It’s a sickness, I know. When Heather Ross posted her mermaids for sale on Spoonflower* I had to have some even more so I ordered a yard. But in all my excitement I didn’t notice that the default fabric was the cotton silk blend, so when this gorgeous silky fabric arrived in my mailbox, I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down. What was I going to do with this type of material that was so suited to a formal dress?… especially since I only had a single yard. And then, I realized that Alexis needed a new formal dress for our cruise vacation that was coming up.

There was still the issue of limited fabric, and so I began searching, or rather scouring, the web for a cute pattern. Of course, there were none to be found. So what’s a seamstress to do? Make your own pattern of course! Using one of her favorite tank tops, and my Sew What? Skirts book, I drafted my very first dress pattern. I was a bit nervous about it, too, so when I finally had the pattern down, I did a trial run using a cheapo quilting cotton that I got for $1/yard. (I have to admit that I found the fabric Alexis picked out for this “muslin” to be hideous, but once it was done I really liked it. She does have an eye for fashion, that one.)

After I’d drafted the pattern and made the trial dress, I was still afraid to cut into the fabric. I agonized for days about how to lay the front and back on the fabric so as to maximize it’s usage. The layout where the pieces fit best also had the unfortunate side effect of making the direction of the print “upside down” on the back. There were other possibilities, but they involved piecing the back together and it would have required making the skirt less full. In the end, I decided to go with the upside down layout and figured that probably no one but me would even notice. Actually, I don’t even notice.

Mermaid Dress

This was my first invisible zipper with a lining and I am amazed at how well it came out, but I think I need a different zipper foot. Mine is rather clunky, I’d like one of those ones that is super skinny. Actually, maybe I don’t, I get close enough to sewing through my fingers with the clunky one. Why tempt fate? ANYWAY…

Mermaid Dress

After a lot of debate with myself and Alexis (have you noticed I have a decision making problem?), I decided to go with a double strap over each shoulder. I’m so glad I did. I think it just adds the perfect amount of detail to the back of an otherwise very simple dress.

Mermaid Dress

So there you have it. My very first go at actual pattern making for clothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made dresses without a pattern before, but there was no shape to them (think jumper style over the shoulder A-line toddler dresses) and I didn’t really make the pattern. I have to say, this was such a success and so. much. fun. that I’ll definitely give it another go someday!

P.S. The cruise was fabulous!

* I should probably mention that these Swimming Sisters are also not of the same size as the Mendocino prints, OR of the previous Spoonflower offerings. There’s a picture of the different scales of this print on flickr. The scale of this fabric is in the middle.