Abby’s Rainbow Dress + Skirt by TWT

Because I was busy testing patterns for the baby, which took a few weeks, I didn’t make a birthday dress for my daughter when she turned 5. She wore the maxi Sullivan dress that I made her 1.5 years ago — her own choice as that’s still one of her favourite dresses. It still fits because she’s been growing more horizontally than vertically.

When I saw the call for pattern testers by The Wolf and the Tree, I jumped at the opportunity immediately. My second pattern test, 2 years ago, was for the Abby’s Road Trip Tunic. I was drawn to the inspiration pic of the maxi dress with pastel rainbow stripes (it was the back view). I found out later that the picture belongs to Pleiades Designs. It might actually be a hi-lo dress, judging from other pictures like this one. The pattern bears many similarities to it, but one key difference is that piecing is required to get the rainbow effect.

I didn’t make the hi-lo dress in the end but I did make the Abby’s Rainbow Skirt mashed with the bodice of the Rainbow Dress. To clarify, the dress pattern is for a hi-lo dress with long straps that are passed through two back loops and tied into a bow. You can choose to make it plain or with rainbow stripes. The skirt pattern is for a straight skirt (think rectangular front and back pieces), with or without stripes again. Both patterns include an optional bottom band. The skirt can be finished with a knit waistband or woven elastic casing.

I didn’t think my fabric prints were suitable candidates for the dress and I immediately thought of 2Quilters, who had recently stocked up on the whole collection of Kona cotton solids — all 342 colours! Thanks to their efficiency and fantastic service, I placed my order on a Saturday and received it the following Monday. I had shortlisted 3 sets of 5 colours and Miss A chose the pastel range (my top choice too ☺️) — which consists of Pink, Maize, Ice Frappe, Breeze and Princess (you’re welcome!). As for the main fabric, I had already purchased Essex cotton linen from Fabric.com (in Linen, the name of the colour, which looks like white to me) and so I decided to use that. I was fortunate enough to get the end of the bolt, which meant a little extra yardage. I still have a lot left because I intended to use it for myself as well.

With regard to the rainbow stripes, I managed to cut my stripes on the bias with half-yard cuts for size 6 height. I was initially toying with the idea of cutting them on the grain to save fabric, so to speak, but I didn’t need to. Another tester did that and it didn’t really seem to affect the drape of the dress, so you might consider that for bigger sizes. The benefit of cutting them on the bias is that the edges won’t fray, but I still overlocked them to be safe. Some testers topstitched the stripes but I like how it looks without topstitching. I just made sure I pressed the skirt really well.

I have to confess that I re-drafted some of the skirt pattern pieces during testing due to issues with getting a “perfect” rectangle, but feedback was duly given and changes were made by owner-designer Saskia Smith. Even then, perfection isn’t easily achieved, giving me newfound respect for quilters. (Please note that the above picture does not show the full width of the skirt pieces.)

As usual, I had to blend sizes for the skinny bean. It was easy to lengthen the 3T bodice — I just had to add length to the bottom of both front and back. As for the skirt, I used the size 6 pattern pieces and shortened the width on one side. With the optional bottom band, the dress is below knee length (would that be considered tea length?). As the girl grows taller, she should be able to wear this for some time. The straps are adjustable after all.

I find the armscyes a bit too low for my liking but it can’t really be helped. The bodice back needs to rest below the shoulder blades. There is elastic running through the top. If I make it again, I would probably make the neckline higher (again, personal preference — I am more conservative). Other things I would do is to make sure I secure the ends of the elastic and straps really well (stitch and backstitch a few times). I was afraid they would come undone.

Of course, I had to add the optional inseam pockets. I was going to add a lining but I wasn’t sure how to do that after attaching the pockets. I thought it would be a bit strange to have them between the main and lining. I still don’t have a solution and would be happy to have someone enlighten me. Fortunately, because the skirt is poofy and the stripes are running across, it’s not too see-through without a lining.

You could encase the skirt between the bodice main and lining or leave the seams exposed, but I didn’t think the latter option would be comfortable, especially not with my fabric choices, which aren’t very soft and lightweight. I struggled to do the former with my Brother sewing machine and decided to handstitch the bodice lining to the skirt, something I learnt to do for the Zinnia dress. It was slow and done in a few sittings, but a lot neater.

