Category Archives: Dresses

Jules Woven Tunic > Dress

And now for something completely different! I have had the Jules tunic pattern by Style Arc in my stash for some time. Jules is a button through ‘V’ neck tunic featuring a shaped under-bust seam and a 7/8 th length of sleeve.

I thought it would look good in my latest purchase from Rainbow Fabrics of Khaki Green Palm Leaves printed viscose.

As I did not want to ‘waste’ the fabric in case the pattern did not turn out well, I decided to make a ‘wearable toile’ using this abstract geometric jacquard crepe de chine that has been in my stash since the year dot.

I cut out the size 22 pattern with just a couple of minor adjustments. I made my usual forward shoulder adjustment of ½ inch, reduced the sleeve length by 2 inches and added 3 ½ inches to the length of the ‘skirt’ panels. If the tunic turned out OK I still have over 1 ½ metres x 115cms of the fabric left so could add a deep frill and turn the tunic into a dress.

The overlocker and sewing machine are threaded up with Sage Green, fresh needles in place so let’s get to it!

First thing to do was fuse interfacing to the neckline facings. I had made mine a little wider (3 inches) and cut the front button/buttonhole facing level with the bottom of the bodice. If this tunic was eventually turned into a dress I did not want to have to split the frill and put buttonholes all the way through the skirt.

Having got to the stage of first fitting I found that I needed to reduce the shoulder width by 1 inch and there was sufficient ease to put the top on over my head without undoing the buttons. Next was to set in the sleeves. As is often the way – the first went in beautifully, the second was a pain! After a couple of un-pickings I finally managed to set in the sleeve. It was acceptable but only just. I finished the sleeves with a deep hem which was top-stitched to match the top stitching on the facings.

Next was to gather the ‘skirt’ panels onto the bodice. I machine basted them in place and tried on the tunic. Yet another potential ‘Galleon in Full Sail’ look! The front looked fine but the back bodice finished just at the top of my hips and with the gathers the skirt looked a little like a bustle. It is just as well that the Crepe drapes so well as otherwise the volume of the skirt would look even worse. The length of the ‘skirt’ finished just above my knees, level with the ‘podgy’ part of my leg so even with dark leggings the possibility of leaving the tunic at that length was a definite ‘no-no’. The height/width ratio was such that I looked like a large Green Box!

I cut 4 widths of the fabric x 13 inches deep to make a frill. I mean to finish the dress but have a feeling that its final destination may well be the charity shop. So much unrelieved plain Dark Sage Green is not a good look on me. However, I had noticed that the mustard viscose scarf at the neckline did look good.

I pleated the frill using my ‘ruffler’ foot with settings of stitch length 4.5 and a pleat every 6 stitches. I then attached the frill to the ‘skirt’ of the tunic and hey presto! A dress!

There were some adjustments to be made: As I had made a sway back adjustment, the back of the skirt was falling a good 2+ inches lower than the front. A simple ‘two birds with one stone’ adjustment. I took up the back skirt and reduced the length of the back bodice by 2 inches at centre back grading back to the original seam at the sides. Now the hem was level and although the back bodice was still a little too long and ‘roomy’ for my taste is was acceptable.

I completed the dress by finishing all seam allowances with the overlocker and took up a narrow double folded hem on the bottom frill which was machine top-stitched in place.

My husband is not sure about the overall look of the dress but does like the neckline and the shaping of the bodice front so I will be ‘hacking’ those features onto another dress to be made in viscose.

Project #66 completed 21st November 2020

Moira #5 Autumnal Print Viscose

Hot on the heels of the semi-failure of the Anaconda Antithesis Moira #4 I quickly cut another dress using this pretty Autumnal-coloured floral printed viscose. In August this year, I had bought 3metres for a total cost of £14.97 from ‘lethalsoul’ a seller on eBay.

I thought the print design and colours would make an ideal dress for the Autumn and having been distracted by other makes, I very nearly missed the boat!

