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Dresses

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I finally made something cold weather-friendly! I started a new job recently ( ūüôā Yay! So excited! It’s wonderful!) so I really wanted something handmade to wear that is for winter (because winter never seems to end) and works well with layers.

I was really excited about the idea of this dress but I’m not sure I have really pulled it off. I wanted the shift dress to be super simple so that I could wear turtle necks and long sleeve tops under it.

Not sure I like the pocket placement or the length (I intentionally made it slightly longer so as to be more suitable for work). I took a lot of care when cutting out the front and back pieces of the dress but not much when cutting out the pockets. Big mistake!

The fabric was wonderful to work with. Not certain of the fiber content but it presses really well.

The tartan certainly takes me back to my high school days (in Australia a lot of school uniforms are made of similar fabrics to this)…

Thinking back those final 2 years of high school were some of my happiest. Maths stopped being compulsory and I started doing really well academically because I was enthusiastic and interested in work/school subjects.

If only I kept this up after my design course! I really started to lose confidence in myself after completing my design course…
I remember the fun I had with friends back in high school. I was an outsider back then but at that point I really embraced who I was- being different and not hiding it. As you can imagine I was never one of the ‘cool’ people. In my small group of friends we were all very different from one another but we had fun and¬†laughed a lot. I didn’t keep in contact with any of them and I really regret this!

I started dating my (still current boyfriend) back then and we are still so happy together! I remember going to so many concerts (ska bands and what not ha ha ha) with him back then, in my doc martens and customized clothing.

Things may have changed a lot but luckily the bad memories seem to have faded into the background. I do think things are much better now! I just have to make an effort to be positive (especially about myself) I want to keep creating good memories! I don’t want to look back on this time in life and think I wasted it beating myself up about things and worrying!

Sorry that was pretty heavy! I just remembered this is a sewing blog so lets talk about the dress…

Sewing nitty gritty:

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I discovered some nifty things whilst¬†making this dress. My favorite discovery was using my blind hem foot when attaching patch pockets. You just need to experiment with the positioning of the needle and then it’s magic! The plate on the foot acts as a great guide when stitching around the pocket. Yay!

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Another thing I did with this dress was to lengthen my stitch and do basting intermittently on parts where the tartan had to match at the zip BEFORE stitching the other side of the invisible zip on completely (a tough one to explain) I felt this really helped because sometimes lots of pins are just not enough!

Reasonably good stripe matching at the invisible zipper (below)…

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I also basted the pockets on before stitching them properly and unpicked the basting later (changing my stitch length to the longest avaible stitch length for ease of unpicking). I prefer this to pinning the patch pockets on because pins can get in the way!

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Want to see how i created my patch pockets? Secret lining!

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The pattern I used for this dress was from an old burda style magazine (9/2008 style 106 size 10/36). I did make a muslin of this pattern before hand. I got excited because I thought perhaps I had found the ultimate shift dress pattern. I realize now that finding the ultimate shift dress is much like finding the ultimate pair of jeans…a quest without an end! haha

I have another dress lined up using this sewing pattern- should be fun to see how this pattern will work for a shorter dress in marimekko fabric :). When I work with this pattern again I am going to let out the side seams.

Obviously this style is not intended to be fitted at the waist, but I do feel like there is not enough ease at my hips (kind of rare for me).! If you have never worked with burda patterns before, but want to try please bear in mind they have a LOT less wearing ease! It may just be due to my change in size recently but I really think burda patterns are more fitted and true to size than the big 4.

The patch pocket was taken from another pattern (McCalls 6322). I’m working on a dress using this pattern too, but why not mix and match pockets if you have found one that works of you?!

Other things worth mentioning…

Using lots of pins when working with stripes ūüėČ

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All-in-one neckline facing (before I graded and turned it)…

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My (almost) matching ‘unmatched’ pockets :S :p argh!

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So close! -at least the stitching around the pockets is good.

The last images are an ode to how much I love my blind hem foot. Stitches on the skirt hem are totally hidden! ūüôā

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My lack of activity in the blog-o-sphere really has been haunting me, I wont lie!

I recently started a new job. Don’t think it’s right to discuss work on a blog but I will say that I am really excited and I hope I can do a good job :)!
Yesterday I got in lots of sewing time in (housework be dammed) and today I made the final touches to this dress.
All my recent sewing projects seem to leave me with mixed feelings. I don’t know if that’s because my sewing is getting better (so I have higher standards) or because I pick the wrong things to make. Anyway here’s the new 60s dress (yes it’s another shift dress ūüėČ )

I didn’t get great pictures of me in the dress. I didn’t feel so fab, I had minimal make up on and then other things that I had to do came up. I guess I could always post better pictures later… (ugh ‘later’ seems to be my motto these days!)

