Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou Frou Dress: DIY from Colette “Myrtle” pattern and Spoonflower Fabric

Cardigan: Eliza Parker

Belt: Closet Confessions

Shoes: Comfortview

My first fabric order with Spoonflower was in 2012, when I bought an amazing silk/cotton fabric printed with the image of a star forming region and turned it into a Colette Macaron dress. It was pretty quick to develop an addiction to the online fabric company which has a plethora of extraordinary printed fabrics (and the capacity to design and upload your own!)

My first Spacedress is long gone, but with stars and star-prints looking like one of the major trends this season (hurrah!) I thought maybe it was time to whip up a new one.

I chose the performance knit fabric, which at US$24 a yard certainly isn’t the cheapest dress fabric out there, but I’ve worked with it before and found it to have exceptional colour quality, wearability and drape. It’s a 100% polyester knit with a bit of a swimsuity sheen to it, and it has “moisture management” which would explain why even on hot days I don’t get sweaty in it. It has a bit of weight, and only about 25% stretch which means it holds its shape well and doesn’t bag out.

I was going to go for the same print as last time – the Star Forming Regions – but when I plugged in the number of yards I needed (I would definitely recommend this step if you’re buying from Spoonflower) I realised the fabric would end up with tiles as the pattern repeated. Instead I opted for this amazing image of the Carina Nebula which at 85×58″ in size would be big enough for me to make my favourite Myrtle sewing project without any visible repeats.

Frocks and Frou FrouThere’s a fairly big differentiation in the colours of the Carina Nebula. From deep blues to pinks and golds and deepening to purple and red in the centre.

I picked the pinks and blues for the front, and kept the deeper and darker colours for the back.

Frocks and Frou FrouAnd then, because it was freaking cold, I covered the lot up with a long draped cardigan, and added my bow belt from Closet Confessions and my sparkly galaxy necklace which is impossible to photograph so you’ll just have to take my word for it that in person it’s the prettiest sparkliest thing you’ve ever seen.

Frocks and Frou FrouThis is the fifth Myrtle dress that I’ve made, so I’m definitely getting my money’s worth with the dress pattern. It’s such a great one for beginner sewers, because it doesn’t have any tricky zippers or sleeves, the waistband is elasticised, and the draped neckline and knit fabric is very forgiving for people who aren’t confident about tweaking patterns for full-bust adjustments, or sway-back adjustments.

Frocks and Frou Frou - Myrtle Dress 5 ways

Wax Works


Skirt: Anna Devine

Belt: Modcloth

Shoes: Comfortview via One Stop Plus

I’m a huge fan of the bold, and brightly coloured wax prints that are so synonymous with the fashion of of West Africa. The incongruous and irreverent patterns really speak to me, and I’ve been delighted to watch them start to hit the mainstream market. Where the saturated bright colours and big prints might overwhelm slight figures, they seem to particularly suit bigger bodies which provide a larger canvas to play with.

I’ve been a bit too anxious about cultural appropriation, and aware of my own ignorance about the political and sociological history of Ankara, or wax printed fabrics, to wear it before now. I didn’t want to be the (mostly) white girl wearing something in ignorance, like the people wearing Native American head-dresses to music festivals.

I was at the Finders Keepers Market in Melbourne a few months ago, and came across Anna Devine‘s stall of beautiful wax print skirts. I was stopped in my tracks, and meandered over to have a little fondle. Anna overheard me telling my friend why I couldn’t wear the prints, and she told me the revelationary news that “African” wax printed fabric is actually considerably more global than that.

The leading manufacturer of Ankara fabric is Vlisco, a Dutch company that started producing wax print fabrics in 1846, after being inspired by the Indonesian Batik brought back to Holland by the Dutch East India Trading Company. There’s a fascinating article on Slate about the history if you’re interested in reading more.

The fabrics usually have names – this one is called “Record” – most with stories behind them, which you can read on the Vlisco website (I got a giggle out of “You Fly, I Fly” which depicts a bird escaping an open cageĀ  and is worn by newlywed women as a warning to their husbands!).

The skirt is very full, and the fabric is quite stiff, but I believe it softens with repeated wears and washes. It’s 100% cotton, and gorgeously bright. In all honesty I had a little trouble finding something to wear it with – Anna suggests a plain black tee, and I’ve often see the bold prints paired successfully with crisp white shirts, too. This plummy roll-sleeve t-shirt from Miss Shop works fine.

I was so glad to discover I could wear the big bold prints of Ankara fabric without offending anyone’s culture, or treading on anyone’s toes. I’ve since bought a second skirt (from Prodigal Daughter in Canberra) and I’ve got my eye on a few other pieces I’ve seen around the traps.