Something different: a two-piece dressy set

I’ve been working hard to focus on my sister’s wedding dress, but quite a few so-called palate cleanser projects have sneaked their way in. One was directly influenced by my sister’s dress – I’ll be attaching Sewaholic’s glorious Gabriola skirt pattern onto the bodice.

I sewed the skirt in muslin and couldn’t resist trying it on myself. I rarely wear skirts these days, but the instant I put it on, I fell hard for this design. I’d always admired it but just couldn’t imagine myself looking like, well, myself, in it. The muslin was convincing enough to lead me to believe that I should sew up a practice version in appropriately flowing fabric to use during bodice fittings that I could ultimately keep for myself. | Sewaholic Gabriola

Who was I to argue?

After combing the internet and local fabric shops for an interesting viscose print, I surprised myself by settling on a loud floral print. The color wasn’t quite what I’d hoped so I dyed over it with a lovely blue and used the wrong side. | Sewaholic Gabriola

There have been a lot of these gorgeous skirts shared on other blogs, so I’ll just give you my construction bullet points:

  • I changed the front waistband from a rectangle to a curve
  • I did a lapped zipper (stabilized by a silk organza strip) and made the button tab overlap longer
  • I wish I’d stabilized the front and back chevron panels because they distorted over time. The skirt is heavy in viscose and you can still see that those panels can’t fully support the weight of the skirt.
  • Even after grading down a size in the hips, I still had to take some extra width out – perhaps due to the distortion mentioned above
  • By reducing the flare at the bottom of the skirt by a few inches, I was able to sew my skirt on 2.5 yards of 55″ fabric instead of the recommended 3.5 yards.

How could I not put that extra yard to use in a matching top?

I used my sloper and my trusty ol’ Helen Joseph-Armstrong textbook and made a bias-cut cowl-neck top. I love how the dark floral motif looks like a big dramatic necklace. | cowl neck top based on sloper | cowl neck top based on sloper

I think this getup (and maybe even the skirt on its own?) is just a *smidge* too dressy for work so I’m eagerly awaiting the first opportunity to bust it out. Wearing yards of viscose from head to toe is like being swathed in a fluffy dream cloud – certainly something to look forward to. | Sewaholic Gabriola

My sewing recently has been quite practical – coat, jeans, shirts, blue, white, grey. Everything about this project took me by surprise… and I liked it.


98 thoughts on “Something different: a two-piece dressy set

  1. Sooo pretty. I love how you made the floral look painterly and abstract with the dye job. Such a good feeling when you make something unexpected just for the joy of it and you turn out loving it.

    1. Thanks, Katie! It was a really fun outfit to make, and it brought me back to my earlier approach of just making something because I thought it was pretty.

  2. I don’t know your work environment, but maybe pairing it with a jeans or leather jacket would dress it down?

    I love how you combined the skirt with a top. I remember reading in Claire Schaeffer’s book that Chanel did this a lot with her designs. Don’t quote me though – I need to bring out that book again and reread anyways!

    It seems like forever ago that I made one, but I experienced the same thing with the panels stretching out. If it makes you feel any better – I can’t notice it!

    1. Oh, anything goes in my office – I think I just feel a bit conspicuous! I think you’re right, a good little jacket would be just the thing. That’s on my sewing list once I’m done with the wedding dress!

      That’s cool to know about Chanel. I really like how the outfit looks like a dress but splits into separates!

      (Btw, I haven’t been able to comment on your blog lately – I’m getting an error, “Invalid Security Token” that I’ve gotten on a couple of other sites. Just thought I’d let you know why you haven’t heard from me lately!)

  3. Ooh, love it! I have two gabriolas so far and it is such a great pattern. I love the fabric you’ve used and the dye has worked well. Colour is fab!

    1. It really is a good pattern! I feel like a lot of patterns are similar to each other, but I haven’t seen too many like this and it seems to suit a lot of different styles and bodies. I checked out your red Gabriola and it’s stunning!

  4. I tend to see my style as pretty no-nonsense, maybe vaguely preppy, but in an Artsy way, but it rarely includes flowy anything… However I made a By Hand London Anna maxi last year in some rayon I’d had in my stash forever, and I love wearing that thing! It’s not rely my style, but it feels like a dream on. Shortly after finishing it I bought the Gabriola pattern, wanting to make a maxi that might have more daily wear applications. So I totally get what you’re doing here. It Looks FABULOUS! wear it with pride! Sometime we need to step out of our habits, just to see what it feels like out there….

