My Raincoat Dress!

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook that I was taking a couple of days off from quilting and writing articles, and was going to sew up this pattern.

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It’s from Lekala. You choose your pattern, enter your measurements, and are emailed a pdf for a personalized pattern. I’ve tried them before, with moderate success. But the style lines on this dress were so interesting, I had to try again. I really wanted to use those bust darts radiating from the left armhole!

I knew I wanted to use a solid-colored fabric so the darts and seams would show up. Several months ago I ordered this lavender fabric from, thinking that I might use it for this pattern. The only description of the fabric was that it was a poly/spandex woven.

I spent most of the first day tiling and taping my pattern, and making a muslin, and altering it to my taste. I was pleased that the muslin fit pretty well, straight off the pattern. Yes, it’s made for my measurments, but there are still little alterations needed, specifically for my slightly wonky right shoulder, which is a bit lower than my left, and for my right shoulder blade, which protrudes a bit more. I also had to take a little in at the upper chest. (Note: In my experience, Lekala patterns are made to fit much more snugly than I like, so I cheat by adding a little to the measurements I use. Also, the armholes are higher and tighter than I like. I haven’t quite figured out how to change my measurements to allow for that.) I also decided that I wanted the dress to be longer than the pattern, so I added 2.25 inches in length.

When I had received the fabric, I pre-washed it, thought it was just a little odd, and put it away. But I really wanted this color to go with the necklace my daughter made for me for Christmas! When I cut out my altered pattern, I thought again that this was unusual fabric. It’s a tight gabardine weave, crisp, with a little stretch, and a very cool, smooth feel. I tested it with the iron, and it handled medium heat well, with no iron marks, it pressed in good creases with steam, and seam allowances barely showed through. I thought it should be easy to sew, although I still wondered about the odd feel.

On the second day, I got to sew. This pattern is really very simple to put together, but DO NOT follow the (very minimal) directions included with the pattern! The directions for the armhole and neckline facings absolutely will not, cannot, physically work! If you know how to sew, you’re fine, but for someone not sure of how things are put together, this would be a disaster.

I’m pretty pleased with this dress! It’s not meant to be a special occasion dress, more of a let’s-go-to-our-favorite-Mexican-restaurant dress.

Lekala 4

Lekala 1

I considered making the flap into a real welt pocket with flap, then decided that I really wouldn’t use it, and to just save myself the time. So it’s just a decorative flap.

Lekala 6

Lekala 5

I’m not sure what I was doing here, but it shows the right side of the dress!

Lekala 7

I’m not entirely thrilled with the fit of the back, but it’s not bad. I added a couple of vertical darts to give it a bit more shape at the waist. But this dress isn’t special enough for me to want to spend any more time fine-tuning the fit.

Lekala 9

I absolutely love the fit through the chest and bust! And look at those diagonal darts! I edgestitched the darts to make them just a bit more visible, because, after all, they are why I made this dress.

And here’s the necklace for which I made this dress. Isn’t it awesome! My daughter is a jewelry artist, so I’m the happy recipient of many of her lovely pieces.


This pendant was made with polymer, acrylic, silver, tiny pieces of gold leaf, and a citrine! You can see her fine jewelry at, or contact her for ideas for custom work. She has also recently started a new line of fun, whimsical pieces with RadishFightJewelry, where you can find necklaces made from the same kind of colorful polymer mosaic as mine, although without the silver and semi-precious stone.

Now, back to my dress, and that unusual fabric. I discovered why it just seemed strange. When I stitched those darts in the back, I made the first ones too long and too far from the center. So I took the stitches out, and started to press out the creases. Steam alone didn’t do it, so I spritzed it with water.

Lekala 3

The water beaded up and didn’t soak in at all! (Sorry, the color is wrong, but this is the same fabric.) I didn’t notice it when I pre-washed it; I just threw it in the washing machine with other fabrics I was pre-treating. This fabric is almost completely water-repellant. It’s rainwear fabric!!! I have a raincoat dress!

