Today, we continue our series of blog posts from some of our favorite makers highlighting DIY garments, customized using the techniques and patterns of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. We last heard from Amy Herzog, who described the fit issues she has faced over the years—particularly garment length. This week, we are blushingly grateful to post Heather Ross’ review.

I have long been an admirer of Heather, who has an exceptional eye for design and motif. She is also a talented writer who can combine the poignant and humorous in her books and her designs. We once asked her how she translated humor into her fabric designs and she said something that still sticks with me: “Funny is just a mix of happy and ridiculous. Ridiculous is easy.”

In her review, Heather talks about the difficulty of finding ready-to-wear clothing that fits her long torso. She writes, “…in many Ready To Wear dresses and blouses I find myself hunching over to make up for their lack of length, as though I can bring a waistline down by scrunching myself up.” And she shares memories of her grandmother’s handmade clothing and how wearing those custom dresses gave her confidence. “I felt flattered, rather than awkward, and much more myself. This is the thing about wearing clothing that really fits you: It makes you feel good.”

And I agree. Though I have my own body image struggles, my clothing makes me more comfortable in my own skin. (Most of the time) I know exactly who I am in these clothes. I wrote Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns with the hope that more women can have that feeling, by taking control of their wardrobes and dressing their bodies exactly as they are.

On page 114 of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, we talk about how to lengthen or shorten a garment at the high hip, low hip, or both. We also offer other solutions to length problems in Chapter 2: Fit + Customization.


Garment Design – Long Fitted Dress
Fit Customization – Lengthen with an internal pattern adjustment at the high hip
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Storm Blue
Fabric color for inner layer – Denim
Technique – Reverse appliqué
Button Craft thread – Navy #13
Textile paint color – Navy
Stencil – Large Scallops
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan

P.S.: We highly recommend Heather’s book, Heather Ross Prints, for some truly unique and lovely DIY projects.


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Click to read 15 comments
  1. Karen K.

    Not quite understanding the construction. I totally get reverse applique and the double fabric and stenciling used however how did you arrive at the different colored background? ie: Upper right and lower left sections being darker? Thanks.

  2. Jane

    I’ve tried to figure that out too, Karen! I think what we’re seeing is that she cut out the centres from the darker stencilled areas in the band across the middle, so what we see as the main colour there is the inner layer of fabric. In the areas that look predominantly darker, all we’re seeing is the top stencilled layer. I’m only guessing, but I think that would do it. Nice effect!

  3. Diane V

    My guess is that the shell itself is the painted part, the space between the shells is the color of the top jersey fabric, and the lighter jersey (seen in the reverse applique areas) is under the whole dress. Isn’t this wonderful!
    Bravo to Natalie and to Heather!

    1. Alabama

      That’s right, Diane. The shell shapes are painted in Navy (the darkest blue). The technique is reverse applique and so most of the “shell shape” was cut away, revealing the bottom layer (Denim) which is the lighter shade of blue.

    1. Karen K.

      Thanks so much for the explanation everyone. I too suspected this might be case but questioned whether all that navy could actually be just paint.
      I’m normally not a blue lover by any means but this dress just changed my mind!

  4. cheryl

    I have fit issues with a large bust. While I have great curves that I love, finding tops and dresses that fit is difficult. This combined with my distaste for sweating in polyester clothes has led me to Natalie. I just finished a camisole top based on my sloper ( a armscye princess seam) . Can you say “love it”?

    the finished garment was really a muslin. I am working through the smooth seams resulting from a steep bust curve. Clipping is key. I hope to post my work in a blog so that it may help other curvy ladies. Next, I want to try the corset top. it appears that none of the seams fall over the bust point , (I would love to see this noted on patterns) are they style lines? I think so even though they do not pass over the bust.,. So I am still working through how to adapt the corset top for a larger bust (d-e cup) with my sloper.

    1. Alabama

      Hi Cheryl,
      The seams in our Corset are style lines, but they can be easily adjusted to accommodate a larger bust. The Corset is made to shape the bust, but in a different way than the princess seams in the Camisole Top as none of the seams go directly over the bust point.

      If you’d like to increase the bust size in your Corset, we would suggest that you make adjustments to the seams between the mid-front and side-front pieces on the front half of the Corset.

      If you have any more questions, please let us know. Happy sewing!

  5. Dania

    I love this dress and would love to make one just like it for myself. Are there any pics of the back of the dress?

    1. Alabama

      Hi Dania,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have any images of the back. That was our oversight. (We’ll remember for next time.) The reverse applique cutouts continue around the back of the dress, connecting with the cutouts on the front. Let us know if you need any more details.

    1. Alabama

      Hi Karen,
      You can order a DIY Kit for this dress (and any styles featured in our Studio Book Series) through our Custom DIY (http://alabamachanin.com/custom-diy). We’ve included all the garment details at the bottom of this Journal post to help make the process easier. Feel free to give us at call at +1.256.760.1090 if you need helping placing the order.