Category Archives: Dresses

Colourful Applique Pinafore Dress



Regular followers of my blog will have noticed that there has been nothing posted since the beginning of the month. This is due to continued suffering with chronic bronchitis followed by technical problems with the browser versus WordPress platforms. Fortunately my great friend has come to the rescue and I am back!

Back in 2017 I made this ‘not-so-subtle’ felt appliqued bolero-style jacket in denim. I particularly enjoyed the process. I have had a Black Corduroy Pinafore Dress cut out/ready to sew for over a year now and decided that what it needed was some decoration. In my book ‘more is definitely more’ and so I have embarked on a mammoth process of felt applique for what will be an ‘in your face’ decorated dress.

So far I have made the back and front bodice panels. I basted the pieces together to check fit and as it was fine, made up a lining in Black acetate fabric. The bodice and lining are now stitched together and on the mannequin whilst I proceed with decoration of the skirt. This may take some time…….

Oh oh, can’t seem to load the pictures of work in progress. Maybe later!

Top Twenty Makes in 2018

As promised, here are my Top Twenty Makes from last year. With the exception of the Ultimate Travel Bag that I made to take as Cabin luggage on my flight to the Caribbean, I am pretty sure that I will be repeating all these garments using fabric from my stash. So watch this space!

Dartmouth Hack by Cashmerette
Plantain by Deer & Doe
Plantain by Deer & Doe
Lady Skater by Kitschy Koo
Ultimate Travel Bag
by Annie Unrein
Simplicity 4032 hack
Kwik Sew 3736
Fraser by Sewaholic
Teddy by Style Arc
TNT Bodice & Gathered Skirt
Drunken Caribbean Birds
TNT Bodice with box-pleated skirt
Libby Blouse
by Sew Over It
TNT Bodice & gathered Skirt
Joni dress by
Tilly & The Buttons
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H.
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
Collar from KwikSew 3736 hacked to TNT bodice & box pleated skirt

Vogue V8972

Vogue V8972 for Woven fabrics

Inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour I have been wanting to make this dress for a long time. Back in February Sian filmed a sew-a-long for the dress but with one important change – make it up in a Jersey (Scuba) fabric rather than a woven!


Dark Gothic Floral Print Poly Scuba Jersey Dress fabric material
(Deep Eggplant )

I purchased 3 metres of Scuba print from The Textile Centre. The fabric is listed thus: Dark Gothic Floral Print Poly Scuba Jersey Dress fabric material(Deep Eggplant) and was on sale for £4.49 per metre. This was exactly the type and colour of fabric that I needed to make my first V8972 in Jersey! With my 3 metres of fabric I had sufficient to make View E with the full skirt but with the ¾ length sleeves of View C.

Following Sian’s instructions I first established which cup size was right for me and then traced the pattern pieces for the bodice. I did not need to trace the skirt pattern as I had decided to use the largest size and take in if necessary when I got to the fitting stage. For the bodice I traced a D cup size 20. I cut out the fabric late afternoon and prepared both the sewing machine and overlocker ready to get stitching the following day.

The next morning, I reviewed Sian’s vlog posts again and made notes on the order of construction. First was to stitch the bodice panels. As I am new to this pattern I machine basted all the seams with a very long machine stitch on the sewing machine. I attached the yoke pieces. NB make sure that you attach the yokes the right way up – I made the mistake of putting the skirt edge of the back yoke to the back bodice! Fortunately it was very easy to unpick the basting stitches and re-baste the CORRECT edges together.

At first fitting I found that like so many things at my age, my bust is a little lower than the pert position it held in my twenties! I re-basted the princess seam lines on the bodice to reflect the lower apex of my bust. I also needed to take in the side seams a little (not a bad thing!).

