There's something about blue linen as a colour/fabric combination that I just can't seem to resist. This particular pairing works perfectly for summer: it's classic, it's chic and, more importantly, it's cool. I succumbed twice last year with my Anna dress in a linen/rayon mix, closely followed by my Simplicity sundress in linen look cotton…. and I've just succumbed again!
The fabric I used this time was a linen-cotton blend (55% linen, 45% cotton) from Backstitch. It's one of their new summer dressmaking fabrics and was kindly sent to me by Alice to review. I'd originally planned to use the fabric for a different pattern, but there were too many fit issues involved, and with the school holidays fast approaching, I was rapidly running out of time to fix them. I needed a blue linen dress I could wear in the sunshine. NOW! As is often the case with me, I saw the perfect dress on Pinterest - a lovely casual, chambray dress with pockets.
The dress originally featured on this post on lifestyle blog A Cup of Jo and on further investigation I discovered it was the model's own and a few years old to boot. Ah well, I'd just have to make my own version!
I did this by marrying the bodice of the By Hand London Anna dress with the skirt of McCall's 6696 shirt dress. The Anna dress has tucks under the bust rather than a gathered bodice waistline, which I felt would be more flattering to my shape. The skirt and waistband of McCall's 6696 is exactly the right shape, but the pattern is for a shirt dress with buttons up the centre front, so I had to fiddle with the pattern pieces a bit. I cut the front piece on the fold and added a tiny amount of width. I then did the reverse for the back pieces (cutting two pieces instead of one) to allow for a zip.
The Anna bodice is much more fitted than the McCall's bodice however, and this, coupled with my dreadful maths, meant things didn't quite line up the first time round. A few unorthodox gathers had to be added to the skirt section, but because they're below the waistband, they're actually quite flattering and make the dress really comfortable to wear.
The only change I made to the bodice from last time was a back neckline adjustment, (thank you Sonja at Ginger Makes for the splendid tutorial!) I also took an identical wedge out of the front bodice. I redrafted the facings, which are cut from some scraps of amazing Liberty fabric that reader Nathalie sent me as part of a bag of offcuts. There were some great pieces in the bag (the facings from my sailor shorts were one), but the real gem was a remnant of Cranford, a fabric designed for Liberty by Grayson Perry a few years ago.
I LOVE IT and the background just happens to be the exact shade of blue as the linen-cotton. I also used some of the Grayson Perry fabric for the insides of the pockets (but forgot to take photos - soz).
|Grayson Perry facings - look at those little faces!|
The linen-cotton fabric is excellent quality, but like all linens, it's a bit of a pain to work with as it sheds so many fibres. It's medium weight, which I naively thought would make it less transparent. Not so - I could probably get away with it on holiday, but need to wear a slip with it when walking around London. With hindsight, I should probably have lined or underlined the dress, it's no big tragedy though. I love the finished look of the dress and how close the colour (Moonlight if you're interested) is to the original inspiration photo.
Talking of which, I don't have a flower market nearby to replicate the original image, but I do have the next best thing - an allotment! Unfortunately, I looked hideous in most of the photos we took there, but I'll leave you with a couple of outtakes with my gorgeous Charlie. Despite my best efforts, he flatly refused to pose for a photo! x
|Glamour amongst the cannellini beans|