Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to create a color block dress, starting with McCalls 5927

Color block styles always catch my eye. I seem to look at so many patterns as the possibilities for color blocking but it is not very difficult to adapt an existing pattern to make your own version. Recently I was writing a post for Craftsy and after rummaging in my remnants I came up with enough scraps of fabric to make this dress.

CB Front blog crop

It helps to be kind of short but this took very little fabric. I think there were some irregular cuts of the darker blue adding up to maybe 3/4 yard and then about 1/3 yard of the lighter blue. It is ponte knit so was about 60" wide but still - my final design was based purely on what I could do with the fabric.

Considering all that I am rather pleased with this dress. I don't have many items sewn with ponte knits, they are not really my favorite although sometimes the colors are great. And they don't show the wrinkles as this dress can attest. Shortly after finishing it I had to go to Sacramento for the day which is about an hour by car, plus it was scorching. That is the exact combo for lots of wrinkles but this dress made it through perfectly.

The details on how to adapt the pattern are all included in my post today on the Craftsy Sewing Blog so check it out if you want the details. I think it is one of my better explanations - I hope !
color block post for Craftsy

Here's a look at the back which has the same color blocking as the front. Argh, my camera drives me crazy. Does everyone else struggle to take photos for the blog or other places? And then have a zillion stupidly labeled photos in their computer which cry out for culling and organizing.  Project I never get to.

CB Back top blog crop

I started with this pattern which is a good one. It has different bodice fronts for the cup sizes but as a style with only waist darts I would be cautious with the larger cup sizes.  It has pockets in front (I have a sneaky feeling it is almost the same skirt block as this Butterick pattern. But I didn't want the pockets, mostly to conserve fabric so I changed the front to pleats and also changed the back skirt dart to pleats. I see this all the time on RTW dresses and it looks so cute plus HOW EASY to sew and look good on a variety of shapes. Note to self for future.  

McCalls 5927 pattern envJPG

Side seam color matching. If you're gonna do a color block dress the intersections have to match, right?

Color block Side seam view

And now a look at the dress on me. I don't like this photo but it was the best of a bad bunch. And it was still about 102 degrees in the shade at 6pm so no wonder, we were all feeling a bit limp that day. I actually think it is a bit tight but I was speed sewing to get the Craftsy post done. Although when I look in the mirror it doesn't seem tight. Photos can be so....informative (I was going to say cruel)

Color block on me 3

Back to the topic of patterns. WOW...........just wow.  So many great comments and lots of interesting opinions on traditional patterns, indy patterns, pricing, availability etc.  I will definitely write about this more in the coming months. Two things really stood out to me. First, now I know why people on vacation here in the US make a trip to the big box store to buy patterns at the US prices. Secondly, I can't believe that Simplicity patterns are so often unavailable outside the US. That is odd to me as they are really a basic here. In fact this morning I was looking at the Simplicity site (which is terrible, could it be any slower?) and I think I will try buying a PDF version just to see how it goes. Now my business side is driving me and I am really curious about this pattern marketplace, 

Thanks for all the comments and contributions to the discussion. 

Happy end of summer sewing (is it almost fall? that went fast)


  1. Wow! I love this dress and the colours

  2. Great marriage of a simple pattern, and colour blocking ~ looks great on you! Thanks for the details on how you whipped it up ... J

  3. Great colors!
    Why should one be careful if one has a large bust? (You mentioned this dress has "only waist darts".)

  4. ....as Jennifer said, love the dress and the colours but have to say how much I appreciate your blog Beth. You make some wonderful things and are incredibly talented. With all your knowledge and experience I wonder if you might be able to help or at least guide me in the right direction. One of the things I find most difficult is a. sourcing nice fabric and b. knowing all the different types of fabrics. I really like this pointe knit but have no idea what it looks or feels like - is there anywhere I can buy samples so I can become familiar with these? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

  5. so cute! Great tutorial! I love those colours together,

  6. I love the colors you chose for this dress! It's very pretty and it doesn't look too tight on you...at least from where I sit!

  7. This is so pretty! I love the color combo! And the fit looks really nice to me!

  8. It's a beautiful dress and a perfect fit. Great job!

  9. I often find myself thankful for being on the short side when sewing, it really does help with yardage! I still can hardly believe you made this out of such a small amount of fabric, though! It looks really wonderful, so cool and summery, but would also be very sharp with a blazer.

  10. Really cute! Great way to use up some big scraps of fabric. I always want to do that, but end up not knowing what to do and just saving them instead.

  11. I think this is a beautiful dress, wonderful job on the color blocking.

  12. Ok so if I color block its not really using a solid color, right? Its gaudy and wonderful. I want it!

  13. Super cute dress, have you ever tried it with the sleeves? I have had this pattern and wanting to try the long sleeves forever, but I just never seem to get around to it.

  14. What fun! Love what you did with this. I have this pattern, and am making a career dress for my daughter. Love the color block idea :)

  15. What a lovely dress! You did an amazing job!

  16. Beth, this dress is absolutely adorable! I bet you received tons of compliments when you wear it!

  17. I love the dress, and you always inspire me to branch out in new directions. One of those directions I've already taken, however, is the PDF version of Simplicity patterns. I don't like it. You have to install proprietary software, you can't use anything else to print it (which means you get the print quality they give you, and I really hate that I don't own the pattern without the installation of the software. I did it once for convenience, which turned out to be not so much, and I never will again.

    At least it's taught me to exercise patience...

  18. Those colors are fabulous together! And I think it fits quite nicely.

  19. (I think my comment got lost? Trying again...)

    If you need to rename a bunch of files, I suggest a program called File Renamer. It's sooooo handy and easy to use -- I highly recommend it. I got the basic (free) version from download (dot) cnet (dot) com. It's from Sherrod Computers, and the latest version is 6.3.


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