2 April 2016

Inspiration and Fabric Shopping for the Martha Dress

Making the Martha dress? I love this part – choosing fabric!

You can sew the Martha pattern in lots of different types of fabrics. And the fabric you choose will have a big impact on how your finished dress looks, hangs and feels to wear. So today I thought I’d talk through some options and share a few potentials I’ve found online.

But first… Pinspiration! I’ve had lots of fun creating our Martha board on Pinterest – take a look for some ideas for how the dress could look in different colours and prints. Solid colours will show up the princess seam panels more clearly, or go to town with a snazzy print – florals look particularly cute with this dress. With prints, just be aware the bodice is cut on the straight grain and the skirt on the bias (at a 45 degree angle), so directional prints are going to point in different directions on the bodice and skirt. It’s easiest to pick a solid colour or print that goes in lots of different directions.

The Pinterest board also has some embellishment ideas – such as lacey panels and sparkly trims. You can have a lot of fun designing your Martha dress!

You can make Martha in a light- to medium-weight fabric. Look out for a viscose (AKA rayon), silk or polyester crêpe de chine, or similar. Here are a few I’ve found online…

Clockwise from top left:

The seventies vibe of the dress lends itself particularly well to florals...

Clockwise from top left:

Or I love the idea of creating a boho Martha in a black broderie anglaise, or a soft chambray with embroidered panels. Swoon!

Clockwise from top left:

You could also make the dress in a fabric with a bit more body, for example, a lighter weight wool. And it works reeeeally nicely in a medium weight low stretch double knit or ponte di roma. I made a red ponte Martha for a Christmas party, which I’ll show you some time. The slight stretch in the fabric gives a nice fit to the bodice – just pin it in a little more before you stitch it together – and the body in the fabric holds the skirt out in a really lovely shape. The bell sleeves might look a bit much in this kind of fabric, so go for the short sleeves or extend them into longer slim sleeves. I'm dreaming of a coral ponte Martha dress right now...

Clockwise from top left:

Please be aware that I haven’t handled all of these fabrics – just read the online descriptions – so if you're thinking of buying them, you might want to request a sample first.

If the fabric is 150cm (60in) wide, you’ll need 2.9m (3 1/8 yards) for the mini dress or 3.4m (3 3/4 yards) for the knee-length version – 0.2m / ¼ yard less if you’re making the short sleeve version.

If the fabric is more like 115cm (45in) wide, you’ll need 3.5m (3 7/8 yards) for the mini dress or 4.2m (4 5/8 yards) for the knee length version – again, 0.2m / ¼ yard less if you’re making the short sleeve version.

You’ll also need matching thread, a 56cm (22in) invisible zip (AKA concealed zip), 0.25m (1/4 yard) of iron-on interfacing in a similar weight to your fabric, one rounded or fabric-covered button, and an elasticated hairband to make a button loop. And the sewing pattern!

What fabric are you going to use for your first Martha dress? I'd love to see - tag us on Instagram or Twitter @TillyButtons #SewingMartha if you share a pic of your chosen Martha fabric!