Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Fabulous Fabric Comes with High Expectations!


This is a quote taken from Sewing Elle and how right she is. Elle took a fabulous Oscar de la Renta fabric and made an even more fabulous coat with it.

I took a fabulous patterned silk and made an OK dress with it.


There were challenges – only 1.8m and 55″ wide: had to have sleeves, no zips or heavy closures, and try to use every last scrap of fabric.

You all came to the rescue with suggestions galore – from kimonos and kaftans to hankies and cushion covers! We ran the whole gamut of clothing and everything inbetween.

In the end I settled on Vogue 8870 mainly because I have it and made it before – a mock wrap bodice with little fluttery sleeves and a swishy gathered skirt. I had no intention of doing the mullet hem BTW.



I cut the sleeves 3″ longer than the pattern and then didn’t have enough fabric for the skirt! I had considered making a skirtless dress but didn’t think that would work too well! So I evened out the top and bottom edges of the remaining fabric and sewed a tube. This was then attached to the bodice – flat at the back to match the design, but folded into a pleat at the front to match the mock wrap bodice.

I made a little casing for the back to hold a strip of elastic which just adds a gentle gathering and some shape for my waist.


I added some hooks and eyes at the ‘wrap’ point and with only enough fabric left for one waist tie, sewed the single tie to the front and this then wraps around my waist and loops through on itself to stay in place.


The dress has French seams throughout. Want to see it?



See, no real wrap. No fear of the front falling open in this dress.DSCN5289


And you didn’t think I throw away the little scraps now did you?


A pair of lacy thongs and a bangle wrapped in scraps.

DSCN5293Thank you for all the suggestions – you’re the best!

46 thoughts on “Fabulous Fabric Comes with High Expectations!

  1. That’s a whole outfit from one piece. Well done; as usual, you triumph! The style of the dress really suits you and can it be true? … did the skies clear for you to match the brightness of the dress?

  2. ‘An OK dress’? Are you mad woman? It’s GAWJUSS! Want. Send it to me immediately!

  3. Yours is better than the pattern cover shot! Sen-blooming-sensational. Now please tells us how you tamed this slippery piece of fabric, because I’ve done some blog-snooping and I’m still too scared to work with charmeuse.

  4. Meant to say, sen-blooming-sational. Too clever for my own self.

    • I got it Sankati – thank you very much. I didn’t so much tame the silk as I haven’t sewed with this before and ignorance can sometimes be a benefit… does a little Lycra in it so a wee bit of stretch helped.

  5. Umm, you say “ok dress”; I say “flipping fabulous dress”! This is gorgeous, and the faux wrap on the skirt is genius. You did justice to this lovely fabric

    • Thanks Lynne, it just that sometimes the image in my head doesn’t quite make it into reality. I do like the dress really and it’s a lovely fabric to wear

  6. What’s with the “ok” adjective? Tsk. Tsk. Sewist’s perfectionism, much? This is lovely. The silk is just gorgeous and you did it justice. Enjoy it, because it looks amazing on you.

    • Thank you Tia. I had imagined a long flowing sort of concoction but with only 1.8m that was never going to happen – I do have an overactive imagination sometimes.

      • haha… overactive imagination can be the bane of our sewing existence, especially when reality falls far short in our opinion. I wonder if designers have the same problem…

  7. Fabulous fabric made into a fabulous dress I say. And amazing fabric wrangling to get that dress out of that smallish piece of fabric with such a definite pattern and repeat!

  8. Wow – what a beautiful dress. Gorgeous fabric elevates sewing.

    • Especially this one Gail – the very busy print hides a multitude of not quite even seams etc. and the make it up as you sew aesthetic that was applied. thank you

  9. Beautiful fabric. OK dress? No, a lovely summer dress for the tropical climes you so obviously live in. Brilliant engineering to get that much dress out of so little fabric. As usual, you have the perfect shoes. I am so jealous. And the clever use of scraps…woo hoo!

    • Barbara, not so fast – tropical at 12 noon only and that’s only for a couple of days…. but still when the sun shines – make the most of it. Shoes are dirt cheap and just happened to have the right colours in them – surprisingly comfortable too. Thanks

  10. Better than ok by far. Totally fabulous dress , looks great on you. And the sun came out too !

  11. I guess everyone that’s posted has set the record straight that this is more than just an OK dress. It’s fricken fabulous! Well done!

    • Well thank you Karen. I kinda meant that what I had originally thought of and what I got are definitely not the same thing. However, I like the dress but like the fabric better if you know what I mean?

  12. Totally awesome dress and thong to match…who can pull that off??? Only Ruth…some Irish magic or great planning? I’d say the latter…superb sewing and a mighty amount of patience!

    • Yeah, what boutique, or seamstress for that matter,would offer you that? I bet you keep all those scraps from wedding dress alterations and make sexy corsets or something.
      I’d like to say it was planning but the truth is sewing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants is more accurate.

  13. I’m VERY impressed!

  14. So pretty. And you always make great use of your scraps.

  15. Awesome, far beyond just an “ok dress”!!!

  16. Even undies to match! Fabulous!!

  17. What a triumph!! This dress is a looks very flattering, nice to wear and just the job for a nice sunny day.. I especially love the “faux” wrap. It’s so feminine and beautiful. Did you find the satin hard to sew Ruth?

    • Kate, I’ve never sewn with silk charmeuse before so I didn’t know the pitfalls and hence it didn’t worry me too much. It’s not a fitted dress – without the belt and wrapped it’s really just up and down – and the little bit of Lycra probably helped stabilise yet make the fabric flexible at the same time.
      I sewed hand rolled hems on the sleeves and skirt to reduce the weight and try to keep visible stitches to an absolute minimum.

      Thanks a lot – your style comments mean so much.

  18. What gorgeous fabric. And you sure made the most of it. I’m so happy to see this made up, I’ve had the pattern for ages and haven’t touched it yet. Like you, I’ll pass on the hi-lo hem, but the rest of the dress is so appealing. Love the faux part of the wrap – I’m not a fabric grabber when I’m out and about. Looks great, love the print and colors on you.

    • Oh Coco, I can see you in this dress – longer, maybe maxi with an even hem! and flowing. The original dress has a complete skirt and I always do a few hand tacks at bust height on the bodice – just in case!
      This just might the one to get you back sewing………

  19. Fabulous fabric: check
    Brilliant save on the faux wrap skirt: check
    Lose 10 lbs with flattering fit: check!

    • That’s amazing Meg! I wish I could say it’s my superb sewing skills that makes me lose 10lbs but in actual fact I have lost 10lbs, in fact it’s 12lbs to be exact. Thanks for noticing.

  20. Cleve and more than just OK, #like!

  21. Can we give those shoes some love too? Gorgeous! I may have to get this pattern.

  22. After all that talk about this dress being “ok” you lowered my expectations. And then I saw the dress and – WOW – it is so gorgeous! I especially love the sleeves you created by lengthening the pattern. Really lovely. Of course, that amazing fabric is to die for. Well done.

  23. Thanks Robin, the fabric is really doing all the work – it drapes beautifully

  24. Lovely dress. You look very elegant. Now do you have somewhere right to wear it too?

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