I have had the Shelby dress pattern by True Bias for quite a long time but it was only after seeing the 6 versions made by Andie of So Andie Sews on her vlog that I decided to get on and make my own version. The pattern is very reminiscent of the ‘grunge-style’ dresses that I used to love in the 1990’s. It is described as a princess-seamed dress or romper with four views. Each has a V-shaped neckline, front button opening, and back waist tie. There are two different lengths in each style.
I knew that the dress at long (but not quite maxi) length would be ‘fabric-hungry’ and therefore ordered 5 metres of viscose from Rainbow Fabrics (I had misread the fabric requirements on the instructions!). The fabric arrived and was duly laundered.
Back to the pattern information – using my measurements I printed off View A in the ‘D’ cup in sizes 20-24. I then graded from a 20 at the shoulders to a 24 at the bust, waist and hips. Having checked the length of my other dresses, I shortened the above waist length of the bodice by 2 inches and ended up with a the total back length 45 inches inclusive of seam and hem allowances. I did not reduce any of the amount of flare at the hemline. I also downloaded the free puff sleeve hack and printed it off.
As the roses print was not a one-way design I was able to nest the pattern pieces and therefore used only 3 metres leaving the remnant 2 metres to be made up into a blouse at a later date.
As this was to be a wearable toile, I first basted the main panel seams and inserted the narrow tie belt into the back panels before having the first fitting. Wow! This dress was so big it was like a little girl wearing her granny’s dress! The shoulders were so wide that they needed to be reduced by at least 1½ inches and the overall fit of the dress could easily be taken in by around 4 inches all around. I duly reduced the width of the shoulders by taking out equal amounts from the panel seams before grading away 1 inch at each princess seam at the bust and waist before grading back to the size 24 hips. Second fitting – so much better! I then stitched and overlocked the seam allowances before adding the front and neck facings. I inserted the puff sleeves and used 15 inches of ¼ inch elastic tied in a knot. That allows for a snug but not too tight fit.
I finished off by overlocking and double turning a narrow hem. I ignored the pattern piece for button placement. I was delighted to find that I could get the dress on and off without undoing the fastenings. I stitched 9 buttons 2¾ inches apart through all layers. I had originally planned to use the Red sparkly buttons but found they competed with the Red of the roses, so back to Black!
Conclusion: Although I was very disappointed at the first fitting stage this was very soon forgotten as I am now delighted with the dress. I have altered the pattern and there will be many more of this style with variations of the sleeves. The only other change will be to stitch the buttons a little closer together as there is some slight gaping between buttons 2, 3 and 4.
A long time ago I purchased this pattern as a pdf from Sensibility.com who have several modern interpretations of Regency-style patterns. After several failed attempts to get the document to print, I abandoned the project and went other garments. Forward a couple of years and with more experience of using pdfs under my belt I revisited this pattern. Aha! To have the pattern printed to size one has to make adjustments to the settings – select ‘Poster’ and all will be resolved!
In the notes accompanying the pattern, the designer admits that whilst the pattern was created as a companion to the Romantic Era Dress, it is not period authentic. The first idea came from viewing a dramatisation of “Wives and Daughters” on TV.
The blouse is very versatile. It can be made with or without the shaping tucks, short or long sleeves, with or without trimming to the collar. There is a good range of sizes, from 6 – 24 and I chose to make the largest size. I shortened the sleeves by 3 cms and extended the length of the cuffs by 1 cm (next time they need to be at least 3 cms longer to provide a good overlap).
For this wearable toile I used some of a length of viscose bought from Minerva which although it was lightweight with good drape, was difficult to control and caused a few headaches where precision was required e.g. the collar. The sleeves themselves are lovely and full with gathers at both the sleeve heads and into the narrow single button cuffs.
The pattern itself was hand drawn and this maybe from where some of the problems originated. The illustrations in the instructions were also hand drawn. I started by following the pattern but soon realised it would be better to use my TNT methods for this type of collar construction.
As it was, the mobility of the fabric combined with less than precise drafting and fabric cutting out made that part of the construction a bit of a ‘fudge’. I will know better next time.
The fit is OK but not especially roomy. The length is also longer than I was expecting and I therefore added 6 plain Black buttons to the front closure.
Conclusion: I especially like the collar and blouse works well with a soft fabric but needs to be cut and sewn with precision. I am unsure about the colour and print of the fabric used although it does look good under both my Burgundy Brushed cotton and the recently-made Black viscose linen pinafore dresses.
‘Tabitha’ dress no.6 was inspired by Whitney of Tomkat Stitchery ack in December 2022 I bought 3 metres of this patchwork printed viscose crepe from Rainbow Fabrics for the grand sum of £29.97. This is yet another BOLD print to go with my mini collection of Black, Red and White. This version has short sleeves and a three-tiered gathered skirt. I was able to complete 5 buttonholes (without problems this time!) and used some of the sparkly Red buttons that I bought from Amazon.
