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Summer Shift Dress by Claire Eggleton

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The Fabric Fox Creatives is our way of collaborating and sharing the work of talented, crafty writers. Every few weeks we will share a guest blog from someone who has made something using our range of fabrics. Claire wanted to make a new shift dress for the summer and she has chosen the perfect tropical print to make it in!

One of the most satisfying parts of sewing your own clothes is when a fabric and a pattern find each other and work in unison. I was searching for the perfect fabric to make a replacement for my beloved ready to wear shift dress which has seen better days.

I knew that I wanted to replicate the dress as much as possible and found myself drawn to cottons with larger floral prints and was favouring purple and blue hues. Browsing The Fabric Fox offerings, I came across the lovely Sunset print which is part of the Rio collection from Alexander Henry fabrics and I knew I had found a match.

Sunset is a very difficult colour to capture on camera. I had originally thought it was a deep blue but it is actually a wonderfully deep purple. The tropical palm leaves are black and they repeat every 24 inches. The large areas of thin leaves means you don't have to worry about pattern matching - the seams just merge together - which makes using the print super easy. This shift features long French darts at the front and back. Additional shaping at the back provided by a couple of extra diagonal darts which feed into the French ones. I love that these are almost invisible amongst the leaves.

I traced the original dress to get the sizing. The French darts were easy to include but I couldn't work out how to include the diagonal back ones so added them once the dress was made. On closer inspection of the original, it is possible that the longer darts are actually seams with the diagonal darts included as part of the pattern but I'm still not sure. I made a change at the front and left out the bust darts.

The dress is very simple to construct. After stitching the darts, it is essentially the side and shoulder seams, a zip and hemming. The sleeves and neckline are finished with a fun daisy print bias tape - I do love a surprise party on the inside of an item! I inserted a lapped zip instead of the more expected invisible zip because, amazingly, in a drawer full of zips I couldn't find a single invisible one. I think I like the effect of the lapped zip over the original design.

I would make a couple of tweaks if I made another version. I think a small sway back or an adjustment to the back darts are needed to smooth out the crinkles at the back. I would also probably line the dress so it crosses seasons. The few extra centimetres I added to the length makes it more comfortable to wear in more formal settings. Having said that, I'm very pleased with how this dress came out. The fit is close but not restrictive and the purple is perfect for the warm summer days we've been enjoying.

Visit Claire's blog I Want To Be A Turtle where she explores the world of sewing. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for all the latest on her sewing adventures.

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