Blockprinted Catalina Dress
Blockprinted Catalina Dress
I started with Blank Slate Pattern’s Catalina Dress. I was originally drawn to it because I’m cheap when it comes to dresses, and I appreciate that this pattern requires very little in the way of fabric. For me, I’d way rather spend money on a 1 2/3 yards of fabric required for this vs. having to buy 3-4 yards of a poorer quality fabric required for so many dress patterns. If Liberty ever makes jersey in my color palette, this pattern will be the one I reach for.
As for pattern details, I love the cut on cap sleeves on this pattern. This kind of sleeve looks great on everyone and they’re so easy to sew. Also, the pockets are fantastic. Between the comfort factor and always need a place to stash my keys, a garment without pockets always makes me feel like I’m missing something. Surely I’m not the only one who has dropped keys on the ground because I was reaching for pockets that weren’t there.
For my version of this dress, I started with a lovely green knit I picked up at Mood in LA last year. If I remember correctly, it’s a rayon cotton jersey. It’s got a great smooth hand, but it’s a little sheer as jerseys can often be. Thankfully, I had a thin mesh knit in my stash to line the skirt, and I cut up an old camisole to line the bodice, sewing the straps into the seam allowance of each shoulder where they intersected.
The dress came together easily due to the great instructions. I changed a couple of things from the instructions.
First, I bound the neckline and armholes with strips of stretch lace. The pattern calls for bias tape, which would work great if you made this dress with a woven. I chose the stretch lace because it was the perfect color and because bias tape would have shown from the right side due to the sheerness of my particular jersey.
I also waited to trim the seam allowance on the waist seam until after I sewed the casing (which I sewed onto the bodice, not the skirt per the line drawing). Because I lined my dress, I was dealing with 2 extra layers of bulk, and I wanted to give myself more of a chance to actually catch all of the layers in the casing when I formed it by stitching from the right side. This worked out well.
On the pockets, I sewed 4 rows of topstitching, two rows of straight stitches inside of 2 rows that used my asterisk stitch on my Janome. I like the added texture of the asterisk, and it plays into the pattern for my blockprint.
I chose to print my dress after I sewed it. I figured it would save me time in pattern matching across seams. I also had plenty of fabric leftover since this dress requires so little fabric, so I wanted to have unprinted yardage for other projects.
I carved a stamp of a jack from a small linoleum scrap and my Speedball cutters.
For printing, I set up a card table with a layer of old towels covered with a vinyl tablecloth for my printing surface. I stuffed the dress with strips of cardboard between the lining and the jersey. I painted white screenprinting ink with a small paintbrush onto the stamp to print each jack. I set a yardstick across my dress from left shoulder to the right hem corner as a guide then printed the jacks at 3″ intervals on either side of the yardstick. I offset each row so that a jack was roughly in the middle of the two jacks in the adjacent row. I kept moving the yardstick around the dress to get the successive rows, stopping for drying time as needed. I heat set the ink with my iron without steam.
The cardboard helped me get nice clear impressions. As a kid, I painted a lot of t-shirts with cardboard t-shirt forms and I always loved how the cardboard kept the fabric nice and stable as you worked.
The clarity got off in a few places, like the waist seam where there’s extra bulk, but for my first go at really printing on jersey, I’m happy with how it turned out.
Mostly, I love how comfortable and girly this dress is. Why, oh, why haven’t I sewn more summer-friendly dresses like this?! And I’m so glad I decided to line it. It’s so nice to be able to grab a dress, toss on a scarf and go without having to bother with finding a slip/making sure that the slip doesn’t show/fiddling to get the slip to lay right etc.
Here’s my Catalina Dress review.
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Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.
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What an adorable dress! I'm going to have to buy that pattern!