Designing Your Own Clothing with Sprout

Today we are featuring Taiwanese Spoonflower designer and Sprout customer, Canigrin Chen. She shares her experience on Sprout as well as making the Laurel Dress by Colette Patterns.

Hello! My name is Canigrin Chen and I’m an illustrator living in Taiwan. I love creating repeat patterns, and always wanted to make my own fabric. So when I found Spoonflower, I totally fell in love with the idea that you can print your own fabric even just a very small order.

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I love that you can even choose the material from cotton, knit to silk. The variety of fabric allow you to make home decor stuff and even sports wear, which gives endless possibility for making my own product.

 
It’s a thrill to me as a creator and a maker that I can easily make my own products. I use Spoonflower to print my own fabric and sew it into apron, mittens, and even throw pillows. But after a few craft projects, I soon hoped that I can even sew my own dress with my design!

 

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I bought some books about making simple dresses, but the biggest challenge is tracing the patterns, I guess it’s the hardest part to cross. I did use a big frozen paper to trace and copy the pattern onto my fabric, as all of you may have tried. But it just frustrating when the dress doesn’t fit after all the hard work, just because of paper slips sometimes. The time I spent on tracing was way more than what I spent on the making of the dress.

 

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Then Spoonflower announced a new service called Sproutpatterns, which allow you to make your own dress with pattern printed on fabric of your choice. Boom!  What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t I thought of it? It made making my own clothing as simple as playing with a paper doll. Simply cutting the fabric pieces and put them together, and you’re done!

 

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Creating Sprout Patterns project is just a few clicks. The 3D model made it a lot easier to imagine your dream dress! The best thing is it’s almost the same price as you order plain fabric (without seeing pattern printed on it) on Spoonflower, plus a copy of free PDF pattern than you can make more dresses and different sizes. But the experience of Sprout is so good that I was too spoiled to trace that pattern again.

 

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I chose the Laurel dress this time (first time I made the Moneta dress), as it’ll be a great gift for my mom. She’s a banker and I hope she’ll wear my handmade dress to work so I chose poly crepe fabric with the cuff variation. One thing about Sprout Patterns is that it seems like they have just a few patterns, but there are many variations hiding in each dress.

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A dress with cuffs or long sleeves makes it totally different, plus the fabrics you choose. The possibilities are endless! I think my choice of poly crepe fabric suits well for my navy camo surface design. The colors are vibrant and the touch is soft. I love how it’s lightweight, so suitable for summer time and I have the ability to layer so you can wear it every season.

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You can choose any design on Spoonflower to create your unique dress. Sprout even allows you to use different designs on different parts of the dress. For the Laurel dress I was making, the cuff is where I made changes. Some patterns give more flexibility and freedom to be your own fashion designer. Mix and match until you like it.

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The Laurel dress took me about 3 days to make. The invisible zipper was the biggest challenge, and I modified the design by making my own bias tape.  Both took more time than I expected to make, but I am satisfied with the outcome.

 

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Even though I’m in Asia, I used this service because it’s unique. Here we have some merchandisers who offer customized fabric printing service, but the minimum order has to be 20 yards of a single design. It’s not affordable nor does any of this service provide fabrics like cotton or other fabrics that are suitable for wearing. I just love creating surface design so thanks Sprout Patterns for making it easier for me to have my own dress!

 


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Canigrin is a dreamer, a maker and a creator living in Taipei, Taiwan. She shares her bright and colorful working process on Instagram and Facebook.

Five Reasons I Love my Sloan Leggings (and Yoga)

Being part of the Spoonflower print team is the best. But, working nights isn’t always easy – it’s difficult to develop a routine when your schedule is the opposite of the majority of the adult world. Meals are hard. When do you do laundry? And, when do you find the time to exercise when you’re totally not a morning person?

I found a way to get some exercise and a way to avoid doing laundry a little bit longer. The magical solution? Practice yoga, and do it in a new pair of Sloan Leggings from Sprout Patterns.

