"Hi everyone! I'm Franca, and I'm here to talk a little bit about the Dorothy dress from Adaku's brilliant book.
I'm a big fan of African Wax fabric, the bright colours and graphic shapes are right up my street and some of my favourite all time makes are Ankara ones, so I jumped on the chance to try out some patterns especially designed for this type of fabric.
I chose to make the Dorothy dress, an straightish tunic with patch pockets, a boat bracket and bell sleeves. For me, it's the right balance between casual and dressed up. I'm working from home for the foreseeable future, and even before the pandemic I didn't have the kind of social life that required a lot of fancy frocks, but I do love a dress, and I thought the sleeves add that extra bit of interest.
For the fabric is chose 'five petal flowers' from Adaku's shop, I loved the colours and large design, I didn't think about how it would look on the dress too much. In the book it is shown on a bag, but it turns out it works really well on a garment as well. The flowers are arranged irregularly, which means I could get away with not pattern matching. I rarely try to pattern match with prints fabric, it's just a bit beyond me, and I like to choose prints where it doesn't matter, like this one!
The fabric was lovely to work with, it’s quite structured in its natural state, but softens up quickly under the iron, and then stiffens up again as it cools down. This is ideal for pressing, as it stays exactly the way you want it. I didn’t actually use a single pin in hemming either the sleeves or bottom hem.
I made a size 14, graded to a 16 at the hips. I also did a 1 inch full bust adjustment, which I usually do if there are darts and was definitely the right thing to do, as the dress is drafted for a B cup and that’s not me. Sometimes I just add the width and don't bother rotating the dart, but I did it properly this time, getting the dart to point to my bust point. Very pleased with how it's turned out! I also shortened the dress by 8cms because I'm short, and, as I used basic black shop bought bias tape, I put it on the inside to hide it. If I made this again I would definitely be more organised and make my own matching bias tape.
One thing I did have a bit of a kerfuffle with was what designs to put on the patch pockets. Getting the pattern to match up would have been a lot of effort, and given I hadn't matched anywhere else I thought might look a bit odd anyway. My husband recommended I do the pockets in the centre of some flowers, so I did that and just put some random scraps on the back of the pockets, which were mainly blue. I tried laying it out both ways round, with the flower or the blue on top, and in the end (after some consultation with my sewing chat) I went with the 'wrong' side as it was less visible. I think it would be really cool to do the pockets in a different fabric though and make them really stand out, particularly if you did visible bias binding you could match them with.
One thing to note when sewing with this fabric is that there can often be little visible difference between the 'wrong' side and a 'right' side, so it's really important to mark the wrong side of the fabric with stickers, washi tape, chalk or pins. This will make things a lot easier when laying pieces that are cut in mirror image like the sleeves. Ask me how I know! Because I, of course, didn't do this and ended up with two identical sleeves which I only noticed as I was about to set them in. Thankfully I had enough fabric to recut the second sleeve, but really could have done without that! I now have a fully finished and hemmed sleeve lying about that I can't quite get myself to cut up for stuffing.
Anyway, I think that's all there is to say about the process of making this dress. I'm super happy with how it's turned out, for now with tights but I can't want to wear it with bare legs in the summer!"
My blog www.applefranca.com
Shop Book: 'Sewing with African Wax Print Fabric' here.
Shop Fabric 'Five Petal Flowers' here.