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Sewing nitty gritty: 

I am not really stoked about the fit of this dress. I think I could have gone up a size or made the side seam allowances smaller.

For anyone else who is considering making a dress up in the same pattern I would probably recommend going up a size if you don’t want a super tight fit. I have heard that vintage patterns are generally a smaller fit and this one has lots of darts and shaping.

Recently I have gone up half a dress size, I’m happy about it, but it does make deciding what size to cut more complicated (I’m sure others can relate). A lot of people move between sizes at different stages, but you want to pick a size that will work over time, so yea perhaps it’s better I go for a slightly looser fit next time!

The tricky thing about this faux cotton eyelet fabric is the ‘crease factor’. I am not really¬†against a bit of creasing and I went to the trouble of underling the dress with a lightweight cotton which preserves modesty and makes the dress way more fancy! I really do love the effect underling has on a dress! It makes the dress fabric behave and it makes the dress feel much more substantial.

I really recommend underling. If you want to try it, or just want to learn more Julia Bobbin has a great tutorial/info !

I do wonder if the yellow cotton material was the right choice for this style of dress!  Despite the underling, it does pull and crease slightly (which is to be expected) but perhaps the fabric would have served me better as a top or a fuller pleated skirt. Doing something so fitted in a lightweight cotton may have been a bit silly.

The bow was fun and not difficult to make. I feel like adding bows to all my projects now. Mmmm I’m a big fan of the bow ūüôā (though I don’t enjoy the hand sewing on it).

I had those eyelet stripes going across the dress, which meant that I wanted them to match the fabric on¬†both sides of the zip. I found a neat way of basting the other (yet-to-be-attached) side¬†of the zip (keeping the regular sewing foot on and just moving the needle), before sewing the other side of the zip on….Guess that it’s too hard to explain without a tutorial.

That’s probably enough about the dress. Hope you like it!

I made a muslin using a different¬†burda shift dress and it’s got me pretty excited¬†excited about! It’s a looser fit shift dress, totally basic design and it’s bra-friendly. so I’m sure I will make a lot of dresses soon in crazy bold patterns!

-Kath

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This was my final week of the sewing challenge I set for myself (making 1 item per week for a month). Technically it was last week, but I did finish the dress last week (I posted the finished dress on sunday on instagram)

So the reason behind me choosing ANOTHER summer shift dress was that I decided that life was too short not to use the best fabrics in my stash!

When I buy a fabric I really love I often fall into the trap of not doing anything with it! Have you experienced this. It can be a bit¬†agonizing trying to decide¬†how best to use a¬†beloved fabric, because you want to make the most of it… but you know what?

I honestly think a dress you are not entirely happy with in a fabric you love is FAR better than a fabric you love gathering dust or tucked away in a stash for an eternity! The fabric was a lovely fabric I bought from Ikea (some years ago now) If anyone knows who designed the print please let me know!

I will say this, when I tried on the finished dress it became a case of “I’m not sure how to feel”…

While I was making it I was very excited about a simple dress that would showcase the print, but at the end of the whole process I put it on and just felt a bit blah. I was OK with it, but…

I hemmed both the dress and the lining before even attaching the lining to the dress. The problem with doing things this way is: now I feel as if it should have been shorter.

All the other dresses I made using the same pattern were too short, so I didn’t want to repeat that¬†mistake with this one. Trouble is by¬†keeping it longer it did seem to up the “frump factor” of the final dress and there are other things I should have changed, but really¬†I can’t stay mad a dress made from such happy fabric!

Looking at the photos I don’t think it’s so bad. Do I look like a crazy lady who is wearing a loose table cloth? Perhaps. But perhaps I’m also a FABULOUS crazy lady¬†as well. ūüėČ

I just noticed (when editing the images) that I am leaning to one side in every single photo. haha- I’m not great at posing! ūüėõ Anyway. I can assure you the dress is straight when you stand straight!

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Sewing nitty gritty:

Cutting the dress out was a bit more time consuming than usual, as I tried to make an effort with the print placement ūüôā

This is my third time using this pattern (heres version 1, version 2) and I think the honeymoon is over! somehow on this version it ended up looser than the previous version, but just like previous dress made from the same pattern, this also has the altered neckline and the low back neckline (which was lowered to eliminate the need for a zipper).

