I recently challenged myself and the rest of the Offset Warehouse team, Jaime & Kimberley, to make a dress using one of our lovely new handwoven fabrics from Thailand. They jumped at the chance and we thought it would be a great way for you to get to know the team and pick up some sewing tips for the new fabrics.
Here is the first in the series: Jaime’s party dress! Take it away Jaime…
As soon as I saw the new ikats I was in love! They all have quite a modern twist on a traditional weaving technique. I’m really excited they are in the shop! I find the mathematical process that goes into ikat weaving mind-boggling. How do they figure out where the colours are going to end up? My favourite has to be this Ebony Diamond Handwoven ikat. It’s simple yet really eye-catching. Traditional patterns like this are really on trend at the moment too.
The fabric has a fairly loose weave, it’s very light to touch. It’s slightly see-through when you hold it up to the light, but not so much that you’d need a lining. It creases much less than I thought it might do – which is fab for me as I hate ironing! It retains it’s structure really well when you wear it.
I’ll also tell you a secret – I made a massive sewing faux-pas and made my dress without washing the fabric first! (Don’t tell anyone – I had a tight deadline!) I was slightly worried that the feel might completely change and it would shrink, but it was absolutely fine after washing: barely any noticeable shrinkage and felt exactly the same.
It has a lovely natural dye smell when you open the parcel too. I love sewing with our fabrics, I pick up so many small details I can share with our customers.
What Pattern did You Use?
For the top half of the dress I used the By Hand London Anna Dress. It’s a really flattering shape with pleats underneath the bust rather than darts and it is fairly quick to construct. I simply used the rest of the fabric in its rectangle shape and pleated it to create a slightly fuller skirt. I also decided to add pockets, but I needed a little bit of extra fabric for this. I used three metres of the ikat fabric, plus a little bit of black cotton for the pocket lining.
Laying Out The Pattern
As the fabrics are woven on handlooms they are narrower than usual – remember this when ordering! My pattern fitted perfectly onto the fabric along the weft. I then just used the natural rectangle of the fabric to create the skirt. Easy!
As the fabric is quite loosely woven it does need a careful touch when sewing and cutting so as not to make it fray too much. But it sews perfectly. I would recommend finishing the edges with an overlocker or an edge sitch on your machine or if you have the time French seams would be worth the extra effort!
The fabric doesn’t have a back or front so be careful that you mark the right sides, and sew the correct pieces together. My pattern was quite simple and I still managed to sew the pieces together wrong side to right side.
I love adding pockets to everything I make! I have my own in seam pocket pattern. Pockets should be kind of ear shaped, roughly draw around your hand, with plenty of room to spare. You need to cut out 2 pairs. Sew them onto the sides of the back and front of your dress skirt, about 5-6cms from the top edge. Sew together along with the side seams. Here’s a great tutorial from Sewaholic!