With Help, A Tricky Print Fabric Turns Into A Designer Shirt

panel print shirt made using K3555. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Do you have fabric in your stash that you just love, but aren’t quite sure what to do with it? That’s how I felt about this utterly gorgeous but perplexing four-ply, silk crepe panel print that I’ve had for nearly four years. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of what this fabric looked like before I cut into it, but this rough sketch will give you the general picture. I had two panels:

panels-print-fabric A

Thinking about what to do with this fabric, I was basically stuck in a rut of two options: 1) Sheath dress with dense black area of print concentrated at the waist; or, 2) sheath dress with dense black area placed at top of bodice and again at hem of dress. All well and good, but I wasn’t loving the idea of spending time and this beautiful fabric on a dress that I’d probably only wear a few times a year.

Carlos Correa, Vogue Patterns designer
Carlos Correa, Vogue Patterns designer

So I did what I always do when I’m in a fabric or design rut: I turned to my friend Carlos Correa, Vogue Patterns designer. He has the best suggestions and guidance! Carlos came across this photo of a shirt by Dsquared and suggested I make something similar:

Dsquared shirt using a placement print.

And I was like, BRILLIANT! I never even considered using the print cross-grain like this, but it works, and how. With some careful laying out of my pattern pieces (I used Kwik Sew K3555), I made this shirt:

panel print shirt made using K3555. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

panel print shirt made using K3555. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

panel print shirt made using K3555. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

I wore it to work last week and got so many compliments on it. Shirts are a staple in my wardrobe, so I expect I’ll get a lot of wear from it.

Funny, I had this misperception that cutting pieces on the cross-grain (instead of laying the pieces on the grainline as we’re conditioned to do) would result in wonkiness, but as you can see everything drapes perfectly.

Moral of this story: Force yourself to think like a designer when it comes to panels and placement prints, and don’t be afraid to go against the grain. (Is this where that expression comes from?!)

Readers, do you have any fabrics in your stash that you love but just can’t decide what to do with them? Leave us a comment here and maybe we can help!

We’ve been sewing since 1863.

29 comments
  1. This is a useful, inspiring type of post. Thank you!

  2. What a fabulous shirt – a real designer piece. A triumph Meg!

  3. LOVE THIS IDEA. Thanks Meg and Carlos–super result and so inspiring.

  4. beautiful! I did this recently with an ombre material that was ombre’d the wrong way! So I pieced and gave extra give in the elbow area. Just curious, what color buttons did you choose? It appears black, and clear on the sleeve- but can’t tell. This is truly a fabulous shirt you made! Love it!

    1. Thanks, Susan! I used black buttons on the front and pearl buttons on the cuffs and top button at the collar.

  5. Wow, as usual for you, stunning. It would not have occurred to me to cut the fabric this way. It is edgy and artistic while being a traditional style that would flatter every body type. Thank you for sharing and thank your collaborator for his amazing skill.

  6. Beautiful! Now you’ve got me wishing I had a print like this!

  7. Great solution, and beautiful result! Just this weekend I found a fabulous remnant that has embroidery along both selvages. I’ve been thinking sheath dress, but now I’ll try to get a bit more creative. Like you, I can use more blouses and fewer dresses!

  8. Beautiful top, I understand why you waited to cut into the fabric!

  9. Oh, thats just gorgeous Meg. Perhaps Carlos could pop over to Australia and spread the joy?! I came to the same crosswise grain conclusion on my recent make about 3 posts back – a luvverley linen with border print along the selvedges – used it crosswise and the result is very pleasing. Using crossgrain also seemed to use less yardage to eek out a skirt and top (2 metres).

  10. Perfect! I’ve a piece of ombré silk that I love but could not figure out. Now I have some inspiration for something more beautiful than the lining I was planning to use it on.

  11. Learned to draft patterns in a university theater costume shop. Since most of our creations were to be of limited use, and didn’t have to stand up to years of laundry, we threw those patterns on the cloth willy-nilly if if meant we’d get the effect needed. Cross-grain placement is a very useful trick to keep stashed in your brain’s toolbox.

  12. Wow! Congratulations Meg. You have a beautiful shirt that, I hope, you will enjoy wearing for a very long time. Your friend Carlos helped you unleash the true beauty of the silk print. The shirt is edgy and luxurious…I love it!

  13. Beautiful and fun-looking shirt…love it! Maybe I’m hungry right now but it reminds me of crumbled oreo cookies in vanilla ice cream – yum!

  14. Beautiful! I love this design and the pattern placement is perfect. Great job!

  15. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!
    I’m conditioned against cross grain layouts too. Maybe I should let go of that hang up.
    By the way, Carlos Correa is 12 yrs old, right? !?

  16. Great shirt!!! Like you I’ve had a gorgeous four yards of a rayon print in my stash for at least the last two years. I’ve finally located a pattern that I believe will work and render a beautiful garment this past weekend.

  17. Your shirt is fabulous! The wait to find the perfect idea was well worth it. I’d wear it over the Dsquared any day of the week!!

  18. Love, love love this! Makes me want to go out and buy a border print.

  19. Great shirt! I love the fabric.

  20. Looking for pants/skirt patterns from the 70 . These look great with boots.

  21. I have a couple of silk panels – much like yours with border prints at each end. I’ve had them around for a while and frankly although I love them they scare me. Looking at your blouse I am seeing the light! They would work beautifully in a blouse pattern with strategically placed panels! Thank you for sharing this great idea!

  22. I bought a fabric I thought was just a plain “onion skin” color background w/ Feathers. Turned out I was buying an “onion skin” ‘feeling’ fabric w/ Feathers & I have NO idea how to sew w/ or incorporate into a pattern. It isn’t really anything I’d want against my skin, sort of rough/see thru w/ a very wide weave. ANY help would be Greatly appreciated!!

    1. Hi Chelle! We’re sending you an email about this. Sounds intriguing.

  23. WOW what a shirt! Oh yes, I have MANY as in MANY fabs in closet that I’m not sure what to do with….but that”s the fun isn’t it! Great Make!

  24. You should do a tutorial or we binary on this topic.

  25. Sorry… a webinar on this topic.

  26. Love it! It’s great having a designer around to help stretch your creativity.

  27. What a great post. You took an ordinary pattern and created an extraordinary shirt with that unusual fabric. It’s so helpful to have people like Carlos around to help you take it to that next level of wow!

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