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The Colorblock Dress at last!

2012 March 23
by elizabeth_admin

Phew!  Now that was a project and a half!  Despite the trials and tribulations, I really enjoyed this process.  There were so many steps, but they were all enjoyable, even the mental perambulations (I find it exceedingly apt that ambulance has similar roots to perambulations since you might need an ambulance after you perambulate – haha). 

Brief recap of the colorblock marathon:

  1. Choose a design
  2. Cut up my TNT
  3. Figure out order of construction
  4. Sample, sample, sample!
  5. Hit some roadblocks
  6. Topstitching is fun!
  7. Wear the dress on a beautiful NYC Spring day!

Wow, I have so many things I want to share with you about the construction of this dress.  Where to start?  First off, spending hours drawing all those designs was fun.  I totally understand all the croqui madness that has been spreading around the sewing blog world.  That took up several days and nights of my time.  I chose my colorblock scheme based on ease of interpreting the design into my TNT sheath dress pattern, B5147.  I had to think of how to deal with the darts, both the bust darts and the fisheye darts.  Lauriana, and several others suggested that I rotate the darts into the design seams, but that made my poor little head hurt.  I also knew that the pink linen was my color, while the orange was not great next to my face, so that dictated a lot of the color placement and also how much orange I used. 

I made a lot of samples which helped quite a bit in determining my order of construction and preferred methods, but they didn’t completely prevent mishaps or obstacles. 

  • My sister pointed out that having the darts run through the orange waistband was weird.  She was right.  So I redrafted the waistband. 
  • My topstitching samples were fine, but when it came to the real topstitching, I had a mess.  The tension was off sometimes and my eyes were really pulled to all the random loose stitches.  I ripped it all out and started over with a proper topstitching needle on my Singer Featherweight.  It worked like a charm.  My topstitching is gorgeous, if I do say so myself.  I want to topstitch everything in sight now. 
  • The mysterious grease stains from nowhere came out using Dawn dishwashing detergent.  Several people, including Peter, suggested that little gem. 

Matching the colorblock seams was mostly successful (just two points don’t match up completely, but my perfectionism has its limits) and I’m quite pleased with how the dress turned out.  It’s flattering, bright and pretty. 

Ready for some pictures???

Here are some close ups of the top stitching, seam matching and the slit (which I chose to topstitch as well to deal with the seam allowances).

Topstitching perfection


Check out that seam matching!


Back slit with topstitching


 Other construction notes…

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I really wanted the orange parts of the dress to be a saturated orange, so I doubled up the orange linen for those sections.  Not only did that work and the orange is really solid, but the double layer gave the waistband a nice support and the hem band has a nice weight helping the dress to drape beautifully.  I faced the hem band and topstitching the top of the hem band enclosed the seam allowance of the facing at the same time.  I love when things just come together beautifully like that. 

I also used a new method of inserting the zipper where the lining and fashion fabric are both sewn on by machine rather than hand stitching the lining to the zipper tape.  I happened across this tutorial online, but also saw there were several others.  While this method worked, I found that the lining was sewn too close to the zipper teeth.  It caused problems using the zipper and I had to unpick a few of the stitches.  Also, I had difficulty feeding the lining fabric through evenly so there was a little bunching up.  I wasn’t too bothered by it though and I didn’t adjust anything beyond unpicking a few stitches.  One more note on this method: I think you have more control over how “invisible” the zipper is by inserting it the traditional way.  Or I could just need more practice.  😉  

Here’s how the dress looks worn. 




And here’s how I wore it at work with a cardigan that I picked up yesterday at Ann Taylor.  It couldn’t have matched any more perfectly.


Conclusion:  I love this dress.  It’s so cute with those bright colors.  Everyone else looks so drab in their NYC black uniform.  Haha!  I told everyone to wear their sunglasses today at work.  They need them. 

Happy Spring everyone!


65 Responses leave one →
  1. March 23, 2012

    Elizabeth – you look wonderful in your dress, so beautiful and colourful.. full of the joys of Spring! Well done 🙂

  2. March 23, 2012

    Gosh its just lovely! I adore what you’ve done and I think the place of the orange is perfectly positioned. You look STELLAR! One question – I’m fascinated by the term TNT pattern and admitedly do not know what it means. What is a TNT pattern? I’ve searched the term and several other stitchers use it too, but I don’t know exactly what it is. Kind of like a sloper? Either way, your dress, the fit, the color, the style and everything else suit you perfectly. It’s utterly gorgeous!
    xoxo, Sunni

  3. Nancy permalink
    March 23, 2012

    Long-time reader, first time commenter (I think). This is just beautiful on you, and congratulations that all of your work has paid off so beautifully.

  4. March 23, 2012

    Gorgeous! Love the dress and you look utterly fabulous in it.

  5. March 23, 2012

    Brava — really lovely!

    You did a wonderful job and you have the perfect weather to wear it.

  6. March 23, 2012

    It looks amazing! Worth the effort. The colours really zing together and it is so flattering on you. You look like you have lost a little weight, too.

  7. March 23, 2012

    Totally fabulous, Elizabeth! You will stand out like a precious gem!

  8. March 23, 2012


    I love the colors so much.

  9. Rosie permalink
    March 23, 2012

    Your persistence paid off. The colors / dress are fantastic on you! Way to go Elizabeth!!

  10. March 23, 2012

    Simply beautiful! Lovely work.

  11. March 23, 2012

    It turned out beautifully!

  12. March 23, 2012

    Woot! Totally gorgeous!

  13. March 23, 2012

    Pretty, pretty pretty.

  14. Joyce in NC permalink
    March 23, 2012

    Great looking dress!

