Tuesday, February 7, 2017

African Wax Print Maxi Dress

For the month of January, the members of the Mood Sewing Network were given the opportunity to work with an African Wax Print, also know as Ankara fabric. I've never looked too closely at these fabrics. They come in such big quantities, and I've not needed 6 yards of anything for a garment, so I skipped right by them. When asked, though, I thought - why not? It might be fun to work with a new-to-me fabric. I chose the Gold and Dark Navy Waxed Cotton with Gold Metallic Foil, the one with the foil leaves. There is also the same colorway with peace signs in foil instead, if that is more your style. I did a ton of searching through google images and even created a board on my Pinterest account of garments made in this type of fabric. What I really wanted was a jacket and fitted pants combo, but I wasn't sure where I'd wear it, so decided on a maxi dress instead. I got out all my fabric hog patterns to choose from, in order to use as much of the yardage as possible.


I chose McCall's 6749, which was released in 2013 and is now out of print. I always loved all the lace trim incorporated into the design, but actually finding the right shade was pretty difficult. I bought 10 yards of white lace from my local fabric store and set about dyeing it the blue color in my print. It turned purple instead. I swear, I have the worst luck dyeing things. I should just give up. After the botched dye job, I decided to buy a few 1/2 yard trims from Mood to see if any of them would be suitable. (They don't swatch their trims and this is the smallest increment available.) This Powder Blue Crochet Trim was a perfect match, and I bought an additional 9 yards. There are a few other colorways on Mood's site, including navy and red. I highly recommend them. The rayon and cotton content enable it to be ironed along curves and it presses beautifully.


I cut a size 12 in the bust and tapered out to a size 14 from the waist down. After trying it on, I further narrowed the side seams from the underarms to about half way down the bodice by an inch in total. This design has a really narrow waist seam, and I have a very square body shape. This was not a difficult pattern to make, but attaching all that trim was definitely time consuming. Both the fabric and the trim behaved and pressed nicely, and I had a lot of fun sewing my dress.


I did end up using the entire 6 yards since the pattern of the fabric is so large and I was trying to match it up both horizontally and vertically. I also wanted to avoid having any of the "bullseyes" in a weird spot. As a result I was only able to cut 3 of the 4 panels for the lower ruffle. I was a little afraid that the body of this fabric would cause the ruffle to stick out strangely, so I probably would have opted for a narrower ruffle anyway.


I shortened the bodice by 1" and the hem by 1", but it is still pretty long. I've got on my super tall wedges in these pictures. I may go back and make the hem a little shorter so that I can wear flats instead. I only have a fuss factor of 1, so if I have to keep my skirt out of my way while I'm going about my day, I can't be bothered to worry about tall shoes as well. Lol.

Dressform pictures:




The reason the back bodice looks a bit askew is because my right shoulder is higher then my left. When I make these kinds of dresses I adjust the length of the straps accordingly.


Before cutting into the fabric, I washed it and dried it in my machines. Texas is hot in the summer and I get sweaty. All my casual clothing must be machine washable. Nothing happened to the fabric as far as I can tell. It did not soften up nor shrink, and the gold foil looks exactly the same as before I washed it. Wearing this dress for half the day when these pictures were taken did not produce any wrinkles either.


I made fabric straps the width of my trim and sewed them to the bodice first, then covered with the trim all in one pass. I wasn't sure just having the trim to hold up a dress with this long of a skirt was a good idea. I also sewed the straps 1.25" closer to the side seams so that they would cover my bra. I still get a little peak of bra here and there (see the first picture for evidence), but honestly I just can't be bothered to wear a strapless bra with a casual dress. I used a white invisible zipper for the back closure. A gold colored zipper probably would have worked better but the white one I had on hand so I just went with it.


This pattern calls for a full lining but long skirts are already hot in my area. Adding a lining just makes it hotter. The fabric is mostly opaque, but I probably won't be standing in front of any stage lighting while wearing it. I did line the bodice, and I used a white sheeting fabric purchased from Hancock fabrics years ago. I've lined other cotton garments with it over the years, and am sad to now be completely out of it. I topstitched the seams of the bodice lining down so that when I wash this dress, no inside seams will flip up under the lining.


Of course this dress is totally out of season, but I couldn't see the fabric as anything besides warm weather clothing. And although it is currently pretty mild outside and my children are all in shorts today, I still try to dress in clothing appropriate for winter. I'm putting it in the back of my closet with my other summer clothing, and will dig it out when I do my seasonal wardrobe migration.

