H is for Hibiscus Patterns

H Project Collage Watermarked

For my 8th Sew All 26 160 post, the letter “H”, I chose this Hibiscus Pattern. Hibiscus Pattern Envelope I bought this 1998 pattern for 50 cents at a thrift shop recently. Hibiscus could be a prototype for all the independent sewing pattern companies we are blessed with now.  But as far as I can discern Hibiscus Patterns are no longer produced, which is a shame. The pattern is timeless, very nicely drafted, has great instructions, and fits extremely well.

This pattern is called “The Sleek Sheath”. The dress is completely lined and is designed for ethnic fabrics like Mudcloth, Kente Cloth, Ikat, Batik, African Cottons, and the like. Since I didn’t have any of the those particular fabrics in my stash I decided to use a boldly printed cotton that resembles batik. This was another of my “oh, it’s so cheap, I’ll buy it” thrift store purchases that after I got home turned into a “what on earth was I thinking I could use this for?” fabric. Yippee! I’m patting myself on the back for using some of my vast fabric collection and something from my pattern hoard – double score!

As I said, the pattern is very well drafted – it wasn’t miles too large like most of the Big 4 patterns are. I began by cutting a straight size 14, which exactly matched my measurements. Then I made just a few pattern alterations, including a small bust adjustment using the excellent Emery Dress: How To Do A Small Bust Adjustment tutorial found here. I also cut the armholes and shoulder seams down to a size 8 after comparing the dart bust point on the pattern to my own bust apex. Apparently besides being small busted I’m also high busted, so I needed to reduce the amount of fabric from the top of the shoulders (and then cut deeper armholes) in order to have the darted bust line sit higher on the bodice.

 I found that using a zipper foot was helpful in sewing the piped front panel to the dress side fronts and I also added piping around the neckline. I’d  never made a completely lined dress but I found the instructions easy to follow. I used Bemberg Ambiance from Joann’s for the lining. The black dress fabric was from Hancock’s and the printed panel was a small part of a $3.50 thrift store find. I’d love to find a way to use the rest of the bold blue fabric – please let me know if you have any great ideas! The total cost of this garment was approximately $20.00. All in all I found this panel dress to be a great way to use bold fabric that would otherwise be too overwhelming on someone my size.


  1. I would have been stumped on that bold fabric, but you used it brilliantly. You’ve crafted a well balanced look with the fabrics. I’ll echo previous feedback on how great the dress fits you.


    • Thank you so much! I think the bold print down the middle front actually gives the illusion of being slimmer, by drawing the eye up and down the length of the body rather than the width. Especially with the rest of the dress being black. It was very sweet of you to make such nice comments! Thanks again.


  2. Kitty. This is so pretty and looks fantastic on you. I love it. I may ask to borrow this pattern to trace.

    I’ve never measured the placement of the bust apex. This is a great idea. Thx. Also … long contour darts? Never heard of those before. I would have guessed there were princess seams in there (& I saw this dress in person). Google – here I come.


    • Thanks Jane for your comments! But oops, here’s where my laziness in cutting instead of tracing patterns is a problem. I think we wear the same size, so that’s not a problem, but the cut up and taped over A cup bust alterations I made to the original will be. (Lucky you!)


  3. Your dress looks great on you. Seems shapely even without the princess seams (advantages of a small bust?), and considering its a 1998 pattern, it is very on-trend, style-wise and fabric-wise. Congrats!


    • Thanks for your positive comments! I think the long contour darts are pretty similar to princess seams, in that they provide fitting to the waistline as well as the bust and hip. I find that with my small bustline I need princess seams or lots of darts to keep woven fabrics from looking baggy on me.


  4. This dress doesn’t have princess seams, there are just 12″ long contour darts (thank you trusty Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing for giving me the correct name for the darts) on the front and back. I’ve found thru trial & error that I need either contour darts or princess seams in order for a dress not to hang like a sack on my frame.


  5. I really need to do more flat pattern measurement before I sew. That would save so much time. I like this dress and you could have do much fun with color choices. Was that a princess seam or just regular?


We love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s