On the day she first wore the dress, which happened to be Easter, my daughter raved to her grandma and later repeated to me, “The dresses my mummy makes / you make are amazing!” I’m glad I made my little girl happy! This is only the first of the new dresses I am planning to make her, since she has outgrown most of the older ones. (At the time of this post, I have made another dress, a Pearlie.)

I am afraid that there is no longer a sale, but there will always be another! The bundle for the dress and skirt is already discounted at $12.25. There are other bundles available as well because the skirt pattern can be mashed with different types of bodices, both woven and knit. Shop the patterns here at The Wolf and the Tree.

Happy sewing!

Angeline
{S+O} Fun

Modified from a post that appeared on my Facebook page on 21 April.

This post contains affiliate links to The Wolf and The Tree but all opinions are my own.

7 thoughts on “Abby’s Rainbow Dress + Skirt by TWT

    1. Thanks! I’m not sure if they did. Would it be necessary for TWT to seek their permission to sell a pattern that’s inspired by one of their designs? There are many designers who draw inspiration from RTW clothing… There’s no direct competition — Pleiades prints the rainbows on their dresses and these have actual arches.

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      1. Well inspiration and copying are very different legally. It’s very cute, but IMHO we should respect the designer of Pleiades.If the pattern-maker didn’t pay for a license to use this design, I wouldn’t sew it.

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    2. Hi Janet, I read your blog post and I see your point about how the combination of similarities between the original design and this pattern makes the latter imitation rather than inspiration. At first I thought there would be no competition between RTW and sewing patterns but I stand corrected — like what happened to you, a seamstress can be asked to make a similar garment at a lower price with a pattern, and the pattern-designer makes an earning from it. It would be better if permission had been sought from the original designer, and compensation made for the idea, either in a lump sum or a cut from the profits made from selling the pattern.

      I had in mind other pattern designers who designed wrap tops, fancy sleeves or cute shorts (for example) based on RTW clothing that they own and like, but even though most basic pieces of clothing can be very similar, fashion does evolve and a designer can bring something new and unique to the table each time.

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    3. Thinking about it further, I still find it a less than straightforward issue. Imitation in its purest form is if someone copied the Pleiades dress wholesale, from the exact measurements down to printing rainbows on fabric, and sold it as a Pleiades dress. If I really wanted to, I could take a strappy dress pattern I own — take the Zinnia dress for example, which has a very similar bodice front — slash and re-draft the skirt pieces and add a bottom band, to achieve a similar look. Adding side pockets is a piece of cake (there are also free patterns available). Would it make a difference whether a home sewist or pattern maker does it — one for personal use and one for sale? Also, does it matter whether you own the original and can copy the minutest detail or if you are re-designing it based on pictures alone?

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      1. Exactly, that is the difference: for personal use, versus for sale. Making a dress for yourself or your child is absolutely fine. Making a copy pattern for sale and profit using somebody else’s design is not fair to the original designer.

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    4. You yourself made a version of the LLK Augusta dress for sale and modified it to have a high-low hem and bottom band, not unlike the Pleiades dress but without a rainbow. Incidentally (or not), Augusta has a high-low option with dramatic cascading tiers that looks a lot more like Pleiades dresses, which don’t always have the rainbow and/or bottom band. I agree that the rainbow dress design is unique to P but most people would not have excess to vintage Wamsutta sheets or any other fabric with rainbow stripes painted across it. My point is, it’s not always easy to pinpoint when imitation starts and inspiration ends. No one designer can lay claim to a strappy bodice, back ties, high-low hem or bottom band as their own creation. The TWT designer did have to exercise her creativity and come up with a solution — piecing — to create the rainbow, and the resulting pattern is the fruit of her labour too. There may be an overlap between creating a pattern for sale and creating an item for sale — even based on someone else’s idea — but they are not one and the same.

      To be frank, I don’t think the Pleiades designer will suffer any losses from the existence of this pattern. They are dealing with largely different markets. Or P could end up with a bigger market (some home sewers may want to buy a one-of-a-kind handmade dress but it’s less likely for people who typically spend huge sums of money on designer dresses to turn into home sewers, I think).

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