Friday, 29 June 2012

Candy Stripe Cambie

I've now finished my Cambie dress. I actually finished last weekend but I've only just got round to photographing it. Here are the photos.

Yes it really is a Cambie and yes I have changed the top. I love the original design and do want to make one so I should explain why I have changed it. When Tasia's email about the pattern dropped into my inbox my first thought was “Fantastic another great pattern”. My second thought when I saw version A was “Oh my god I can re-create that dress my mum made for me when I was about eight”. There's no photo of me in the said dress but as soon as I saw the bodice, waistband and skirt I immediately thought I could change the neckline, add straps and “hey presto” - an adult version of the dress I loved as a child!

I made a muslin in a size 10. Although it fit I wanted a bit more ease so I decided to sew up the final version with a 1cm seam allowance instead of 1.5 cm. Except at the hips that is. I reduced the width of the skirt pattern slightly at the hips to the bottom of the skirt. The skirt is still slightly big – see that bit of excess fabric at the front of the skirt? I want that to be flat. I'm not sure how the alter the pattern to change this so any ideas would be gratefully appreciated!

I made the waistband bigger. I just cut it way bigger than I needed and then cut it down to size once the bodice and skirt were attached.

Changing the top was fairly easy. The back bodice piece had to be changed. It looks a bit like the Lonsdale back bodice so I used that as a starting point. After two tries with a muslin I got it right. I also straightened out the sweetheart neckline. Tasia explains how to do this on her blog but I had already done something like this with my Macaron neckline so I was familiar with it.

The straps were easy to do. What I recommend if you are adding straps is to add them at the very last, once the whole dress and lining is sewn and the zip attached. I attached the lining to the dress at the bodice neckline but I left generous sized gaps at the bodice back where the straps would be placed at the back.

I added interfacing at the bodice neckline, front and back, to give it more structure. I then understiched the seam to the lining to prevent the lining rolling over to the front. On this design I added buttonholes to the end of the straps and sewed the buttons onto the front of the dress. I added a squares of interfacing to the wrong side of the dress where the buttons go and topstitched around the square. I figured this would provide extra re-inforcement to that area where the button may pull on the fabric. Don't worry about the topstitching showing as the strap covers it once it's buttoned.

I would also recommend if you do this to sew the buttons on last. I ended up moving my buttons slightly to the outer edge so I have two squares of top-stitched interfacing!

For the straps I just cut the pieces in the width I wanted, way longer than needed and interfaced one of the pieces. I did two pieces per strap but you could also have one piece and fold it in half. I then sewed the straps in at the back after trying on the dress on and pinning the straps in place where I wanted them. Ideally I would have contoured the straps to the shape of my shoulder (I've heard the Hazel straps are like this) but I was too lazy on this occasion. (Not that lazy of course - I have made a dress for gods sake!).

The buttonholes were pretty stress free. I had about 2 practice runs and followed my own tips that I wrote down here. The last thing to do was to place the button. It's amazing how different the dress can look depending on where the buttons are placed. As I said I originally had them too close to the centre and the whole design looked wrong. I wanted a more vertical looking strap so I ended up moving the buttons. When deciding where the button should be placed I tried the dress on and pinned the straps to the front where I wanted them. I then placed a pin at the lower edge of the vertical buttonhole and marked that point on the dress. If you think about it when you wear the dress the straps are going to naturally pull up.  The stitching on the button will sit at the bottom of the vertical buttonhole. That's why it's a good idea to put your interfacing on in this area last. My first square of interfacing was placed too high up for my liking and the buttons are now about 2 inches below the top edge.

The original buttons on this dress were red. The colour was actually a good match for the red on the fabric. However I felt the buttons were too dark. I think because the white is the dominant colour on the fabric, it needed to have a light coloured button. The button is actually a pink colour, from my collection. It's amazing how different the dress looks with the different buttons.

Another slight change was the pocket shape. I thought the pocket openings would be the same rounded shape as the Lonsdale but they are a straight line. I like the curved shape so I changed mine.

I ended up following my usual method for attaching lining which I have described here.

Finally the hem – I blind stitched it using the blind hem foot after putting white bias tape around the bottom edge. This is the first time for a while that I haven't interfaced the hem area. I felt with the bias tape and the natural structure in the fabric, this was unnecessary.

The fabric is a poly cotton. It's fairly stiff and creases really easily. It's not the best fabric but I love horizontal stripes. It's quite rare to find horizontal stripes so I was keen to buy it despite the not so great quality of the fabric. It would have been nice to find a similar fabric to the inspiration dress. That was a white fabric with a small red flower print, but never mind!

I'm looking forward to wearing the dress and we actually might get the right weather for this at the weekend! Overall I'm really pleased with the dress. It's fun to wear. If I was to make it again I would contour the straps and fit the skirt a bit better.

Happy sewing!


  1. Looks great! I like your modifications to make the dress more personal

    1. Thanks Toferet! It's nice to have the confidence now to make these personal touches.

  2. How sweet! I love this dress, and I love that you were able to replicate a favorite! It's really, really cute!

    1. Thanks ginger! I love this dress! I'm wearing it right now. I'm chuffed that I was able to recreate the dress.

  3. Ooh red and white stripes, so cute :) You really modified the heck out of this pattern! But it looks great so well done! :)

    1. Thanks Johanna! Yes it's just about recognisable as the Cambie. I love stripey fabric too.