all my own work by ann

Sewing and textiles with Ann

A dress for Indonesia

I have read some debate recently about whether sewers are fabric- or pattern- driven. I am definitely pattern driven; I see a pattern and then I go out and find suitable fabric. This means that I have several unused patterns, but not a massive fabric stash. Which is sort of good, because patterns are easier to store!

This outfit is fabric – driven. It’s from Fancy Silk Store and I think I looked at it 3 times before I finally bought it, still unsure what I was going to do with it.

Some friends and I are going to Indonesia later this year, so inspired by my recent trips to Vietnam, Burma and Thailand, (not to mention, India) I have started to find out more about the textiles of South East Asia, and have noted that Indonesia has a wide range of interesting textiles, all with different histories and meanings. Yes, textiles with meaning – which is something else I am currently reading about.

This fabric clearly says that it is printed in Holland, which is miles away from Indonesia, but, the Dutch were in the islands, in the same way as Britain had an empire, and I can see some influences – hints of ikat weaving, tie dye and paisley patterns, all of which will feature in Indonesian textiles – hence the title. I must read more before I get there.

The pattern, bought specially for the fabric, is McCalls 6885, a shirt dress buttoned to the waist. I chose this pattern very deliberately because it doesn’t have either a centre front or centre back seam, and hence limiting the requirement to pattern match / better for showing off the design.

I used view C, with a straight hem and short sleeves.

I did match the side seams, at least in terms of getting the design level, and the sleeves are also the same part of the design on both sides.


It’s a fairly standard shirt dress construction with a collar and stand and front bands, and it all comes together well. I had most fun with the buttons, having decided that I would used self covered buttons, and play with the fabric so that each button was different, and would be suitably placed on the dress so as to be noticed. (Maybe….)

I like making self covered buttons! There is a sense of satisfaction when the back pops into place. There are two approaches to making them. I used both here. Three use one method and one uses another. Can you spot which is which? In one case, I wet the fabric and wrapped it round the blank button, and then pushed on the back (with the bottom of an old Coats cotton reel). The rest were done by stitching a short running stitch around the fabric circle and then pulling the thread before popping the back into place with the cotton reel. I think that worked better, despite taking a bit longer to do.

Then as many of us discuss from time to time, I prayed that my button hole feature would work properly……….

IMG_0465and it did! I stitched the top hole the opposite way round to the others, so as not to get the foot caught up in the thickness of the collar stand, and it worked first time.

The sun hat

Now, I have spent quite a bit of time recently sorting, and throwing out, some of my left over fabric bits. I only ever use sizable chunks, and my bag was full. So luckily I had the idea of making another sun hat before I threw away the bits!IMG_0469

This is my own pattern; not the one that comes with the dress pattern. When I bought the pattern, I had no intention of making another hat, but there was sufficient fabric, so it seemed like a good idea. It will definitely be worn in Indonesia.

The hat is quite tight, but unlikely to blow off. I think this is because I use solid interfacing for the brim, and the inner brim measures slightly less than the head circumference. I washed it and dripped it dry as soon as it was completed, and that softens everything a little bit. I wore the white one quite a bit in Thailand, so I have no doubt that this will be used as well.


I followed my own method, as described in the original blog post, proving it to be repeatable!

This is all a bit bright, so only to be worn on a warm day. I can see myself strolling along the seafront at Southend wearing it – as I occasionally do. The Birmingham canals are not quite the same, are they? You’ll see me coming, I think.

2 comments on “A dress for Indonesia

  1. MrsCraft
    May 20, 2016

    That dress is fab! I don’t know much about sewing so can’t comment on which button is the odd one out but they all look great to me. The hat is lovely too! 😊

    • ann hebden
      May 23, 2016

      Thank you for reading my blog and for your kind comments. Ann

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This entry was posted on May 19, 2016 by in Dresses, Fashion, Handmade, Hats, McCalls, Sewing, Shirt dress, Sunhat and tagged , , , , , , .
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