Using Border Print Fabric in a Dresss

Border print from Britex Fabrics

For many months I had a little over two yards of this gorgeous border print, which I bought from Britex Fabrics as a remnant (yes, they have generously cut remnants!). It’s a cotton with lycra fabric from Italy, 60 inches wide, with the print getting larger at the selvedges, with the bigger squarish elements about 6 inches in width. The smaller black and grey squares in the middle are each about 1.5 inches wide. I really loved it but I didn’t know what I would make from it – maybe a skirt, I thought. But I had never made anything with a border print fabric. How would I cut the fabric? I was a bit stymied so I prewashed the fabric and put it away.

Every few months I would take it out and look at it but I still didn’t know what pattern would work with it. I pondered a bias cut skirt but then realized that wouldn’t make full use of the border print. Then I considered making some sort of pleated skirt but pleats have never looked that great on me because of my hips.

Then when Sewing Indie Month was announced by Mari of Seamster Patterns on May 1, I looked at all the participating indie pattern companies and ordered two patterns – the Beatrice dress by Sew Chic Patterns because I loved the neckline and the Anna Dress, the By Hand London pattern that so many people made last year because I wanted to try making one.

Then started going through my stash hoping I could find something that would work with one of the patterns. I posted this photo on Instagram and Brooke of Custom Style pointed that it might be tricky to make the print even on the neckline of the Beatrice Dress. Good point.

Beatrice Dress + Border print

Then I thought – “Oh, what about the Anna Dress?” And posted this photo on IG and got a lot of positive feedback. But I didn’t have enough fabric so I went back to Britex and got two more yards at full price.

Anna Dress - Border Print Fabric - csews.com

But first I wanted to make the Beatrice Dress but after I realized it was going to take me too long to get it done by the Sewing Indie Month deadline, I decided to go with Anna. You can read more about how and why that happened in this post (plenty of photos of the dress there too).

Once I picked Anna, everything came together. As I was laying out the bodice, I thought about the article on border prints in the April/May 2014 issue of Threads magazine, which I had flipped through at the Berkeley Public Library one afternoon. It made me think about using the border print as an additional design element. I held the fabric against me, posted the image on Instagram and Twitter. Leila of Three Dresses happened to see the tweet and liked that idea. I love sewcialists! They are so helpful and supportive. ;)

border print fabric

With that in mind, I placed the bodice pieces with the grain so that design of the print went from large to small from the left to right sleeve on the front and back. I also paid attention to where the print transitioned from large to small. I knew I wanted the area where the print transitioned to the smaller black squares to start off center rather than dead center of the bodice.

Anna Dress bodice fabric placement - csews.com

The print is asymmetrical (and busy) so I wanted to cut the fabric so that the print’s design on the individual pattern pieces would not line up. Here’s a shot of the front bodice with the front pleats sewn and facing attached.

Anna Dress - front bodice with facing - csews.com

In the photo below, the space to the left of the pattern piece is where I cut the back left side of the bodice. The pattern piece for the other side is placed an inch higher. I wanted it to be off by a significant amount so that it would look deliberate rather than like I was trying to match the design and failed. This pattern has a 22-inch invisible zipper in the center back.

Anna Dress - bodice back pattern piece - csews.com

Here’s a close up of the back bodice – see where the invisible zipper will go?

Anna Dress - back bodice pieces cut - csews.com

For the skirt I decided that I would lay out the pattern pieces so that the border print would be the largest at the hem. The meant cutting the fabric against the grain – perpendicular to the selvedges.

There are seven skirt panels –  the front skirt has three pieces, the center skirt piece, which is cut on the fold and two panels on either side of the center panel. I put the center skirt panel at the highest position on the border where the squares were the smallest. At that position there was about three inches left of the large part of the border print below that piece. So I planned on cutting the side pieces an inch lower than the center panel and then the two center back pieces an inch lower than the side panels. I thought it might look like the border was moving down the skirt but the print is so busy I don’t think it did that. But it did serve my purpose of not matching the print at any seams.

This is a photo of one of the other panels, with largest part of the border print at the bottom. I folded the skirt up to the hem length I wanted – tea length instead of maxi.

Anna Dress - skirt pattern piece - csews.com

And here’s what the finished version looks like from the front …

Anna Dress - front view border print - csews.com

and the back!

Anna Dress - back view - border print - csews.com

If you like this dress, you can vote for it today on Lilacs & Lace! I entered it in the Sewing Indie Month Dressed to the Nine Sew-along contest. Voting ends today.

Have you made anything with a border print before? What did you make and did you play around with the border print’s placement?

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Author:Chuleenan

Chuleenan Svetvilas is a writer who sews and collects hats and shoes. She is a fabric addict and loves classic films and vintage clothes.

4 Responses to “Using Border Print Fabric in a Dresss”

  1. J K
    July 15, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    What a creative use of your fabric! Beautiful and fun dress on you!

    • July 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Thank you so much. The fabric inspired me. :)

  2. June 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Your careful planning and cutting really paid off! I love this dress on you! It was so fun to watch the process (and be a small part of it)!

    • June 14, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you, Brooke! I look forward to making something else with a border print!

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