May 07, 2019

Tips and Tricks for our Sundress Boxes, plus a Belize Stripe Tutorial!

It's that time again! We've rounded up all the helpful sites on the internet so you can make the most of your Sundress Boxes. Plus, I've created detailed instructions on how to create the hexagonal design on my Centaurée dress, so you don't have to suffer the headache I did. So, without further ado...

Only two sewalongs this month, but we do have a great guide to hacking the Kew Dress as well as some fitting tips for the Fiona Sundress. In fact, that one is an ebook that you can download and use for all your princess seam sewing. We've also included a super handy video on how to install snaps with the tool we included. Check out the links below:

Kew Dress Hacks   Centauree SewalongWebster Sewalong   Fitting the Fiona Sundress

Ok, now that you've got the links, let me tell you how I put together my Belize Stripe Centaurée Dress. I'll be honest; I made this dress twice because the first time I didn't like the way the stripes lined up. In my head, I was thinking that every thing would come together on the bias, like I had done with other stripe matching, but because the bodice is made of six pieces, not two, the math changed.

If you remember from geometry class back in middle school, all the central angles of a hexagon add up to 360°, meaning that each angle is 60° for a hexagon with equal side lengths. You can check out the diagram.

If you're like me, and you didn't remember this, you muddled through by hand drawing the lines on your pattern pieces then moving them until they fit properly then got the end of it and looked down, saw it was a hexagon and said, "Oh, duh, math!"

And now that I had remembered the math, it made it much easier how to tell other people how to sew this dress. So, let's begin. 

*** Before cutting your fabric, make sure the bodice fits you. There's no room for fitting on the fly with the stripe matching. ***

The pattern comes with three pattern pieces for the front bodice. Each has a prescribed grainline that run perpendicular to point of the hexagon, but obviously, this had to change so that the lines would match up. 

I started with the center piece, pattern piece #2. I took this piece and lined up the grainline with the vertical stripes. This way, I knew the stripe would be run vertically down the side of my body.

I played around with where to place the point of the pattern piece. This is totally up to you, depending on what type of design you want. For example, if you want a large blue hexagon in the middle, without any orange in the center, then you place point at the edge of the blue. 

I knew that I wanted the thinner set of stripes to frame my bust, giving the illusion of narrowness. So I placed my center point 1.5 inches from the line dividing blue from orange. I drew the line on the pattern piece, parallel to the original grainline.

At this point, I lined up my pattern piece with the fabric, and drew the rest of the lines on the pattern piece, every time a color changed. For the smaller stripes, I marked the center of the lines. Turns out that the blue stripe is 4 1/4" wide, and each small stripe is 3/8" apart. The pattern piece ended up looking like this:

Now, it came time to match the other to pieces. First, I marked the stitch line on all the pattern pieces. I did this because you want the stripes to match at the stitch line, not the edge of the pattern piece. For this pattern, 5/8" seam allowances are included, so I marked those on the pattern pieces.

On pattern piece #1, the top of the bodice, I folded the seam allowance back so that I could match stripes at the seam line. I made a small mark on the pattern piece where the center line matched.

Now the hardest part. And, full disclosure, you're going to need a protractor. I lined up the protractor with the original grainline laterally, then moved it until the point I had just marked lined up with the 60° mark. And I marked a new grainline. Now all the lines will run 60° from the original grainline. 

After this, I repeated the same step from the first pattern piece. I placed it on the fabric, and marked the rest of the lines.

You could also simply measure out the line, using the measurements from above. And I ended up with a pattern piece that looked like this:

I repeated the same procedure with the third pattern piece, folding away the seam allowance, matching the center line, and measuring the 60° angle. The last pattern piece ended up looking like this:

For the rest of the dress, I played around with the stripes as well. I decided to cut the back piece on the bias, which meant that instead of cutting on the fold, I added a center back seam (and seam allowances to the piece) so that it looked like this:

And finally, for the skirt, I cut it on the cross grain so that the stripes would run vertically instead of horizontally. I also added a hem band. This was a simple process: I shorted shortened the skirt by the width of the stripe band I wanted (in this case the five smaller stripes, plus the surrounding white) and straightened the hem, as the original is slightly curved. Then I created a new pattern piece which was just a long rectangle matching width of the stripes. I added seam allowances to both the hem band and the bottom of the skirt, and voila, a new hem design.

When I finally set to cutting, everything was pretty straight forward. Line up the lines on the pattern pieces with the corresponding lines on the fabric, and cut. And I've included an extra yard of fabric in each box to accommodate the stripe matching.

When sewing, I pinned each stripe at the stitch line so that I knew the stripes would match. In some places, I had to fiddle a tiny bit, shifting the fabric by a 1/16" or so, but nearly everything lined up perfectly. And that's it. The hardest part is the preparation, but after that, it's surprisingly easy. And wonderfully impressive-looking!!

I hope I explained the process well enough, but please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at all. I'm here to help!! Also, if you're interested, I can send you the pre-marked pattern pieces to subscribers if you don't want to measure. These are cut for a size 38 but could be applied to other sizes. These are scaled properly so all you have to do is print them out. Just email me and I will send them along.

Until next time,




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Start Building a Handmade Wardrobe

We bundle modern patterns, drool‑worthy fabrics and all the notions you’ll need — then deliver them straight to your door each month.

Choose a subscription box