  5. Oh, stunning, Morgan! Great idea with dyeing the fabric, too – gorgeous colour and it looks very expensive and modern.

  6. Beautiful! What a great summer ensemble. I really love your creative use of fabric here – the combination of dyeing and using the wrong side produced a really lovely effect. Hopefully you’ll find a few occasions to wear this. I love both pieces together!

    1. Yes, I think I’ll wear the whole getup to a fall wedding! And maybe I’ll get bold and wear the skirt to work. I know I’ll definitely wear the top on its own!

  7. Wooooow! You look gorgeous! Glamorous! Overdyeing the fabric is a great idea, it looks really modern this way. Hope you get to wear this soon! Most of the time everyday life is way to casual for me to even consider sewing the Gabriola but you are really tempting me right now! 😉

    1. Thank you! Glamorous is an adjective I rarely use to describe how I feel, but in this skirt it’s appropriate! I am thinking of sewing up a more casual Gabriola (if such a thing is possible!) in a solid color. I had admired this pattern but thought it wasn’t for me/my lifestyle until I made that muslin – you could have the same experience!

  8. What a beautiful outfit! I love a skirt and dress combo as a dressy set. It’s nice to see something different than a dress for a formal option. And the best thing is that you can wear them separately and dress them down a bit.

    1. Yes! I’ve noticed that with the other two piece set I made – they’re really easy to wear on their own. (Wouldn’t a gorgeous two-piece formal set with pants be amazing??)

  9. Gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful, together and separate (I’d imagine). I think this is the first version of this skirt I’ve seen that’s given me the “monkey see, monkey do!” maker’s envy :-).

  10. This is a really lovely combination — the skirt would also look nice shorter, great for swing dancing!!

  11. Très chic! Two-pieces are great; I’ve put the Helen-book on my reading list, you seem to use it quite often with good results?

    1. Yes, highly recommend that book – there’s an astounding array of styles included. My one caveat with that book is that I found her method for making the bodice sloper a bit difficult. I ended up combining it with the bodice sloper tutorial shared on

  12. Oooh, that is soooo pretty! I never would have guessed that a “loud floral” was hiding under the beautiful shades of turquoise! Nice work! And definitely find a reason to wear it soon. It deserves lots of outings! 🙂

    1. Haha yes, there’s a super loud floral under there. I’ll attach a pic of it to this comment – you might have seen it on IG! I actually really liked it but it had more brown than I liked and the print looked smaller than I was hoping.


      1. Me too! I’m going to try and post more of those as well as pattern adjustments because that’s what I like seeing as well.

  13. This is such a stylish outfit! It looks so good together but each piece will also look brilliant with other things. I love how you dyed the fabric, that would never occur to me but what a great solution to Internet buys that aren’t what you expect!

    1. Yes, the one time I order online without getting a swatch first…! The fabric just didn’t seem quite right on the right side, but dyeing it and flipping it really reduced the busy-ness.

  14. It’s a lovely skirt on you, and such an amazing idea to use as the skirt of your sisters dress. Your experiment has turned out beautifully – they’re very striking together, and yes as separates I’m sure you’ll get plenty of wear out of them too. You’ve inspired me to do some dyeing today actually – I’ve got a hank of natural wool given to me by a client from their own sheep and today it’s going in a tea dye bath!

    1. I’ll confess to really, really pushing this skirt on her! She wasn’t sold until she saw the muslin and now she’s all over it. Good luck with your dye project! I think tea dyeing can turn out so beautifully – I think there’s a surprising range of lovely neutrals you can achieve.x

  15. I love your Gabriola! It has such a lovely sweep! I just bought this pattern and some rayon for it, but now I’m wondering about the bias panels. Any suggestions for stabilizing them?

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I didn’t notice the distortion on my muslin so I do think the viscose weight and drape could stand for some stabilizing. My plan for my sister’s dress is double up on all the yoke pieces, with the grain of the inner chevron-shaped pieces running perpendicular to the ground. I’ve also considered using silk organza instead of doubling up on the fashion fabric, but I’m wondering if that might not be too stiff? I’m excited to see yours!

  16. So elegant. I love how you dyed it and used the wrong side. You’ve ignited my desire for a two piece set, it’s so cool how you can mix and match them too with other pieces. It’s always nice to make something a bit special once in a while too!

    1. Thank you, Kate! I don’t attend a lot of dressy events, but this will be a nice default outfit (and I will most definitely be mixing and matching for more casual occasions!)