There are concealed pockets in the side seams. The bodice seams are finished as French seams. Due to the bulk of the gathering, the seams for the three tiers of the skirt are overlocked. The skirt hem length is just shy of 30 inches so fits neatly under the Black linen viscose pinafore dress.
Conclusion: I am once again pleased with the dress and in addition to wearing under the pinafore dress, it also looks good with my Red Lisa Comfort cropped ¾ sleeve cardigan. The Tabitha dress is my ‘hack’ of the Take a Chance dress and is an all-time favourite pattern but as this is the sixth version of this pattern, I will be trying something new for my next project.
Back in March of 2022 I was seduced by the print on this polyester suiting fabric from Minerva and ordered sufficient to make a Sorrento jacket by Sew Over It. At the same time I ordered some spot printed satin to make a lining as per the instructions by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour. Total cost inclusive of post and packing was around £25.
I have made two versions of the Sorrento before so am familiar with the construction and have refined the fit to suit me best. Alterations to the pattern based on findings of the toile version were to reduce the length of bodice by 1 inch and reduce length of sleeves by 1½ inches. I think that maybe I shall add ½ inch back to the length of the sleeves but otherwise the fit based on a 20 at shoulders grading back to a 22 at the waistband is fine.
Once I had cut out the pattern pieces from the Oriental print polyester suiting I found that it was rather lightweight. I interlined each piece with some lightweight fusible interfacing bought from Maggie Stewart on eBay. I also fused interfacing to the satin lining fabric of the undercollar, pocket bags, pocket flaps and bias continuous strips for the sleeve plackets. Both fabrics were inclined to fray so the outer was double top stitched on all seams and the satin lining seam allowances were trimmed with pinking shears.
As the print is so busy I completed the top stitching using the standard weight Black thread, stitch length 3.0mm. There are over 100 steps to constructing this jacket not including the additional steps involved for the lining. Although I prepared the button tabs ready for attaching to the hem band, I have not added them as I feel that there is already quite enough pattern! I used more of the Black buttons from my bulk purchase – they are working out to be a really good buy!
I last made a lined Sorrento jacket at the Sewcial Retreat run by Purple Stitches in March 2022. I may be starting a tradition of making a Sorrento in March each year. This pattern is particularly well drafted. All the notches line up and using a 1cm seam allowance means that the pattern goes together really well.
It has taken roughly 8 hours to complete the jacket – so I am getting quicker at making this great garment. It has been a joy to sew this latest version and I look forward to really standing out in the crowd when I wear this BOLD jacket!
The Tabitha dress is my ‘hack’ of the Take a Chance dress and is an all-time favourite pattern. This version is part of my mini capsule in the colours of Black, Red and Winter White. I would not normally use polyester but this print fitted so well into the colour range that I thought ‘what the hell, let’s go for it!’
I used 3 metres that I bought from the Rainbow Fabrics remnant sale for just £10. This version has short sleeves and a gathered skirt with no ruffle. My machine is still a bit huffy about buttonholes so for the closure I used White KAM snaps.
There are concealed pockets in the side seams and all seams were finished with the overlocker. The skirt hem length is just 30 inches so fits neatly under the pinafore dress.
Conclusion: I am particularly pleased with the pattern print placement (not always by design). I count this dress as a success but due the boldness of the print it will probably only be worn under the Black viscose linen pinafore dress!
This was to be the core of a mini capsule based on the colours of Black, Red and Winter White. I have already made two dresses and a blouse and although the ‘Jane’ pinafore dress was cut out first, I had to wait for the delivery of some Black fusible interfacing.
3 metres of Black viscose linen was purchased from Minerva along with 2 metres of Black lining at a total cost of £37.31 including the post and packing. Although in the past I have cut this pattern from less fabric, I wanted to ensure there was sufficient to make the skirt at long enough to exceed the length of the dresses to be worn beneath.
The construction was plain sailing until I got to the 13 buttonholes! First I made up the bodice and the bodice lining. Once the shoulder seams joining the front and back bodice together on both the fashion fabric and the lining, the lining was stitched to the fashion fabric right sides together around the neckline, up and down the front edges and both armholes. All seam allowances were pinked and pressed. Once turned through I stitched the underarm/side seams in one pass, ensuring that seam allowances were pressed to the lining side
Next was the skirt. I had cut two widths of fabric by the length, in this case 34 inches. I made a centre back seam and finished the seam/hem allowances with some left over viscose binding.
There was a goodly amount of fabric to be gathered into the waist seam, however this made it easier to ensure the gathers were even. Once the skirt had been attached to the bodice, I hand stitched the lining in place (the ONLY hand stitching in this garment!). I turned up the hem and mitred the corner with the front facings.
