Esme dress for some special fabric

Whenever I am given fabric as a gift I experience a kind of paralysis. What will I make that pays homage to both the fabric and the giver? How can I avoid a disaster? How can I highlight the fabric? These are just some of the doubts and questions that go through my mind.

This fabric is a case in point. It was given to me by my lovely friend Hélène when she joined me for breakfast in New York City having come all the way from Montréal, and I’ve had it on my cutting table with some regularity ever since whilst I dithered about what to make.

I finished up making the Esme dress from Lotta Jansdotter’s book “Everyday Style”, which is full of simple, functional garments, and which I thought would showcase this lovely, gossamer light cotton/silk blend. This is a dress I have been wearing every few days through our warm summer.


However, I didn’t just cut straight into it. I made a wearable toile from some cotton that’s been in my stash for eons. I added pockets (of course), and somehow, this one finished up longer than my “proper” one.  I used the extended shoulder for the blue dress, and it’s much cooler than this dress with the longer sleeves.dsc08432

Apart from the fact that this dress will bring me wonderful memories every time I wear it, I love the fact that it goes with so many of my shoes!

Back view wearing my blue XSA sandals


and front view


I love the dress with my purple pumps


Orange flat sandals (Merrills)dsc08608

Orange Neo shoes


And of course, my all time Louboutin favourites that go with almost everything I own.


Now, the pattern. This is a simple make. There is a facing pattern, and I used it for the first Esme dress, but I felt that this fabric was too fine and that it would show through, so I made bias binding for all raw edges. I used self-fabric for the neck and sleeves, and some fabric left over from a pair of Mark’s trousers for the hem. I used the origami method to make the plain blue binding as I needed a fair amount, but pieced together the floral binding from the tiniest scraps. I didn’t want to topstitch, so hand stitched all bindings.


I added in-seam pockets for both dresses. The pattern has large patch pockets, but I couldn’t conceive of using them on either of these fabrics, hence the in-seam style. I made them a bit small in the first dress, and perhaps a little high, but remedied that for the blue dress and they are perfect.

The preview photo and this one shows the dress teamed with Missoni sandals. I quite like these shoes but struggle to find things that they go with – this dress is the answer!


I have worn and worn this dress, enjoying the selection of shoes to go with it. I haven’t yet exhausted all the possibilities, and they may keep me going for the rest of the summer! I still have a small piece of this fabric left, so it’s not the last you’ve seen of it.

As for Hélène? We have our next meetup planned for spring. I cannot wait!



36 thoughts on “Esme dress for some special fabric

  1. Lovely material, cute dress, terrific shoes, what more could I say. Thanks also for the origami bias binding tip, I had not heard of that before but just watched it on youtube. Keep up the good work

  2. What a great dress! And your thoughtful decisions about bindings and hand stitching were just right!

    And the shoes! Imelda Marcos would be proud!

  3. Lovely outfits with all the different shoes – wow, what a collection!
    I wasn’t very successful the first time I tried origami bias binding but it’s on the cards again. I think your decisions about pockets and about hand sewing were perfect

  4. Beautiful dresses! And gorgeous shoe collection.
    I am a big fan of wearable toiles, you get such a good idea of what will be perfect for you and you get something you can wear (usually!)

  5. Beautiful dresses. I particularly like the blue one and all those wonderful shoes to wear with it. What a bonus.

  6. Such a delight to read this special post, Sue! This fabric is even more pretty than I remembered. Both dresses are lovely, for sure, and you look just fantastic on every pictures. And these shoes!? Oh Lord, I kept wondering which ones I shall steal from you when you come in Montréal (too bad I have big feet!!)

  7. Love the dress – particularly the blue floral…and those legs!!! toned, tanned and terrific!!

  8. What a gorgeous dress Sue! and how lucky you are to have such a generous friend!! That’s a nice pattern too, very good for our summer. I made this as a top for my Mum and she’s gone on to make it herself twice more as a dress with different length sleeves, just like yours, I think it’s her favourite dress pattern at the mo 🙂

  9. What a Lovely flattering dress. I like the cap sleeves version – looks light and airy with that beautiful fabric.

  10. It’s so cute and cool looking! I love it with all the different color shoes but my favorites are the Missoni sandals.

  11. I love both the dresses but I am particularly impresssd with your shoe collection. Those Missoni sandles were made for the blue floral dress…fab outfit for your hot summer.

  12. oh my – LOVE your style! I’m about to sew my first Esme (the top, with cap sleeves) and I’m looking around for tips and such. The self-binding is a great idea – is it 1/2″ or 3/4″? Thanks!

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