Having noted the small alterations I stitched the main seams on the overlocker. I cut a neckband according to Sian’s instructions and basted on the sewing machine. I found that I had to stretch the neckband a great deal and that it was a little narrower than I like. Next time, I will cut at 1¾ inches wide rather than 1½ inches. With a good press with steam the neckline was sitting neatly. I top stitched with a zig-zag stitch which I repeated on the bodice/yoke seams. The seam allowance for the front yoke was pressed away from the yoke. On the back yoke the seams were pressed inwards towards the yoke. Joining seams were top stitched with the zig-zag stitch.

I set the sleeves in using the overlocker and although there was a lot more ease (as the pattern is drafted for woven fabrics) with the stretch of the Scuba jersey this was easily accomplished.

The side seams and underarm seams were basted and the second fitting confirmed all was well. I could afford to take in a small amount to achieve a more fitted silhouette. The seams were then overlocked and pressed with steam.

The hems on the sleeves and the skirt were first overlocked before stitching in place with the zig zag stitch.

I am delighted with the final dress and hope to wear it when visiting relatives and for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Vogue 8972 in Scuba Jersey Fabric ex The Textile Centre

Bold Bajan Dress

When visiting the Caribbean earlier this year, I made a point of buying some colourful Madras Cotton Check fabric when we called into Barbados.

Since my return the fabric has been washed and waiting quietly in a corner for me to make into a dress as a memento of a lovely holiday.

Being somewhat down-hearted about the previous make using some unrepeatable fabric, I thought that lightning would not strike twice so went ahead and cut out another sleeveless shirt dress. This time I changed the collar to that used on the Kitty dress which I find very easy to make up and would hopefully reduce the time it takes to complete the construction.

The check on this fabric is uneven so I tried hard to place the design lines in a complimentary fashion. I think that it has worked and there are no glaring faults. Truthfully, most of the colour placement is a happy accident although I did take care to match the horizontal lines of the check. I am particularly pleased with the way that the collar check lines are in a chevron.

I cut the skirt as 2 panels each 30 inches long and this has made it possible to have a deep hem. The centre back seam is a flat fell seam with the second row of stitching completed by hand. The panels were pleated onto the bodice with inverted pleats lining up with the darts and side seams of the bodice. There is a pocket set on the right-hand-side of the skirt, hidden beneath one of the pleats. The hem was overlocked then turned up just once and hand stitched in place.

I used a very lightweight fusible interfacing in the collar, facing and button/buttonhole plackets. The armholes have been bound with a self-bias binding cut 1¼ inches wide and folded in half. All seams have been overlocked including around the pocket bag. There are 12 buttons down the bodice and skirt which came from my button stash. Buttonholes were worked on the machine and taking a hint from Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I have used fraycheck ® for the first time.

I am delighted with this dress which I can wear now with a cardigan and tights, then again in the Summer with a light tan! My husband still needs to be won over, his comment when he saw the dress on the mannequin was “Well with those bold colours and check, everyone will see you coming!”

 

 

Anaconda Antithesis print Sleeveless Shirt Dress

Anaconda Antithesis Cotton Lawn by Lady McElroy –   I have previously used this fabric print but in the Sky Blue colourway to make my TNT scoop neck dress.

  

At time of writing that dress has still not been worn as I have had nowhere special to wear it!

However, the fabric is just so lovely that when I saw the Sage Green colourway on sale at Fondant Fabrics, (£5.53 per ½ metre) I had to order some.

Just in case you have not encountered this fabric before, FF have the following as their description.

Cotton lawn is a light weight cotton with a plain weave. It is made using fine combed or carded yarns which are tightly woven, resulting in a silky smooth fabric with a lovely drape.

This is a high quality digitally printed cotton lawn by Lady McElroy featuring flowers, butterflies and snakes on a dark sage green background. Sophisticated yet quirky, this light, silky fabric is perfect for a statement summer dress, skirt or top. 

I ordered 2 metres of the 145 cms wide fabric and having the experience of cutting a sleeveless dress from 2.2 metres of 105 cms wide fabric I thought that this would be sufficient for yet another shirt dress. I was right.

