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Gemma’s Davenport Hack

With 1m of viscose from February’s Mini Box Gemma hacked the Friday Pattern Company Davenport Dress to make a sweet top

Receiving the Mini box is always a great way to challenge yourself to find projects that use smaller amounts of fabric. I feel cottons tend to be easier to pair up with patterns, and love having to think outside of the box when I receive other types of fabrics. This month was a purple leopard print viscose, lovely and soft with a lot of drape, and I really wanted to think of a way to use it that would give it a lot of life. Although a tricky one, I managed to find a way!

As always, a scroll through social media hashtags is a great way to get ideas. I generally use viscose for tops or dresses, and started having a rummage through my pattern collection for some ideas. I realised that hacking a dress pattern into a top would be a good starting point, and would definitely be a good use of a smaller amount of fabric to get maximum impact. Last year I tried the Friday Pattern Company Davenport Dress, made in an Art Gallery cotton (which you can see over on the SewHayleyJane Blog) and really loved the unique construction details, especially on the top. My mind got to thinking…. Could I make a top version? A scroll through Instagram found the #davenportdresshack which answered that question pretty quickly – you can indeed, and it looked to be the perfect pattern pairing for my fabric!

If you haven’t seen this pattern yet, it’s a really comfortable throw-on dress, with some interesting features such as front and back yokes, a front neckline which is gathered in with elastic and full sleeves that have a shoulder flutter detail. I loved making my version, as it was different to what I have made before and really piqued my sewing interest! I’ve been wanting to make another, and luckily, as the fabric is wide width and the pattern pieces are constructed in this way it meant I could make it work with the fabric I had, albeit with some slight adjustments!

In order to make the top work, I added 5 inches to the length of the front and back pieces. As I usually tuck tops like this into my trousers this worked for me, but I would recommend lengthening a little longer if you wanted to wear it over your trousers. I also had to forgo the sleeves as I didn’t have enough fabric, which is fine as the versions I had seen on Instagram had also done this and looked great! I kept the flutter sleeve piece to keep with the interesting details, and bound the sleeve seams with bias binding, especially since it was such a fluid fabric that frayed! I do recommend being really careful at all stages with this fabric – it does move quite a bit which makes cutting out and keeping your pieces together when sewing a little tricky. Also make sure to use a new, sharp needle!

Sewing the front yokes on this pattern can be a little mystifying for beginners, but think of it like a sandwich, and once it’s done you can marvel at the magic of such a brilliant construction idea! I found making the whole garment actually came together fairly quickly. The hardest part I had was doing the bias binding, as it is such a slippery fabric!

If you have read about my previous version, you will remember that I made the size XL, and found it a little snug on my back and in the armholes. I went up to the XXL for this one, and it is a much better fit.

And just like that, I have found a top pattern that uses 1m or so of fabric that not only looks fabulous but is relatively simple to sew! Very happy that this little hack worked, as it makes me feel like I’ve won when it comes to getting the most out of my fabric – this is definitely a great one for warmer weather and as an easy throw-on outfit. I am going to add a few more to my to-sew list, and definitely a few with sleeves too!