In this blog, I am going to take you on a step by step journey as I work on a possible new design for my SuzziMaggs Summer 22/23 additions.
It all began with a fabulous piece of the lightest cotton voile from the Miss Moresby collection by Nerida Hansen Fabrics. It is a piece that I have bought since I began working on my Wardrobe Revolution as I have realised that at this point in time I am greatly attracted to bright and colourful prints on my clothes. I bought it with the idea of making myself something, most likely a blouse, but it has become a trial sample for something that I might incorporate into my next collection.
I had some ideas about what kind of blouse that I would make for myself and remembered that I had an old sewing pattern from the 1980's with a style that I could use as the base point. The pattern and the fabric sat together for a few weeks while I was mulling over the ideas and I eventually realised that I was not going to like or wear the blouse if I made it with a high buttoned up neck and collar no matter how much I might have liked the idea of it.
Top right blouse, view B
What I really did want to incorporate from this pattern design was the deep round scoop of the yoke seam with the softly falling fabric below it. So I did some rough sketching and added a circular ruffle to a deep scoop, omitting the fabric above the scoop which now made it the neckline. This is more of the style of blouse that I personally would like to wear.
At this point I looked again at my piece of fabric and noticed the fact that I had enough length to make a matching skirt, but I didn't feel that this was how I wanted to wear the fabric.
Separate to these ideas, I have been pulling inspiration together with a summer collection in mind, with inspiration coming from my love for the beach, and the thought of soft floaty circular ruffles keeps coming back to me. I already have a skirt design that I am working on, and some fun fabrics which I am going to work into some cute top designs, but I had not thought much about a dress design.
Now here it was, a summer dress inspiration was hitting me, my scoop necked ruffle blouse just needed to be lengthened and another long circular ruffle added to the bottom to create the super soft and floaty Dune Dress. At this point I am not 100% sure that the design is complete or will be added to my Summer Beachside Collection, but I am happy with the idea of it so far.
Design decided, I now collected some pattern shapes to use as blocks to create patterns for the dress design. This dress is an easy fit style, and this particular fabric is quite see through so I plan to wear a light cotton knit slip dress or my swimmers underneath. It is a straight through design which can be worn loose, belted or open like a coat. So my patterns will be on the larger side with plenty of extra fabric allowed for float and flow.
The dress was cut out and no matter how many times I have cut out dresses, there is always that slight sense of anxiety where I think for a moment just before I cut into a gorgeous and often expensive piece of fabric, "I hope I don't stuff it up!" In the end I just try to be as economical as I can be with what I have laying there.
Next, to sew it together and decide on some of the finishes, like a rolled hem on the edge of the ruffles and whether to add a facing or binding to the neckline edge. I like to use french seams wherever I can as they give extra protection against fraying and look neater than an overlocked seam edge.
Once the dress was more or less together I tried it in to see how it sat. It is a cold day and I didn't get undressed, I was mostly interested in checking the proportions of things like the ruffles and the length. So far I am pretty happy with it and I love the neckline ruffle. At this stage I also thought that an elasticated waistline could be a feature, but I don't know for sure.
I finished the dress with a binding at the neckline and my small metal buttons down the front. Overall I am well pleased with the result, however a few small adjustments will be required. The neckline is slightly too wide and will need to be made narrower for making this in multiple sizes, and I may consider pockets depending on the fabric that I might end up offering this dress in. This voile is very light and I personally would not put anything in a pocket as it would pull on the whole garment.
I don't think I will add elastic to the waistline so that it is optional to wear it loose or belted.
So there is the story of the designing of the SuzziMaggs Dune Dress. It started out as a blouse with a round yoke and a collar and has ended up as a scoop necked dress with circular ruffles that remind me of undulating sand dunes. Now I will be on the hunt for the right fabric option to fit with the rest of my summer collection ideas. What do you think? Should I make it available next Australian Summer? I can't wait to take this one away on our warm holiday in a few months time!
Thank you for reading,