First of all, anyone who knows me well knows I am an animal fanatic. I absolutely adore animals and for a large portion of my life, I’ve been completely obsessed with big cats. This fabric caught me off guard as I was casually strolling through my local fabric store and I quickly grabbed the bolt hoping that no one saw it and wanted it too. Don’t get me wrong, I love to share but I could tell there wasn’t much on the bolt. There was only 1.5 yards left so of course I took it all.
A week or so passed and as I was looking at Insta stories from all you inspiring makers, I stumbled across Sylvia from The Ravel Out doing a little fabric haul. As a fellow fabric addict, I tuned in immediately and surprise! She just got the very same fabric from Blackbird Fabrics! It is a Telio Fashion polyester crepe and just in case it is sold out on Blackbird Fabrics by the time you read this, here is a link to the same fabric on Fabric.com. I messaged Sylvia with interest to do a collaboration and being the sweetheart she is, she agreed without hesitation. We decided to make 2 different summer dresses using the same fabric.
So remember how I only had 1.5 yards? I knew I would have had to make a mini dress and that was not my heart’s desire. I mustered up some faith and headed back to the fabric store hoping by some miracle that they would find an extra bolt in their store room. I don’t know what kind of magic I worked that day, but there it was in all it’s glory, a fresh new bolt of cheetahs staring at me. I picked up another 2.5 yards so now I had a total of 4 yards, enough to whip up a flowy maxi dress.
I had recently received the True Bias Southport Dress in a pattern haul from The Confident Stitch. I had a gift card from them and decided than instead of fabric, I would get my very first Indie paper patterns. I knew I needed to make a muslin of the bodice since my body has changed so much lately and I am just learning to make different alterations than I was used to previously. You guys….. I made 2 muslins from scrap fabrics and made the bodice from my actual fabric 3 times! Thank goodness I had 4 yards!
My body measurements put me at size 14 but after reading tons of reviews and looking at the finished garment measurements, I went down to 12. The bodice is drafted for a C cup and I wear a D cup but the muslin showed that there was ample room and I had no need to do an FBA. Here’s what went wrong with the million muslins. I should have made the first one from my actual fabric since it behaves very differently to the scrap fabric I used. My scrap fabric muslin had an extremely low cut top and large armholes. I messed with the shoulders and folded out some from both the back and front bodice pieces straight across from arm scye to arm scye. When I cut this version from my actual fabric, It appeared I had folded out way too much. The second muslin, I started from scratch, folded out less, and tried to use a fabric that was closer to my fabric type. When I made that version out of my actual fabric, all was going well until I added the bias binding to the neckline and armholes. I quickly realized that my bias binding was way too stiff for my crepe fabric and caused the armholes to be super tight and uncomfortable. For my final bodice, I folded out 1/2 inch across the back bodice, did a 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment and took up the shoulders 1/4 inch. This time, I used my bias binding maker from Amazon to make lightweight cotton bias binding from some navy scraps. And finally, my bodice fit perfectly! Phew! I also used the bias binding maker as an extra hand to fold my drawstring and it worked amazingly. What have I learnt? Next time make a muslin from the identical fabric type!
For the skirt portion, i shortened 2 inches (next time I would do 1 or 1.5, I like my maxis touching the floor). I graded from 12 at the waist to 14 at the hips and I am convinced that the finished hip measurements on the pattern envelope are way off! Next time I will grade down to a 10 at the waist and back to a 12 at the hip. There is a lot of excess fabric so I keep having to slide it around the drawstring as I wear it. What I love most about the skirt are the front slit and side seam pockets!
I swapped out the buttons for silver ring snaps and added little heart beads that say ‘love’ to my drawstring. I stole them from a bracelet making kit I had in my craft box. And although they sit sideways, I still think they are pretty cool and match the silver snaps perfectly! During my photo shoot, hubby had quite a laugh saying he’s never seen cheetahs on the beach. 🙂 Oh well! I love big cats and I am an island girl, it is what it is! Fashion has no rules, wear what you want, when you want, where you want! Especially if you made it yourself!