Made it up as I went along Border Print dress

fabricSo, in preparation for my article on Bernina’s We All Sew blog, I dove deep into the world of border prints. That was easy to do since I had been unconsciously collecting them for a while, so when I pulled out all the border print fabrics I had amassed, I had a sizable pile. I think I had 7 or so, in addition to the romper I had started last year. I was spoiled for choice!

border-print-gathered-dress-1But, as is my habit, I waffled a bit on how to use my precious pieces. Ugh, I always do that, and I don’t know why, since I obviously have more fabric than any reasonable person should have, so I should just sew it up already! I have this conversation in my head like every time I decide on a project. I exhaust myself sometimes, you know?

border-print-dress-1This beautiful rayon is special because of the really unique double border than transitions in such an interlocking way. I could not imagine how I could just chop it up! One of my favorite shops is Anthropologie, and they use border prints in so many of their clothes (which is one of the reason I love their designs so much!). I noticed that they will use the border print symmetrically down the center of a garment to really draw your attention to the bodice and create a very custom look. I wanted to try that, so…

border-print-dress-backI just didn’t cut my fabric! Well, I did cut it into an neckline and armhole shape on the top, but there is no seam separating the front and back of the dress. Tricky, huh? I used a shape similar to this dress, but without the yoke. Then I gathered the top and the back and added bias binding. Easy and fun. Except…I had to handstitch the binding together at the center front. People, that took forever! I hate handsewing AND I’m horrible at it and slow as hell. I seriously had to break up that long long seam into 4 different sessions. I’m still not very happy with it!

border-print-dress-with-bias-bindingThe continuous bias binding is made from mustard flannel and was quite a project in itself. I enjoyed that process, actually, and can add that new skill to my repertoire. I have made bias binding before, but this was sewn together into a tube and cut out in a continuous strip. Then I ran it through the Clover bias maker with the iron. I have a bunch left, oh yes! I severely overestimated how much I would need. But nice cotton bias binding is always handy to have around, so I’ll squirrel it away.

border-print-back-2One casualty of my slapdash dressmaking approach was that the gathered back edge ended up being too long and it droops. Oops, it droops! I wish it was straight back there. Also, you can see in these pictures that I quickly ran outside and took the pictures before I tacked down the back straps. Silly me! I came home, looked at the pictures and realized my hasty mistake and quickly sewed them down with a little stitch in the ditch, but there is no way that I am retaking the pictures. SORRY! Imagine the cute dress with the strap ends neatly sewn down, please.

border-print-maxi-dressThis dress is funny since it looks like a totally different dress from the front vs. the back. Gray and yellow vs. black and white. Which dress do I like better?

Main points:

  • Border prints are fun but agonizing to display to their fullest potential.
  • Despite my deep aversion, I had to handsew the bias binding down the center front so it would lay flat and butt up nicely
  • I may make this made-up dress again, since I like the simple shape with the strap detail, but I’ll make the back edge shorter and perhaps the front triangle smaller


20 thoughts on “Made it up as I went along Border Print dress

  1. I absolutely love it…so Anthro, really! Brilliant way to make a cool dress without messing with the beauty of that interlocking border print! And the straps are to die for, tacked down or not (LOL). I do things like that all the time. You have to take pictures when the light is Just So whether the dress is ready or not.

    • I totally checked out the Anthro site for inspiration! I’m glad you feel me on the pictures – ready or not – gotta get pics done or I’ll incorporate it into my wardrobe and never get them!

    • Thank you! The design came from draping it around me and sashaying around the sewing room until I finally was like, ok, I’ll just sew this up just like this, then!

  2. This is a truly lovely piece of work, and simply *has* to be the best possible use of the print! Just for the sake of argument, could you have machined the two CF bias pieces together before attaching them to the print (gosh, it’s hard to think of the right terminology for such unusual pattern pieces!)? And perhaps the back could easily be lifted back up by shortening the bias tape there (though I really quite like the scoop).

    • Sew up the center front to lift the back? I only have the one seam is the thing. I could totally shorten the bias tape on the back edge and just gather it more, but then I would have to unpick all the bias tape. I sew it down twice, so it would be a horror show unpicking that out of that rayon. So I guess I’m glad you like the scoop! And I don’t mind it, I just planned that it would be straight in my mind’s eye. At least my bra strap doesn’t show.

  3. Amazing dress, the fabric is gorgeous, you have done it justice in showing off the super print and the design of the dress is fantastic, I love (love love) those straps and the grinding pop of colour down the front, genius!!

    • I’m so glad you like the color. I almost forgot about this bit of mustard flannel and when I remembered it (and managed to find it) I danced around triumphantly. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Masha! The side is the best, and I almost wish I scooted the print around a bit more so you could see more of that cool effect in the front. BUT, no one ever thinks about the side view, right? It is a design feature!

  4. The bias binding was totally worth it in the end result. The strap is such a pretty detail and the mustard is a very pretty fall contrast against the grey. I love making bias tape–once I figured out that the lines have to intersect at the seam line and not the edge, I make it whenever I have random bits of cotton I can’t part with. It’s impossible to have too much bias tape!

    • I think I will be making more bias tape now, too, though I don’t have much cotton lying around. It is a fun use of scraps and so handy!

  5. This is brilliant. Love the use of an unusual border print, so creative… and that mustard bias tape with the little triangles at the shoulder – love the colour & that detail. Brilliant.

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