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Liz’s Westcliff dress!

Hello everybody, my name is Liz and I am also known as @thebakerthatsews over on Instagram and Youtube. 

I am back today with another blog for the lovely Caroline and Fliss. When choosing fabric for my latest blogger make I had summer sunshine and comfort firmly at the forefront of my mind. As a Primary school teacher, particularly working in the Early Years, it is important I feel comfortable when at work whilst still remaining true to my style. As soon as I saw this tiger print cotton jersey my brain started to formulate a plan. The class I teach have a teddy that goes home each week which happens to be a tiger so it really felt like this fabric was meant to be!

The fabric is so wonderfully soft to touch and I love the tiger stripe detail too. Animal print seems to be a trend that is here to stay and it was nice to discover an animal print fabric that was different to the usual leopard print. As usual, the fabric came wrapped up in a neat little parcel tucked safely away in some tissue paper. You also get provided with a little swatch complete with care instructions too. The cotton jersey fabric has a burnt orange background and is perfect for tops and dresses. 

It is made up of 95% cotton and 5% elastane and is 145cm wide.

Initially I had planned to turn this beautiful fabric into a jumpsuit – in particular the Nasima jumpsuit from Sew Over It and I used a different cotton jersey fabric from Felicity Fabrics to try the pattern out first. However, after my first foray into making it up I realised there were a few tweaks needed to ensure the pattern fitted my body and decided instead to use this beautiful fabric for a different tried and tested pattern. 

If you follow me over on Instagram you will already know that my favourite garment to make is a dress! I knew I wanted to make something I could wear to work when it is warm but also out on a day trip with my family. I had a rummage in my pattern stash and remembered a recent favourite pattern ‘The Westcliff dress’ by Friday pattern company. It is a pattern that has been on my #Makenine list for this year so it seemed perfect. I was first inspired to make this pattern up when I saw the lovely Tamlyn (Sewn_on_the_tyne) version made up in a beautiful blue fabric. 

The Westcliff dress is described as an easy to sew dress specifically designed for knit fabrics. It is stylish and comfortable and features a faux wrap front, an a line skirt and an optional gathered lower tier. The pattern also includes a simple tie belt. It is the perfect dress for everyday wear and can equally be dressed up for a special occasion. There is also an option to sew up the pattern as a top too, I love it when there are multiple options for a pattern as you really feel like you’re getting the most out of the pattern.  

In terms of fabric recommendations, the Westcliff dress is perfect for knit fabrics of all kinds. You need at least 25% stretch and in the instruction booklet there is a stretch percentage guide included. If you choose a knit with more body, like a ponte, it will have a more structured modern look. If you sew it in a drapier knit, like a rayon jersey, it will have a more romantic look. For my version I have chosen a cotton jersey which has some drape but is not as fluid as a viscose or rayon jersey. 

Going off my measurements (bust 34 inches, waist 27 inches, hips 35 inches) I made a size small. They recommend you will need 2.6 metres of fabric if it is 137cm-152cm wide. I had two metres of fabric and was able to make the maxi version. I often find with pattern companies they suggest more fabric than you need and I often see it as a challenge to try to squeeze a pattern out of less material and was delighted I was able to make the maxi version using two metres of fabric. 

It comes in sizes XS (bust 32-33 inches, waist 24-25 inches and hips 34-35 inches) up to a 4X (bust 53-54 inches, waist 46-47 inches and hips 56-57 inches). There are also two bust size options: a B cup and a D cup. 

Once I had pre-washed my fabric and waited patiently for it to dry I was able to cut it out and get going with the construction. With every new project I always feel excitement at the thought of creating something new. I sewed most of the dress up using my overlocker which meant it was a quick and easy sew. I love Friday Pattern Company instructions as they provide lots of clear instructions and clear diagrams to help support your understanding in terms of construction. Friday Pattern Company also include little images with speech bubbles cheering you on as you progress through the booklet/instructions. For example, a little button saying “You’re doing great!”. Such a lovely little detail to include that makes you smile. 

The front bodice includes a yoke piece that attaches the front bodice to the shoulder seams of the back bodice. The yoke piece is gathered into the front bodice piece which creates some nice shaping. There are short sleeves and the front bodice is finished with a neckline binding piece. You are then instructed to baste the front bodice piece in place to create the faux wrap before constructing and attaching the skirt.  

There are two skirt length options – you can just add the a line skirt pieces or go for the additional ruffle tier. I love a ruffle so I added the bottom ruffle tier too. There is a pattern piece included to create a belt too. I prefer to insert waist ties so instead of attaching the two pattern pieces together to create one long belt I sewed them up as two separate ties and basted them in place at the side seams before attaching the skirt. 

Overall it was an incredibly enjoyable sew, the fabric was lovely to work with and it came together quite quickly. The fabric feels lovely and soft against my skin which means it feels like I am wearing secret but stylish pyjamas!  I can see this dress becoming a firm favourite in my summer wardrobe. 

There are plenty of jersey fabrics on the Felicity Fabrics website so do take some time to have a look at all of the wonderful fabrics and see which one you could use to create your own Westcliff dress. 

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