Then came the 13 buttonholes. I am not sure quite why my Brother 4000D machine decided to have a hissy fit but eventually all buttonholes were completed and the buttons attached. I used yet more of the plain black buttons that I bought as part of a bulk buy from Amazon. Finally the patch pockets were stitched in place.
Conclusion: Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together exactly as you wanted? The blouse and dresses all fit under the pinafore beautifully . Now the last item to be sewn in this mini-capsule is a Sorrento Jacket.
I fell in love with the print of this fabric from one of my favourite eBay sellers. At the beginning of January I purchased the last remaining 2metre remnant at a grand price of £ 8.99 from crystal009. Such lovely fabric deserved special buttons and I splashed out on a set of 50 Red sparkly buttons from Amazon for £4.98.
I knew exactly which pattern to make up – my TNT long-sleeved blouse. This is a pattern that I have returned to very many times over the past 10 years. I always refer to it as my ‘Threads’ blouse as it was drafted using instructions from an old issue of Threads magazine.
As the fabric had such great drape I decided on the long full sleeves gathered into a double button cuff. All seams were constructed using French seams so the inside of the blouse is beautifully clean finished. The shaped hem is finished with a narrow double folded hem top-stitched in place. Due to the length of the blouse, for this iteration I worked 6 buttonholes down the front and I know that it will look good worn outside my Black slim leg trousers.
Conclusion: This is yet another example of why I return again and again to this pattern. This fabric is a delight to wear. Although it was originally planned to go with the Black viscose linen pinafore dress I think it looks equally good with the Navy needlecord one as well.
As a palate cleanser after the disaster that was the Eleanor Shirt from Sew me Something I reverted to one of my TNT patterns. The Tabitha dress is my ‘hack’ of the Take a Chance dress and is fast becoming an all-time favourite pattern. There are so many variations – long, short, straight or gathered sleeves with or without cuff, collar shape, skirt in tiers, with or without a hem ruffle. The only limit is my imagination.
Until late March I intend to work on a mini capsule based on the colours of Black, Red and Winter White. The core garment will be a Black Linen Viscose pinafore dress, the ‘Jane’ which is a favourite TNT pattern.
I used 3 metres of a pretty monochrome viscose challis bought for just £11.99 from an ebay seller crystal009 from whom I have bought in the past. The fabric is lovely, soft and will be a delight to wear.
I made sure that the length was such that it could be worn under the Black viscose linen pinafore dress.
This version of Tabitha again had long sleeves into a deep cuff and concealed side seam pockets but due to lack of fabric, no hem ruffle on the skirt. Apart from the waist seam, all seams were French seams. My usual concealed side seam pockets were also French seamed.
In anticipation of needing lots of plain Black buttons the 9 on this dress were from a multi-pack bought from Amazon for £5.99. At final fitting I noted that there is a lot of ease in the bodice and I therefore added some self-fabric ties at the side seams to bring in at the waistline.
A bonus is that the dress is just the correct length also to wear under my Burgundy pinafore dress.
Having just made a second version of the Tamarack I decided that now was the time to try a new to me pattern.
I was inspired by all the lovely versions of this shirt posted on Instagram. For the first ‘trial’ version I would use the remnant of Red/White gingham fabric that I had originally used for the binding on my first Tamarack jacket.
Q: How to make a complicated construction method even more difficult?
A: Use a ‘cheap’ loosely woven cotton with gingham weave, just so that it frays like ‘Billy O’ and is not ‘on grain’ so you can’t match up the checks.
As I knew that this shirt was oversized I cut the size 18 from the standard range. I am also aware that I don’t particularly like dropped shoulders but nevertheless I ignored those inner concerns – onwards and upwards!
I have made shawl-collared dresses and blouses in the past but never with the addition of a lined yoke and internal dart for shaping. Try as I might I could not decipher the written instructions so went with my gut and stitched the darts in the shirt and facing before attaching to the neckline and shoulder seams. That has worked out fine. I used the burrito method for completing the yoke and its lining – all without problems.
I inserted the sleeves flat using a French seam and having stitched the side seams also with French seam, turned up a 1½ inch hem. The hem of the shirt was narrow double turned and top stitched in place.
Having now had my final fitting I realised that the shoulder was far too dropped for my liking and the sleeves stick out like an American footballer. I will never wear this shirt. I found 5 Winter White-coloured buttons in my stash, completed the buttonholes, attached the buttons, photographed the completed shirt and ‘laid it to rest’ in the charity bag!
Conclusion: For me this is an absolute fail – lesson learned! However, I do plan to hack the pattern for the collar, facings and yoke onto my standard bodice block. That way I will end up with the collar and yoke detail that I like but without the voluminous shirt, dropped shoulders and massive sleeves.