I am so in love with this make. It is actually my second Francoise but I can’t share my first one yet as it is a product review post for Minerva Crafts. I was lucky enough to win a Tilly and The Buttons Pattern of my choice from Sew Loco in March and I chose the Francoise pattern.
It is the perfect pattern for me so I have no idea why it has taken me literally years to realise it. It gives the perfect 1960s/Suzy Bishop (Wes Anderson = YES!) vibes and it basically ideal for using up those gorgeous quilting cotton prints. I had overlooked it previously as it is not a shape I could ever buy off the rack. I am really pear shaped (3 sizes different between my bust and hip sizes) so there is no way I could pick up a dress like this in a shop. If it was big enough to fit my hips it would be enormous in the bust for me! I am so excited to be able to create dresses like this to actually fit!
The fabric is a really beautiful lavender colour quilting cotton by Makower. I picked it up at the fabric and pattern swap on the table at the Foldline stand during The Great British Sewing Bee Live. I took some pieces of fabric to swap and picked this up, thank you to whoever put this in – I think it is so beautiful and I was able to cut this dress out of it with just whispers of fabric to spare! The piece was a funny shape and had clearly had some pieces cut out of it – so secondhand fabric AND someone’s scraps – definitely a sustainable make in my book! Incidentally, I swung by the Foldline again before I left the Sewing Bee Live and all of my pieces of fabric had gone – I hope they have been enjoyed by their new homes too!
I really worked hard on the fit of this – not that you can really tell as in the pictures the fabric creases and crumples as I move! One of my major concerns was getting the fit on the arms right, I have noticed a few Francoise that look to have quite tight sleeves, fine if that’s your preference but I need to be able to lift a three year old and I don’t want to be Hulking-out of my dress when I do! After pinning I decided to use a 1cm seam allowance at both the top and bottom of the sleeves (they are assembled in two pieces) and I am happy with that decision, I would definitely make the same adjustment next time.
I also spent some time fitting the bodice, it hugs the body but still has enough room for the aforementioned toddler wrangling. I had to take quite a bit out of the centre back and do a mini sway back adjustment, you can’t really tell in the pictures because of the creases as I’m moving, but if I stand still like a mannequin it fits quite well!
As you can see I went for the optional collar, to be honest I don’t see me making a Francoise without one, it’s totally my style, but I might make one with a rounded collar next like Joy Margot (the brains behind Pink Coat Club) – her versions are just adorable!
I think the only other adjustment I made is I added two inches to the length, I am 5’7″ and didn’t want it to be a super short mini skirt. Again, I’m happy with this adjustment and have made the changes to the pattern pieces so next time it will be this length!
I made this dress on a sewing day with my mum. We had planned to go on a coach trip to Birmingham to do some more fabric shopping but unfortunately the trip was cancelled so we decided to get together and spend the day sewing instead. It was a huge success, involving bacon sandwiches, jelly babies and lots of tea. I made this dress and most of a Cleo and mum made a lovely dress too.
Incidentally, I had seen this purple bush near my house a couple of days before and knew if I got this dress made while it was still flowering it was definitely going to be the background for these pictures! Anyone else see photo opportunities everywhere they go or is that just me?!