I used the same method of lining the dress as I did with previous versions. As always I used a thin cotton (probably voile) as lining because it’s SO. much. better. than. polyester lining. I’m telling you! ūüėČ ūüôā

Constructing this dress has become somewhat routine now and it feels¬†stangely¬†comforting to make it. But now that I am no longer hopeless with facings I don’t know if I have the patience for all this lining business (at least not on my next dress)!

I used a blind hem stitch/foot for all the hems because its quick yet fancy. Also¬†I’m going to show you the insides because they are super pretty (yikes! Sewing is the only context where that sentence doesn’t sound creepy)!

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So that’s it friends the final ‘one project per week’ project! I am still going to be sewing every week, but now I’m free to make things that require more ‘fitting’. As much as I hate making toile/muslins they are essential to me when trying out a new pattern. I can’t promise that¬†I’m finished with shift dresses or summer clothing, but I guess¬†I will be stylish¬†come December when it’s lovely and warm again!

Oh and thank you to the amazing ladies who participated in the 1ppw challenge! Thanks for sewing up a storm and sending me inspiration via instagram.

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Note: Sorry about the state of my hair. I think I want to grow it out into a short bob again heh Anyway…

Here’s this weeks ‘1 project per week’ project. I got hit with a pretty horrendous cold/flu thing, but I still wanted to keep my ‘1ppw’ promise! Today I felt a bit better but now I feel lousy again…it couldn’t have anything to do with taking photos of myself in a summer shift dress could it? I am such a nut job sometimes! OK most of the time, really….

Why do I sew summer dresses in winter? why do I only sew summer things? I never want to make winter clothing. I should up my game and make a coat! But I am a dreamer…summer dresses are what happiness is made of to me! The truth is I have more than enough things in my closet, so my sewing does not really have so much to do¬†with being practical.

I was lucky enough to miss a big bit of winter this¬†year when my boyfriend and I went to Malaysia on holidays. Sometimes I can’t believe the degree to which I complain¬†about things or get down when the weather is cold. Winter sort of brings out my depressed alter ego or something. I need to work on changing my attitude to this season!

So what do I (actually)like¬†about winter?¬†You don’t get too hot when you are sewing,¬†no mosquitoes, less sunburn, kiwi fruits are in season, coffee is¬†even better on a cold day,¬†more excuses to hug the people I love (who are always much warmer than I am) and of course coats kind of fun to wear! ummm that’s all I can think of! What do you like about winter?

 

Sewing nitty gritty:

I used some of the material I bought in Malaysia (I wanted to use some of this fabric- also why this is a summer project)! The pattern is Burda 7056 I have used this pattern before on this dress. The only change I made to this pattern was lowering the neckline.

I just love the¬†simplicity of this design. It’s slightly a-line, but only slightly! It’s also loose like a shift should be, but it’s not at all baggy.

I really like how the cut of the neckline shows off the shoulders BUT the draw back is the dress is not bra-friendly, as in- your bra straps WILL show. and that’s no fun! ( I can’t go strapless or without one- I’m sorry too much information, I know!)

Materials and techniques (all the usual suspects). Blind machine hem (I machine hemmed the bottom of all the pieces BEFORE I sewed the side seams together). Center back invisible zipper. Used¬†gutermann thread….

I actually enjoyed the facings. These ones stay down really well! I used quite a lightweight iron on interfacing for the facings. I’m so glad I bought a massive¬†stock pile of this stuff (way back), because 1. it’s hard to get in the weight that I like especially now that I live in the city and 2. I do not want to stop my sewing project for something as boring buying¬†interfacing!

For the all-in one facings on the dress I used the same technique I use when I line a sleeveless dress by machine. It’s pretty hard to explain so I’ll just show you some¬†work in progress pictures….

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Above: Note this was BEFORE I graded and clipped the seams which is an absolute MUST!!!

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Above: Why hello my pretty clean-finished neckline and armholes ūüôā Now I just had to press it like mad and sew the side seams.

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Above: with one of the side seams done!

My one regret with this dress is the back is slightly funky, which could have been avoided if inserted the center back zipper BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams and BEFORE sewing the side seams. That’s what I plan to do next time.

 

So that was it! Now to fill my hotwater bottle and watch a swedish crime drama with the boyfriend. Yay!

x Kath

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My bad sewing-with-knits experience happened a couple of¬†years ago… I was attempting a dress in a rather thin knit (wanted to make a dress from the built by wendy ‘home stretch’ book), but I made one mistake and to my horror after¬†unpicking the¬†minor¬†stitching boo boo I was left with giant holes in my fabric, landing the project in the bin!