5 Awesome Things Yoga and my Sloan Leggings Have in Common:

  1. The most important thing: Comfort.

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Does doing yoga mean an excuse to wear leggings and comfy shirts? Yes, please! The Sloan Leggings (also available in a customizable paneled version) are ridiculously comfortable. My pair is made with Cotton Spandex Jersey, a lightweight knit that stretches with me.

  1. I can do yoga/wear my leggings anywhere!

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At my house? On a beach? In the print room? Do yoga. At my house? On the beach? In the print room? Wear leggings. Done. The Sloan Leggings even have a pocket so I can take my music with me, too!

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Bonus: I can also cut out Sprout’s pattern pieces anywhere, since there’s no need to lay the pieces flat. My favorite place is on my couch.

  1. I can do yoga/make leggings anytime!

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6am? My dinner break? A rainy afternoon? The hottest day on record since 1910? Sounds like the perfect time to roll out my yoga mat and my cutting mat! My preference for both activities is usually midnight, which is why I picked Midnight in a Perfect World (black) by Mirjamauno (who just happens to work in Spoonflower’s Berlin office!!!)  for my main design. It’s paired with Black and White Geometric by Crystal Walen for some fun contrast.

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  1. Both yoga and leggings make my life easier.

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Yoga helps you to be strong and flexible. These things are essential for surviving the print room, especially when you’re a tiny person moving cores that are bigger than you are and working with machines that are a constant physical challenge.

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You know what else is great for moving freely and staying comfy during any kind of day? Leggings. And, they’re cute! Dress them up or down for a fun pop of color.

  1. There’s something for everyone (furry friends included).

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Yoga is awesome for everyone, because you can create a flow that fits your lifestyle. Same with the Sloan Leggings – order a pair like mine (Creatures of the Night) or design your own!

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I was even able to make a matching headband from the extra printed fabric to keep my crazy hair at bay in the July beach air. Check out this list of four easy tutorials to make your own, too!

If you make your own pair, hopefully I’ll be the lucky print operator that gets to print them out. And, I’m probably going to be wearing my own leggings while I do it.

Happy stretching!
Gina


gina1.jpgGina is a printer operator at Spoonflower (or as she likes to call her position, “Slayer of Ink Beasts”) and a summer intern with Sprout. When she’s not having audible conversations with machinery, she can be found sharing facts about pigeons or Wonder Woman or old buildings with anyone who will listen. Her hobbies include fabric hoarding, wrestling her sewing projects away from her polydactyl cat Oz, and aimlessly wandering with coffee in one hand and her polaroid in the other.

The Wedding Guest’s Dress to Impress: My Perfect Myrtle

Let’s be real, y’all: wedding season can be pretty stressful when the invitations start to pile up. If you’re anything like me, you spend forever searching for the perfect dress for each special day – the dress that you’ll feel beautiful in, but not “hey look at me instead of the bride” beautiful. I have never accomplished this. Not once. But this summer, I’ve got Sprout Patterns to help me out. I decided to make a Sprout dress for each of my three summer weddings, and they decided that all of you would love to hear about it.

Introducing, “The Wedding Guest’s Dress to Impress” blog series! My first project? The perfect Myrtle Dress.

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The first of my weddings was for my friends Katie and Greg. My boyfriend, Kenton, is one of Greg’s best friends and groomsmen. Their friendship was formed over a shared love of craft beer, the tv show “How I Met Your Mother”, and being generally decent human beings. Katie also has these things in common with Greg, so he decided to marry her.

Katie and Greg have one other important thing in common: they’re both Catholic. That’s actually how they were introduced to one another, and was the excuse Katie gave Greg to get his phone number – a fact we still tease her about to this day. Anyway, their ceremony was held at a lovely Catholic church in Greensboro, NC, with a reception at a nearby renovated mill. The wedding started at 2pm, which meant lots of time outside in the hot afternoon sun. For those of you who don’t know, North Carolina summer weather is akin to taking a very hot, very uncomfortable bath that starts in late May and continues well into September.