  15. March 23, 2012

    Ooooo. Love it! The colors are amazing and the style is super flattering. Looks great with the cardigan too! And the top stitching is perfect – totally worth the re-do. Amazing!

  16. March 23, 2012

    I’ve been looking forward to the big reveal and it doesn’t disappoint. Those colours are amazing. And no one else will have a dress like this!

  17. March 23, 2012

    This is beautiful , I have always loved this colour combo .

  18. March 23, 2012

    Wow, you look great in your colorblock dress. The style and the colors are so flattering. Doesn’t it make you feel happier when you wear a colorful dress like this one?

  19. March 23, 2012

    A-ma-zing! You look awesome. Love the colours, the colour placement works perfectly and that topstitching is great. And you even found a matching cardigan?! I just love it all!

  20. March 23, 2012

    This is absolutely stunning! I just love it!

  21. March 23, 2012

    That’s a gorgeous, happy dress. Great job!

  22. March 23, 2012

    Your dress is beautiful. You have done a superb job. Love it wiht the cardi as well.

  23. March 23, 2012

    Wow, the result is fabulous. It looks amazing on you.

  24. Paula permalink
    March 23, 2012


  25. March 23, 2012

    Gorgeous! Love the color combo.

  26. March 23, 2012

    That dress looks amazing! I LOVE those colours together and that cardigan is the perfect match!

  27. March 23, 2012

    Wow…all your thinking, testing and coloring in really paid off! A very striking dress! The top stitching is perfection!

  28. March 23, 2012

    Your dress is amazing!

  29. March 23, 2012


  30. March 23, 2012

    That is FANTASTIC. Great colors, great details. The sweater is perfect. Congratulations!

  31. SusieR permalink
    March 23, 2012

    You are GORGEOUS, girl!!! Love that dress. L-O-V-E. xo

  32. March 23, 2012

    That is just stunning – the colour blocking, the topstitching, and the fit. You look amazing, and it’s a dress to be proud of!

  33. March 23, 2012

    So lovely!

  34. March 24, 2012

    Wow a wonderful outcome to such amazing tenacity. Gorgeous and the colours are perfect. Thank you for posting so much detail about the dress from the beginning of the process.

  35. Janet B permalink
    March 24, 2012


  36. March 24, 2012

    I’ve just gotta add to all of the above – absolutely fabulous dress – I’ve followed with interest the design and construction – it’s great to see it finished too. You look wonderful in it so the style suits you too. Love the seam matching – good work.

  37. March 24, 2012

    This is absolutely beautiful and I knew it would be! Your dress fits like a glove and the colors are super. Congratulations!

  38. Branka permalink
    March 24, 2012

    You did a fantastic job, I really enjoyed all your posts on making this dress, too:)
    Ur gonna get so much pleasure out of wearing this one!

  39. March 24, 2012

    What can I say that hasn’t been said! I have always loved those two colours together. Beautiful topstitching! You look great!

  40. March 24, 2012

    good job . the fitting , the design, the matching are all spot on.

  41. Elaray permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Ditto what everybody else said!!!!!

  42. March 24, 2012

    What a fabulous job. You look gorgeous.

  43. Judi permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Wow!!! Perfect!!! Beautiful!!! High five!!!!!

  44. March 24, 2012

    Job well done! It looks beautiful!

  45. elizabeth_admin permalink*
    March 24, 2012

    Thank you so much everyone! I really enjoyed wearing the dress and received a ton of unsolicitations all day. What a great feeling!

  46. March 24, 2012

    I’m so thrilled to see how many people agree with me that this is one fantastically amazing dress! It was a journey but wasn’t it worth it when you finally put it on and wore it to work!?! I am so proud of you that you set a goal, worked your way through it and came out with such a wonderful garment in the end. You’ve got skillz girl!

  47. March 24, 2012

    Great dress! I LOVE that color combo!

  48. March 25, 2012

    I LOVE wearing color when everyone else is in black… hehe.

    You did an absolutely 100% gorgeous amazing job on the top-stitching and the colors and the seam matching. Wow. Beautiful work.

  49. Threadless permalink
    March 25, 2012

    Your colour block dress has been worth all of the designing, unpicking and reconstructing. You look amazing in it and the cardigan was obviously designed with you as muse!
    Your sister was spot on about the waistband – it looks really crisp and professional.
    You’re going to knock their socks off at work x

  50. Meredith P permalink
    March 25, 2012

    That is a spectacular dress, wonderful color combo and you look terrific in it! I am totally stealing…er….paying homage to your idea with another colorway.

    YOu have amazing patience. I would not unpick everything. Gah! But it was worth it.

  51. March 25, 2012

    I love all those bright colors! What a fun dress!

  52. SewOm permalink
    March 25, 2012

    Gorgeous! Congratulations!

  53. Karen Mulkey permalink
    March 26, 2012

    This dress was well worth the time as it looks fabulous on you – SMASHING!

  54. March 26, 2012

    OOOoh! This might be my favorite thing you’ve sewn! I love the super saturated colors! And the fit is perfect!

  55. March 26, 2012

    Outstandingly gorgeous… love the colors.

  56. March 26, 2012

    This dress is perfection. The colors are perfect, as are the proportions, and it fits you perfectly. You have some amazing skills. You should be so proud of yourself.

  57. March 28, 2012

    This dress is truely amazing. The fit and construction are beautiful and well worth all the time and effort. You look stunning in it.

  58. March 30, 2012

    I love that dress. Orange and fuschia is a favorite color combo of mine.

  59. March 30, 2012

    Chic spring dress, Love the details, especially the topstitching, which pulls the two colours together so well.

  60. April 11, 2012

    I’m a little late commenting, but I love your dress! The colors are so bright and go well together. Well done!

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