Using my knife print fabric

Last term I printed a piece of cloth with a knife print. I have written about this before. On top of a light grey background I over-printed with small knives lino blocks, using navy, darker grey and a little bit of red. Eventually I finished the fabric left it to dry, then fixed the colour with a hot iron. “Make an outfit with the knife print” was one of the items on my to do list. 

The issue when printing fabric in general is how much to make. More often I decide on the garment first, then print or paint the fabric, ideally having cut out or at least traced off the pieces. This saves painting or printing the parts that are wasted. However with a specific length of cloth (2m) I was restricted in what I could make. I considered a summer skirt, but when I draped the fabric on me I thought I would prefer a dress. I considered a fitted dress, but then rejected it on the grounds that I didn’t want to spoil the design with darts.

When Esme was pregnant I had made up a simple flared dress pattern for her. The idea was that in a wool it would be a pinafore dress, whereas in cotton it would be more summery. I made a winter dress for her and I think she wore it for work before her bump got too big.  Anyway it isn’t a maternity dress as such – simply one that flares from the shoulder – and I thought it might work as a simple summer dress for me. It is such a simple pattern – just a front and back, no darts, no fastenings, just an easy to make and wear dress.

With self printed fabrics accidents can happen. As I was mixing the printing ink I managed to drop some blue on the fabric. I scraped it off and washed it out, but it was too late. Luckily it didn’t matter when I cut out the dress.

Simple flared dress pattern (self drafted)
Simple flared dress pattern (self drafted)

I used every centimetre of my cloth to cut out the dress and pinned it onto Camilla. She does look a bit expectant, doesn’t she?

Lino printed dress on the stand
Knife print dress (cut out)

Now I have to decide whether to line the dress, create facings or make some bias binding.  I don’t think it is worth lining it as it is a little bit too firm for the design, and I don’t have enough fabric left for facings – of course they would be fine in white cotton. I do have a little bit of red linen which might work well as bias binding.  I also have a few off cuts of the knife printed fabric which I would like to find a use for – perhaps pockets (mainly to distract from the paunchy look), or a little bag? I will have a think about how to proceed. I don’t want it to look too much like an overall (for a pregnant cleaner). Any views?

9 Responses

  1. i’m in love with this Kate. Perfect for a hot summer day – great colours. I vote for red bias on the outside to contain and define the print. Would like to see mocked up red patch pockets or maybe print pockets with red piping to define. Lovely project – congrats.

  2. Lovely fabric and the knife design suits your ideas for styling. Lesley’s suggestions are good, you do need something to stop the eye and a red edging would do that nicely, although I would vote no to pockets.

    Another option is to add deep solid band at the hem that you could peg to give some subtle shaping.

    A word of caution, aim for a column that skims your body because if it’s too loose it will look and feel wrong on your petite frame.

    Happy planning, I love plans.

  3. Love the fabric, not quite loving the dress yet. Maybe it’s just being on Camilla, I always reserve judgement until it’s on the body it’s made for of course! I get what you’re saying about ‘overall’ though- is it because of that high round neckline? Perhaps a V, especially with all those lines from the knives?..Definitely red binding/facings, that will be lovely. I look forward to seeing this one mutate- the simplest projects so often cause more thought!

  4. Open the side seams up from the hem to just below the waist and bind those outside edges. Make vertical fish-eye darts front and back to suck the fabric closer to your body. Bind the neck with the same fabric as side seams and then make tiny facings or inside bindings for the armholes. It has a great vertical feel that we love, no sense making any horizontal eye diverting features and shortening the image. It is so unique!

    • Forgot to add that this would turn into a tunic with slit sides to be worn over leggings or shorts…not a dress!

  5. The fabric is totally cool!

  6. I am so impressed that you printed this fabric.
    If the dress belonged to me, I would go towards breaking up the print with plain black or grey raglan sleeves, edging the neckline in the same colour. I also think a v neck would be better.

  7. A huge success! I think the red just adds a real something.. xxx

  8. Your knife print looks fabulous! I vote for red bias binding (not showing). The dress won’t look like a pregnant cleaner’s uniform with a belt, right? If it were mine, I think I’d deepen the neckline a bit. 🙂

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