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Recap: I needed a dress that  would be fine to wear for the better part of the day (since Kenton is a groomsman, it meant arriving early and staying late), be conservative enough for me to be comfortable wearing it in a Catholic church, and be cool enough to keep me from melting in the middle of a hot June evening. My solution? The Myrtle Dress.

I decided Poly Crepe de Chine would be the perfect fabric for my Myrtle. It’s soft and sheer, great for comfort and combatting the weather, and drapes beautifully on the neckline of the dress. It also prints well – I love how bright colors always look on it.

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When it came to choosing a design, I had a tough time. Katie picked navy and magenta for her wedding colors, so that’s what Kenton wore. I like to coordinate with him when we go fancy places just so we don’t look crazy in photos, but I also didn’t want to be that girl and match the bridesmaids too well.

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My assistant, Oz, has to test everything I make for comfort and color coordination with his fur

It was tough, but I managed to find something that didn’t feature tacos, space, or cats – three of my go-to standards for Spoonflower fabric. Mjmstudio, one of the designers featured on Spoonflower’s fabric sample swatches, has lots of gorgeous watercolor patterns to choose from. It was a tough call, but I settled on Verve purple – I love the bright colors, and they went well with Kenton’s suit.

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We match! For once! Time for a selfie.

The Myrtle is a very popular choice among the ladies of Spoonflower, and after making mine, I totally understand why: it’s easy to put together, especially when you use this guide for installing the waistband from Colette Patterns, and it’s way too comfy for how fancy it looks. (Y’all. It even has pockets. That’s the dream.)

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If you love this dress as much as I do, it’s available as a project on Sprout. I called it Just Another Manic Myrtle.

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“Thanks, it has pockets!” is what every woman will say when you compliment her dress that has pockets.

The comfort of this dress was much appreciated at the reception when the music started. Kenton loves to dance, especially in public. As a classic introvert, this was pretty hard for me at first. But, I’ve gotten used to it, and he’s even taught me a few things. However, Kenton wasn’t my only dance partner that evening –

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Greg’s niece also loves to dance, and I had the pleasure of bouncing across the dancefloor with her several times. I told her that I liked her dress, and she told me she liked my eyeball. I’ll take it.

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One of my favorite things all day was responding to compliments on my dress with, “Thanks! I made it.” For me, there’s nothing better than the look of surprise, fascination, and a hint of jealousy you receive when someone learns that you created the garment they’re admiring.  And, it’s way more fun spending the afternoon hanging out with your cat, your sewing machine, and Leslie Knope than traversing the mall (and oh gosh, the parking lot) looking for something you probably won’t like very much anyway (and, it probably won’t have pockets, either.)

Like pretty much every other wedding I’ve attended, I cried during the couple’s vows, reluctantly danced in public, and ate way too much delicious food. But, unlike any other wedding I’ve attended, I am actually looking forward to seeing myself in the reception photos in a few months – for the first time ever, I had the perfect thing to wear.

Cheers!
Gina


gina.jpgGina is a printer operator at Spoonflower (or as she likes to call her position, “Slayer of Ink Beasts”) and a summer intern with Sprout. When she’s not having audible conversations with machinery, she can be found sharing facts about pigeons or Wonder Woman or old buildings with anyone who will listen. Her hobbies include fabric hoarding, wrestling her sewing projects away from her polydactyl cat Oz, and aimlessly wandering with coffee in one hand and her polaroid in the other.

History, Home, and a Handmade Tote

“You can’t go home again”, made famous by Thomas Wolfe and repeated relentlessly in country music songs ever since, is meant to express the idea that once you’ve left home for bigger and better things, you can never return to your small hometown to recapture the same emotions it once instilled in you.

No disrespect to Thomas Wolfe, but you totally can. I do it all the time, and it’s awesome.

I’m lucky enough to have moved only about 90 miles away from my own small town to the big city – that “small town” being Winston-Salem, NC, and the “big city” being Durham, NC. I wasn’t born in Winston-Salem, but it’s the first place that ever felt like home to me. And while Durham isn’t a whole lot bigger than Winston, it certainly feels that way some days.

