The Philippa Pinafore Dress: Stylish and oh so versatile!

You will love the versatility of the Philippa Pinafore Dress: one of my favourite garments from the book! In this guest blog post, the lovely Franca (aka @apple_franca) shares the process that she used to make her version of this Pinafore Dress in African wax print fabric that I have called: 'Her hair was adorned with beads'.  This pattern shows off beautifully this print and it is available in my sewing book: Sewing With African Wax Print Fabric. New to African Wax Print Fabric?  Then you will love this  blog post.  Grab a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy!!

"Hi everyone it’s Franca and today I want to talk about my second project from Adaku’s book, the Philippa Pinafore. I’m a big fan of a dungaree style pinafore, but the ones I’d made to date have been single colours, doing it in a patterns is a bit of a departure. But I love it!

Franca, white woman wearing the Philippa Pinafore in an African wax print fabric called 'Her Hair was Adorned with Beads'.  The pattern and instructions from the book are available in the sewing book: 'Sewing with African wax print fabric'.  The fabric colours are blue, orange and black

The fabric is the ‘her hair was adorned with beads’ pattern in an orange and royal blue with graphic black and white stripes and polka dots. So lovely! I made a size 16, which according to the pattern takes 4 yards, but I ended up using quite a bit less. I probably have about a metre left, minus a very narrow strip at the side because I ended up re-cutting the strap (we’ll get to that!).

Franca, white woman wearing the Philippa Pinafore in an African wax print fabric called 'Her Hair was Adorned with Beads'.  The pattern and instructions from the book are available in the sewing book: 'Sewing with African wax print fabric'.  The fabric colours are blue, orange and black

This pattern is marked a three star difficulty (most of the other garments are two stars) and there definitely were some new techniques for me. I’d never done a half elasticated waist before, it was quite fiddly and a bit different from elastic all the way round, because you don’t pull the elastic through a channel, you insert it from the long side. It felt a bit counterintuitive and was a bit fiddly, but it worked a treat! It’s so nice to have it fitted at the back waist but still have a nice clean flat front. Definitely more half elasticated waists in my future!

Franca, white woman wearing the Philippa Pinafore in an African wax print fabric called 'Her Hair was Adorned with Beads'.  The pattern and instructions from the book are available in the sewing book: 'Sewing with African wax print fabric'.  The fabric colours are blue, orange and black

Another thing I did this time was to pattern match the patch pockets. I didn’t do a perfect job with it, but they still blend in really nicely. The third learning thing was to attach poppers, it’s been years since I last did it and I couldn’t remember at all. I actually bought some popper pliers to do it (last time I had to hammer them in using the tool that came in the packet), and it makes such a difference! Definitely £13 well spent!

Franca, white woman wearing the Philippa Pinafore in an African wax print fabric called 'Her Hair was Adorned with Beads'.  The pattern and instructions from the book are available in the sewing book: 'Sewing with African wax print fabric'.  The fabric colours are blue, orange and black

*One thing to mention is that the pattern as written in the book does need one correction. It tells you to cut 4 of the strap pieces and attach two together for each strap, but you actually only need 2, plus 2 in interfacing and you fold it in a half.*

The strap pieces also seem incredibly short, and I absolutely did not believe they would be long enough, so I lengthened them. But I ended up taking exactly what I added off again, so believe the process!

Franca, white woman wearing the Philippa Pinafore in an African wax print fabric called 'Her Hair was Adorned with Beads'.  The pattern and instructions from the book are available in the sewing book: 'Sewing with African wax print fabric'.  The fabric colours are blue, orange and black

I did make a number of changes though to make this fit my own shape:

  • I added a small dart to the front bib pieces as a full bust adjustment, using instructions for adding a dart to a dartless bodice. I think generally you would do an FBA on a pinafore by just adding length to the bib but I was worried that in the African wax I would end up with it sticking out weirdly. I added just 2 cm in width, so the dart is pretty tiny, but it definitely makes a difference and guides the bib to sit in the correct place on my boobs.
  • I also added 2 cm in width to the skirt front to match the added width in the bib
  • I did also lengthen the actual bib itself. I initially added 5 cm, but ended up taking half of that out again at the end.
  • I also took out 3 cm out of the side of the top of the bib on each side (6 cm in total) as the fabric was either pooling in the middle if I attached the straps at the edge, or the edge was sticking out when I made sure the centre lay flat.
  • I also took out 2 cm each side (4 cm in total) out of the back bib.
  • I attached the poppers so that the strap it would lie under the bib rather than over it because I think that looks nicer
  • I topstitched round the edge of both front and back bib for a bit of extra tidiness
  • I stitched down the top edge of the back waistband using stitch in the ditch so that the elastic was held firmly in place.

With all these adjustments, this ended up being a slightly longer project than I expected, but it was so worth spending that time because I’ve now got a really god fit round the top and a dress I absolutely love!

P.s. The hairband is also from the book, the Harriet hair tie."

Franca, white woman wearing the Philippa Pinafore in an African wax print fabric called 'Her Hair was Adorned with Beads'.  The pattern and instructions from the book are available in the sewing book: 'Sewing with African wax print fabric'.  The fabric colours are blue, orange and black. She is wearing a matching headband.

Shop Sewing with African Wax Print Fabric Book here.

Shop Her Hair was Adorned with Beads here

Read more from Franca here

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