As we leave the ice-laden days of extreme winter freeze behind us for pastures green(-ish) and the dawn of the springtime warmth, you only have to walk into a shop to find that spring has definitely sprung on planet fashion. From the high street to the catwalk, attention has already turned to what’s hot for the approaching warmer months, and there’s not so many a cold sore on one’s lips as there is the topic of what to wear when it’s finally time to banish those jeans, boots and coats to the back of your wardrobe, once again, until the autumn.
Well, for inspiration, here’s a start: The floral printed dresses from Stella McCartney’s latest spring/summer collection, in upbeat hues of red, orange and blue, with pleats and cascading frills, straddled the catwalk at her show to the backdrop of a giant canvas with YES splayed across, in an equally bold colour scheme. This chirpy, optimistic theme resonated throughout the collection, particularly in the dresses, and will surely be a key look for the season ahead.
Cut two rectangles from your fabric, both 80×70cm. Concertina-fold them into pleats about an inch deep, pin them in place. Tack-stitch them in place and take the pins out, otherwise you’ll get pin marks heat-set into your pleats – sooo not a good look, honey!
With your fabric stitched together into pleats, cover it with your sheet of calico and iron it on maximum heat for a few minutes.
When your pleats have been heat-set, you then have to attach your fabric to your garment.
You can attach it at the top, just under the armhole.
Place your fabric across your garment, upside down, with the wrong side facing upwards, 1cm below where the armholes come to.You’re likely to notice that the top of your rectangles of fabric are somewhat wider than the close fitting top of your garment where you need to attach them. I solved this problem by folding certain of the pleats back on themselves, so that the edge of your fabric diminishes in width and is able to fit exactly onto the front of your garment.
Repeat this process with the back of your garment.
Attach your fabric at the sides using your bias binding.
Finally, finish off your hem by folding the bottom of your fabric up by 1cm, machine-stitching over it as close to the edge as possible and cutting away the excess fabric. Then fold your fabric over again by a tiny amount and stitch next to the edge again, as before.
And now, for the big frill…
Draw a circle on paper 64cm in diameter, and a circle inside it 31cm in diameter. You can do this by making a giant compass, using card, a ruler, a pencil and a scalpel or scissors. Simply draw around your ruler and cut out your new rectangle of card.
Pierce your card near the edge with your drawing pin, and, keeping your pin in, mark 15.5 and 32cm from it. Pierce in the centre of the card at each of these measurements and make a hole large enough for the tip of a pencil to draw through. Your new compass should look something like this…
Draw your 2 circles and cut them out, so that you have a pattern piece that looks like a large paper Polo mint.
Draft and cut out a similar circular pattern piece of a circle 2cm wider in diameter, so that it is 66cm in diameter on the outside and 31cm in diameter on the inside.
Pin onto your fabric and cut out each circle piece twice. Cut out a line from the outside of the circle to the inside, so that instead of circles you now have four long, curved pieces of fabric.
Sew each of the two circles to one another.
Again, finish off the lower edge by folding the bottom of your fabric up by 1cm, machine-stitching over it as close to the edge as possible and cutting away the excess fabric. Then fold your fabric over again by a tiny amount and stitch next to the edge again, as before.
Pin your frills together with the wider one underneath the narrower one, and sew your bias binding along the top.
Pin your frills, now attached to the bias binding along the top, folding the binding back and forth on itself continually around the garment so that the fabric attached to it forms billowing ripples like the ones on the original dress. Machine stitch it down, making sure the line of bias binding is straight.
…And after that rigorous procedure, you may feel like you’ve really been put through your paces, but the good news is you should be left with something that looks like this…