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Fun fact: The Reynolds Tobacco Building in Winston-Salem was used as a model for the Empire State Building. Don’t believe me? I’ve got the shirt to prove it.

I loved spending my teenage years and college summers in Winston-Salem, working nights at a small family fun park, galavanting around the streets of the city with my friends, and dancing the night away at a local venue to music that probably did serious damage to my eardrums, but, whatever.  I thought Winston was pretty cool back then, though I grew out of most of those activities (galavanting is still one of my favorite pastimes). Lucky for me, Winston’s done some growing up, too.

One of my favorite things about home is visiting in the Cobblestone Farmer’s Market, a weekly gathering of farmers and vendors in the heart of Old Salem. The market is based on a tradition that began in Salem in 1803, when a German Protestant community known as the Moravians built a Market House to purchase produce and meat from outlying farms. About 5 years ago, local farmers began to sell fresh meat and produce in the village once again, though there are significantly fewer hoop skirts and horses involved this time around.

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I accidentally stumbled upon the market on a walk to my favorite coffee shop, and I was so excited about it that I ended up impulse buying a jar of honey and a gorgeous bouquet of wildflowers that I then had to carry about a mile and a half back to my car while still juggling my coffee. Not the most fun I’ve ever had.

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Enter Sprout. I decided that if I’m going to be the type who frequents farmers markets, I ought to be prepared, right? Luckily, Sprout offers The Everyday Tote, the perfect bag for fresh produce lovers like me. While I have a slew of tote bags with various business logos on them already, I loved the idea of having something handmade for Saturdays at the market. The Moravians always chose handmade over store-bought, and that’s becoming my preference more and more lately too.

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My favorite thing about the market is the emphasis it places on locally grown produce, so I decided my bag needed that same vibe. However, I’m also kind of weird, so I settled on a print featuring plants that eat meat. I chose Venus flytrap – butter by thecalvarium, and I paired it with a bright, happy floral print (Blooms Tropical Flowers Floral by caja_design) for some balance. I wanted Linen-Cotton Canvas for my base fabric because it’s a natural cotton with some nice texture. I also wanted something that could hold some weight since I plan on using my bag at the boring old grocery store, too. You can order the same one if you’d like- I call it Carnivorous Garden. Bonus: The tote is reversible for days I feel more floral and less flesh-eating.

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Making my bag was super easy! It took me around an hour to complete, and most of that time was spent being in denial about having to turn the straps, wrestling them away from my cat, cursing myself for being so impatient, being in denial some more, and finally resorting to the safety pin method which worked great.

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All the trash cans in Old Salem are disguised as old barrels. So here’s my beautiful tote posing with some trash cans!

My sweet mom and I had a great time wandering the market with coffee from my favorite place (she’s hooked now, too). And, we were totally able to carry those coffees around unhindered by our purchases because of my awesome new tote bag. Wins all around.

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Hi Mom!

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She loved my bag so much that she asked me to order her one as soon as we got home. She’d never seen Sprout’s site before, and had a lot of fun mixing and matching patterns to create her tote. She opted for using Eco Canvas, a vibrant and sturdy fabric made partially from recycled plastic, and chose two floral patterns for hers as well – Botanical Bloom by Fizah_malik and Romance Poppies Ogee Green by Robinpickens. You can also buy the project she created, called Botanical Bonanza. She’s excited for me to sew it up for her!

I can’t wait to go back to the market with my mom the next time I’m home. We like to buy a little of what we need – honey, bread, and any veggies my dad isn’t already growing – and a little of what we don’t – fresh wildflowers from a local farm – while wandering among the buildings and the people of the city we call home. The market and its vendors embody the best-known mantra of the Moravian community that settled Old Salem, a sentiment I carry with me whether home or far away:

“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.”

