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Guest blogger – anna!

Sometimes I’m just in the mood to sew myself a summer dress out of the prettiest fabric I can find. I don’t wear dresses that often, but I’ve become much more converted to them since making my own and I really enjoy sewing them. The construction process of making a dress is so satisfying – so much time and focus goes into the bodice and neckline and then the side seams are sewn up and all of a sudden you have a finished dress! 

For this dress I used a pattern that I bought a while ago and have been wanting to make for ages, the Vikisews Nola Dress. This was my second time using a Vikisews pattern and the process went quite smoothly, although the instructions are all in Russian and google translate’s version of events was… odd! Either way, the pattern came with detailed photos for each step so I just followed those. I found out afterwards that the Nola Dress is one of the few patterns that Vikisews has translated into English, so I definitely kicked myself for having bought the Russian version!

Floaty fabrics are ideal for a dress like this, the design of the looser skirt that comes out below the bodice is so pretty and I don’t think that a cotton would do it justice. Because of this I knew that I wanted to use a viscose fabric. I’m always on the lookout for pretty viscose fabrics and I thought that a floral print would be perfect with this dress. Felicity Fabrics has a large range of viscose prints and I was set on this one as soon as I saw it, I could immediately picture the pattern and fabric paired together.

 Viscose has a reputation for being a slippery fabric that’s hard to sew with, but so long as enough pins are used I don’t think it’s much harder to handle than other fabrics. Also, any issues with the sewing process are definitely made up for by the fact that viscose drapes so nicely! The puff sleeves were one of the details that drew me to this pattern and they are held perfectly in place by the fabric. I’ve never sewn puff sleeves like these before but they were really fun to add on; there’s an elastic casing on the inside of the sleeve which adds a really neat finish too. I think the combination of elastic and gathers could be a little too much on a longer sleeve but with these short sleeves it feels just right.

As well as the sleeves, I really liked the back bodice details of this pattern. More specifically, I love the shirring panel. Shirring isn’t a technique that I’ve used much in the past and I was a little worried about how it would turn out. In my experience bad shirring can ruin a garment and I really didn’t want to destroy such lovely fabric! In the end I was pleasantly surprised at how simple the shirring was to do. I used this tutorial which explained it well and practiced on a fabric scrap before the real thing. One thing I’d recommend is to sew each row of shirring without cutting the thread at the end. I can definitely see how shirring can become addictive, I might be adding it to all my makes from now on!

This is a really small detail but I like the fact that the shirring panel doesn’t go all the way across the back. Instead, there is another panel on either side which provides a curved shape up towards the shoulders.

This dress has so many pretty details! There are three ways in which gathers are created: elastic on the sleeves, a drawstring at the neckline and gathering above the skirt. The gathers worked really well in this fabric and I love how they bring everything together.

I’m so pleased with how this dress turned out! Making five more of them is probably unrealistic in terms of how much I wear dresses but I’m very tempted to sew one in every colour. I think the bodice would be really pretty as a top tucked into jeans too.