I’ve been doing a lot of general life organizing lately. After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing I’ve been going through my house bit by bit doing my best to toss out unessentials and learn to live with less. Sometimes it can be tricky getting rid of things but I hate clutter and I love organization so its usually worth it to have less stuff. Fabric, on the other hand is a different story.
Part 2 of the Malvarosa Dress by Pauline Alice is the version I made for my cousin. This inky print is so much fun, and so easy to accomplish! I think fun prints like this really liven up the simple, boxy silhouette of this dress.
All of the construction and fit details regarding this make can be found in my previous post (Malvoarosa Dress part 1). In an effort not to be repetitive, this post is going to be all about that print!
I could have easily left this dress in the plain white linen. It actually would have been a nice, classic look and the linen (from my stash) is really good quality. But y’all know me – I’m too messy to where white (coincidentally so is my cousin) and I have trouble seeing white fabric for what it is… all I see is a blank canvas! Besides when I was consulting with my cousin on her ideas for the dress she had mentioned a black and white print.
I’d been dye-ing (get it?!) over these inky prints I’ve been seeing in magazines and on the runway and I just had to give it a go myself. I find one of the most interesting things about fashion is the way trends carry over through different collections, individually interpreted by each designer. I also find it so interesting that many of the trends in print recently are highly attainable on the DIY scale. Ombre, paint splatters, painted stripes… I think it says a lot about todays consumer. We are drawn toward fashion that is more organic (in more ways than one!) Prints like these seem very attainable, and each garment feels a little more unique – not like they were bulk printed in a factory (even though they probably still were).
I also think its possible that these trends in print could be fashions response to the DIY movement. Designers are beginning to tap into our growing demand for all things hand-made. Granted, I know the painted prints you see on the runway weren’t actually painted onto the fabric. But it gives us that illusion of being more connected to the art/artist. I find it intriguing to dive a little deeper into todays trends in fashion.
- Black paint or Ink – I used this ink. I chose ink over paint because I didn’t want the color to make the fabric stiff in spots. I’m sure black fabric dye would work just as well – you’d have to experiment.
- White fabric – prewashed
- Plastic to cover work area
- A small cup, eye dropper, other “splattering” tools
- Weights if your working outside (to keep wind from blowing your stuff everywhere)
Step 1: Prepare your workspace. I’m not even kidding you guys.. this stuff gets EVERYWHERE. I put a big plastic tarp under my fabric and worked in the driveway and I was STILL finding ink splatters in random places. Use a large tarp or tape a bunch of trash bags together (unless your outside and just dont care about your sidewalk – we rent so I wasn’t taking any chances!)
Optional: I cut my pieces first before I dyed the fabric. You can really do it either way, but I cut first for two reasons: 1) I was making two dresses and wanted to cut both at the same time (second dress was getting a different dye technique). 2) I wanted to have a little more control over where on the body the splatters were going. With the pieces already cut, I could tell exactly what the final outcome would look like.
Step 2: Test it out. There was a LOT of trial and error involved in this project. I highly recommend having a scrap piece of fabric you can test on. You may even try using a wet scrap to see if it absorbs the ink differently. I had a problem with a little bleeding with my ink and think wet fabric may have helped. You also need to get a feel or the look you are going for. Experiment with your splatter tools. I used a small cup to create bigger splatters, and squirted right out of the bottle for more droplet-like splatters. You will want to try dropping ink from different heights, and even use eyedroppers or spoons to control the volume of ink that falls.
Step 3: Go for it! Honestly, I feel silly writing directions for this, there really is no right or wrong here. Have fun, pretend you are Jackson Pollock, and just see what works and what doesn’t. If it all goes wrong – you can always just dye the whole thing black! I do recommend waiting a few seconds in between splats to see how the ink will bleed and absorb into the fabric before adding more. I’d also use the quit-while-your-ahead method to avoid over doing it. You can always go back and add more later.
Step 4: Dry and Rinse and Wash and Dry. I didn’t want to take a chance of any of the ink bleeding onto the white, so I let my fabric dry before I gave it the necessary rinse. This is another thing you can probably test with your scrap first, as I think the fabric will stay truer to its texture if you rinse immediately after. Rinse in cold water till the water runs clear. Then wash & dry the fabric as you plan on washing the garment.
