color-blocking with the advisors circle

One of the things we like to do in the Advisors Circle is to experiment with different ways to use our patterns. Today, Dyann and Melanie show off their different approaches to color-blocking the Fira Dress + Top!  

Liesl often bounces around ideas for patterns or alterations to existing patterns in conversations with the Advisors Circle. Recently she was talking about color-blocking, which just happens to be a spring 2022 trend. Melanie and Dyann both had ideas for trying this technique out on the same pattern: the Fira Dress and Top. They used different views and came up with very distinctive results. Here they are to tell you about them in their own words.

How to color-block a swing pattern.


Dyann’s color-blocked Fira Dress

The Fira dress was a fun pattern to color-block. I love how the color from the back peeks over the shoulders on the yoke. I considered a print for the front, but chose to keep it simple to bring out the sophistication of the silhouette. It’s such a lovely neckline.

The fabric is Kaufman’s Manchester yarn-dyed cotton in the Pepper and Royal colors. It has a slight bit of heft while maintaining a nice drape. I only cut the dress front from Royal. Everything else was cut from the Pepper, so no pattern manipulation was needed to achieve the color-blocking.

A little bit of thought went into the topstitching around the sleeve edges and on the hem stitching. I didn’t want to use the blue on the gray areas, so I used gray thread in the bobbin. When I got to the gray portion, I flipped the dress over and sewed it from underneath.

How to color-block a dress.

I used a size 10, which is my usual size in Liesl + Co. patterns. I did make a couple of alterations for fitting. I lowered the bust dart by 1″ and pulled it back about 1/2″ using notes from Lyndsey’s wonderful Fitting Room post. I also lengthened the bodice by 1 1/2”.

How to color-block a dress sewing pattern.

I look forward to making this again in the future as a top.

Melanie’s color-blocked Fira Top

When challenged to color-block the Fira, I realized that the pattern lends itself to additional style seam lines. So I decided to add a few more to create a harlequin look. I had two tones of shirt-weight denim left over from an earlier dress project. These are low-contrast, so I thought alternating blocks of color would be subtle but effective.

How to color-block a top.

These are the changes I made to the Fira to make this idea work:

  • Added a 1/2″ seam allowance to the front panel instead of cutting on a fold.
  • Added a 1/2″ seam allowance to the outer back yoke instead of cutting on a fold.
  • Shortened by 3″ to fit onto my fabric remnants.
  • Created a hem facing from the darker fabric in order to have a tiny 1/4″ hem depth.
  • Pieced together fabric to make blocks large enough to cut the yokes and body from the more oddly shaped remnant of lighter fabric.DIY color-blocked dress and top.

Then it was on to cutting alternating colors for each section of the top. I sketched out a color plan to keep myself on track. I carefully cut single pieces from each color so that they fit together and all faced the right direction. I cut all the dark ones first so that I could use them to make sure I was cutting the light ones with the correct orientation.

DIY color-blocked blouse.

This was a creative project that I really enjoyed! These lovely denim scraps were the perfect mix for this colour-blocked project. There are a few key points to remember if you are interested in doing the same. First, be very careful about the orientation of the pattern pieces so that you cut all your sections with the right sides facing out and in the correct direction; you don’t want two left front sides, for example. Next, don’t be afraid to piece bits together if you need to make a larger section of fabric. Patchwork fits right in with this kind of color-blocking. And finally, have fun with your scrap sewing!


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  1. Carol T.

    Really like both of these!

  2. Pal K

    “I really like the additional seamlines and low contrast
    I so seldom think low contrast but it really does look nice

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