Friday, 26 June 2020

Black Floral Viscose True Bias Shelby Dress

I'm so excited to share my latest make today! I love it so, so much. I have been wanting to make myself a new dress for quite a while but waited to find the perfect pattern and fabric. I'm not really a dress person so in order to wear it, I wanted to choose a fabric and style that I really loved. I've seen a lot of floral dresses and skirts on the high street at the moment which I wanted to recreate and I'm really enjoying sewing with viscose fabric.

Like I said, I wouldn't describe myself as a dress person. That's not to say that I don't like dresses, they just don't really fit the description for the kind of clothes that I wear every day, though I do wear skirts quite a bit in the summer. I have made dresses in the past, some successful and some not quite so much. I've probably worn my dungaree dresses the most, especially this black needlecord one (now given to my sister) as I find the style a bit easier to wear. This dress never really got worn as it's not really my style and although I love my Rosa Shirtdress and have worn it a bit, it could definitely be worn more often. More recently I made a simple rib t-shirt dress which I really like as it's a bit more casual and a chambray dress that I made to take on holiday last year which I also like but would class as more of a holiday dress than a going-about-my-day dress. So that's the rundown of my handmade dress situation - I probably could have made that into an entire blog post to be honest!
Anyway, in summary I've sometimes struggled to wear the dresses I've made as they feel a bit too out there for everyday clothes. However, as I've got older this has been another thing which has changed and I felt that this year was the year to finally make myself a perfect summer dress. And I think I have!

Other than wanting a ditsy floral print, I still hadn't settled on the style of dress that I wanted to make. I had seen the True Bias Shelby Dress when it first came out and liked it but didn't think much of it as a style that I would wear. It wasn't until I saw Liz's dress that she made on the first week of the Sewing Bee and then Fiona's version of the Shelby Dress that I realised it was the perfect pattern and that I absolutely had to make it! Both Liz and Fiona made the longer version but wearing a dress is already stepping out of my comfort zone a little, I don't think I'm ready to cope with a midi or maxi dress yet!

My re-discovery of the Shelby Dress pattern happened at exactly the right time as I wanted to make the dress in time for summer. Of course the inevitable happened and the paper pattern seemed to be out of stock everywhere just when I decided to make it. Luckily I managed to find a version at Sew Essential. I did briefly consider making the playsuit/romper version but I really wanted a dress. I do think it's really great to get those two options in one pattern though.

It then came down to finding the perfect fabric. Like I mentioned, I knew that I wanted a ditsy floral viscose print. I discussed my thoughts on floral fabric a bit in this post but basically I feel as though I can now wear a floral pattern without looking like a 10 year old! I love the look of ditsy floral prints and I think I'm correct in saying that they're very 90s, so it's the perfect print to pair with the Shelby pattern. As someone who wasn't alive in the 90s, I'm delighted to be able to wear the dresses now that they've come back in!

There is honestly an overwhelming amount of floral viscose fabrics available. I spent so long trying to decide which one to get but I love the one I chose. I knew that Minerva has a really great and affordable viscose fabric selection so focused on their fabrics. I wanted a white flower on a black background which you'd think would narrow down the choice considerably, but there were still lots to choose from! The one I bought is this one, but I also love this one, this one and this one. Honestly, I was very tempted (and still am !) to buy several of them to make some skirts and trousers too but managed to resist. I find that Minerva can be a slight gamble with fabric quality and I try never to order fabric with polyester in it online so I got a 100% viscose fabric and the quality is amazing! It's really the most gorgeous fabric, so soft and drapey and not at all see-through. I bought 3m to be on the safe side but measured how much I used once I'd pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric and found that I used exactly 2m. So I have 1m of it left and would love to make a skirt or some trousers (like these ones) out of it.

The dress is a pretty relaxed fit so I made a size 2 which was just perfect, it fits so well with no adjustments. I love that it comes in at the waist thanks to the ties so it's fitted while the skirt is loose and floaty, making it comfortable for warmer days. I'd really recommend using viscose as it drapes beautifully and gives some swooshiness to the skirt. I made view A which is the short dress version. I'm still slightly amazed at how well it fits me, I even used the suggested hem width and it's the perfect length which never happens!

The princess seams give the dress such an effortless feel, although I did have to do quite a bit of ironing when sewing them! The best part of the dress is probably the tie back which brings it in at the waist to give it shape. In tying them loosely at the back the dress is still loose and comfortable around the waist but avoids looking at all sack-like. 

I like the effect of the rouleau loops a lot, as well as bringing the dress in at the waist the bow adds a really pretty touch.

I was pretty lucky that my sewing of this dress co-incided with shops reopening after lockdown (non-essential shops reopended on 15th June for us). While I did have to wait a while before buying the buttons I was able to pop into my local craft shops to find the perfect ones which I was very happy about. I think buttons are always the final touch so I didn't want to order some online without matching them to the fabric.

I went into the shop knowing exactly what I wanted but also knowing that I had to buy whatever they had so that I could finish the dress! Luckily I was able to find the buttons that I had in mind. I chose to go for matte black buttons, it's a finish that I much prefer the look of at the moment and reminds me of FIMO buttons that I used to make when I was little.

I hadn't made the dress in time for the first heatwave around Easter so when I heard that there was going to be a heatwave this week I was determined to finish it in time! The dress had been waiting for its buttons for about a week so I bought those last weekend and then finished sewing the buttonholes and buttons on Tuesday evening. We had 30-degree weather on both Wednesday and Thursday this week and I wore my new dress on both those days! I loved wearing it too so it's safe to say that it's a complete success. By the way, I do appreciate that 30-degrees is nothing in a lot of countries but for us it's almost unheard of and has everyone moaning and drooping all day long! Except for me of course, because I had my new dress on...


  1. Your dress turned out lovely! I am glad you are enjoying it already. I took a peek at Minerva fabrics and they have a nice selection. I haven't ordered from them but may do so in the future.

  2. Perfect for this hot weather. Beautiful dress. Jo x

  3. Great looking dress! It looks lovely on you and the fabric is perfect for that pattern.

  4. Such a beautiful dress, and it fits you perfectly.