a light box to transfer these markings to the fabric. But I didn't. So instead I pinned the paper behind the fabric (front piece, darted and sewn to shoulder yokes) and held it up against a window and traced that way. I looked faintly ridiculous, and my arms ached a bit afterwards, but it was effective! I used a quilter's pencil; the lines are supposed to fade in sunlight. Here's hoping they do!
Here's where the experimental part of the project came in. Technically these aren't actually fabric markers. They're blending markers, used for stamping, colouring etc on paper. But I was using these at work and since they come in plenty of colours (168 :) ) I tried them out on some scrap fabric. There was very little bleed, and once I'd pressed with a hot iron and pressing cloth, I washed it. The colours set beautifully!
The original was a vivid cobalt blending into aqua, which I loved, but I decided to use a dark teal instead since that suits me better. Dark teal, mid teal and aqua, to be exact. I drew over the pencil lines, changing marker pens every few inches.
It took a while, and after I'd done the first few bits I really thought I ruined the whole thing. But the nature of the design means that the hand-drawn quality works overall. When you look at one individual section of it it can look a bit rubbishy, but taken as a whole it's ok.
It's not lined; the neckline is finished with a facing, and the armholes with self bias binding.
So that's it - my version of Francoise!
I'm wondering how this pattern would look in a softer fabric - I know it suggests something that will hold the shape, but the skirt as drafted is a bit exaggerated for me. I think a drapier fabric with the original fullness might work rather nicely.
I'm also keen to try this as a winter dress with sleeves. But I'll worry about that come Autumn...