17 November 2014

#SewingFrancoise: Gather Supplies

Gearing up to sew your own Francoise dress? Let’s talk supplies and fabric shopping (fun!).

You will need:

  • Francoise sewing pattern – buy it from the online shop or from one of our lovely stockists (they’ll be arriving soon at many stockists if they're not already there)
  • Fabric – see below
  • Matching thread - one or two spools of all purpose polyester thread
  • 56cm / 22in invisible zip – AKA a concealed zip. You can substitute this with a regular zip if you prefer but I’ll be showing you how to sew the invisible variety
  • Iron-on interfacing - about 30cm / 12in, in a similar weight to your fabric (I like the woven stuff)
  • Optional: 2 x 2.5cm / 1in buttons if you're adding the tab
  • Optional: 1.2m / 1 3/8 yards x 35mm bias binding for the sleeveless version - or you can make your own using the pattern piece included
  • Optional: any other decorative trims you choose to add, such as piping or lace

You’ll also need your sewing tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Regular presser foot – this should come with your sewing machine
  • Invisible zip foot – check you get one that fits your model of machine
  • Optional: Adjustable zip foot – not essential, but omigawd getting one of these babies changed my life! I'll show you how to use one of these to sew the centre back seam really close to the bottom of the zip without any bubbles. They're also great for piping if you’re adding that (again, check the foot you get fits your model of machine)
  • Optional: Overlocker, AKA serger for finishing your seams - don't get one especially, you can always use the zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine instead
  • Fabric scissors and cutting mat
  • Optional: Dressmaker’s carbon and tracing wheel – for my preferred method of tracing patterns
  • Chalk pencil or washable pen - test them on your fabric first to check they show up and wipe or wash off easily
  • Pins, seam ripper and tape measure
  • Steam iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine needles – 80/12 will probably be the right weight for your fabric (medium weight); get universal, unless you’re using double knit in which case get ballpoint
  • Hand sewing needles

How much fabric do you need?

For the version of the dress with sleeves and collar, you’ll need:
1.8m x 150cm wide (2 yards x 60in)
OR 2.4m x 115cm wide (2 5/8 yards x 45in)

For the sleeveless version of the dress with the tab, you’ll need:
1.5m x 150cm wide (1 5/8 yards x 60in)
OR 1.7m x 115cm wide (1 7/8 yards x 45in)

If you want to make the collar in a contrast fabric, you’ll need 0.3m / 3/8 yard of contrast fabric.

What kind of fabric should you get?

Francoise is designed to be sewn in woven fabric that has a bit of body to hold the shape of the skirt.

If you’re making the version with sleeves, I wouldn’t go for anything too stiff, otherwise the raglan style may make it a bit uncomfortable to lift your arms. So a medium weight cotton, sateen or light twill with a little bit of stretch would be prefect, or something softer like double crepe or linen. As a stable-ish fabric that isn’t too stretchy, double knit would also work – but be aware that the silhouette of the skirt will be a bit more drapey and less A-line in something like double knit.

If you’re making the sleeveless version, you have a bit more choice of medium weight fabrics as you don’t need to worry about tightness on the arms. Any of the fabrics listed above would be suitable, as would gabardine, quilting weight cotton, light wool or brocade. What you do need to think about though is the darts – anything too thick could potentially create a pointy bullet bra effect - yikes! When we come to talk about sewing the darts, I’ll cover some tricks for reducing pointy nipplage.

Want to make the dress in something more drapey? It’s totally do-able, just be aware that it changes the silhouette of the skirt. For example, I test sewed a version of the sleeved dress in a drapey semi-translucent viscose, and it’s nice, but the shape is a bit nothing-ey. I’ll finish it up at some point to show you so you can see what I mean.

Take a look at the right hand side of this blog for links to lovely fabric shops.

As soon as you get your fabric…

Stick your fabric in the wash (assuming it’s machine washable) so that you get any shrinkage out of the way now before you cut and sew it together. Once it’s dry, iron out any creases so you can cut the shapes as accurately as possible.

