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Jess’ Denim Patchwork PLum Dress!

Hi everyone! My name’s Jess and I’m delighted to have been chosen as November’s guest blogger for Felicity Fabrics. 

Something I really love creating is patchwork; chopping up and sewing together all sorts to make a whole new garment. So far, I’ve made patchwork style dresses out of bandanas, cotton fat quarters and old band t-shirts. Denim has always been on the list to try, but thus far I just hadn’t gotten around to it. This felt like the perfect opportunity to make the denim patchwork dress of my dreams into a reality! 

I chose a classic mid-blue denim for this project, perfect for an autumn dress which could also see me right through winter with some savvy layering and back into spring! When the fabric arrived, it was beautifully wrapped in tissue paper and packaged carefully in a cardboard box. There was also a swatch card with all the details of the fabric, which is a really nice and thoughtful touch and made the package feel really special. 

I love smock dresses, particularly oversized and midi length. For this, I decided to try the CocoWawa Plum Dress. It has recently been extended and is now available in sizes UK 6 – UK 36! This was my first time using this pattern and I’m absolutely loving the end result. The instructions were nice and clear and it was incredibly easy to follow. The fit is exactly as I’d hoped it would be and I can see it becoming an absolute staple in my wardrobe! For this dress I lengthened the skirt and I’m so glad I did as I now think this will be a perfect transitional piece for winter! 

If deciding to make a patchwork dress out of denim wasn’t ambitious enough, I also decided to have a play around with bleach dying. In order to make my ideas work, I cut the pattern two sizes bigger than my recommended size. This would give me the extra fabric required to cover the allowances for all those seams! 

Once I cut the main pattern pieces, I then took a quilters guide and some chalk and marked out all the squares and patches. From there, I decided which pieces I wanted to bleach. It’s really important to keep track of what pieces go where, so I made sure I could leave the cut pieces laid out somewhere safe for the whole process. I also took a photo of it all laid out so I could see exactly where each piece came from. For the bigger pieces, like the skirt panels, I used the ‘mark up’ function on my phone to number each piece in order to keep track. Fun fact – the entire dress was made up of 109 pieces!

Once I chose the pieces I wanted to bleach, I filled a bath about ¼ of the way with water and maybe about half a bottle of regular old household bleach. I didn’t measure, so just went with about what felt right. I made sure I was wearing gloves and had the windows wide open for ventilation. I dyed the pieces in stages – as you can see some of the pieces are much lighter than others. I tried not to be too perfect about the whole process as I wanted a super relaxed, casual style dress. If it was too regimented, I’d have driven myself mad trying to make sure it was perfect.  

After this, I made sure to rinse out the pieces really well before drying them on the radiator which didn’t take long at all. A couple of hours later it was time to get sewing! 

I wanted a really distressed, almost rustic feel for this dress, so I decided to make a feature out of all the seams by having them on the outside. (I can’t tell you how many seams I had to unpick as my sewist brain kept automatically put right sides together!). Because of the fraying that naturally comes with denim, the seams should get more fluffy and beautiful with each and every wash. I also decided not to hem the sleeves or skirt for the same reason, which made the lazy sewist in me very happy! 

I’m so chuffed with how this dress turned out and I’m super proud of myself for taking all the risks! This fabric from Felicity Fabrics was a total dream to work with, it sewed up beautifully and because of this, the patchwork dress of my dreams at last became a reality!