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Ellie’s bloomsbury Dress!

For this blog I wanted to take step out of my minimalist comfort zone. I usually lean toward clean lines, neutral colours and low fuss, but this Fuchsia Cheetah Viscose called to me!

This fabric lends itself perfectly to a bit of drama. It’s a beautiful shade of pink – not *too* bright – which is balanced out by the black cheetah print. As it’s viscose, it has fantastic drape, with a little weight that holds a gather and shaping well, it would be perfect for dresses, blouses or boujee PJs alike. 

I knew I wanted ruffles to feature heavily in the final garment and the Nina Lee Bloomsbury Blouse, with its high collar and yoked bodice, seemed like a perfect starting point.

I’ve previously made a Bloomsbury Blouse, which made the next step of hacking it into a dress much easier. I used my existing blouse to check the sizing, which was a size 12 and mostly fine, but I cut each pattern piece a millimeter wider for a touch more room. 

The back bodice needed some tweaking, as the original pattern features a button-down back, but I wanted a center-back zip for this dress version. Using my existing blouse, I measured the total back width to work out how wide my back pieces needed to be, leaving enough seam allowance for the zip and ease for comfort. I settled on cutting to the first placket line which turned out to be perfect. I didn’t make any changes to the back yoke – after measuring the seam allowance and ease, it lined up perfectly with the new bodice piece. 

I then moved on to cutting the correct waist length. There was nothing scientific here, I simply tried on my existing blouse and folded where it looked *about right*! Whenever I crop a blouse to waist length, I always curve the seam to add an extra inch of length at the centre front and back – this helps it to sit level when worn.

I also added waist darts for shaping since I’m not using an elasticated waistband. Once I’d constructed the bodice, I tacked in the zip and tried it on, pinching out roughly where, and how deep, I needed the front and back darts – again, very scientific! I transferred this to the wrong side of the fabric using tailors chalk, making sure the darts were an even distance from the centre front.

I made a couple of other tweaks to the bodice details to slightly tone down the drama. I halved the depth of the yoke ruffle took 1.5cm off the height of the collar. For comfort, I cut and spread the sleeve to add an extra inch of width.

The skirt was constructed of two simple rectangles. The main skirt was cut to the width of the fabric and gathered into the bodice. The second tier was 2x the width of the first. My amount of fabric dictated the length of the skirt – I’m usually one for a midi-length, but I think this knee length perfectly balances the dress.

Once bodice, sleeves and skirt were attached and all the seams finished and pressed, I overlocked the whole length of the centre back then inserted the zip. For a neat finish, I attached the collar after the zip so that it could encase the end of the zip tape. Instead of the buttonhole finish of the original blouse I opted for a hook-and-eye to finish the collar.

I’m so pleased with the final garment. It’s the perfect maximalist dress for a minimalist. The Bloomsbury Blouse (currently available sizes 6-20 / 47.5” hip) is a great pattern to experiment with hacking as it has so many details that can be tweaked to your preference. The Fuchsia Cheetah Viscose was perfect for this project, it was nice and stable to sew with but has such beautiful drape and the finished result feels like a luxury garment.

Thanks for reading!