‘Moira’ has short sleeves, a scoop neckline, bodice with side bust and under bust darts, no buttons or fastenings, a raised waistline with self-fabric ties set into the side seams of the bodice, gathered skirt with deep hem frill and concealed side seam pockets.

The fact that the predominant floral motif continues through from bodice to skirt is a pure fluke. The bodice is lined with viscose voile that has facings cut from the fashion fabric. This is just in case the lining accidentally flips out. I also ran a line of top-stitching around the neckline ¼ inch away from the edge. I attached a skirt lining of viscose voile to the bodice lining using a French seam

For the fashion fabric skirt I cut two panels 40 ins wide x 21 inches long. The frill was cut 3 x the full width of the fabric x 12 inches deep. Pleating for the frill was completed using my ruffler foot with settings at stitch length 4.00 and pleat every 6 stitches. The seams, including the pockets are French seamed. The sleeve hems and the hem on the frill are double turned and top-stitched in place.

I am especially pleased with how this dress has turned out as the previous make using cotton lawn was such a disappointment.

Project #65 completed 15th November 2020

Moira #4 in cotton lawn

I love the print design ‘Anaconda Antithesis’ and already have a dress in the cotton lawn substrate. The first dress is my TNT sleeveless shirt dress with a collar, lapels, button through bodice and skirt, gathered skirt and concealed side seam pockets.

For my new dress in this print I wanted a change of style so this one is the Moira #4. Moira has sleeves, a scoop neckline, no buttons, a raised waistline with back ties, full gathered skirt and concealed side seam pockets.

I did not want to break up the print design, this version of Moira does not have the deep hem frill. I attached a skirt lining of viscose voile to the bodice lining using a French seam and added a beautiful lace trim to the hem. This fashion fabric was quite expensive at £15.99/metre and I had wanted to add a few special details to this simply-styled dress.

For the fashion fabric skirt I simply cut two widths each 34 inches long which were then gathered onto the bodice. I added my usual concealed side seam pockets. The seams, including the pockets are French seamed. When I tried on the dress to check the gathers etc I found that had a startling resemblance to a Galleon in full sail – not the look I was after!

I removed the skirt panels from the bodice and reduced the volume by cutting out a panel from the back skirt so that there was a centre back seam. For the front skirt panel I did not want to lose the print at centre front so I cut two smaller pieces either side of the centre front panel so this is now a 3-panel front skirt. Unfortunately I was over zealous in removing volume and now the skirt is narrower than I really wanted but ‘hey-ho’ that’s how it is going to stay. The hem of the skirt is hand stitched in place.

The bodice is lined with viscose voile and has facings in the fashion fabric. The sleeves have French seams and a double folded hem that is hand stitched. Once again I have added a self-fabric tie belt that has been set into the side seams.

I have to say that I feel this dress is mostly a ‘fail’, typical that it should happen with one of the more expensive lengths of fabric – the cotton lawn. Now I am wondering if the pattern is not really suitable for this substrate and I would be better served by sticking to viscose for ‘Moira’. The next version will be made from a pretty Autumnal print viscose that I bought from an eBay seller for just £4.99/metre.

project #64 completed 9th November 2020

Long sleeved Blouse

In the past when planning a wardrobe to take on holidays I had a plan. I would take a printed fabric and make a top and skirt in that print. I would add plain tops and trousers in colours from that print. This way I would have a fully coordinated set of clothing that would mix and match and be perfect for a variety of activities.

As soon as I had finished making the Jenna skirt in this beautiful printed viscose, I cut out a long sleeved blouse to go with it. The blouse took just 1½ metres of the remaining 2 metres of fabric so this blouse will have cost £7.86 for the fabric, plus a little for the thread, interfacing and buttons, all of which came from my stash, to give a total of around £10.00 – a bargain! I have the remaining ½ metre to make a nice scarf which I can either keep or give as a gift.

