Designin’ December: Marimekko knockoff and brand new pattern

Blog update: My apologies if you’ve already read this, but somehow the post got deleted (I was fiddling with settings) and so I’ve had to republish.

Last year for Designin’ December I copied a Dior outfit that I had seen at the Dior Exhibition in Melbourne, and this year I decided to copy another dress I had seen in an exhibition, this time the Marimekko Exhibition in Bendigo. I think copying outfits from exhibitions I attend is going to become my thing!



I have no idea who designed this dress as I forgot to take a photograph of the details and I have been unable to find this dress anywhere on the internet, but I was struck by the simplicity and rather liked the feather (or is it a leaf? I’ve decided on feather). How hard could this be?

I knew exactly how to make my dress. I was going to use McCalls 6559, previously made into a wrap dress, and some red bamboo jersey from my stash. I was just going to paint the feather on, and had even done some practice drawings,  but then  I had a casual conversation with Sarah from Pattern Union about the dress and she suggested I make a stencil of the feather. Ooh-er, no idea how to proceed, so a visit was in order. Sarah took one look at my dress pattern and  decided that we would draft something from scratch as she felt that side seams would disrupt the painting and just look nasty.

We drafted the pattern to be cut on the centre front fold and rotated the side shaping into a couple of back darts, finishing up with a centre back seam.IMG_9678

We cut out the dress and then considered the feather. We drew a giant version on a large sheet of paper, colouring in various elements, and cut out all the components that would be dark charcoal, laid the sheet where we wanted it on the dress and began painting. IMG_9685

We used those triangular makeup sponges to dab the paint on, and kept the paint layer light so that the dress wouldn’t lose its drape by having to deal with heavy paint. The first part of the feather looked like this:


Time for the next part of the stencil. We replaced the piece of paper we cut out for the charcoal part, and cut out a few more sections.


This was the green/khaki colour.


Once the paper was lifted it looked like this.


Then we put on the red. I didn’t think it would make much difference over the red fabric, but surprisingly it did. You can see the makeup sponge, which was so useful at this stage for blending colours. IMG_9691

The final feather. The placement was quite difficult and we chose to move it a little bit so that it would sweep round the back of the dress. img_9693.jpg

The advantage of using a stencil as against just painting on the design, as I was going to do, is that the edges are much sharper.



My feather looks a little darker in these photos but it’s not quite as dark as it appears. The red fabric also looks a bit orange, but it’s quite red.



The obligatory back view showing the back shaping and just giving a hint of how the feather sweeps around the back. Those back darts are just brilliant as they negate the need for a sway back adjustment and stop that funny bubble I sometimes get in the small of my back. They also give a beautiful shape to the dress.


I feel extremely elegant in this dress, although the fabric has grown a bit since I made it so it’s now floor length rather than hitting the tops of my shoes, but it doesn’t trip me up – yet!


I’ve already worn this dress to a Christmas lunch with some friends, and think it will be the perfect dress for Christmas Day. I can see myself wearing this dress a lot, and I’ve already made three more plus numerous hacks, which I shall blog soon. Here is another photo of the original and my version. Mine is slightly closer in colour to the original than it appears here, I had to play around with the light settings as the bright sunshine threw everything off.

So this is my entry in Designin’ December, 2018, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It is really wearable, will accommodate my shape after large lunches or dinners, and I feel as though I could just drift around the house in it if the weather permits.

This dress is the latest pattern in the Pattern Union stable. It’s been partially named for me (how exciting is that?!) and partially named for its Marimekko roots, so it is called the Sumekko dress, which I think is a perfect name.  One of the things I love about this dress is that it is really flattering, hiding flaws rather than highlighting, and it’s for sale at Pattern Union for the low price of $8 AUD or just $10 if you want to buy the stencils with the dress. You can also buy the stencils on their own. My feather isn’t one of the stencils, but there are four lovely designs, which you can see in the diagram to the left.

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 1.15.29 pm



49 thoughts on “Designin’ December: Marimekko knockoff and brand new pattern

  1. Sue, this dress is fabulous and oh, so elegant! And how thrilling to be part of the inspiration behind the creation of this new pattern. I love everything about this psot <3

    1. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have inspired a design. Sarah is such a great designer, and I am so honoured to have this named for me.

  2. That is so great, very similar to the original. I can’t wait to see what you get up to next, you make up for all my procrastinating.

  3. It’s not because I am your friend, but your iteration looks even better than the original. Your colours are more ombré for a deeper effect. I look so much forward to make a summer version and I have already chosen my stencil print among the four included with the pattern! How lucky you are to be able to wear a light dress like this for Christmas! Enjoy xxx

    1. Thank you my dear friend, this comment is so appreciated. You will love this dress in the summer, especially if you use one of the epic prints. I can’t wait to see it.

  4. Sue,i’m dreaming about a version of this beautiful dress to wear in our long Italian summer.
    It’s so creative! All I know is that while I was looking to your red beauty I was already thinking to a personal version or which kind of textile paint to use.
    But you got me totally talking about the absence of sway back and “bubble” in the small of the back,my personal,almost constant, fitting issue.
    Excuse my long comment,I can’t wait the summer to come!

    1. Thank you Barbara! Yes, I almost always have that bubble or a big wrinkle and the four back darts completely eliminated this whilst giving me a nice shape. Oh, you will have such fun with this dress. Make sure you share it with me!

  5. What a great idea! The finished dress looks great, I love the huge print and how it covers front side and back, great job Sue 🙂 Also you look great in it :).
    How cool that Sarah made it into a pattern, I’m tempted, but I’m not sure if floor length skirts are for me because of my height. Maybe I should just give it a try and see his it looks 🙂

  6. i am hooked on seeing it and bought the pattern. It will be a lot of ado as I have to grade, but on the other hand the adaptations for tilted waist will be a lot easier than for the Maisy dress on which I am working now for myself.

  7. Just love it Sue – looks great on your svelte self! Next thing, why not start refashioning (denim and leather) — make a jacket of all jackets! Why not try that for a December Denimology Destination!

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