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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Cathedral Dress


One of the many neat things about Squam is that you get to drool over (and be inspired by) all the gorgeous things people have knit and sewn for themselves. This dress was on the agenda for last year, but I only managed to finish the shell. This year my dear friend Anne took these photos on Saturday afternoon.


The fabric is a cotton lawn from Spoonflower in an amazing print inspired by medieval rosette windows, a Christmas gift from my mom and sister. The designer’s name is Samarra Khaja, and her website is here. I’ve always had a thing for stained glass, but up ’til now I could only dream of wearing it!


The pattern is Butterick 5490, which I first spotted on Green Apples. I’d originally envisioned something really simple so as not to cut up the rosettes, but then every pattern I looked at felt a bit too plain, even considering the busyness of the pattern. Notice the bold fabric used in the sample garment (view A). Might as well make a statement, right?

The lining is a fine cotton batiste from Mood Fabrics. (Yes, this was a really expensive project. So, so worth it.)


Part of what kept this project in my UFO pile was my reluctance to attempt an invisible zipper. Thanks to this Colette tutorial it feels doable now–except when it came time to use the invisible zipper foot, the machine seized up and the needle wouldn’t move! (I still need to figure out what I did wrong there.) Shuddering at a vision of spending the next two hours raging against my New Home, I decided to install the zipper by hand. Yes, it took ages, but it was stress free, even when I tried it on and found I needed to pull out the stitching and take it in a bit; plus, I got to hand-sew my way through Catching Fire on audiobook.


The green cardigan is from a pattern by Alexis Winslow, and I will blog about it soon. (Ravelry project link here.)

I’m really happy with this dress, even though the pleats at the back might make me look like I’m wearing a bustle, and a funky wrinkle keeps showing on the bodice (which I can probably fix). This is the first ‘proper’ dress I’ve ever really sewn–I’m not really counting sundresses #1 and #2, since they were super easy and required no daunting new techniques. The pattern calls for a lined bodice only, but the cotton lawn is slightly sheer, so I needed to add a skirt lining as well. I just traced the skirt from Heather Ross’s sundress pattern and gathered it using another great Colette how-to (I got the book for Christmas this past year–the format, clear photography, and projects are all terrific.) This lining no doubt contributes to the bustle effect, but I’ve never been concerned about the size of my tookus, and I’m not about to start.


I have to finish Kelly’s quilt before I do any more sewing for myself, but after that I’m excited to try some Colette patterns I’ve been stashing over the last year or two…

10 Comments to Cathedral Dress

  1. nancy's Gravatar nancy
    July 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    saw your link on spoonflower – can not believe you put in zipper by hand – that to me is more brave than cussing the machine until you get it fixed – love the dress – the material is very nice for that pattern – looks great on you!

  2. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that’s just lovely!

  3. July 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Writing, knitting, sewing… now you’re really my dream self!
    That is a beautiful dress. I still remember when spoonflower just launched their site. I always thought I’d order fabric from them when I was learning to sew. Never did learn to sew anything more than placemats and cushion covers.
    Oh, you should add fashion modeling to your resume.

  4. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    July 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    It is absolutely amazing that you made that dress yourself. And those photos of you in it are just fabulous!!!

  5. July 20, 2012 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    I love this dress on you. The fit is fabulous.

  6. July 20, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I could not possibly be more impressed!!!!! You are amazing and so is that dress!! xoxo, e

  7. dee's Gravatar dee
    July 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    That is beautiful. LOVE the fabric. Full of admiration for your crafty genius!!

  8. Ang's Gravatar Ang
    July 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    that dress is beautiful!! I love the pattern and how it looks on you!

  9. Kelly's Gravatar Kelly
    July 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink


  10. August 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi Camille,
    I was trolling around online and spotted your fab photos of your even more amazing dress made with my fabric! It looks absolutely stellar! Thank you so much for crediting me and linking to my site (the link seems to be broken though). Love, love, love this dress! I’d love to post a couple of these photos on my blog (, if you wouldn’t mind; let me know! Great job! Best, Samarra

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.