Quilters take on clothes!
Now, I know most of you here are quilters, and you’re here for the quilty things. But, hasn’t your eye ever traipsed over the alien-sounding substrates like “rayon” or “crepe de chine” or, heaven forbid, “jersey knit” and briefly, bafflingly, your brain went- “Maybe I could sew my own clothes?”
If you’re anything like me, you had that brief awakening, dove into the hashtags, and came out completely and utterly overwhelmed and shelved the idea until the next bolt of inspiration (aka pretty fabric- see what I did there?). For me, that bolt of pretty fabric was a little rayon piece called “Discovered Foliage” from Art Gallery Fabrics, and my brain went SHIRTDRESS. Here’s the fabric:
Gorgeous, right? I’ve been all about the fall weather we’ve been having lately, and something about the sweet little flowers on that forest green backing had me thinking a dress I could wear while summer hangs on, but then immediately transition to tights, boots, scarves, and cardigans. But I didn’t know if I could even use this fabric for a dress, and when I asked a few other quilters, they were in the same boat! And when I talked to AGF, they’ve heard the same thing- lots of us quilters are interested in trying apparel, but we’re a little confused on where to start.
So, we (meaning myself, Amanda @broadclothstudio and Rachel @wren.collective) teamed up with Art Gallery Fabrics and their apparel fabrics to bring you a super casual three month blog hop starting now where each of us is going to try to make a basic piece of clothing.
This month, I’ll be taking on dresses, Amanda is going to take on outerwear in October, and Rachel is going to walk us through a top in November. You could have a whole new me-made outfit by the holidays! We’d love to have you play along, quilters new to apparel or old hands alike, and if you want to sew with us, post to:
on IG and we can cheer each other on (or troubleshoot. There will definitely be some troubleshooting.)
I picked the Alder Shirt Dress by Grainline Studio- they have so many great and versatile designs, and they even have pinterest inspiration boards for each pattern so you can see it done a million ways. This is an intermediate pattern, which made me a little nervous, but I’m hoping that by following along with some of the tips in their sew along that I’ll be able to puzzle through. The two things I’m going to focus on today are fabric choice and fit.
One of the nice and overwhelming things about this pattern is that, judging by the hashtag, you can make it in just about any fabric you want. The one common theme I observed was that this is not really a dress for knits, which probably makes sense for a shirtdress. Some of my favorites for fall were:
Chambray: Cotton, natural fiber. Lighter than linen but heavier and stiffer than cotton lawns or rayon (it’s basically quilting fabric!).
Linens: Nubby and a little heavier than cotton , but made with natural flax fibers. No stretch, easily wrinkled, but is breathable and machine-washable. Has been used for clothes for literally millennia. Can be a little more expensive than other options.
Rayon: Also called “viscose” or “rayon challis”. Drapey and breathable, derived from wood pulp and considered “semi-synthetic. May not be machine-washable.
There was even one woman who made her dress with fabric from a vintage sheet!
I love the idea of chambray, but I’m excited about using rayon for something a little drapier and potentially more work-appropriate. Luckily, Art Gallery Fabrics’ rayon is machine-washable on cold, so I’m hoping I can throw it in the laundry with my other clothes! That said, the one thing I never do as a quilter but will plan to do with garment fabric is pre-wash. I don’t like working with wrinkly quilt fabric, but quilts also don’t have to fit once they’re done!
Krystina’s tips for measuring yourself:
Make sure you’re wearing whatever under-things you’ll wear with the dress. Especially since this dress calls for woven fabrics that don’t stretch, you want to make sure you’ll be able to breath!
Since this is a dress, you’ll want to measure bust, waist, and hips. I’d recommend measuring all three too, as you might bounce between sizes.
Don’t swing the tape measure around if your cats are nearby. It’s irresistible and you too will end up with four new puncture marks in your leg.
Judging by my measurements, I’ll probably be blending a 2 and a 4. Luckily, they aren’t too far off so it shouldn’t be tricky, and I’ll be making a muslin!
What’s a muslin? Basically, it’s a trial run with plain “muslin” fabric to work out kinks before cutting into your pretty, expensive fabric. You could also use spare quilting cotton, and maybe you’ll end up with a wearable muslin!
Comment below or on IG if you’re going to sew along! I’d love to know what pattern you’re going to make, and what fabric you plan to use! I’d also love to know where you’re at in your clothing journey, and what kinds of questions you have about designers, fabrics, patterns, notions, etc. What do YOU want to know?
Before I sign off (and get cutting!), I wanted to leave a short list of other cute dress patterns I considered, in case SHIRTDRESS! isn’t what your brain is clamoring for!
Lark tee dress (Grainline Studio): this is an extension for Grainline’s popular Lark tee pattern, and would be an excuse to use some knits!
Hinterland dress (SewLiberated): This dress is a darling buttoned tank dress with a gathered waist, and I’ll probably make, like, a dozen of them.
Amalfi Dress (Hey June Handmade): This one is a dreamy summer dress perfect for gauzy prints and fluttery fabrics.
Shift dress (Wiksten): This is a total uniform, wear-every-day kind of dress, and comes with a couple variations to help you shake things up!