  17. Wow Morgan! This is absolutely gorgeous! I love what you did with the fabric too. That blue is stunning! I hope you find lots of occasions to wear it!

  18. This ensemble is just gorgeous! I love it on you. How clever to dye the fabric and use the wrong side. Hope you find an opportunity to wear it!

  19. This is gorgeous AND genius! And beautifully executed. I love how the fabric turned out, definitely worth the labour of dying. You must have seen its potential!

  20. This looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m a huge fan of sewing matching separates. I love how there’s more wear options than sewing just a dress.

    1. I’m coming around to it, this matching separates idea! I’m finding myself reaching for dresses less and less but it’s nice to be able to fake it.

  21. Absolutely gorgeous! This color blue is beautiful on you. I love when I surprise myself by falling for something outside my normal comfort zone. Pretty!

    1. Thank you, Margo! It’s a funny balance to try and strike – I definitely like mostly practical sewing that falls squarely within my established taste, but this was just such a joy to dream up and sew.

  22. Oh wow! This is freaking rad, Morgan!!! The colour is spectacular and it is an awesome statement piece! 😀 😀 😀

  23. Wow, beautiful! I’ve passed over this skirt so many times, but it’s so wonderful in this drapy fabric! I may be convinced!

    1. I’d been admiring the pattern for a long time but thinking it wasn’t suited to me at all. It was nice to have an excuse to buy and muslin it!

  24. This is easily my favourite make in the last long while. Holy crap is it ever beautiful! The silhouette is totally working on you, but the DYE! I couldn’t love it more. I wish I knew what that floral looked like before you wizarded it….

  25. Morgan this is simply gorgeous!! You look so chic and comfortable and perfect in this outfit! What a wonderful idea to dye the fabric and use the other side…I think I might have to try this for a few of the ‘nice online, bad in person’ prints I’ve purchased.

  26. Very elegant, the fabric reminds me of a two piece set I had in late 80’s/early 90’s and I can still remember how comfortable it was to wear, while still looking smart. Unfortunately the photos show I teamed my set with a decidedly inelegant fluffy perm :))

  27. This is really beautiful on you Morgan! I love how you treat fabric – dye it, flip it, wrong side it – it seams to always turn out 10X better than it started 😉

  28. I’m getting Stevie Nicks vibes from this, which is pretty much the highest compliment I can offer. There’s a blue in there that is your colour, and you just look freaking smashing in it xx

  29. Oh it’s utterly gorgeous. The Gabriola is a winner for sure and with your cowl top you have an amazing outfit. And yes, how lovely is viscose? My peplum top feels the same way when I wear it 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jillian! Just curious, have you sorted out the difference between viscose and rayon? From what I’ve read, viscose is supposed to be slightly higher quality but I have no idea how that’s quantified!

      1. I have no idea – it seems they are sometimes used interchangeably. I know when I bought mine I was told it was viscose and then later in a discussion it was referred to as rayon by the same person. Meh. Does it matter? It’s gorgeous!

  30. Ohh this is so dreamy and gorgeous! I love the abstract print of the fabric! I think it adds to the structural details of the skirt and cowl-neck instead of taking away or getting too busy.

  31. This is simply gorgeous! I love that you over-dyed the rayon. I have a few loud rayon prints in my stash as well that might be improved by a dye bath as well.

    1. Thanks, Grace! I was super excited to read that rayon takes reactive fiber dyes since I have quite a few on hand! Even with 3+ yards, it took the dye really nicely.

  32. What a great pattern! Looks fantastic in blue. I’ve mad it in a black ply georgette with a knee length slip and am now about to make it for my own wedding dress so I was so excited to see your post! What fabric are you using for the wedding dress? I’ve picked a treble crepe satin to contrast with a Carolina Herrera rose print top from Mood the guy in the silk shop suggested I merge the two upper v pieces to reduce the number of visible seams – any thoughts? Good luck with the dress- braver than making your own!

    1. Hi Emma! I’ll be using silk charmeuse with a chiffon overlay. I was actually thinking of merging the two pieces myself – I’d forgotten about that until I read your comment – and it would probably fix the problem I had where the v-pieces stretched out because they were on the bias. Good luck with your dress as well!

  33. Oh, man, this set is so lovely! I love what the overdye did to the floral fabric. I love the design of the Gabriola, but have always felt it might be a little too fussy/frou frou for my tastes. You, of course, have made it look incredible, and yes, totally wearable.

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