Adelle wearing the ‘Marianne Dress’ using the book ‘Sewing With African Wax Print Fabric’ by Adaku Parker made from the ‘Ankara’ African Wax print from Dovetailed London.

Sewing Marianne: The relaxed dress with a classic silhouette.

Adelle (aka button_and_pip) has made the Marianne Dress from Dovetailed in this vibrant Ankara fabric from Dovetailed London. The Marianne dress is a relaxed summer dress with a bias cut skirt, elasticated neckline and sleeve hem. The pattern does include pockets but controversially Adelle hasn't added them! Has that split the opinion of the audience? Who else skips the pockets?  Adelle has been sewing her own wardrobe for 8 years and demonstrates dressmaking each month on Sewing Street TV.'  Want to read on, get a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy!

'Hi I’m Adelle and I love to create my own wardrobe, especially using beautiful prints in my dressmaking. I have made several pieces from African Wax print and I just love the range of colours and prints that African Wax print fabrics offer. Thank you to Adaku at Dovetailed Fabrics for asking me to create another beautiful piece for my handmade wardrobe.

As well as a spectacular range of fabrics, Dovetailed also have a selection of their own patterns. I’m thinking ahead to the warmer months and the Marianne dress is a dress that caught my eye! It’s a bias-cut dress with and elasticated neckline and sleeves. Adaku models the pattern herself on the sleeve and I loved the way that the dress has a wide neckline and skims over the body. It offers a relaxed but elegant shape that can work with sandals for a summers day trip or dressed up with heels for evening cocktails. Also, I don’t have a dress like this in my wardrobe most of my summer dresses are wraps or shirt dresses.


The first thing I also do when I use a new pattern is measure myself and use the size chart to choose the create pattern size. Don’t ever just assume that because you have made a particular size before that it will be the same for each pattern. My measurements indicated for me to cut a size 12 and with the gathered bodice I thought that any adjustments that I need to make will be easy to do so I didn’t make up a toile.

As I want this dress for my summer wardrobe I choose a bright summer print to use. I love greens and blues so chose this stunning fabric with tulip style flowers throughout. With the skirt cut on the bias I also thought the flowers would look great in this direction, almost as if they are blooming. The first thing I always do with new fabric is put it into the wash. As with all African wax print, washing also softens the fabric and it will continue to soften the more I wear and wash it. The print of African wax print has never run or faded but just to be on the safe side just pop it in on its own on the first wash


The bodice is cut on the grain so the flowers are blooming upwards. The sleeve is an interesting shape as they are part of the neckline. Just remember to mark all notches!! The skirt piece is on the bias and it cut with the fabric flat not on a fold. If you have a noticeable print also pay attention to the direction of the front and back skirt pieces as you want this to match.


Bust shaping on the bodice is created with simple gathers – again remember to transfer all pattern markings to your fabric. The bodice came together quickly, I finished all edges with my overlocker so the hems are just folded a single time when creating the channels for the elastic. The pattern also has a piece to indicate the length for your bodice elastic. 




Adding on the skirt to the bodice was simple, just take your time not to stretch it out because with this piece on a bias there is give and movement in the fabric. There are optional pockets to be added but I missed these out! I didn’t want to add any bulk over my hips as I wanted the skirt to skim over my hips perfectly. There is an invisible zip in the left side seam and if it’s your first time adding a zip just take your time and baste in your zip before showing. The zip doesn’t go up to the top of the bodice so it fits nicely to the body and not itchy zip under your arm.

On my first fitting I could truly see the effect of the gathering on the bust and the elasticated neckline. It did surprise me how nicely it fits over the bust and also, I didn’t need to make any adjustments. It’s a perfect fit first time! The skirt length is midi length which I really love at the moment. I know its not a length that all people can get on with, but when I popped on my heels it just swings and moves so beautifully. There are shortening and lengthening lines on the pattern if you want it to finish at the knee. As it’s an A-line shape it's best not to just take off length from the bottom.



The Marianne is a dress that I’m going to use again with more fabric from my stash. I’m really interested to see how it will love with a lighter weight fabric with more drape. It has a timeless shape that I know I will see repeated in my wardrobe again and again. 

Want to make your own? Shop the pattern here.

Love the fabric? Shop the fabric here.

Want to buy ready-made in a selection of Dovetailed fabrics? Shop ready made here.

Want to make your own with a little help? Shop workshops here

Watch a video of Adelle modelling the dress below!




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