Cheers, Gina


Time-lapse video of me cutting down my Everyday Tote


GinaGina is a printer operator at Spoonflower (or as she likes to call her position, “Slayer of Ink Beasts”) and a summer intern with Sprout. When she’s not having audible conversations with machinery, she can be found sharing facts about pigeons or Wonder Woman or old buildings with anyone who will listen. Her hobbies include fabric hoarding, wrestling her sewing projects away from her polydactyl cat Oz, and aimlessly wandering with coffee in one hand and her polaroid in the other.

 

Sewing a Lane Raglan with Spoonflower Fleece

The following is an excerpt from the Spoonflower Blog.  Read the full post here.


Have you tried our cozy new Fleece yet?  Operations Supervisor Paula stops by the blog to share her experience sewing up a Lane Raglan tee by Hey June Handmade with our versatile new fabric. Who has time to print, cut, tape and pin a PDF or paper pattern? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Paula used Sprout Patterns to sew up a soft, comfy Raglan tee in record time. Check out her pro tips and see how easy it is to sew your own!

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DIY: Handmade + Built to Last

Today’s guest Blogger, Katie Allen, is part of the Sprout Patterns team.


Do you have a favorite craft that you do just because you love it, something that helps you recharge?  I’m one of the engineers here at Sprout, and while I have a lot of fun writing code all day, sometimes it’s nice to turn away from my computer screen and work on something handmade and tangible.  In the evenings, it’s really hard to decide whether to pull out my woodcarving tools or sit down at my sewing machine.

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I’ve loved making things all my life, but a pivotal moment in my development as an artist and maker was the summer I spent at the John C. Campbell Folk School in 2012.  When I first saw their course catalog, I wanted to take every class that they offered!  I was accepted for their work-study program: in exchange for several weeks of helping out on campus, I got to take three classes.

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It was tough to narrow down my choices to just three.  Enamel jewelry and leather shoemaking were incredible, but my favorite class was definitely marquetry.  I fell in love with the (rather involved) process of creating pictures from thin sheets of wood veneer.  For my first project, I made a portrait of one of my favorite baby goats.  This panel became the lid of my very first dovetail box.
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It can be tricky to get fine detail with the marquetry saw.  As my skills grew, I began creating special portraits for friends.  One photo I took of a piece in progress really grabbed my attention, so when I began working at Spoonflower, I created a fun repeat pattern from it. In the design, you can see the different wood grains used and the gap in the wood where I had just cut out a tiny silhouette.

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Beyond the skills learned from the classes, the Folk School is just a magical place.  The sense of community there is strong (like at Sprout and Spoonflower!) and everyone there appreciates fine craftsmanship and the time it takes to make something that will last.  When my favorite teacher announced that he was teaching a class in two weeks, I immediately planned my second trip to the mountains to attend!

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As I was gathering my favorite tools and packing my things for my weeklong adventure, I found the time to stitch up a Colette Patterns Laurel Blouse from Sprout with my marquetry design.  I knew that I’d be seeing a lot of old friends who would ask what I was up to these days, and I was excited to show off a Sprout pattern.  I always love wearing things that I’ve sewed myself, but what made this shirt extra special was the fact that it featured a design based on the skills I’d learned the first time I was there.

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When looking at the size chart, my measurements actually fit the size 6, but I chose a size 8 since the blouse does not have closures and I wanted it to be a little looser so it would easily pull over my head. (Also, I’d tried on a size 8 from our sample closet before, and I really liked the way it fit.)   A fun Sprout hack for the Laurel would be to create a split in the center back seam about 6 inches down from the top, and put a tiny button & loop at the neck…but that’s a project for another day.

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Since the trip was a couple days away at this point, I didn’t have as much time as usual to sew up my top. I probably wouldn’t have attempted to fit in a sewing project if it wasn’t a Sprout pattern, all ready to be cut out.  I realized at the last minute that I hadn’t printed out the PDF version for dart placement, so I improvised and created my darts by pinning them directly on my body. It turned out really well!

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I wore my Laurel at the Folk School on the second day of my woodworking class, when I was planing and scraping the top of the coffee table I was building.   My table began as a 10 foot long piece of cherry.  Using hand and power tools, we cut and shaped the wood into tables with mortise-and-tenon joinery.  It was amazing to go from a huge board to a piece of furniture in just a week.

