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A Summer Dress for Shelley

Collaborative Designing

Our ArtBarnTeam are experts at pointing out special fabrics that sometimes go unnoticed. After all, they are working with our fabrics all day, touching, cutting, folding and moving bolts around. We brainstorm design ideas, always have more ideas than time. It is supposed to be a hot summer ahead, so cool light dresses and tunics seem like a good idea for sewing right now.

Last week Shelley pointed out a couple of her favorites fabrics to pair together, our Lost Horizons French Viscose and Clarinet Stripe Linen, both beautiful but rather ‘quiet’ fabrics. When I saw the two together knew it was a winner. A good thing, we both had a strong intuitive sense, a BIG YES to this combination, we decided to make it happen. The fabrics are compatible, both have a lightness, the viscose has a light crepe weave, fabulous drape and the linen is semi sheer, and both FEEL good to the touch.

Next, the question of what pattern to choose. Vogue 9112 , AKA ‘the Cirque’ dress seemed like the perfect choice. Shelley wasn’t sure about it (I was), but she was certain that she did not have the time to sew it. All summer she helps her son with his very active river rafting business, Liquid Expeditions, based out of her home, plus she has her own design business, On The Wind Prayer Flags.

We put out a call to our friend Nellie, who used to make costumes for the San Francisco Opera to see if she would sew the dress. She said yes and came right over. We collaborated about size, details fit etc. Nellie went home and made the dress the next day. Luckily she had already made a version for herself so she was familiar with the construction. This time it took her 11 hours, and she delivered it immediately.

I was thrilled, just right.

When Shelley tried it on she was elated.

Everything worked, the viscose crepe is perfect, takes well to the volume of the dress, has a beautiful drape and, here are the results....

Shelley's Version


Sewing/design details:

  • Size 12 pattern right out of the envelope.
  • 1 yard of the linen stripe to allow enough to cut the collar, lower band and bias.
  • 3 yards of the French viscose for the body of the garment
  • The only fitting change was to narrow the shoulder seam as Shelley has narrower shoulders. I took a guess at ½ inch and it was just right.
  • We loved the light semi sheer linen stripe, just had to figure out how to make the most of it.
  • Narrowed the collar depth by half, used the linen in a single layer.
  • Edged the front curved seam with ½ inch finished bias.
  • Used the linen for the lower back piece, single thickness with a 1” hem all around.
  • If you want to lengthen this dress it is easy to add at all the hem edges, just follow the line of each piece to keep the shaping. I've lengthened it as much as 8-9 inches.
  • The Cirque dress works in both woven and knit fabrics, and would work in a combination of both. I can see using a knit for the entire garment os using a stripe or dot knit for the collar, edging and lower hem detail as we have used the striped linen in this version.


The video gives a taste of the conversation and collaboration with our ArtBarn team.


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