PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS DRESS PATTERN HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE THIS POST WAS WRITTEN. THERE ARE SOME CHANGES TO THE ORIGINAL SHAPE AND DESIGN. PLEASE SEE THE PATTERN COVER FEATURING THE GREEN DRESS (BOTTOM OF THE PAGE) FOR THE NEW LOOK.
Since the mention of colour block dresses on The Great British Sewing Bee they seem to be taking over the world!
Luckily I was already working on mine and have it all ready here for you as my latest multisize pattern. It’s available both as a paper pattern, (CLICK HERE) printed on high quality paper so you can use it over and over (and share it with your sewing pals), AND as a PDF download.
Colour blocking took off in fashion during the 1960s with Yves Saint Laurent and his classic Mondrian dress. Even the photography (below pic) seems ahead of it’s time! Things have moved on a bit since then and we have been inspired by some of the more modern versions you see on the catwalk, like this amazing pale grey silk dress (below left) from Roksanda.
There’s loads of inspiration to be found the high street too – this beautiful baby pink and mustard dress from Cos uses a really off beat combination of colours. I would never normally chose these to put these shades together, but somehow it looks up-market for being slightly strange. Love or hate it, you have to admit it is striking.
Here, in red and teal, is the more affordable alternative from ASOS. I really like the use of bold colour here. The V shape, which I have adopted in my design, is very flattering on all figure types.
The Sew Different Colour Block dress is a zip free, pull-over-the-head cut and is somewhere between A-line and a loose prom dress shape – it goes straight down to the waist and then flares out slightly.
When it comes to making up your own version, I really would recommend that you do some planning to check how your colours balance before you start. There are a couple of line drawings here for you to print off and fill in with your own choice of colours. You could even chop up some swatches of different fabrics and lay them on top to see how it looks. Have a look at some of the images I have collected on my Pinterest board, Colourblock Dresses for inspiration.
The design works well with 3 colours as I have done but will also work with 4 or 2. As a rule for classic colour blocking, the idea is to use two or three bright colours balanced with a neutral like grey, nude or beige….but having said that I think it could work really well all in pastels or similar tones of a single colour.
For my coral and black version, I have used scuba fabric. Scuba is great because it doesn’t crease and it holds its shape really well. Not everyone likes the very synthetic feel of scuba so other suggestions would be: double knit jerseys, denim and heavy cottons, …… I would steer clear of any loose weave or very floppy fabric like linen, cheesecloth or fine jersey. The Colour Block Dress could also work really well as a party dress made in satin or crepe to give it a gorgeous gloss.
Because so many of the cuts are on the diagonal, you will need to stabilise all of these edges before you start sewing the panels together or your dress will suffer from strange sagging in certain places. This is all to do with there being more stretch on the bias (diagonal) of the fabric weave than on the straight. It’s quick and easy to do but VERY IMPORTANT so don’t skip it. Have a look at my post on cutting fabric on the bias to help you understand this. And if you already know what I’m talking about, then you might find this tutorial from Threads magazine about stabilising bias cut fabric useful. While its not really a problem for non-woven fabrics (like scuba) it is particularly important for satins and silks that drape well.
One tip for a fabulous finish on this dress is that I changed my thread colours according to the panel I was on which I think makes a big difference to the quality of finish. Have a look at the detail here and you will see it is pink thread on the pink panel and black on the black.
And just a final note….I know it’s all about solid colour, but rules are there to be broken right? So I couldn’t resist showing you this gorgeous skirt by Phillip Lim that manages to successfully combine blocks of solid colour with a bold floral. I know this is a single fabric rather than a combination of fabrics but it makes me think that dropping a giant floral into one of the panels wouldn’t be out of the question.
Take sometime choosing your fabrics for this one. The key to making the dress a success is making sure that your fabrics are all a very similar weight. There is so much scope for making this dress over and over with a different result every time!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS DRESS PATTERN HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE THIS POST WAS WRITTEN. THERE ARE SOME CHANGES TO THE ORIGINAL SHAPE AND DESIGN. PLEASE SEE THE PATTERN COVER TO THE RIGHT FEATURING THE GREEN DRESS FOR THE NEW LOOK. THERE IS ALSO A POST HERE THAT TALKS ABOUT THE UPDATED VERSION.