Unikko Shift Dress (Marimekko print dress)

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This is a project I finished some time ago. One thing you must know about me is The Marimekko Unikko print is my favorite print of all time! When my mum gave me this textile I was overjoyed- however my plan to go ahead and use my favorite fabric (rather than leaving it hiding in the stash forever) almost backfired with this project- more on that later!

A bit of history regarding the print: the Unikko/poppy print: it was designed in 1964 by Maija isola, as part of a collection of floral prints, after Armi Ratia (the company’s founder) had announced that Marimekko would never print a floral pattern. Thank god for Maija’s little act of creative rebellion!
The colour-way I have here is pretty rare (orange, pink and lime green -wow. I just LOVE it!). Though it’s impossible for me to put into words why/how much I love this print- I think it captures a lot of what I like so much about the 60s. It’s bold youthful and optimistic and there is this delightful naivety to how the poppies are rendered *sigh* so beautiful.

Why the sewing pattern? I didn’t have a lot of fabric to work with and you probably know how much I love shift dresses! The sewing pattern was the same pattern I used for my ‘School days’ pinafore shift dress (an old burda style magazine 9/2008 style 106 size 10/36). The dress is a loose boxy style that has the big advantage of a skirt portion that is only slightly flared- meaning I had just enough fabric for the dress. I don’t know how flattering this style is on me and I think that is where I ran into trouble…

After I had sewn the shoulder seams together and added the facings I felt very very excited about the dress BUT…

I felt that the last time I used this pattern it was a smidgen too tight and I wanted a relaxed fit (so I sewed with 1cm rather than 1.5cm seam allowance)- Anyway because the dress was so boxy I felt as though I had to shorten the dress A LOT to make it work.

I must have been in a crazy state of mind because I cut WAY to much off the hem, putting it into tunic territory. Lets just say I was pretty distraught! I had just cut a dress made in my most favorite fabric too short!

If you have ever been in a car crash you may know that feeling you get when something bad/shocking happens- it’s almost as if you detach emotionally and watch it all unfold in shock and disbelief, as if its happening to someone else. Sorry to be melodramatic but that’s sort of how I felt when I cut the dress too short!

Luckily the part I cut off was still intact and connected at the side seams. I took time deciding what to do. Got some great suggestions from my friends on instagram and ultimately I decided I would re-attach the part I cut off and add some piping in between, in order to make the seam look intentional. Lincraft had a surprisingly good selection of piping. I bought 2 meters in a couple of different colours and ultimately went with this pink velvet piping.

Clearly there is a lot of fun to be had with Piping! It was my first time using it and it certainly wont be the last. OK I KNOW the middle flower doesn’t match up at the petal on one side, but I’m still going to file this project under ‘crisis averted’!

You will notice I used a different fabric for the facings. This is the way to go when you only just have enough fabric for what you want to make. Plus this fabric is very precious. I am turning any remaining off-cuts into pouches and/or pencil cases!
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I quite like my bright yellow invisible zip. I’m not the kind that thinks invisible zippers always need to match your project exactly. Perhaps I am a bit of a rebel too 😉 Happy 50th Unikko!
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27 comments
  1. Great save – I think the piping looks brilliant! It makes for a really cool hem feature and the colour is perfect against the print. And the patten match is really really good too; this dress is waaay better than a ‘crisis averted’ level 🙂

    • I replied to your lovely comment but for some reason the internet ate it haha. So glad you like the piping 😀 xo Thank you!

  2. Ines said:

    Great print! I love the piping I think it’s adds a little something.

    • Thanks so much Hun! I’m glad you think the piping works 😀

  3. I love, love, love the Unikklo print too x I have cushions, table mats, bowls and a couple of metres of the 50th edition print in the pink, red, dark green and purple…. now what to make is the next question.
    Your dress is amazing!

    • Yes! it really is the best print! That’s awesome. Do you think you will be making a garment with the remaining fabric?
      Thank you! x

  4. That’s so interesting about the fabric’s history I had no idea! What a special dress. I am glad you reattached the hem, I had originally voted to keep it short but I think it looks perfect with the piping. Beautiful!

    • Thank ya. Yay! I am so glad you like it with the hem reattached 😀 I have had a Mini blogging hiatus. I am so excited to see what you have been up to :)! x

  5. That is so you! Love the dress in that print and you look so 60s pretty in it. Pipping’s great! As for zips invisible or not, most of the time I use whatever I have and it usually doesn’t match the project but I quite like it like an intentional mistake or something! xx

    • Thank you! I love this approach (using what you have) -sometimes the best combinations and ideas come from being resourceful! ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ as they say 😉

  6. Lynne said:

    Wowsers! I can see why you love this print so much, it’s gorgeous! I also love how you lengthened it. It really sets the dress off, and I would definitely call it a design feature, and not a fix.

    • Thank you so much Lynne! Such a sweet comment. 🙂 So happy you think it adds to the dress. hooray!

  7. uglybeat said:

    Wow, you should win a prize for “making it work”! I think it turned out even neater with the piping (which I absolutely adore!). Love how this simple pattern lets the beautiful fabric shine!!!! You better lock your doors, cuz I wanna steal it!

    • Haha what an epic comment! Thanks so much for the compliments gal, glad you like it with the piping! I’m hoping Tim Gun would approve too. hehe. 🙂

  8. Laurel said:

    That print is simply too awesome. Good save with the piping, I totally thought it was intentional before I read your post!

    • Ah! so glad it looks intentional 🙂 Hehe thanks! x

  9. It’s delightful, and I really like the hem – in the first pic I thought how cool the deep hem was – really clever save lady!

    • Thank you Sarah! So happy you think the hem worked out as a save! *phew* 🙂

  10. awesome! and good save with the re-addition of the bottom with the bias! I probably would have curled up into little ball on the floor and wept with such a beautiful fabric! so much to loose! But I love the save. it looks intentional which is good! and i love the yellow zipper. I CANT EVEN DO INVISIBLE ZIPS and you make it look like the best thing ever. I need to to teach me!

    • Thank you : )! I did have a moment or 2 where I was kind of emotional about it haha

      I would be delighted to show you! 🙂
      We should meet sometime. I am so inspired by your style and everything you make!

      • Catherine said:

        Yes we should! Are you coming to the Spoolettes picnic? I can email you the details!

    • I generally write down how much I use with every project, but I forgot to do it this time. I think there was a little more than a meter of fabric to work with. Luckily this pattern has quite a narrow skirt portion, so it made it easier to fit it all in 🙂

  11. Laura said:

    I love it! Crisis well averted 🙂

  12. Gorgeous!!!!! I love this! It’s such a fun, happy dress!

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