Border Patterns: Fabric Designs with Style

Border patterns have been popular on skirts and dresses over the past decades. Using border prints is an easy-to-sew, quick way to add visual interest to a simple dress design. With careful planning, a basic dress design can become interesting and unique. This can be done by choosing a border design, then considering the placement of the fabric pattern on the dress.

The blue floral on white fabric in this sketch was cut with both the skirt hemline and upper bodice shoulders placed along the selvage edge. Placing a dense border at the hem and shoulder creates the 'ombre' effect where the pattern is deeper at the top and bottom of the dress, while the middle area is open and less dense in pattern or color.

To create this effect, look for a skirt pattern that is cut straight, like a very wide 'tube' that is then gathered or pleated. Don't attempt an "A" line or flared skirt since the straight hem edge will be difficult to work with.

The two dresses here show how great a simple bodice can become when the border pattern is placed running down the center front line. This is especially successful with embroidered yardage such as eyelet on linen and cottons, but printed border prints are nice on the bodice too.

Sewing patterns for most retro style 1950's through 1970's dresses with fitted bodices will work well using the center front border technique. Although these two tops have a center front closure (with cute covered buttons), it is possible to have the border design 'meet' down a front seam line instead.

From the late 60's or early 70's, this tomato red shirt dress is a great example of how a simple border pattern can create an interesting look. The border is repeated on the collar and cuffs to balance out the design. Below are several examples from the 70's of border patterns used on both long and knee length dresses. All of the fabrics below are jersey knits, available today through vintage sellers.

Now when you look at vintage or modern fabrics, be sure to look for border designs, they have so much to offer!

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