Color-blocking a wild print into submission

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When it comes to fabric, I am not a big fan of prints. Yes, I love the way they look on others (the wilder, the better!) but on me? Not so much. Yet, my wardrobe needs a few prints to make it more interesting. After all, one cannot live on a diet of solid fabrics alone!

But for a shrimp like me, finding the right print can be challenging. I’m often attracted to prints that overwhelm my smallish frame. The fabric I used on this dress is a perfect example of my exuberance when it comes to color and pattern. When I saw this blue printed linen at Fabric Depot, I could not take my eyes off it. Yes, I’m a blue fanatic, and this was the most lovely shade imaginable.  Of course, the fabric jumped right into my shopping cart and made its way home with me.

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But when I draped the printed linen on my mannequin, I could not believe how bold and busy it looked. A serious case of buyer’s remorse! The blue was so bright! And those floral designs seemed to be swimming all over the place! I couldn’t imagine the fabric would ever work on  me.

But, I couldn’t bear to  part with it either. So, color blocking…to the rescue!

I’ve always been fond of wearing black with blue, so I draped black linen over the blue print, and, hallelujah, to my eye, it tamed that wild fabric down.  So, I went for it.

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The pattern I used is a Tried and True, Vogue 8840 (also seen here). I lengthened the tunic version by 6” to make it dress length. (The tunic itself is already pretty long on me, so it doesn’t take much to make it a dress.)  I cut the short sleeved version.

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Color blocking modifications:

Cutting: For the color blocked pieces in the front, I cut one piece of white linen that was six inches wide and the length of the center seam of the dress. I also cut two black strips, the same length as the white piece, but only  3” wide.

Application: After sewing the center front seam on the dress, I pinned on the color block strips, using the center front seam as my guide. The white strip was centered on that seam, and the black pieces were edge stitched to each side of the white strip. After I did that, I added a bit of trim that I had in my stash on the seams of the color blocked pieces to make them pop a bit. I also added a black linen band to the bottom of both of the sleeves to pull the color theme together.

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Once the color blocked strips were sewn on, I finished the tunic according to the standard instructions.

The linen was a dream to sew on, and it breathes even when the air is hot and thick. And the pattern? There is a reason it’s one of my tried and trues. It’s so easy to modify and it fits well. My color blocked dress is still pretty bright for me, but at least its wearable. And I had so much fun playing around with the fabric on this one!

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Happy summer, happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

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I love sewing, writing, baking and fashion design. Welcome to my blog!

6 thoughts on “Color-blocking a wild print into submission

  1. Thanks! In the future, I need to take the time to drape printed fabrics on myself in front of the mirror at the fabric store before buying 🙂

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  2. What a good solution for dealing with the print. The overall shape suits you well, and the colorblocking really balances the print. I hear you on scale. I’m so drawn to giant prints like you find in Marimekko, but the scale would be preposterous on my frame. I begrudgingly leave those awesome fabrics to my home and snatch up any small (but not too small) fabrics. The scale of this seems perfect for you!

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  3. Thanks! I know what you mean about those lovely giant prints! I stopped at a fabric store today, and made myself drape a swath of fabric on myself in front of a mirror because I loved the print, but wasn’t sure….I’m glad I did. I ended up leaving it behind (sigh). Oh well. There are so many lovely fabrics out there, it’s easy to find a new one to fall in love with…

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