Non flattery 101: How to look older and fatter than I am

Small floral patterns, A-line knee length skirts, and buttons or zips over my stomach.

All things I generally avoid in garments for me.

I’ve learnt they are not usually flattering.

So what possessed me to combine all three of these elements into one garment?

Perhaps the fun of adding contrasting sleeve cuffs, button bands, undercollars and collar stands?

To further increase the nanna factor, the sleeves are elbow length, just like my daughters school uniform (last updated in the 40’s). Sensible shoes and a hat help with the nannification too.

Despite this, it has been a comfortable dress to wear all day at the Adelaide Zoo. We have Pandas, woohoo!

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 04-2011-106


36 to 44. I made a 42, grading out to a 44 at the hips.


The small floral is a cotton from Spotlight. This is a chain store also know as BAL (break a leg), due to the untidiness of some of its stores, and is often only useful for notions. Sounds like Joann’s in the States might be similar. I’ve been surprised by the betterquality of some of the fabrics recently. This one tempted me, successfully.

The stripe is a stretch cotton that has been in my stash for a very long time. I love these colours.

Changes I made:

I only added one breast pocket, didn’t add the epaulettes and didn’t make the waist darts on the outside.

I used a contrasting stripe fabric for the left button band, the inner yoke, the inner stand collar, the under collar and added a contrasting band to the top of the pocket and as ‘cuffs’ to the sleeves (as 10 cm facings to the bottom of the sleeve, then turned the sleeve up so half the facing showed).

I added two extra buttonholes to the front band (and only one extra button until I have time to get back to the Button Bar for the last one!).

I couldn’t decide on lime green or kelly green for the buttons. So I compromised. Kelly green buttons sewn on with lime green thread. Buttonholes and top stitching on the inner right front band in peacock blue on the top and lime green underneath.

I added 5 cm to the length (the usual for me).

I used self fabric as interfacing, as inspired by David Coffin. I really like the soft but firm finish this gives.

Would I make it again?

Probably not. Certainly not with elbow length sleeves nor in a small floral. This is a great shirt pattern though (model 105 is based on the same top, without the waist darts), and the fit is good for me. I’ll use the pattern again for regular shirts, just not shirt dresses!

What should I have used that small floral for (apart from little girls dresses)?

A simple shell top- Collette’s Sorbetto would be perfect. I might even have enough fabric leftover…

17 thoughts on “Non flattery 101: How to look older and fatter than I am

  1. The curse of the small floral strikes again – it crosses oceans!! I have a tunic I made a couple of years ago from a very similar print, except in blue/cream/beige. It was a really lovely fabric to sew (I think it was a stretch poplin), but as soon as I put it on I realised I had inadvertently made a pyjama top (but too small to be comfortable to wear as such) and not a wearable tunic. Fortunately, I’ve lot a bit of weight since I made it and it has indeed now become a PJ top and I love wearing it that way.

    As a shirt, that pattern is a great fit on you so at least you didn’t waste your time.

  2. Aahh, poor old Spotlight, or more commonly known as ‘Dump-Table-City’. Don’t you just hate the way they treat their rolls of 2nd class fabric??? Good find of yours since this floral seems to be a rare find of quality. Love your contrasting fabric, this was a great matchup, and the fit is perfect, as you said. This would have been lovely and cool in your extreme heat over the last few weeks in Adelaide…great work…

  3. Love it – but it needs some support hose and a hand knit cardy to really finish the look. Jokes aside, I do really like it – I am a great fan of nanna chic. I like the zazzy stripe bits – I think it adds something new to that pattern – which I must haul out and have another crack at, now that I’ve been reminded of it on you.

  4. I have some small print cottons in my stash as well. I never find quite the right pattern to use them in. They are tricky! I am thinking maybe a blouse? Or maybe a folksy quilt? Or maybe just stash padding!

  5. I learned it the hard way……. small floral prints look best as smocked dresses on young children! I’ve tried unsuccessfully to sew beautiful small florals for myself – skirts, dresses, blouses – in many different styles. I used my last liberty print as a window treatment and sink skirt in my laundry room where it looks fabulous!

  6. I second the belt notion- it’s really too cute to ditch- maybe cut it to tunic length and belt it? The fabric combination is very ducky- I wish my Nanna had been so coordinated!

  7. Oh you crack me up, nannification!! Maybe you would really need a granny handbag with some crochet hanging out for best effect? And spectacles on a plastic chain? LOL!! (Joking and not being mean!). The fabric is pretty though, and it must have been a real temptation. Maybe what you need is a really boho design to carry that print off for a dress and the right accessories? You did a lovely job on the accents and the fit though, certainly no waste of time. Sometimes I’ve noticed small scale prints work well in modern styled blouses that are super feminine with curves and ruffles involved, and sharp, chic accessories. I think contrast between the two works great, like putting the blouse with some faded jeans and cute shoes.

  8. You could make an obi style belt in a contrasting fabric (or brown faux suede) and wear that on your natural waist with the blouse part of the dress pulled above it just slightly then I reckon that would jazz it up.

  9. I completely see/hear your pain. Love Liberty prints, but they just seem to not like me so much as my figure ages. But there must be a way to use them that’s cool! I love the striping contrast on this.

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