In the next post, we’ll cover finding your pattern size and making some initial flat pattern adjustments, followed by some more in-depth posts on fitting…


  1. I love the buttons! You always have a great selection of buttons for your garments. :)

  2. You wouldn't mind if I hacked the pattern a bit, would you? I will make a version in your favourite colour as well ;)

    1. Of course not! Creativity is highly encouraged around here :)

  3. Thank you for this thorough post, Tilly. I'm going fabric shopping today, so excited!
    My only concern is that I don't have an invisible zipper foot. I've inserted only one invisible zipper in a garment so far and used a regular zipper foot. There are plenty of tutorials explaining how to do that. The result was actually OK. But that was not an important project (a Halloween costume, so I didn't care much). And now I do care :)
    So my question is: is using a regular zipper foot for invisible zippers too unprofessional? Should I stop doing that and buy an invizible zipper foot? Will it make the process easier?
    I will be grateful for any advice, because I'm rather new to garment sewing. 'Unreasonably confident beginner' is what I call my sewing level :-)

    1. You can certainly use a regular zip foot to insert an invisible zip - as you've already discovered - but personally I much to use an invisible zip foot as I get a neater result, so that's the one I'll be demonstrating. Not compulsory though! :)

  4. Hi Tilly,
    I think I'm going to join the sewalong...it will be my first ever! yikes. I am thinking of using some upholstery fabric - I think its a cotton linen blend. It's substantial but not too heavy or thick (I hope! I'm a relatively new dressmaker..!:)) I'm thinking of doing a full sleeved version rather than 3/4 sleeves if that is at all possible..? Could I ask you opinion on doing long sleeves with this type of fabric?
    Erica x

    1. Hooray! So glad you're joining the sewalong, it'll be fun :)

      Upholstery fabric tends to be relatively stiff so my hunch would be you may find the sleeves uncomfortable - better to make the sleeveless version in a fabric like that. It's difficult for me to say for sure though whether your fabric is suitable without feeling it myself. Try to imagine wearing it - will you be able to raise your arms comfortably, or will it feel a bit constrictive at the shoulders?

      I hope this helps!

    2. Thanks Tilly! It's all washed, I just need to decide if it will work as the sleeved version...:)
      Thanks again!

  5. I am so excited about this! I wasn't going to join the sewalong as I'm currently working my way through your book, but then I inadvertently bought some fabric and the zipper foot after your omigawd comment...guess I'd better by the pattern! Yay!

  6. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my pattern and I was wondering if Françoise would be ok in a jersey? I have a pretty sherbet pink one with feathers and a classy burgundy one with diamonds (both Aime comme Marie) that are screaming for attention, and I love me a comfy jersey dress that looks good.....

    1. Thanks for ordering the pattern! It's designed for woven fabrics so I wouldn't make it in jersey as it will be too stretchy and drapey for the size and shape. They sound lovely, but save them for another project :)

  7. Hi Tilly. I am very excited to join this sewalong (my 1st sewalong). :)
    I bought the pattern, fabric and supplies. I also washed and ironed my fabric, so I am ready to start. I can't wait to find your next post! ;)
    I am planning to make Françoise with sleeves, in a nice cotton fabric, perfect in spring time. .
    I do not have an overlocker and I do not like the zig-zag stitch for the raw edge, so I was just wondering if you suggest or not to lining this model. I also thought to use bias tape to finishing the edges, but I am afraid the result will be too "bulky".
    I will really appreciate your answer. I am so happy to start this project and I do not want ruin everything, because I am a kind of begginer. :)

    1. Hi Paolina, that's great that you're joining the sewalong! You can certainly line the dress if you want to, although I won't be covering how to do that in the sewalong. Good luck!

  8. Hi Tilly,
    Would this dress work in a poly cotton or is that too soft and drapey ? Your book arrives tomorrow and im so excited !!!

    1. I've tried making the Francoise dress in a similar fabric - it's nice, but a very different silhouette as it doesn't hold the shape of the skirt. If you try it, do send us a picture - we'd love to see!

  9. Hi! I bought the Francoise sewing pattern and can't wait to make it! But since I am quite new to the sewing world, I am not sure of what "medium weight" is. I mean, I found some pretty cotton fabric online (apparently witout stretch, which is already a bad point, but stil...) with a weighting of 120g per linerar meter. Would it be stiff enough for Francoise? It seems very flowing on the pictures so I'm not sure it's a good choice... Thanks for your answer!

  10. Is your black and white one a Ponte Roma knit with a corduroy collar? I can't quite tell from the photos. Thanks.

    1. Neither! I'm not quite sure what it is TBH - a woven gauzey material. It's really lovely!


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