Creative articles about sewing

Announcing the “Irina” Dress Sew Along! Inspiration & Fabric Requirements

Welcome! We are excited to announce a new Sew Along to make the “Irina” dress from the inspiration Magazine. The “Irina” is a loose-fitted T-shirt dress with a gathered waist, bound neckline and of course pockets! It’s also the FREE pattern for May 2024. You can see more details about the “Irina” dress in this blog post and you can download the free pattern on our website.

Starting in June, we will sew this dress with weekly prompts over 8 weeks. The posts will have step-by-step info for beginners but will focus on ways to modify and embellish this simple dress to turn it into whatever you want it to be.

My name is Anna Hicks and I’m a textile artist who works for BERNINA based in New Zealand and I’m thrilled to be hosting this “Irina” Sew Along. I have a fashion degree but my work involves a wide variety of textile art including 3D quilts, hand & machine embroidery, wearable art and I’m especially interested in Zero-Waste fashion design at the moment. But enough about me, let’s talk “Irina” dresses so I can show you what I’ve made!

As we’re heading into winter in New Zealand, I wanted to make a winter weight dress out of a cosy merino knit fabric. But I also love linen, so I decided to make two. One linen dress that will be ready for Summer and one merino dress that I can wear now. I’m delighted to share my creative journey for both of them and I hope you will join me and sew your own. 

The dresses 

The “Irina” dress is a loose fitted garment so it’s very forgiving on what size you choose. I made a mock up in the size recommend for my measurements and it fitted perfectly with enough room for breezy movements. This gives us lots of options for changes we can make to the pattern without having to get too technical or adding features without having to change the fit. Have a look at the two dresses I’ve made and further down we’ve got lots of other inspiring ideas and a downloadable copy of the working drawing that you can print out and start designing your own.

For my linen dress, I decided to keep the original shape of the Irina dress but I wanted to add colour blocking panels. I added design lines to join 3 different colours of linens into one dress. Here is my original sketch and the final design. In the Sew Along posts I will demonstrate how to add design lines and create new pattern pieces of your own design. 

For my merino knit dress, I wanted a boxy sleeveless tunic that I can layer over long sleeve tops for winter. I also decided it needed a second tier of gathers in the skirt for extra length and warmth. Here is my original sketch and my final dress. I ended up adapting the bodice pattern by removing the princess lines to make a one piece front and extend the shoulders out. I then added a hidden facing to finish the neckline and armholes instead of binding. Demonstrations of all this will be included.

I’m really happy with how both of these dresses turned out and I look forward to sharing the steps with you so you can make your own.

The Plan

The “Irina” Sew Along officially kicks off with Week 1 starting Mon 3rd June going through to Week 8 – Mon 22nd July. Today’s post is to inspire you with ideas so you can start planning your own dress. Below is the weekly prompt schedule. These will be posted each Monday on the blog so check back on Monday June 3rd for the first installment. We have also got a prize pack available for New Zealand and Australian residents so read to the bottom for more info about that if you live in my part of the world.

Designing your own dress

The “Irina” dress is a lovely design just as it is but I encourage you to try something new and add some modifications. Below is a bunch of potential ideas to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing. We will cover some of these ideas with inspiring photos and few tips and tricks scattered throughout the Irina Sew Along posts.

Pattern adjustments Options

Lengthen – Make the skirt longer or add another tier. Or possibly another short frill at the bottom of the skirt.
Shorten – Make it T-shirt length with a short 10cm frill.
Remove sleeves – Make into a tunic.
Add frills to the sleeves or a decorative bow.
Make the sleeves long for winter.
Add side ties to be able to make the bodice more fitted at the waist.

Embellishments Options

Machine embroidery – Bodice motif, a continuous design along skirt or sleeve hem. Embroidery down the centre front of bodice.
Other machine embellishment techniques – Spanish hem stitch around the skirt hem. Couching a free motion design.
Patchwork – Make the whole dress out of patchworked scraps. Create a border around the skirt hem with patchwork designs.
Applique – Add machine or hand applique designs.
Hand embroidery – Add hand embroidery designs or use chunky hand stitching to finish hems and necklines.

Different Fabric Options

Using different fabrics will completely change the look and the way this dress hangs. For this pattern you could use all sorts of different fabrics!

