Red and Pink and Magic

Pattern: Self-drafted from Pattern Magic 3's 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out'
Fabric: 3 1/2 yds woven cotton
Cost: $35

When I was very little and allowed to dress myself for the first time, one of my favorite color combinations was red and pink. "They don't go together!" my mother would say, but I would wear them anyway. There was just something so cheery and fun about those colors together. To this day red remains one of my favorite colors, so when I was looking for a contrast color for this audacious dress I thought, why not pink?

This is my second version of a dress using the Pattern Magic technique 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out.' As you can tell from the name, it was meant for the back of the bodice, but I think it is much more fun in the front. Following the instructions in Pattern Magic 3, you close up the darts and draft all sorts of lines across the bodice. The result is an amazing structural piece that opens up to accommodate your curves and has a life of its own. 

My first version was very fun to make, but in the end turned out a little droopy. The triangle pieces just didn't stand up on their own, and the longest piece around the midsection sort of crumpled. For this version, I used a mid- to heavy-weight interfacing combined with a quilting-weight cotton to give the pieces some more structure. I did have some issues with the interfacing bubbling and the garment holding up under the weight of it all, but after the lining was sewn in and I gave it one final press it looked pretty good! Above is a close up detail, and you can see I lined the inside of the triangles with pink as well :)

The other decision I made for this version was to try a strapless style. I simply drew chalk lines on my first version to determine the neckline and drafted a new pattern piece. To make sure everything held up, I also inserted boning along the side seams of the lining. This was my first time using boning, and I was surprised just how easy it was. It gave great structure to the garment, and took some of the pressure off having to make it very tight to make it stay up. If I were doing another version of this dress, I could see using boning in the points of the triangles (especially the longest one) to give the garment even more structure and avoid some of the rumpling. However, the interfacing did a good job here instead.

I think this would be a great design for a silk with a stiff hand, and definitely take it up a notch from the quilting cotton I used. But this was fun to experiment with on a budget, and very wearable.

On my last version, I also spent a lot of time drafting a skirt with an angular opening to match the angles of the dress. On this version, I went with a simpler dirndl skirt with lots of gathers at the waist and an A-line shape. It is full enough to accommodate a very full petticoat, although that makes me look like a tomato. I think it works nicely with the shape, and was very easy to do. As a bonus, I added pockets, which I originally just thought I'd stick my hands in but really came in useful for carrying little bits and bobs, especially when you don't want to carry a purse.

So where do you wear a dress like this? I sewed mine up just in time for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event (!!). We took a note from our Australian peers and organized a night of cocktails and handmade frocks. It was so much fun to mix and mingle with everyone, and see some of the amazing work of other sewists. Chuleenan organized everything to perfection, with appetizers, a photo booth, and crafts. I hope we do this again next year!

A photo posted by Bay Area Sewists (@bayareasewists) on


  1. This is so pretty ... the colour is incredible and I love how you used the red and the hot pink together!

  2. Meg! This is amazing!! I love the detail, and lining it with pink is brilliant. I think the simple gathered skirt is the right choice, as well. A+++++++++

  3. Wow, beautiful dress, Meg. I love how architectural this is! It's so inspiring, I've now ordered PM3 just so I can learn this technique.

  4. What a fun dress! I think red and pink go very well together and that red looks lovely on you. That neckline is just great! I love it!


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