Ok, time to confess something really dorky: I’ve been looking for the perfect bicycle-print fabric for years now. It’s actually become something of an obsessive manhunt – trying to avoid the quilting cottons, the cruisers and penny farthings, the hideous color combinations. You’d think with bicycles being these super cutesy Pinterest-approved photo prop (forreal, I’m sick of looking at pictures of people using their bikes as props! Ride that shit already!), there would be a bigger selection of this type of print. You’d think. I never found it, though.
Isn’t this biciclette fabric adorable?? It’s from Bubiknits‘ shop on Spoonflower. I’ve always wanted to try my hand with a piece of Spoonflower fabric – but honestly, every time I try to browse the choices, I get overwhelmed with so many options. And I’m not gonna try to design my own because, ha, no. Let’s just not even discuss. So when Giusy emailed me and asked if I would like a couple of yards of any fabric from her shop as a gift, I immediately zeroed in on that bicycle print in organic cotton sateen. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, except that it would be a dress.
A Belladone, to be exact!
I should apologize in advance for how bad these pictures ended up. Turns out white doesn’t photograph too well in bright sunlight. Who woulda thought? Just imagine the bicycles and we will get to the close-ups soon enough.
Obviously, this ain’t my first Belladone rodeo. That stripey dress is actually 100% the reason why I decided to make my bicycle dress with the same pattern – it is my favorite dress to cycle in! It’s very comfortable, the skirt is the perfect width needed for riding (but not so floofy that it causes wardrobe malfunctions) and I like to think that it’s pretty enough that it makes the Mary Poppins Effect a reality on my commute. Plus, the dress is finished with bias tape – visible or invisible – which I thought would provide a nice contrast against the white/yellow of the main fabric. As much as I love the colorway, it unfortunately washes me out, so I needed something a little darker to sit next to my face.
I can’t really say I started this dress with any real direction in mind. Originally, I wanted the contrast to be turquoise, but when I actually got the fabrics side-by-side, I didn’t like the look of the two colors together… too light for my tastes. Navy seemed like the perfect choice (and yes – that’s navy. I know it looks black, but it’s navy.). I used leftover navy cotton sateen from my lace trench (I swear, that fabric… it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. I STILL HAVE MORE OF IT, TOO) and made a few yards of bias tape to enclose all the edges along the top of the dress. I actually applied all this bias tape by hand, so the stitches would be invisible. I think it adds a bit of polish to the overall effect, even if it did mean making this dress took twice as long. I also applied a strip of interfacing to each diagonal edge, as well as staystitching, to make sure the edges don’t get distorted over time.
Of course, taking a light dress and adding dark trim to the bodice meant that the thing ended up looking top-heavy. I added more dark contrast to the waistband, as well as a couple of inches above the hem, which I think ties the dress together. To finish, I added 2 self-covered buttons at the center front.
It’s so perfect, I could marry it.
And the back! Don’t you love the back!?
One more picture, sorry :)
Here you can see the bicycles! Aren’t they sweet :)
Since I’d already made this pattern before, I didn’t need to make any major modifications (other than the aforementioned contrast additions). I did sew the side seams at the waist with a 1/2″ seam allowance (instead of the pattern’s 5/8″); I noticed that my stripey dress can get a little tight if I’ve eaten a lot of food, so an extra bit of wiggle room is appreciated :)
I also pressed the pleats so they were centered over the stitching lines (instead of pressed to one side). This gives them more of a box-pleat look, as opposed to a soft tuck.
Can you see the stitching on the outside, huh, can you? NEITHER CAN I!
The inside waistband is faced with more bicycles :) And yay, yellow zipper!
Sewing that strip of navy around the bottom was super easy. I sewed on my hem facing as usual, then centered the seam binding over the stitching and stitched it down on both sides.
Working with this fabric was an absolute dream – and wearing it is even better :) I know Spoonflower’s fabrics tend to skew toward the pricey side, but this is some good stuff – organic cotton sateen with the subtlest sheen, the colors are rich and saturated, and it’s very easy to sew and press. Plus, the design choices! Gah!
Thank you again, Giusy, for the amazing fabric! If anyone was wondering… yes, I have taken this dress for a bike ride, and yes, it was a little magical ;)
One last thing – and I swear, it’s important – I just heard through the grapevine that Colette Patterns is running in second place in the Martha Stewart American Made Competition. The #1 spot is currently being held by a scrapbooking company, boo! If you’ve got a minute to spare, go vote for them (you can login with your Facebook if you’re lazy like me, and you do not have to be a US resident to cast a vote!). Colette Patterns will be dumping the entire $10k prize back into their employees as bonuses, which is pretty fucking amazing and I think totally deserving of winning. Plus, do we really want to see them get beat out by a scrapbooking company? NOPE!
Go forth and vote! Every little checkmark counts ;)