Sewing with this (striped) ponte or ponti (which name is correct?!) for the first time was much more pleasant! For those of you who have yet to try it: Ponte is a durable, less stretchy knit fabric with much more body than regular knit fabrics tend to have. I was intimated, but when I googled “sewing with ponte” all the advice seemed to suggest treating it just like a woven. No fancy stitches or equipment needed (using a regular size 70 needle) SWEET!

I used the pattern McCalls 6460. A pattern for a rather sweet raglan number.

As is often the case:¬†I wasn’t digging the look of the pattern envelope at all (I’m just not¬†a sequins and satin type of girl!), but the design drawing showed potetial.

A fitted dress with raglan sleeves? Sign me up! If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know how I feel abut raglan sleeves: they are just¬†so easy to sew, and super flattering on¬†my rather broader shoulders! ūüėČ

I made 4 really good decisions when putting this dress together:

Firstly¬†I decided to add the sleeves by ‘sewing flat’, meaning that I attached the bodice and side backs to the sleeves BEFORE sewing the side seams/sleeves together, ¬†Now that I’m re-reading this post, I don’t think there actually any other way to attach the sleeves anyway! But here’s what it looks like:

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The second good decision was to hem the sleeves and the skirt by using a machine-made blind hem (using my blind hemming foot). I highly recommend this for ponti/ponte. It gives the hem some movement, but also looks really pretty and hides the stitches well! Just as well, because I was not prepared to venture into using twin needles and all that scary stuff just yet! Yeah! If you have a blind hem foot, try it when sewing with ponte, its great!

The third thing which really helped me was hemming the sleeves BEFORE sewing the sleeves together (but not hemming the skirt). This was great because, it turned out I needed to take the sleeves in quite a lot, I cut¬†a size 6 (even though I’m a RTW¬†size 8), but it still required fitting so I sharpened up my tailors chalk and got to work.¬†Here’s what¬†the¬†dress looked like before I altered¬†the fit:

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Ugh ‘fitting’. Why is the part I dislike about sewing also the bit that makes the magic happen?!…Then again making a ponte dress fit you is pretty quick, especially¬†compared to fitting a woven dress, so that’s another advantage of this ponte fabric!

And lastly I was happy I ended up removing the invisible zip. I initially I did install an invisible zip the the back of the dress (as that’s what the pattern called for), but happily I was able to remove it, because turns out there was enough stretch to pull this dress on without it. Without the zipper, the back looks so much¬†neater!:

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I was a little scared to bind the top of the neckline, but it turns using the usual bia-binding technique works fine!

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All in all sewing with this fabric (that was out of my sewing comfort zone) was a great experience. The only things to be aware of with pont/ponti are: it curls a lot, so extra pins help! It¬†doesn’t press that well. You can press it at the neck binding enough to get by, but it ain’t like plain weave cotton! Oh and also it’s harder to mark. I got away with using tailors chalk but it is harder to mark parts in this fabric. I’m actually kind of proud of how the stripes at the front waist darts match up! ūüôā

So happy I finally made something with long sleeves! I really dig the dress. Unfortunately¬†it was 15 degrees Celsius today (ugh cold weather ūüė¶ !), so I had to opt for pants and a¬†woolen jumper, otherwise I would have worn this dress all day!

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I just don’t know lovely people, I just don’t know!

I’m truly a complete kid¬†at heart so part of me LOVES¬†this dress, the other part of me (probably¬†the boring grown up part) feels a bit clown-like…

so…. I made¬†another loose-fittting A-line shift dress (how did you guess?!)

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It’s funny how in the photos the green in the dress looks entirely different. In the pictures it looks like a faded blue-green, but in real life it’s more of a bright grass green or kelly green (which I much prefer). I’m just not really in the mood to fuss with colours in photoshop…sorry! Another time perhaps!

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My mum bought me the¬†fabric for this dress on a visit to my flat and I feel for it immediately: The glorious green shade and the stylized daisies, it was¬†“cute” in fabric form!

The print on the fabric also has this big black and white swirly detail (pretty cool), but I felt unsure about having¬†a big hairy looking swirl on the front of my dress, so I decided to cut the front¬†out as two pieces, thereby avoiding the black part of the print (and adding a center front seam), it’s still featured on the back anyway ;).

I covered the CF seam with a navy blue drill¬†strip- I could go on about nitty gritty sewing stuff, only I’m not sure how exciting it is to read. Do you want to know about my strip positioning technique? yikes! that sounded sort of wrong/odd didn’t it?