I would like to ask online fabric sellers to please, please, write more accurate descriptions of their fabrics. Some sites are very good; EmmaOneSock and Gorgeous Fabrics are two that I’ve ordered from often. Others, like, are obviously not great. I would never have purchased this fabric if it had been described as rainwear fabric! It all turned out fine for this dress, although I wonder if the dress will be hot to wear. Will I make the pattern again? I don’t know; I like it, but I don’t wear dresses all that often. But if I do, you can be sure that I won’t make it as a raincoat dress!








Another Friendly Challenge

I haven’t written a blog post in ages, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with lots of different projects! Let me get you caught up with this particular one.

My sweet friend Kimberly Einmo and I have been working on a Friendly Challenge, in which we both make “parts” of a quilt with the same Cherrywood fabric pack, then exchange “parts” and finish the quilt. It really is a challenge, because we have very different styles, and it stretches both of us. But it’s fun! We don’t have deadlines, and the “rules” are pretty simple – start out with the same pack of fat quarters from Cherrywood; choose two extra fabrics, and some accent fabrics, if desired; make our agreed-upon part; exchange parts, and finish the quilt to 54″ square.

You can read about our first exchange here. I think the resulting quilts are pretty fantastic!

Trop A full


Next, we decided to forego the 54″ size and make quilts for last year’s Cherrywood  Lion King challenge. You can read about those quilts here and here.

Kim challenge 2


Now we get to our most recent challenge. It was my turn to choose the fabric pack, and the purple-y blues in this pack called to me.

Image of Thistle

Unfortunately, I seem to have missed seeing the taupe-y tans and grays also in the pack. And the actual fabrics are more gray and less purple than this photo. Not my favorite colors! Not Kim’s favorite colors, either! Now this was a challenge! We had decided to each make a 24″ block for our exchange. I pulled some fabrics, and fortunately had this lovely print that worked beautifully with the hand-dyed fabric. I also added an ivory almost-solid, and a couple more Cherrywoods (in the end, I did not use the marigold-colored Cherrywood, replacing it with a rose-colored fabric.) I had a Zundt lily embroidery design that I knew would work well with the print fabric, so chose machine embroidery threads, as well.

Thistle supplies 600

I had never drafted nor sewn a mariner’s compass before, but had wanted to try my hand at one for a while. This was the perfect opportunity! So I got out my protractor and compass and freezer paper, and drew my first mariner’s compass! The points are paper-pieced. The center blue circle is machine-appliqued, as are the rose and blue bias strips near the outer edge. I was very pleased with how it turned out!

Thistle center 600

Next, I embroidered the lily in the center. Because the petals of the embroidery flow over the piecing, the embroidery must be done after the entire piece is put together. There is no room for error in placement or embroidery!

Thistle lily detail 600

If you read the post about our first challenge, you’ve seen a photo of the quilt up to this point, as well as Kimberly’s Lone Star center block. We were so happy to be able to make this exchange in person!


I took Kimberly’s Lone Star home, and she took my mariner’s compass. I had an idea fairly soon, and it involved making some partial Lone Star blocks. I left lots of open space in the quilt top for embroidery, of course!

Thistle top 600

The acid green swirls (stitched to hide some of those yucky gray-tans!) are from Lindee Goodall, and the rest of the swirl embroideries are from emblibrary. (Please don’t ask me the design names and numbers – I just don’t remember!)

Here is the quilt after quilting!

Thistle 600

Thistle detail 1 600

I had to add some Zundt machine-embroidered lace to the edge, of course.

Thistle detail 2 600

My quilt has been done for a while, but Kimberly (who is a VERY busy, and much-loved quilt teacher) was stuck on those grays. You can read about her challenges with this quilt on her blog.

A few days ago, she sent me a photo of her finished quilt top! Isn’t it fantastic?!

Kim's Thistle 600

I can’t wait to see it quilted!

The colors for our next set of quilts has been chosen, and I’ve been trying to find just the right color of light green… And the challenge goes on!