Completely convinced that I wanted to build a conservative wardrobe of muted tones and classic lines, nobody was more surprised than I was when, after “quickly” nipping out to get some sewing thread, I returned home an hour (or more) later with an armful of more floral prints than I care to mention.

Although I did not buy it on this first visit (but yes, I did go back for even more fabric shortly thereafter), a palm tree print caught my eye that day. Even though I was pretty certain that the fabric was kinda kitsch, I just could not stop thinking about it. When paging through a Burda magazine a few days later I noticed this Paul &  Joe dress in the most beautiful pink palm tree print that was featured on one of their designer inspiration boards. I then realised that it was that very dress that had planted this seed of thought in my subconscious.

Certain that a palm tree print shirt dress was an invaluable addition to my wardrobe I set out to find an adaptable pattern to make this a reality. As luck would have it my mom had this old Vogue V8028 pattern in her collection. I’m always a little hesitant to use patterns where there is only a garment illustration and no photo, as these illustrations are usually stylised and thus not a true reflection of fit. My impatience and time constraints got the better of me however, and I decided to risk it.


The most obvious of the changes that I made to the pattern was the removal of the faced button stand on the front skirt. I also changed the the box pleats into knife pleats, which I had to make slightly smaller in order to match them up with the waist control darts which I let out a few centimetres (there were some teeny waists a couple of decades ago!).  The skirt I shortened to just above the knee (and then immediately regretted it), and narrowed the collar and added an integrated turn up to the sleeve.

Please excuse my bruised and battered legs (the perils of parenthood).  I did contemplate Photoshopping them, but decided to rather keep it real.




Although I do like the finished dress, there is something strange about the fit that I just can’t put my finger on. I love it on the hanger, but not so much on me. I’m thinking of making it sleeveless or lifting the waist slightly. Perhaps its the old school pattern that resulted in a fit that I am not used to or it’s just not a silhouette that suits me, I will give it a wear or two when my legs look a little less terrible and see if it grows on me.

9 thoughts on “Palms

  1. Splithoof says:

    Hmmmm if I may be so bold I think the problem with ‘fit’ is the fabric. Its too lovely! Its draping gorgeously which, tbh, is not how I’m used to seeing shirtdresses. Maybe its lacking that body to the fabric as opposed to the pattern itself?

    Of course I could be totally wrong; you’re the pro!


  2. Sarah-May says:

    Ha ha maybe you’re right, I didn’t think of that. I kind of thought the Paul and Joe one was also drapey, but it probably is less so than mine. I don’t actually mind the fit so much anymore, that pattern is quite old school though, definitely not the most modern of fits!


  3. Mary says:

    Nice dress, and I almost gave away my copy of that pattern. Glad I saw yours, before ditching it!
    Speaking of keeping it real, a friend of mine booked a family portrait at a studio. Then her son fell on his face the day before… not too badly hurt, but he looked like he’d lost in a street brawl. Age 1 and a half. They took the portrait just that way, lol.


    • Sarah-May says:

      So cool you have the pattern- think it’s out of print now. With kids I think it’s so important to capture them how they are, my son is a maniac and is always covered in cuts and bruises. Can’t think of any photos where he doesn’t have a huge purple bump on his head!


  4. Gilly says:

    Whoa!! Cannot believe I have stumbled across your blog! I too live in Cape Town and really struggle to find nice fabric and struggle even more with notions! Any advice you can give would be really welcome! Gilly


    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Gilly. Sorry for delayed response…life is so busy and I wanted to respond properly. Ok so my fabric- go to’s in cape town are: fabric world wynberg- for plain and printed viscose (reasonable). Fabric city- cbd contemporary selection of fabrics. Viscose prints, linen blends, good quality denim (can be pricey). Rubitex in Woodstock- great selection and constant stock (they’re a wholesaler and are priced well, just remember VAT must still be added to prices on the shelves). Studio 47-Woodstock (inconsistent in terms of stock but when they have got nice fabric it’s very reasonable). Rotex in observatory for knits (although truthfully I have not been there in years). Hope this helps!


      • Gilly says:

        Hi Sarah-May That’s really helpful. Thanks a mill. Will make a plan to try them on my next trip to CT ( I live an hour outside of CT now). Are these shops also good for notions? E.g. Polytrace, zips, interfacings etc. BTW – your blog is fantastic. And yes – I am one of those who also reads the words! Cup of tea in hand, watching the sunrise over the vines reading blogs is me time!


      • Sarah-May says:

        The best place for notions is Cape Town sewing Centre. They’re in the CBD too, but they don’t really have much in the way of fabric. Fabric city in town has a pretty good mix of both 😀


      • Gilly says:

        Hi Sarah-may. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help. I do know of CSC but was somewhat disappointed. Yay for my friends who visit me from overseas! But I’m feeling I must make a plan to visit Fabric City.


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