The pattern that I used for the blouse was my own draft based on the bodice of my TNT shirt dress. I kept the bust darts but ignored the body darts. I re-drew the side seams and added a shaped hemline that finished about 6 inches below the waistline. I added the long sleeves that have a smooth sleeve head but with lots of fullness gathered into a buttoned cuff.

The construction was straightforward as I have made this collar and lapel many times. I top stitched the collar, lapel and front facings. The side seams of the bodice and sleeve seams were French seamed. There is a narrow hem double folded before machine stitching in place.

I was a little unsure which buttons to use but finally settled on a 2-hole button in matt finish in a variety of colours. These buttons have been in my stash for about 10 years so about time that they were used!

I love this particular printed viscose from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn and now that I have a dress, a blouse and a skirt they will form the main components of a great capsule wardrobe. I already have necklace, belts, sweaters, turtle neck top, gilet and jersey trousers to include in this capsule. Now I just need to add a plain skirt or culottes.

project #62 completed 31st October 2020

Montana #10 Border Print

So now I am well on the way to making a Baker’s Dozen of this pattern! For iteration #10 I used this charming border print viscose from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn. I bought the last 2 metres at £2.99/metre. Currently the design is now out of stock and I don’t know if Rainbow Fabrics will have any more in the future.

In order to avoid losing any of the print, I cut the bodice from the top part of the design where the motifs are randomly placed before measuring the length of what remained. I managed to centre a motif on the front bodice and also on the front of the skirt. The skirt of this Montana is long with a finished length of 31½ inches from waistline seam to turned up hem. The narrow hem was double folded to line up with the last part of the border print before hand-stitching in place. All seams are either French or finished with zig-zag or overlocking.

I was able to include side seam pockets using some of the printed viscose combined with plain Black polyester crepe de chine from my stash. The bodice and skirt are also lined with the crepe.

Due to the long length of the dress it should look very good with my Black pseudo riding boots. This is a versatile dress as it can be worn with a cardigan over the top or a blouse of thin jersey turtle neck sweater underneath depending on the weather at the time!

Project #59 completed 19th October 2020

Moira #3

As a little diversion from the Montana dress by Style Arc, I knew that I wanted a slightly different style for this pretty viscose from Rainbow Fabrics.

The ‘Moira’ dress is my hack combination of the Montana by Style Arc and ‘Hannah’ from By Hand London. The ‘Moira’ #1 and 2 were so successful that I had re-drawn the refined pattern so cutting out the updated pattern was very speedy.

Mustard background floral print Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics

I had purchased 3 metres of the print at £4.49/metre from Rainbow Fabrics and when it arrived I was so pleased that I wanted to order more. Unfortunately it was then out of stock 🙁 but on Thursday last week I noticed they had more stock – I ordered 4 metres so that will be enough to make a midi length skirt with matching blouse/tunic top. Hooray!

Mustard sweater, viscose fabric scarf & Tan suede espadrille sandals

After cutting out the main bodice, sleeves, skirt panels, frills and tie belt there was still a large remnant left over. I may well use this to make a scarf that I can wear either with the dress or with sweaters when the colder weather comes.

Front view Moira #3
Back view of Moira #3
Close up of Back Tie Belt

The usual construction was employed for making up the dress. I used Viscose Voile for the bodice lining with an applied facing in the printed viscose. There is also a skirt lining, this time a little longer. The hem on the sleeves was overlocked before machine stitching in place. All seams were overlocked with the exception of the main seams on the skirt lining which was French seamed.

Worn with Bright Blue Shrug
Light Plum Cardigan & Viscose print fabric combination

The print of the dress coordinates very well with my Bright Blue shrug, my Light Plum cardigan from Lands End and also my Blue denim jackets. I look forward to wearing the dress and later the blouse and skirt during the months to come.

Project #58 completed 10th October 2020

Montana #9 – Autumn Gold

Well, having made 8 versions of the Montana dress by Style Arc I decided to go for Gold and make at least a Baker’s Dozen! Here is version #9

I had just over 3 metres of the fabric remaining after making the Montana #8 for my sister’s birthday.

