About a month ago, I found myself sitting on the floor of my sewing room as I often do, sorting through fabrics, trying to decide what to pair with what. The picking and choosing, matching and coordinating is one of my favorite ways to relax and to recharge creatively. The options are limitless and I always walk away with at least one pile of fabrics to think about. Sometimes I need to sew right at that moment. This was one of those times.

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I had seen all of the Dowry fabrics by Anna Maria Horner at the fall Quilt Market before they were released. I pre-ordered every single one. I most often buy half yard cuts, but this line had a few that had me adding yards to my shopping cart. Large scale florals often do that to me – they bowl me over with their good looks and have me momentarily losing my mind. How many quilt backs does one need in a year? According to my shopping habits, somewhere north of 20.

Although quilting cotton is not the best choice for most garment sewing, I do find that it is good for summer skirts. And that is what I must have had in mind when I bought two yards of this print (Twill Bouquet in Evergreen). But when I sat on the studio floor and contemplated the bright oranges and dark greens in the print and decided that it looked rather good with that peachy-pink and orange number (Going Up in Smoothie), I had just come home from Sew Down in Nashville where Anna Maria had taught a class that included needleturn applique. I was also working on a little something else with applique and so, as these things go, I thought, "Ooh! Applique that flower bouquet, Erin!"

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And that is what I did.

I settled on my all-time favorite dress pattern which Anna Maria also designed, the Painted Portrait Dress and Blouse. This is one of the most versatile patterns around – Dress or blouse? Sleeves or sleeveless? Pockets or no pockets? Patchwork or plain yoke? It's also a great sew. I settled on a sleeveless dress for my fifth (!) version (version 2 here, version 3 here, versions 1 & 4 unblogged – I know, I know, I really should). After appliquing the bouquet to the yoke, I was worried that it wasn't going to work. I pulled out the perle cotton and just started embellishing without much of a plan. Slowly and surely, I saw it all come together and stopped when I thought it looked good. It was then that Jane told me to put french knots in the center of those flowers. She was right – it was the perfect final touch.

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This pattern sewed up just as easily this time around as it did the first time. It always takes me longer than I think it is going to, but I never mind that because it is such a joy to put together. Luckily, there were no serger incidents – phew! – and I was able to find the perfect green vintage button to tie it all together. I added 2" length in the torso, but forgot to take in the back seams as I have in previous versions. Those alterations are on the docket for the coming weekend. As soon as I complete them, I know this dress will be in heavy rotation this summer.

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