Designin’ December 2019 edition

This is my fourth year of participating in Designin’ December, which means I’ve been participating since its inception.  This year I decided to go simple with this 1960s Marimekko shift dress.


Designin’ December is a challenge organised by Linda from Nice dress, thanks I made it, with the tagline of

“Why buy when you can make it yourself – better and for less money?”

The idea is that we find an inspirational outfit, usually expensive, and copy it or use it as inspiration.

Each year I’ve copied a dress or outfit which I’ve seen in an exhibition and this year is no exception. I went to the Marimekko exhibition in Bendigo last year and one dress was a standout for me. It was a simple shift, with a high boatneck and no sleeves. It was shaped with french darts and utilised this rather lovely fabric.


I immediately planned to paint some plain white fabric with some trees, leaves and birds. Then a fortuitous visit to the Marimekko store in New York provided me with a panel of an almost identical fabric, called Tuuli, which one of my Instagram followers tells me means wind. How lovely.


I bought a single panel after much deliberation because this fabric is not cheap, and decided that I would get the pattern out of what I had, come what may. Well, come what may, it was pretty tricky but I got there in the end. I had to cut just the top half of the back on the fold, and the bottom half has a centre seam. I could probably have topped and tailed the pattern pieces but decided that the pattern was definitely directional, particularly as there are birds in those trees and it wouldn’t do to have them hanging upside down.


Unfortunately, pattern matching was completely out of the question, and I have considered getting out the black fabric paint and making the pattern look a little more cohesive. The more I look at it, the more I think this would be an excellent idea!

I have worn the dress a couple of times, most recently to the WAFTA (Western Australian Fibre and Textile Artists) Annual General Meeting, where I was invited to give a talk on the One Year One Outfit Challenge (blogged at Part one, Part two, Part 3 , Part 4, Part 5, whole outfit, doily dress, outer wear). I took all my makes and was also able to talk about it in terms of a world wide challenge and the types of outfits other people made.


I didn’t get any photos whilst I was doing the talk, but got a few afterwards as people looked at the clothes. All photos were taken by my friend Sarah.


The outgoing president of WAFTA, Thelma, has been a friend for more than forty years who gave me my initial lesson on felting. She really liked my brown coat and I was delighted to give it to her as she has always been a generous friend. IMG_2053

Some serious vamping was called forIMG_2054

She’s more of a vamp than I am! We had such fun posing for the photos that I had to include a few.IMG_2055

Of course my white felt coat had to be donned.IMG_2075

I realise that this post has somehow become more about my WAFTA presentation, so I’d better get back to the dress!

I used Butterick 2704, previously used for these dresses, as I felt that it had the basic shape I needed and the necessary french darts.


This pattern is designed for a 32″ bust, so I’ve had to do some serious grading. Every time I make it I mess up those long dart legs and this time was no different, so there’s a bit of piecing on each side to cover up the holes at the side seams. It’s almost impossible to see thanks to the pattern.


I really like this dress and it will be worn and worn over summer, which makes me very happy.

I thought it would be fun to show my previous entries, with links should you wish to check them out further. I’ve also included the inspiration photos I took at the various exhibitions where I saw them:

2016: A Mondrian dress

2017: Dior skirt and top, made from pieced panels 

2018: Marimekko feather dress, with a handpainted feather


This is a challenge I really enjoy and I feel as though I have added some unique garments to my wardrobe as a result. Are you going to participate?


13 thoughts on “Designin’ December 2019 edition

  1. Thank you for this inspiring post on Designing December…I am intrigued! I just started using my sewing machine again after many years of collecting dust and this challenge may be just the thing I need.

    1. Thank you so much Liz. I am nervous about the black paint as I have the potential to ruin it. I might try with a black frixion pen and see how it looks.

  2. I love where you put the birds on the front, what a great dress Sue! Looks like a lot of fun with your vamp-twin, lol!!! I actually really like the mismatched back, but it would be a lot of fun to try and paint as well!

  3. Your dress is a lovely variation of the original! I can guess how difficult it has been to make it with the fabric restrictions. I don’t think you have to help the print with black colour. If so, maybe just two branches in the back skirt?
    It looks like you had a joyous time giving your talk at the WAFTA meeting and I am sure that this was a very interesting talk for those who hadn’t heard about it before.
    My all time favourite of your entries is the red Dior ensemble!

  4. Each year I think I will join in but leave the planning far too late. Note to self – plan early next year and hope it happens!
    Your dress is absolutely gorgeous. The fabric really needs that simple design to sing so it’s a triumph 😀

  5. So lovely – as are all your entries. I enjoyed looking at them again. I mean to do it each year but have only actually achieved it once. I can’t manage this year, either – even though I had my inspirational piece chosen. never mind. Next year for sure!

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