As recommended by the original, light weight chambray, which is soft and drapey and easy to sew.
Medium to light weight Linen is perfect for this and has the same shape as chambray.
Light weight woven wool would be lovely, warm and drapey.
Merino knit for a light weight winter dress.
Silky fabric for an evening look (more difficult to sew well so not advisable for beginners).
Cotton lace or open weave fabric, could be worn over top of a long singlet (more difficult to sew well so not advisable for beginners). 

Sketches

The first step in designing your own dress is some quick sketches or concept drawings. We’ve got an outline drawing of the dress, that you can download as an A4. It has 2 copies of a front and back of the dress. You can print this out and start sketching/colouring your ideas on top. Don’t worry about it being a “good” drawing, it’s about visualising your idea to see if you like it and they can be for your eyes only. Here are a few rough sketches I did before I decided on my two dresses. Right click here for your A4 print out, save the image, print a few and let’s get sketching.

Alternatively, you could use a lightbox or some tracing paper to draw your designs over top of the outline and see what it would look like in different shapes. 

Fabric Requirements

Original “Irina” dress pattern fabric requirements

  • 1.1 – 1.3m denim chambray, 145cm wide

Linen Colour Block dress fabric requirements

The amounts of each fabric below may vary depending on how you design your curve lines

  • 0.8 – 1m of first colour linen, 115cm wide
  • 0.8 – 1m of second colour linen, 115cm wide
  • 0.8 – 1m of third colour linen, 115cm wide

Merino Tunic dress fabric requirements

  • 2.2m merino knit, 150cm wide 
  • 0.25m light weight iron on knit interfacing, 100cm wide

For all designs

I like to use tracing vilene to copy my pattern onto but you can use whatever method you prefer for making your patterns

  • 2.5 – 3m tracing vilene a.k.a. light weight non-fusible interfacing, 100cm wide

Prize Packs available for New Zealand & Australian residents.

All you have to do to be eligible is participate in the Irina Sew Along by making the dress and posting some work-in-progress photos and a photo of your finished dress on Facebook and/or Instagram by the 12th of August 2024. Make sure to tag us and use the hashtags #IrinaSAL and #BERNINANZ or #BERNINAAUSTRALIA so we can see your entries. 

Sew Along Dates:

Week 1 – 3rd June 2024
Week 8 – 22nd July 2024
Finished photos must be posted by 11.59pm 12th August 2024

New Zealand – Terms & Conditions

Participants will go in the draw to win a prize pack worth $440 that includes a BERNINA Scissor Set, a massive selection of Mettler overlocker & sewing threads and a year’s worth of Inspiration Magazines (3 issues).

Participation is subject to the following Terms and Conditions.

  • Participation in the Irina Sew Along is defined as: Sewing the Irina Dress, posting work-in-progress photos and photos of your finished dress on Facebook and/or Instagram by 11.59pm on 12th August 2024. 
  • The Irina dress can be modified, embellished or changed in any way you desire. 
  • Prize includes 1x BERNINA Scissor Set (5x scissors), a selection of Mettler overlocking and sewing threads and 1x years’ worth of Inspiration Magazines (3 Issues) – Total value $440 NZD
  • Prize will be randomly drawn using a random number generator.
  • 1 prize pack available for New Zealand residents only.
  • 1 entry per person – Doesn’t matter if it is posted on Facebook, Instagram or both.
  • Tag @Bernina New Zealand on Facebook or @BerninaNZ on Instagram.
  • Use hashtags #IrinaSAL & #BERNINANZ
  • Winner will be announced on Friday 16th August 2024 on social media and the winner must make contact via private message to collect the prize.
  • By participating you agree to let BERNINA share your photos on social media, in newsletters and on the BERNINA blog.
  • Competition is run by BERNINA New Zealand Ltd and it is in no way associated with Facebook or Instagram.

Australia – Terms and Conditions

A prize will be awarded for the ‘Best Use of Creativity’ which will be judged by the BERNINA team. The prize pack, worth $450 includes a BERNINA Scissor Set, a special edition tin of Mettler Overlocking Threads and a year’s worth of Inspiration Magazines (3 issues).

Participation is subject to the following Terms and Conditions.

