When the New Craft House girls announced the theme for their annual summer party – Italian Riviera – I panicked. Not because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make anything suitable, but because I already had THE PERFECT DRESS. A floor sweeping Flora dress with cute little extra off the shoulder ties made in that Dolce & Gabbana tile print fabric. I mean, it doesn’t get more Amalfi than that, right?! So why the panic? Well, I knew that other sewists would no doubt track down the very same fabric for their own frocks, and I’m afraid that I’m a huge outfit snob and the thought of showing up to a party in the same dress/fabric as somebody else is basically why I thought learning to sew would be a good idea in the first place. Even at 16 I knew it was not cool to have the same stuff as everyone else! When you sew, you get to be exclusive (by which of course I mean “one of a kind”, not someone who excludes others). You get to be that elusive fabulosity, wearing an unexpected creation that no one else has ever seen or dreamt of. Not so much when you go to a party full of only other women who sew…! The chances of running into someone wearing the same pattern or fabric as you is HIGH. That’s the only part I don’t dig. I told you I’m a snob.
But then my fabric godmother Josie heard my cry and swooped in just in time to let me know she was secretly plotting her very own exclusive fabric collection, and would I like early access to try it out?! The designs were stunning, and the only hard part was choosing just one to sample! The fabric arrived a week before the party – the viscose crepe of my dreams – and in true Cinderella style I was sewing the finishing touches just moments before running out the door.
When it came to choosing my dress’ design, I knew I wanted the fabric itself to really take centre stage, and I knew that I wanted to move away from my usual fitted bodice + full skirt look; mostly because I knew that would also be a popular silhouette given the Italian Riviera theme (supersnob). I opted for a variation on our Eloise dress. Drop waist – so the muted ochre tile print design of the fabric would be fully appreciate-able, extra sleeve frill and super swishy skirt – because y’know, and a braided tie belt – to give waist definition and add a dash of unexpected texture.
This was one of those dresses that came out even better than I could have hoped for! The colours and tile print of the fabric were perfectly suited to the theme, the fabric itself was a joy to sew with, wear and dance in, and my dress was truly one of a kind – even at a sewist party! Even better, this dress has seen multiple outings since, so I know she’s a real winner!
Josie has really nailed it with this fabric collection, and I can’t wait to see this side of her business grow and evolve. I’m predicting these designs will be an instant hit, so make sure you snap some up before it’s gone! Just don’t make the same dress I did…..! (Kidding! Ish…)
To make the braided tie belt:
• tear – don’t cut – three strips of fabric approximately 300cm long and 5cm wide. The torn frayed edges give great texture.
• knot the three strips together at one end and hook it up somewhere secure ready to be plaited – we’re going back to primary school friendship bracelet techniques here!
• plait the strips until you get to the end, and secure with another knot.