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Next Market: Seddon Makers Market | Sat 7 Sept | 9.30am - 3pm
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Ho-mei, Designer + Maker of Arrow Mountain sews with beautiful geometric Vlisco

Some sewing projects take a while to brew and you find yourself constantly thinking “What pattern should I pair this fabric with?” or vice versa. And then some just came to you in a flash. This is definitely the latter. At a stash-reviewing session, I held the fabric up against myself in front of the mirror, and immediately I knew it would be a shirtdress with matching red trims. It was like a lightning bolt struck me and from then on, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I managed to make it just a few days before the big holiday last year, so I’m calling it the Christmas Dress! =D
 
MAIN FABRIC
I'm not usually one who wears big, loud and colourful prints so I, too, was surprised at how much I wanted this beautiful Vlisco fabric when I first saw it. Something about the geometric pattern overlayed with bright whimsical shapes really spoke to me. After receiving the exciting parcel from Erin, I promptly pre-washed it and the colours remained as brilliant as new. The weight is perfect for something with a bit of structure, like shirts and shirtdresses. It is also crazily photogenic, so here’s some selected few close-up shots:
 
 
 
SECONDARY FABRIC
I cut a small piece of the main fabric and took it to the local Spotlight store to find something that matches the red colour in the Vlisco. After a long matching session that taught me how many dark reds there can be in the world, I settled on a ‘wine’ coloured broadcloth. I used it on the collar, button bands and pockets. It provides some relief to the print and they complement each other really well.
 
 
PATTERN
The pattern is the Isca Shirtdress by Marilla Walker.
Pattern illustration by Marilla Walker
With the interesting diagonal line on the front bodice and that signature Marilla-Walker fun and laid-back style, I didn't think twice before hitting the ‘buy’ button when the pattern first came out.
The fit was great on me (my measurements matches perfectly with what it was drafted for), so there is little else to say, except that I shortened the skirt to suit my height.
The instructions are simply superb. It was written in a conversational tone, that made me felt like I was guided by a friendly and knowledgeable teacher throughout the entire process. As someone who has sewn a few shirtdresses and still a bit nervous about sewing the collar, the instructions managed to soothe my nerve and taught me a few things. This is a pattern I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who’s looking to sew their first shirtdress.
BUTTONS
How can I not talk about buttons, right? I picked my own Bamboo Cardigan button because I know with the colourful print, everything else needs to be kept as simple as possible. With a minimalist round shape and a shank to its back, this button is perfect for the job. The bamboo colour also matches with the orange in the print, so that’s another win. I did however pick a different button for the collar - the Christmas Tree button - because, well, this is a Christmas dress!
 
NEXT TIME
A few minor things I’d do differently next time, like...
  • Instead of gathering the skirt, I would change it to pleats if I’m using a fabric with a bit of weight like this.
  • To shorten the pocket opening after I’ve shortened the skirt (significantly!). I forgot to do that and so the pockets now sit a bit lower than I’d like.
 
  • I added a waist tie to the dress after wearing it out on Christmas, because I thought it needs some waist definition. But looking at it now, it is probably not necessary.  
Top left: without waist tie; Top right: with waist tie – can’t really tell the difference, right?
 
EPILOGUE
The fabric is so beautiful I kept every scrap of the leftovers. I made some of them into one of my ‘riceball’ pincushion bracelets.

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