I lined the entire dress with a thin cotton, just like I did with my Tulip Dress. I was happy that I hemmed the dress and the lining pieces individually before attaching the lining to the dress. Must remember that in future!

I felt like the dress needed something so I decided to add decorative buttons.

I umed and erred over the buttons (trying different ones/colours) and I’m not sure how well it turned out. As you can see I¬†covered some buttons with swirl motif portion of the fabric so now it kind of looks like a mish mash of disjointed lines so…. yeah…….TOTALLY intentional ūüėČ

I altered the pattern a bit since the last time I used it, basically just letting out the shoulder seams, making the darts nicer etc, all the boring, but necessary stuff.

You know what? I think I’m game enough to rock this dress, I have always been a crazy dresser. One woman’s costume is another woman’s casual dress?!

side note: I have started to post my sewing work-in-progress photos on my instagram: my handle is @kathborup if you want to follow me ūüôā

 

 

 

 

Note: click on images to enlarge them! My wordpress template makes them small -but not for much longer hopefully…;)
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So for¬†the past month or so I have found myself a little too hooked on pinning 60s fashion/style “sewing inspiration” (on pinterest)!

I decided that finding a shift dress pattern that was as simple as possible (A line, loose fit, just bust darts etc) was my no 1 sewing priority. I absolutely adore bold prints, so I figured once I had found a simple shift dress pattern, I could finally make TONS of simple dresses in statement prints!

I am such a ‘print’ person! I love the vibrancy, energy, colours and emotions they can evoke, so much so that when they do the print challenge on project runway and someone who only wears¬†black inevitably says ‘I don’t DO¬†prints’ I sort start to really dislike them! (it’s OK I mean ‘TV-dislike’, not real dislike ūüėČ )

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Sorry if this is TMI-I wear short shorts under my mega short shifts-that way I don’t worry about flashing anyone or looking indecent. It’s just when the silhouette is very¬†loose I seem to end up making my dress much¬†shorter.

When I studied fashion design many years ago (quit before¬†the end of first year) and the subject I did best in was textile printing. I LOVED designing prints more than anything else! I still have some orange twill I printed with a geometric rubylith design from back then. When I find it i’ll¬†make a dress out of it, because I think I’ve found the pattern to use for it!

Material notes:

I bought this fabric from spotlight for a steal many years ago. Happily¬†I still have more of it! The lining is just cheap poly cotton. Gutterman thread of course! Heres¬†a link to the pattern I used. I got mine from a burdastyle magazine (3/2010 style 104). The dress is actually a “wedding dress” go figure…then again¬†if¬†I did get married (which I highly doubt), it would¬†not be in a traditional wedding gown either!

Fitting/Alteration notes:

I have gone back to making a muslin/test-garment before I make a dress. In this case it worked out well! I only made one test garment, Luckily I didn’t overfit this time, as this dress is supposed to be loose. If I make it again I think I will let out the shoulder seams and possibly the top of the side seams as it is a smidge too tight there.

I cut out the pattern in the smallest size size 10 (a europen 36) I took it in slightly on the side seams, lowered the neckline a little, altered the shoulders and added small darts to the back (for just a bit a bit of shaping).

I was so in love with¬†camelias and crinoline’s version of this dress! She mentioned she cut the back of the dress lower- eliminating the need for any fastenings on this dress. I did this too and it turned out to be a BRILLIANT idea! I love a dress you can just slip over your head!

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Construction notes:

I decided to avoid facings or bias binding. I fully lined the dress, with no hand sewing! I used the same technique that I have used for bodices, when I made a lot of fit and flare style dresses and it worked a treat!

Would anyone be interested in a tutorial on how to line a sleeveless shift dress completely by machine? You get a nice clean finish!

The lining helps to add weight to the dress, which also means it doesn’t crease as easily.

While I was finishing the dress (about to hem it) and after 7+ hrs making it/lining it nicely, I noticed a little hole in the back of the dress! I was so bummed and at that point I couldn’t even be bothered changing the colour cotton I used, when repairing the hole! Moral of the story: Be careful with your clippers and always check for faults in your fabric!

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I did the biggest/widest hem of all time on this dress (its a long story). I used a blind hem foot to finish the hem. I actually like the treatment of the hem because it helps the dress stand out/hold it’s shape.

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I’m even going to show you the insides, because I am actually kind of proud of them…

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No zip needed, I just love that!

So¬†in conclusion: Yay! Don’t be surprised if from this point onwards, all I make is printed shift dresses! I have finally found a simple pattern and I have so many fabrics that want to be shifts (sorry if that sounded slightly crazy heh)