Note: Both the bodice fabric and the trim were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

40 comments:

  1. Amazing Amanda Strikes Again!!!! Love it!!!

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  2. 2 thoughts. Would adding bra keepers help keep the dress straps over your bra? You could paint the zipper pull with nail polish if you want it to matcha bit more.

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    1. Ok, loving your suggestions!!! Duh on the bra keepers. Sometimes I don't think about obvious solutions to problems. I did think about painting the zipper pull, and will probably do it if I can remember to look for the right color. Thanks for chiming in!

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  3. Nice! I've had a look at these prints but so far haven't found one that I think is 'me', though I love all of the ones I see on others.

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    1. I had a hard time deciding on one too. The largeness of the prints threw me as I usually don't work with such big prints. I hope you find one that is 'you'. It is a unique fabric to have in one's wardrobe. Thanks Anne!

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  4. I had no idea you could only purchase this type of fabric as 6 yard pieces and I'm surprised you used it all, but I hear what you're saying about being careful with pattern placement. The end result is great, love the trim, don't forget all about this dress by the time summer comes!

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    1. Lots of the looks I found on image searches had matching children's clothing to take advantage of having so much yardage. I really do wish they came in shorter lengths so they could be color-blocked or pattern-mixed. Oh well, it must be a cultural thing. Thanks Allison!

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  5. So pretty, Amanda. All your hard work really shows. I can't dye either! and find it frustrating. Nice to hear this didn't wrinkle, I've always assumed that a wax print would tend to do that. This is so cute on you, summer beckons...

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    1. It doesn't help that I see all these people online dyeing things left and right and having some really neat outcomes. All I ever do is ruin my fabric/trims. And yes, nary a wrinkle in sight. This fabric is a bit stiffer then I usually go for, so it's a tradeoff for sure. Thanks Coco!

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  6. Amanda! This is gorgeous! And a very stylish way to deal with African wax print. Love seeing other people's take on this kind of fabric. And as usual, the care and thought you put in all your garments is exquisite.

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    1. Thank you Merche! Stay tuned for a little contest that Mood is hosting featuring all the wax print garments on their Facebook!!

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  7. This is just so stunning. I pored over these pictures like a stalker! If I'm ever near you in Texas, watch out, I won't be able to help myself!

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    1. Yes, you need a dress like this in your closet. It has your name all over it. Not this dress, mind you. Hands off!!

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  8. Wow! This is so cool, Amanda! The colors actually do say fall/winter to me even though the style is summer. Maybe with a denim jacket for now? Anyway, really lovely!

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    1. Well, yes, now that you mention it, the colors do read winter. It must have been the cotton content that was driving my decision. Perhaps I should have gone with that pantsuit after all. Thanks Jenny!

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  9. Oh Amanda . You do such beautiful work and this one is no exception. The details in this dress really make it special and you look great in it.

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  10. Gorgeous dress. 'Love the detail and custom fitting. African wax fabric is so beautiful. Yes, you do look stunning in the dress also :)

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  11. Lovely dress and it looks so beautiful on you!
    I have a suggestion...you could add bra loops or lingerie straps in the front and back of the bodice were the straps meet the bodice, that will keep you bra strap from showing.

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    1. Yes! You are the second person to recommend bra keepers, and I'm definitely going to put some in. Thank you Florencia!

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  12. Simply Lovely, very feminine with the lace and the cut of the pattern. I love the dress so much I immediately went to Etsy and bought it. Thought the odds were good someone would list this as you said it was out of print. I promise I will not copy your idea...but I am inspired. Thank you for sharing all your hard work.

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    1. I really wouldn't mind if you used the same fabric/trim combo. Odds are you don't live in San Antonio, and even if you did, I've never been that sort of girl. I'm so glad you found it on Etsy! I have done that lots of times if I've seen someone's garment online made from an OOP pattern, and sometimes I just search for a specific designer that I like that I know has designed for Vogue in the past. I got some Ralph Rucci patterns recently when I discovered how much I liked his designs.

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  13. Just gorgeous Amanda! Your usual beautiful work!!!

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  14. This dress is gorgeous! I love the way you used the African wax print!

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  15. Very beautiful! I love ankara fabric.

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  16. WOW! You figured out how to make a dress out of this fabric that looks just great. You wear it instead of it wearing you--which I'm pretty sure could happen, at least in my case. Great job, you look beautiful.

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  17. This is absolutely stunning! I don't think the white zipper pull stands out at all - there is plenty of white in the fabric.

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    1. That's what I thought, but it's more noticeable to me for some reason. I'm sure I'll forget I ever had an issue with it. Thanks Lisa!

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  18. This dress is simply gorgeous, wow!

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  19. Your print placement is masterful! A lovely dress that must make you feel a bit special.

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