Here is how I knew we had a good thing going with our new pattern, Dahlia.
After taking a slew of pictures in the studio with our beautiful model Amie a few weeks ago, we stepped outside to capture a few outdoor shots before the sun went down.
As we were walking around for about forty minutes, Amie got no fewer than three (!) compliments from strangers on her plaid dress.
That’s a good sign.
A dress for all seasons
To be honest, we originally conceived of Dahlia as a spring pattern. But schedules changed, projects were flipped around, and we realized that it would be the perfect dress for fall and winter too. I couldn’t help but imagine it in plaids and tweeds.
Version 1 is the most obvious cold-weather option, with mid-length raglan sleeves and a barely flared skirt with small back kickpleat. So far, we’ve made it in wool flannel, raw silk (the emerald green version), rayon suiting (the plaid version), and wool tweed. All beautiful, warm, and great paired with thick tights and a sweater.
Version two is sleeveless, and uses bias tape to form simple and easy straps. The skirt is cut in six gores, for a smoother but still gently flared shape. We made this sample in a beautifully drapey black rayon, finished with metallic gold trim. I think this version would make a fantastic holiday dress, but it would also be great for those of you in the southern hemisphere. It works just as well in cotton lawn, voile, seersucker, or linen.
A return to feminine shapes
The other day, I was having lunch with a friend and we were discussing the fact that shapeless clothes are in fashion right now.
I admit that I don’t mind the occasional shapeless dress. I like comfortable clothes, after all, and a dash of androgyny does tend to liven things up.
But there is nothing quite like a pretty dress, one that’s designed to flatter curves and make you feel good about what you’ve got. When I said that I wanted to return to our roots, that’s what I had in mind – something pretty, ladylike, and most of all, classic.
Dahlia has an inset waist yoke, which is one of my favorite ways to play up curves. This type of styling was common in the late 1930s and 1940s, and lasted through the 1960s. It’s a feature that’s difficult to find in modern dresses, but I find it to be universally flattering.
The sleeves are cut in a raglan style, with a slightly loose fit that allows plenty of motion. Raglan sleeves have a diagonal seam from underarm to shoulder rather than a circular armhole with a set-in sleeve. In some ways, they are easier to sew and to adjust (no easing or sewing in the round!), though the fit is a bit different.
If you’re curious about sewing this type of sleeve, you’ll want to join the sewalong we have planned for next month. It will begin on November 3. I’m pretty keen to try some color blocking with this sleeve, myself.
The perfect dress for stripes and plaids
Without a doubt, my favorite versions of Dahlia so far have been the plaid ones we’ve made.
We specifically planned the design lines of Dahlia to work with stripes of all kinds, from the raglan sleeve to the inset yoke to the use of gathers instead of darts in most places.
If you want to try making either version of Dahlia in a plaid or stripe but are intimidated about matching, you’ll want to grab a copy of our little bonus pack on sewing it in striped fabric. There, I go over how to cut the pieces, plan your sewing, and match stripes and plaids throughout.
You’ll not only figure out how to sew this dress in plaid, I think you’ll come away with a better idea of the theory behind plaid matching for anything else you might want to sew.
This information will also be posted in a tutorial on the blog next week, but if you want, you can download it now.
When I showed Dahlia to a group of ladies from Modern Domestic (our local sewing studio) last weekend, our friend Lupine (co-owner of the shop) commented that she loved that there are no facings.
Yes, facings are often necessary and sometimes make finishing easier, but often they are just too fussy.
Both versions of Dahlia are finished with bias tape instead. If you’ve ever made our free Sorbetto pattern, you know that bias tape can be very easy to work with, faster to sew than a facing, and also really fun to make in different colors or patterns. But even if you don’t want to make it, there are a lot of fun options on the market these days.
Now in French and English!
One more piece of good news. We also have translated instructions for Dahlia in French, so if French is your preferred language, you can download the instructions and sew along more easily!
Whether you buy the printed or digital pattern, you can download the French instructions from us either way. We’ll also be translating some of our other popular patterns into French and releasing those very soon.
We’d love to translate into other languages as well, but we’re beginning with French because we have a great translator with sewing knowledge.
Get 15% off, now through Friday!
I’ve talked enough, so head on over to the shop and get Dahlia for 15% off through Friday!
I can’t wait to see what you guys make.
Model: Amie at Muse
Photos: Sarai Mitnick
Makeup: Hayley Miller
Hair: Brianna LeBlanc, Bandit Styling
Fabrics: Emerald green raw silk (v.1), plaid rayon suiting (v.1), black rayon with metallic bias tape (v.2), purchased locally
Styling help: Kristen Blackmore
Shoes: Vintage Ferragamos
Bag: Vintage Coach