Sara (aka @SewItRara) has sewn the Sierra Jumpsuit by Papercut Patterns in this soft African Wax print fabric from Dovetailed London. Sara was gifted this fabric in exchange for a blog post as part of the Dovetailed London Ambassador Program. Want to read on? Get a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy!
Before I received this fabric, I’d planned to make a vintage shirt dress. As I unfolded the vibrant turquoise fabric, I knew I’d chosen the wrong pattern. The structured and slightly prim shirt dress was a million miles from this joyous print with its tumbling mustard and sky flowers. The fabric called for something more playful. Wrapping myself in it sparked a new idea.
The Sierra Jumpsuit had been loitering in my pattern stash for a while, waiting for a moment of bravery and a fabric to inspire the effort it would take. Adaku had gifted me the perfect fabric and so I plucked up the courage to give my first jumpsuit a go.
Although I’ve been sewing for a couple of years now, I still class myself as a beginner – albeit quite an ambitious one! African Wax Print is a fantastic beginner-friendly fabric. It washes and irons beautifully, doesn’t stretch out of shape, and the writing on the selvedge makes it simple to identify the right and wrong sides. I became increasingly grateful for the well-behaved fabric as the project progressed.
Having originally planned a different make, cutting became a challenge. I had 3.5 yards of fabric and the pattern called for 2.6 – 3.5 metres, depending on dress size. With half my body fitting into the smaller sizes, I thought that, and a slightly cropped leg, would leave me some wiggle room. Laying the pattern pieces delivered an unwelcome surprise!
The cutting layout for 114cm width fabric relies on two of the pieces being cut upside down. With the flowers flowing in different directions, I thought it might work but it didn’t. Everything became a squeeze. Pattern matching went out the window. Even with legs shortened by 8 cm, the only way I could fit the final bodice piece in was to cut it on an angle. As an obedient beginner trapped to the grainline this filled me with fear, but it resulted in a beautiful cluster of flowers on the front bodice piece.
Sewing dramas continued with a series of stupid mistakes. Confusion over the various bodice, lining and facing pieces led me to sew the wrong pieces together. Some pieces have been unpicked multiple times, but the fabric took it all in its stride. Looking at the final garment you’d never know that I accidently melted polycotton onto my beautiful wax print while trying to fix the interfacing. The broken-down sewing machine is a thing of the past. All that’s left is a colourful jumpsuit that literally had me jumping for joy the moment I tried it on!
One of my favourite things about sewing is that every garment has a story behind it. Sometimes I keep them to myself. This time I’m sharing my story to encourage any fellow beginners out there to carry on even when it all goes horribly wrong! I’ve learnt a lot during this making process. Don’t be afraid to abandon the grainline – a particularly great tip when sewing with African Wax Print. Always look at the cutting layout when deciding whether you have enough fabric. And know your optimum sewing time. Almost all my daft mistakes happened after work when I was tired.
Finally, if you love bright colours and bold prints, you can’t beat African Wax Print. The designs are beautiful, they don’t fade when washed and you’ll create something truly smile-inducing. I can’t wait to give it another go – with plenty of extra yardage and a free weekend to give it the time it deserves!
Want to make something gorgeous on this fabric? Shop here.
Want to sew with African fabric? Shop here.
Looking for a range of sewing patterns designed specifically with African wax print fabric in mind, shop here.
Want to buy ready-made in a selection of Dovetailed garments? Shop ready made here.
Want to make your own with a little help? Shop workshops here.