A Blog for the Perpetually Frustrated Home Sewist

Spring Strawberry Tie Dress


Hello again! In today's post I'll be bringing you yet another gingham fruit project! I used a modified Japanese pattern to create a loose-fitting smock dress, and it wasn't hard to construct or sew. However, due to my fabric choices, this dress really turned out to be a flop. I'll be elaborating on all the details down below! 

Honestly, this post is long overdue, because I completed the project about two years ago, and I bought the fabric roughly two year and a half years ago now. But, I like keeping track of all my projects here, even the unfortunate ones, so it's better late than never I suppose. And it's not terrible timing, considering it's currently strawberry season in Japan! 

First, let's look at the fabric! 


The fabric I used for this jumper dress is a quilting weight cotton with a gingham design printed on. The gingham print is light blue with three types of berries (strawberries, blueberries, and cherries) on top. It's a pretty typical quilting cotton, so it was super easy to work and sew with. 

This fabric was produced by Sevenberry and printed in Japan. They've got some other nice fabrics too! 

I found this fabric completely by accident when perusing for fabric shops in Miyazaki City. When I first moved to Japan, I was curious about the kinds of fabric shops I would be able to find here. During my work orientation, I had time in the afternoon to walk around the city, and I stumbled upon Hoteiya (ほていや) near my hotel. It's located in Tachibana-doori and is under a 15 minute walk from the station. Google has it listed as a clothing store, but it is most definitely a fabric and craft shop. 

Inside, there are two stories with fabric and sewing options. 

I think this fabric is super cute, but as it is a quilting cotton, it has the weight and transparency of quilting cotton. So, as I'll discuss further below, I do think this was the wrong choice of fabric for this project. Although the fabric is great on its own, it is a bit stiff, so it doesn't drape comfortably on the body. It is also ever-so-slightly sheer, so the facings are visible from the outside of the dress (through the face side of the dress). 

I'd like to repurpose the fabric for a new project, but unfortunately, there is nothing really left over to make anything substantial with. Even if I carefully disassemble the sewn pieces, it would be difficult to make a new, adult-sized garment from the different leftovers, because the shoulder ties and open front and back leave little to be reused. Oh well, perhaps I can reuse the fabric for something else! It would look cute as a non-clothing or accessory item. 

Although I've complained a bit about the stiff nature of the fabric, I think the fabric would be much more suited to some of the cottage core-esque trends that have hit the fashion world in the last couple years. Cute puff sleeves and short, fitted bodice would have suited this project much better! This, of course, would have required much more fabric, especially considering it's not very wide (which I didn't realize at first). I even liked this print enough that I tried to more of the fabric online, but to no avail. 

Besides the fabric, the only real material I used was the strawberry patch on the center of the dress. I purchased it on Amazon Japan (link here) in the medium (中) size.


I really had high hopes for this dress! I snagged two meters of the fabric without a solid plan. I guesstimated that two meters would be appropriate based on some loose-fitting dress patterns I looked at in the store. Then I looked up inspiration photos online. 

The red heart dress and the pastel multi-color dress are both from Lazy Oaf! The center bottom illustration is from a vintage Kwik Sew pattern. 

In theory, a gingham dress with a loose waist, no real closures, and shoulder ties would be a simple make. However, fabric choice and the right pattern cut is crucial for the success of a simple design like this. In this case, I don't the fabric or the pattern choice were quite right. Too bad!

Anyways, I'll break down the patterns used in more depth in the next section. 


The base for this dress came from the 大人のかんたんソーイング(Simple Adult Sewing) mook released during summer 2019. I was very graciously given this book from a lady I met at Merry Bus Ride, my town's English picture book reading group for children. She heard I liked sewing (she's very talented herself) and gifted me two books she no longer needed when I volunteered for the group on day. 

While this pattern is cute on its own, it was the wrong choice based on the inspiration photos shown above. Initially, I thought this would be fine, as I was planning to modify the pattern anyways. The only real modification I made was to alter the straps to be ties rather than a normal spaghetti straps. I don't have any photos of the exact modifications I made, but I drew them roughly as in this guide I found below. 

My one mistake in this step was to not make the straps a bit longer. I didn't make a mockup, and didn't have a ton of fabric to begin with, so I'm stuck with this result. The dress actually ties up just fine, but the bodice doesn't look particularly great when tied up so high. Oh well. 


Because I made this dress in the early baby days of the pandemic, I made a matching mask! I used an accordion mask pattern I found on Etsy (link here). The pattern is inexpensive, high quality, and easy to follow. I actually bought a bundle of their mask patterns in one go, and I'd recommend all of them if you're looking for a mask pattern. 

In place of wire, I also inserted a metal piece in the nose area to give it more structure. My office had a bunch of these binder wires (?not sure what to call them) left over and was planning to throw them all away. Maybe it's not the perfect shape, but it worked well enough. 


Normally, I like to include a section about the outfit details I tried to pair this with, but I'm not sure that's totally worth it this time around. I think this dress pairs best with the red turtleneck  and white sandals, but this is not an outfit that makes a lot of sense depending on the season. I also tried to pair this outfit with a pair of Buffalo sneakers I have (with a strawberry print!), but I don't think they look very flattering with this outfit. A light white T-shirt seems logical but doesn't look quite right. 

I did have fun, however, matching my hair, makeup, and accessories to this outfit. 


As I mentioned above, there wasn't much that could be done with the leftover fabric after completing the dress. I was able to eek out one book cover with the rectangle that I had left (only one rectangle though, so the lining is a different fabric). 

This is unrelated, but recently, I've really started to enjoy using book covers, which is pretty common on practice in Japan (many book stores will even cover your books for you before you leave the store). I never noticed how much I don't enjoy others knowing what I'm looking at, whether that be textbooks or casual novels. 

Sometimes in my posts, I'll say something like, "Wow! I'm happy to have gotten so much use out of this garment!" and maybe it seems like I say that for everything I post about. But, I can confidently say I haven't worn this item out of the house even one time, and given that two years have past,  I don't think I will. So, I'm really tempted to take this dress apart and refashion it into something else. Of course, I'll me limited in what I can create, but I don't want it to be a complete waste! We'll see. 

(Actually, my friend saw some pictures of the dress while I was writing this and suggested I wear it to a strawberry picking outing we've got planned in a few weeks. Maybe this dress will make its first debut there! Perhaps I'm being too critical, but I don't think this turned out very well.)


I had high hopes for this outfit before creating it, but it really turned out pretty so-so. 

My biggest regret is not waiting to use this fabric for something else. This fabric would look better with a different patter. Likewise, this pattern would work better with a different fabric. As I mentioned above, there's no longer any fabric left over, so if I choose to repurpose this, all the fabric will have to come from the dress itself. 

Anyways, hope this post wasn't too much of a downer! Despite my lack of posts here, I really do spend a lot of time sewing and have a huge backlog of projects to write about. I'm really excited about some of them, so I hope to write about them here again soon. Thanks for reading! 

To see my other gingham projects, please click here

To see my other fruit themed projects, please click here

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