  • Participation in the Irina Sew Along is defined as: Sewing the Irina Dress, posting work-in-progress photos and photos of your finished dress on Facebook and/or Instagram by 11.59pm on 12th August 2024. 
  • The Irina dress can be modified, embellished or changed in any way you desire.
  • Prize will be awarded for the ‘Best Use of Creativity” i.e. the most creative modification or embellishment of the Irina Dress pattern from Inspiration magazine.
  • Prize includes 1x BERNINA Scissor Set, 1x Special Edition Tin of Mettler Overlocking threads (16x 1000m reels) and 1x years’ worth of Inspiration Magazines (3 Issues) Total value $452AUD
  • 1 prize pack available for Australian residents only.
  • 1 entry per person – Doesn’t matter if it is posted on Facebook, Instagram or both.
  • Tag @Bernina Australia on Facebook or @BerninaAustralia on Instagram.
  • Use hashtags #IrinaSAL & #BERNINAAUSTRALIA
  • Winner will be announced on Friday 16th August 2024 on social media and the winner must make contact via private message to collect the prize.
  • By participating you agree to let BERNINA share your photos on social media, in newsletters and on the BERNINA blog.
  • Entries will be judged by the BERNINA Australia team and the judge’s decision is final.
  • Competition is run by BERNINA Australia Pty and it is in no way associated with Facebook or Instagram.

 

See you on June 3rd and please comment below if plan to join in! For now, go download your free copy of the pattern and get planning your design! 

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  • Amanda Springer EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    We were so disappointed that the pattern sizes were too small, we were really looking forward to following the tutorial.

    • ramonawirth EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Hy Amanda,
      If you check the Week 1 article, Anna mentions that the dress is quite oversized. Size 40 is recommended for a waist of 75 cm, but the finished garment has a waist circumference of 110 cm, so its 35 cm wider. In that case, maybe the dress could still work for you. I would print it and try a mockup. If the sleeves are cutting into your body, then I suggest you alter the pattern to a sleevles version! Anna shows how to alter the pattern in week 1, so definitely go take a look 🙂

  • Joan Hohensee EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I’m looking forward to joining in. Will we be sent a link to participate. What time in the US? I have the pattern downloaded but haven’t printed it yet. See you tomorrow!

    • Anna Hicks EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Hi Joan. No there won’t be any links sent. Just check the blog each Monday for the next post. Great that you have the pattern downloaded and ready! The first post is all about printing and preparing your pattern. The post is up now so you can check it out here – “Irina” Sew Along – Week 1 – Prepare Pattern
      I’d love if you share some progress photos in the comments or on social media and use the hashtag #IrinaSAL 🙂

  • sewfuntoys EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I’m going to join in. Looking forward to making some variations to the dress. I have the perfect fabric, a lightweight denim that does have a bit of drape. In the United States were heading into summer soon so the lightweight material will be perfect.

  • Kim Browne EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I’m also going to join in. Thinking I’ll make it an upcycling project, still have to work out exactly how/what I’ll use!

    • Anna Hicks EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Oooh an upcycled dress would be amazing! I did have thoughts about patching together a whole lot of similar coloured scraps and making the dress out of that! Look forward to seeing what you decide to use 🙂

  • Karen Croft EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Hi I plan to join in, years since have I made anything for myself

  • Linda Hungerford EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    You don’t mention 100 percent quilting cotton in your list of “Different Fabric Options.” Is quilting cotton too thin, and light weight? Likewise, is cotton knit too light weight? 

    • Anna Hicks EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Hi Linda. Good questions. Quilting cotton would work fine. It doesn’t have as much drape as linen though so it could potentially stick out a bit more. However that’s not bad, it’s just up to you if you’re happy with that or not. Cotton knit would work too, again depending on how drapey it is, will change the shape slightly. 🙂

      • Linda Hungerford EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

        Thank you so much for your response! You’ve help me appreciate that the need for drape is more important than the bright, happy fabric prints available in quilting cottons (that are not available in chambray and linen). I’m going to go with a fabric that has more drape. Again, thank you!

    • Anna Hicks EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Fantastic! Feel free to reach out with with any questions as we go. They are bound to be questions that others would like answers too as well.

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