Planning the fabric for a new silk dress

I mentioned I was thinking of making a silk maxi dress, with hand painted fabric. I am thinking of a full length, drapey dress that feel pretty and cool for summer evenings and to take on holiday (we are going to Egypt soon).

I haven’t actually decided on the pattern yet.

I am going to do a floral scheme (as I often do). It is hard to show what I have in mind. When I was growing up my father was in the world of textiles. They produced many floral designs, mainly for curtains. I think those designs, with 12 or more colours in them, must have imprinted themselves in my brain as I am constantly, almost unconsciously attracted to them. I cannot find any images, but the Joules brand sometimes capture something of what I have in mind. They have a clear background colour, on which are set fairly large, billowy flowers. Many of the colour schemes are not exactly what I wanted, but this is the sort of overall effect I am trying to produce.

In fact when I went to their site to see if I could find some contemporary examples I found an image of one of their new designs, based on a water-colour. This is much closer to what I am able to achieve with my painting on silk, and I think it looks more modern than the more traditional chintz type look. Especially the top on the left – I love the looseness of the design and the comparatively large amount of background.


In the meantime I want to plan a colour scheme that will work for an all over pattern – and I am thinking mainly green (light jade, emerald, true green, forest), offset by some lighter and middling pinks and white, with some neutral elements – probably some dark brown, darker grey and light grey.

Another thought is to use a cobalt blue with reds and pinks and a little yellow and white, with a bit of forest or navy for depth. These are the sort of colours that Toya has put together so beautifully and artfully in this gorgeous Easter bonnet and patchwork bag for her little girl. She is such a talented crafter and very generous with sharing her patterns and ideas – go and look at her blog if you have a minute.

Then I saw a hanging basket in Mayfair with a whole range of hydrangeas in various shades of purple, with deep green leaves.

Finally I am thinking of a white background with many colours of flowers – pinks, yellows, blues, with green foliage – inspired by English country gardens.


I am very exited by these possibilities and I am going to try a few small panels to get the colour scheme I want.

11 Responses

  1. Esme

    ?? I have spotted ‘the’ dress twice up there! Turquoise background with pink flowers, you could have one for each day of the week!

  2. Stephanie

    So nice to read this entry full of spring. It’s a feast for the eyes. I’m particularly drawn to the white dress up top, but yellow or turquoise or green would also be super. I have a feeling that you’re thinking of doing something that you haven’t done yet. So much possibility. I’m keen to see the shapes/designs that you employ. PS Toya’s work is terrific!

  3. Toya

    Thanks Kate – so glad I could trade inspirations with you. After seeing all your fabric experimentations I can’t wait to try a few of my own out – discharge paste on order…

  4. Amanda

    That sounds so wonderful – the absolute most perfect thing to wear when it’s hot and humid; you have chosen some lovely colour combinations, so why limit yourself? I am thinking you should definitely make more than one!!! 🙂

  5. fabrickated

    I am begining to feel you are right Amanda. Making several yards for one dress maybe a mistake. What about three different designs/colour ways for three blouses – more interesting and probably they would get more wear (multi seasonal and probably good for work and weekends)?

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