Sewing Style: Handprinted Leather Shift Dress


This teal fabric was originally going to be a circle dress, but I passed it up for the pink and orange. I second-guessed my decision until the idea for this dress came along.


However, the plain teal and patch leather pockets didn’t seem exciting enough. I’ve long wanted to do some serious block printing on a garment piece (like my printing idol), so I turned on some Project Runway and set to work.

And work it was! I had the blocks already carved, it was the printing that was hard to do. One of the stamps (mounted on MDF) rubbed my fingers so raw, I couldn’t feel my finger tips the next day. Next time I’m screwing on a make-shift handle to the block for easier to grip.


The front and sleeves were printed in a cross-hatch pattern and the back was printed with a simple triangle pattern (previously used here). I like the mixture of both. It’s different.


I used brown leather suede scraps scored from Michael Levine back in LA. It’s the softest, nicest suede I’ve ever felt, and because it’s garment weight, it doesn’t make the dress boxy or bulky at the hip.


I see the flaws in my printing (so many little white blobs everywhere), but it creates a certain vibe.


I’ve seen boxy fit dresses and tops go down the runway at NYFW lately, it makes me glad that I cut it a bit on the boxy side. It’s comfortable without, but I can go with the belt for a more structured look.


This is my new g0-to dress. I think I’ll be making a few of these in the future.

Outfit details

  • earrings: H&M
  • necklace: c/o Tai Pan Trading
  • bracelets: handmade (1,2)
  • belt: handmade
  • dress: handmade
  • cardigan: c/o She Inside (here)
  • tights: H&M
  • shoes: thrifted


On a related note, it snowed last week!! The first snow of the year had the biggest snow flakes I had ever seen. None of it stuck around for more than 24 hours, but it was quite the awakening that our carefree summer has ended. I still have a lot of weeding and yard prep to do before the real snow hits. And by real, it’s rumored that our neighborhood will get in the range of 10 feet this year. Chris and Penelope are beyond thrilled that they have their skis and gear all ready to rock and roll.


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    1. Erin R. says:

      I love this dress. I need to try one for myself, although I’m not sure how it would look on my particular shape. I like the imperfection in the printing, I think that it adds to the pattern.

    2. Pretty! I adore shift dresses, and especially like how you added your own creative touch through the hand printed fabric.


    3. Kristin H says:

      Teal, brown, and tan are one of my favorite colorways ever. Mmmm. Love the unexpected mix of print and texture in your styling. Such a cute dress!

      I seriously can’t believe its snowing already! My sister, who moved to Logan with my parentals, is already freezing. Poor dear has no idea how cold she is going to get this winter.

    4. phil says:

      very nice matches . i always like the little details you add to your creations

    5. This is so super cute Melissa! I love the style and the pockets and the print just blows me away. Fabulous.

    6. Ellen says:

      You should wear it unbelted! I love that look!

    7. Check you out channelling a funky 60s vibe. I love that the fabric could almost be tweed or jacquard from far away. Definitely a win!

    8. holly says:

      Melissa – Your earrings are so cute!!! Did you make them? Or where did you find these gems?

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