Well why not make another for me? On that distant day when we are finally able to meet together – we can be dressed as twins!

On 1st October I cut out my usual size with the deep hem frill, side seam pockets, self-tie belt, full lining of bodice and skirt and settled down to stitch. The sewing machine and overlocker were threaded with the correct coloured thread so all I had to do in preparation was a quick de-fluff, clean, dust and change to new needles.

During the next session I prepared the bodice and lining by stitching the bust darts and attaching my ‘Carousel’ label to the back bodice lining. The tie belts, main skirt panels with side seam pockets and pleated three widths of the fabric for the deep hem frill were all stitched. I pressed all that I had sewn so far and returned to complete the construction the following day.

For the next sewing session I completed making up the bodice with self-fabric lining. Once that was completed and pressed I discovered my ‘rookie’ error. By using the same fabric for the entire bodice lining rather than the Cream viscose voile with only the fashion fabric as a facing, there is a show-through of the print from the lining to the outer bodice. I have sewn and trimmed all the seams and am therefore unable to remove the offending lining to replace with a plain fabric. A solution would be to make a lining in viscose voile and applique to the printed fabric lining before cutting away to leave a ‘facing’ in print at the neckline and armholes. Alternatively I could acknowledge the error, continue with the construction and ‘live’ with the error. A lesson learned for the future …….

Final session was to attach the skirt panels, both lining and outer with the attached frill. I had cut the skirt lining to 31 inches long and made a double hem to reduce the length to 28 inches. The skirt lining was attached to the bodice lining only so that apart from the neckline and armholes, the skirt lining is hanging free of the main dress. In hindsight the skirt lining is a little too short so yet another lesson learned!

I gathered the top edge of the main skirt panels using 2 rows of long stitches. To reduce bulk I avoided gathering over the pocket tops. The skirt was then attached to the main bodice. Finally, the dress is finished.

As I said previously, the print design is rather larger than I had anticipated and the colours are VERY bold. However, I do acknowledge that as I am a ‘larger lady’ it is no good trying to hide in dull, boring colours. This dress will be worn through Autumn and will definitely brighten the days.

I can wear with the little cropped shrug with bold Turquoise or add my ‘statement’ necklace, also in Turquoise.

Project #57 completed 5th October 2020

Montana #8 – for my sister

I know, I know, I thought that I had finished making the Montana dress for a while. Catherine’s birthday is on Saturday and I happened to have 6 metres of this fabric – so I decided to make her another.

The fabric came from Rainbow Fabrics as part of a ‘haul’ of viscose prints that I wanted to make up into dresses for the coming Autumn season. I purchased 6 metres at £3.99/metre of this particular print. Unfortunately it turned out to be rather larger scale than I was expecting and therefore not appropriate for the pattern I had originally planned.

This dress is planned for Autumn wear, to add some extra substance and warmth I have therefore added a full lining for both the bodice and the skirt.

The lining is made from some more of the Ivory Viscose Voile that I purchased some time ago and has been a great staple for linings on my viscose dresses. All seams have been overlocked which I hope will enable the dress to be washed and worn for many seasons to come.

I included a necklace in the parcel that I sent to Catherine. I am sure with the addition of a turtle neck sweater worn under the dress or a cardigan worn over the top combined with opaque tights, the dress will be a great drop of ‘sunshine’ in the sometimes gloomy weather days ahead.

project #56 completed 30th September 2020

Moira #2

The ‘Moira’ dress is my hack combination of the Montana by Style Arc and ‘Hannah’ from By Hand London. The ‘Moira’ #1 was so successful that I wanted to make another with just a couple refinements to the fit. For this version I made a ½ inch full bust adjustment and trimmed down the side seams of the bodice and sleeves. Once again I used the long skirt with attached deep frill and finished the bodice with two self-ties.