Thats it! You are ready to sew it up!! This technique also works great to rescue a stained white garment (trust me – I saved a silk top by giving it the splatter treatment!) Just begin by aiming your splatters at the stains, then go crazy.
Note: if you are doing this to a completed garment, make sure to put a plastic bag or something inside so whatever you do on the front doesn’t bleed through to the back!
This dress was another 2-for-1 off the sewing table. I made one at the request of my cousin for her Christmas/Birthday, and one for myself (conveniently we’re the same size!) I had a little fun with these dresses as I wanted to make them each different, so I cut them both out of white linen and experimented with a unique DIY dyeing technique for each one. In an effort not to make this a ridiculously long post.. I’m focusing on the version I made for myself in ombre yellow dyed with onion skins.
The pattern is by Pauline Alice and is available here. I have to say this dress is quite adorable. I’m really into the whole drop-waist situation lately, and y’all know how much I adore pockets! So throw some pockets into the seam of a drop waist dress and I’m one happy camper. I love the idea of an easy dress that you can just throw on with flats and run to the store or dress up with heels for a night out. Versatility + Comfort = A+ in my book! I’ve definitely been focusing on adding more items that fit this description into my wardrobe.
This was my first time sewing with a Pauline Alice Pattern and over all I was quite pleased. The instructions were very clear, I didn’t have to make any fit changes, and the pattern came together quite easily. The only change I made to the pattern was my usual dropping of the underarm – not something that would be necessary for everyone but I’ve started doing it to all my patterns lately because I’m such a spaz about a tight fitting underarm. Maybe I’ll do a tutorial on this at some point, yes?
The ombre dye using onion skins was something I’ve had in mind to try for a long time. Coincidentally enough, we use a lot of yellow onions at the restaurant… so I have an infinite supply of yellow onion skins. When I saw this technique on Maddie’s blog (AMAZING sewing blog if you’re not familiar with it) I just had to give it a try. I highly recommend this tutorial – actually a guest post by Argaman & Defiance – definitely check out their website for great products and inspiration. I’ve done a lot of research on natural dyes and this tutorial is one of the most straightforward, clear, and easy to follow that I’ve seen out there. I’m more than happy with the results and cant wait to try it again with other projects. Although I’d be hard pressed to use this technique to do a solid color – the ombre just looks so cool! I will say to let the fabric get WAY darker than you think you want – there is a LOT of color fading after you rinse (obviously you should do a test run too).
If I were to make another one of these dresses (which I very well might) the only thing I’d do differently is remove the little cap sleeve and make it a simple sleeveless silhouette. In the pictures the sleeve looks ok but in reality I feel its a little odd. It kinda reminds me of those military epaulettes – not quite enough to be a sleeve so it just sort of flops on the top of the shoulder. Maybe it’s just me. Its definitely not enough to keep me from wearing the dress. I even thought about changing it on the current version but decided that it didn’t bother me enough to go through the effort of fixing it. #lazysewerprobs
A few words on the little details: 1) I cut the pattern as is and took a 2″ hem – which I think is a little more than the pattern stated. I did this because I wanted the dress to be a bit shorter – I think it makes the loose fit a little more fun and youthful. I also just prefer a thicker hem – I feel it makes the skirt fall better, especially with thicker fabrics. 2) I love the in-seam pockets with the skirt gathers at the opening! Such an interesting touch. 3) I tried something different with the facings and ran the loose ends through my blind stitch machine instead of hand-tacking them down (more #lazysewerprobs). It obviously shaved away some time but it also makes the insides much nicer and secure. The only thing is that it shows through just a bit more than I’d like it to on the front.
Pattern: Malvarosa Dress – Pauline Alice
Fabric: White Linen – from stash
Notions: Thread – thats it!
Adjustments: Lowered Armhole, 2″ hem
Finishes: Serged edges, blind stitched hem
Time: Approx 2 hrs (not including dye time)
Sew it again? Yes! (But without the little sleeve cap.)