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Throughout the week, I wore some of my other Sprout clothes, like my Hey June Handmade Sloan Leggings with a baby goat design.  Other students would comment on the interesting prints and were amazed that not only had I sewed the clothes myself, but I’d created the surface designs as well.

There were some late nights in the shop, but I ended the class with a beautiful table that will certainly be the centerpiece of my living room someday.  It is nice to have a piece that is not only of higher quality than something I could find or afford at a furniture store, but also has the memories of a magical week of fun and learning built right into it.


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Katie is an artist, an engineer for Sprout Patterns, and a developer at Spoonflower. Her latest adventure has been learning Ruby on Rails. With a background in sculpture and costuming, if she isn’t sewing, she’s building dovetail boxes in the wood shop. She also loves hiking, contra dancing, Iyengar yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

A Whale of a Good (Sewing) Time

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“To boldly go where no one has gone before”

Familiar words to fans of a certain iconic television show, and also my motto when venturing forth into my newest sewing project, the Moneta Dress from Sprout! I am somewhat new to the world of sewing, and by sewing, I mean sewing properly. Much to the chagrin of the professional costume designers who taught me to sew, I rarely measure, never use a pattern, and generally just plunge into a project while vaguely hoping for the best. It is safe to say that my creations often end up being garments strictly to wear inside the house with the blinds closed.

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When I first saw Colette Patterns Moneta Dress on the Sprout website, I knew this challenge was one worth undertaking. I immediately loved the fit-and-flare silhouette, the pockets, and the customizable aspect of the sleeves and collar. I chose our new Cotton-Spandex Jersey, but struggled to find a print I truly adored until I stumbled onto Galaxy Whales, by Wildnotions.

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Rich jewel tones are my favorites, and as a child I wanted to be (and this is completely true) an astronaut AND a whale surgeon. Eventually settling on the sleeveless option with the adorable crossover collar, I was ready to begin!

Much to my delight, the colors on the screen translated beautifully to fabric. No tracing patterns, no grain lines to wrangle, and I was pleased as punch to have it cut out and ready to go in less than 15 minutes. I chose a lightweight navy jersey for the bodice lining, and sewed the lining and bodice together using a standard zig-zag stitch to account for the stretch allowed by the Cotton Spandex Jersey.

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In the span of a couple hours, the dress was cut out and assembled, with only the collar left to attach. When I attached the bodice to the skirt, I ruched the skirt rather than inserting elastic to cinch the waist. Colette Patterns offers a free collar variation add-on to the Moneta Dress so that you can customize the dress even further! Scrolling through the designs, I chose the tie collar. Luckily for me, I was able to fashion my new collar then and there, as I had ample extra fabric from the Sprout design.

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Although the downloadable instructions from Colette specify that the collar should be lined with interfacing, I had to do without this time, but I think the results were definitely satisfactory!

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New collar vs old collar!

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As it was the first dress I had ever made completely on my own, I was definitely a little nervous to see how the finished project looked. With great trepidation, I squirmed into the finished dress. I was pleased to see that it was really quite lovely! This was a great starter project for someone like me who was a touch uncertain about undertaking a semi-complex garment, and I’m thrilled with how well it turned out! Thanks to Sprout, the ease of the entire process, and its delightful end product, was reassuring for this novice seamstress. My dress is completely custom, fits like a glove, and was simple to make. Emboldened with my success, I’ve already ordered another Sprout pattern!

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Claire.jpgClaire is one of Spoonflower’s warehouse operations specialists. Though she is a sociologist by schooling, her love of artistic creativity and environmental sustainability led her to Spoonflower, where she is surrounded by like-minded people. An exercise aficionado, she likes experimenting with Spoonflower’s stretchy fabrics, especially the sport lycra. When she’s not at the gym, you can find her playing video games, planning her next big trip, or trying to find her new favorite restaurant.