Fabric used was a very colourful Mosaic Floral viscose from Rainbow Fabrics which was reduced to just £2.74 per metre. I used some of my stock Ivory Viscose Voile to line the bodice. To ensure there was no ‘creeping’ of the Ivory colour showing through at the neckline, I added wide ‘facings’ of the printed viscose which were stitched in place to the bodice lining.

Construction was fairly straightforward and I am very pleased with the results of my tweeks!

Order of work: Once stitched, I trimmed the seam allowance of the bodice with pinking shears and pressed them open and flat. The neckline was under stitched and the self-fabric ties were inserted into the side seams. The armscyes and Empire waistlines were stitched together within the seam allowances. Once the sleeves had been inserted, the seam allowances were then neatened with the overlocker.

The front and back skirt panels were each cut 40 ins wide and I used my standard side seam pocket bag pattern. The skirt panels were gathered at the top using a stitch length of 5.00. The hem frills were cut 12 ins deep by 3 x the width of the fabric of 60 ins. Again I used the ruffler foot to pleat up the frill using a stitch length of 4.00 and pleats every 6 stitches.

This dress will be a delight to wear with my Baked Pink Western Jacket or Pink Ponte ‘Jenna’ cardigan.

Project #55 completed 26th September 2020

‘Moira’ hack of Montana/Hannah dresses

Whilst it is evidenced by the fact that I have made 7 versions of the Montana dress by Style Arc, I would like to have something similar but with sleeves. I noted the Demeter dress by Anna Allen was very similar to the style I wanted to achieve but was loathe to purchase yet another pattern with all the pdf construction and fitting time required for a new pattern. ‘Impatience’ is my middle name!

Demeter has several features that I wanted to reproduce so using the line drawing as inspiration, I decided to try and draft something on those lines using a ‘Montana’ and a ‘Hannah’ by By Hand London designs combination.

Drafting the new ‘Moira’ pattern:- Using the Montana Front bodice to establish the neckline, empire waistline and bust dart, I overlaid with the Hannah using the centre front line as the match point. This gave me the amended shoulder line and armscye. I then laid down the Montana Back bodice, again overlaid with the Hannah to obtain the matching shoulder line and back armscye. I used the sleeve from the Hannah, the skirt panels from the Montana with self-drafted hem frill and my own drafted pocket and ties. So this dress is a real ‘Heinz’ pattern.

Using some lightweight calico I quickly made a toile of the bodice to check for fit. Not bad. I needed to make a forward shoulder adjustment and add a little to the side seam for the front bodice but other than that it was fine so I went ahead and cut out the dress. I used this Navy background Viscose, 3m bought at £13.47 from Rainbow Fabrics.

I like this fabric very much although I have to say that cutting out and construction was rather like herding cats! The fabric was very fluid and mobile – it shifted about so had to be controlled with lots of pins.

Other than that, construction was fairly straightforward. After stitching the shoulder seams of both outer and lining, I basted the side seams before re-shaping the neckline to mirror the curve of my new White Gold necklace bought by my LSH for my birthday in July.

I trimmed the seam allowance of the bodice with pinking shears and pressed them open and flat. The neckline was under stitched and the self-fabric ties were inserted into the side seams. The armscyes and Empire waistlines were stitched together within the seam allowances. Once the sleeves had been inserted, the seam allowances were then neatened with the overlocker.

The front and back skirt panels were each cut 40 ins wide and I used my standard side seam pocket bag pattern. The skirt panels were gathered at the top using a stitch length of 5.00. The hem frills were cut 12 ins deep by 3 x the width of the fabric of 60 ins. Again I used the ruffler foot to pleat up the frill using a stitch length of 4.00 and pleats every 6 stitches.

Once the dress had been completed I dressed the mannequin for photographs and noticed a very happy accident. Where the front bodice is joined to the skirt there is a floral motif that has been pattern-matched!

This dress will be a delight to wear with my Baked Pink Western Jacket or Blue Denim Western Jacket.

By coincidence the dress also goes very well with my Pink Ponte Jenna cardigan made back in March at the Purple Stitches Sewing Retreat.

Project #54 completed 18th September 2020