As soon as the fabric arrived, the raw edges were overlocked and it went straight into the washing machine. Air dried in the bathroom and due to the fineness of the fabric, within a few hours it was dry and ready for pressing and cutting out.

As this fabric is so fine I decided to line the bodice with White poly/cotton. As I was lining the bodice there was no need for bias to bind the armhole edges but I was still a little short of fabric and thus the pocket linings are cut in the poly/cotton.

The skirt is made using two panels cut the width of the fabric x 26 inches long. There is a French seam at the centre back to join the panels together. I established the centre point of the panels and slashed to insert the pocket bags. I particularly like this method which also provides a little shaping to the skirt.

Although I did try to be careful with the print placement, you will notice that there is a flower perilously close to the apex of my bust. When worn however, it is a little further away than when on the mannequin.

The bodice lining is hand tacked to the waistline seam and the hem was overlocked before turning up just ½ inch and hand stitched in place. The finished back skirt length is 24½ inches, total back length 41 inches. There are 12 buttons on the front closure which came from my stash.

I love, love, love this dress and in a moment of madness have ordered another 3 metres of the fabric (!).

Next time I think that I will make a short sleeve dress with a different collar and possibly a gored/circle skirt. But for now I am working on refining the pattern for Kitty Pin Cushion.

 

Autumn Fields Shirt Dress

Recently I noticed that the Virginia Creeper on our garden fence was changing into its Autumn colours.

  

I love all those great hues of Rust, Terracotta, Orange, Tan, Purple, Burgundy and am pleased that having been ‘colour coded’ I am classed as a ‘Deep Autumn’. These colours are exactly right for my palette. Browsing through my stash of cotton fabrics I came across this length of pre-washed cotton print from the Lewis & Irene stable.

The print is their Autumn Fields range and this particular colourway is Acorns and Leaves on a Burgundy background. I had just 2.4 yards (2.2 metres) of 42 ins wide fabric and as far as I can remember this cost just £5/metre in the sale at New Threads Quilt Shop a couple of years ago. This length was originally purchased with a view to making a long-sleeved blouse. Now that I have ‘nailed’ the sleeveless shirt dress I decided to see if there was sufficient for dress #3.

I was able to cut out the pattern from this minimal amount of fabric but there was not quite enough for the under collar, armhole bias and one side of each pocket bag which are cut from the brown spotted fabric I have purchased ready for the lining of a swing jacket.

Construction was plain sailing and I was fortunate in finding just the right colour and size of buttons. There are 12 on the front bodice and skirt. The skirt length is just 24 inches with a 1 inch hand sewn hem.

The dress fits well and coordinates beautifully with my Burgundy tie- front cardigan.

 

Joni Dress no 5

Following on from the idea put forward by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I should make only 5 versions of a single pattern before I move onto something new. This is version 5 of the Joni dress from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stretch’ book.

Version 1 was a wearable toile, version 2 made up in a Pink floral polyester jersey was just too sweet, version 3 was a hack using the remnant fabric from version 1, version 4 was a cotton jersey that I marked down as a fail (but still counts!) so here is the final version made using some more of that beautiful viscose jersey from an eBay seller, CheapestfabricsUK.

It took just 2 hours from sitting down at the machine with the dress pieces that were cut out over a week ago. What have I been doing in the meantime? Gardening!

As I was now suffering from sewing withdrawal symptoms, an afternoon of sewing was the remedy.

I constructed the dress using my revised method by cutting 2 of the bodice front. I added a neckband to the bodice back before sandwiching between the front bodice and its lining. Unfortunately as this fabric is a little thicker than previous jerseys, the twist is rather bulky (and maybe I should have not sewn the under-twist seam quite so far into the twist?) but I can certainly live with it.

The sleeves were inserted into the flat bodice before the bodice side seams and the underarm sleeve seams were stitched in one pass. A faux cuff that measures 1½ inches was sewn to make the hem of the sleeves. The skirt panels were added before a final fitting.

With jersey fabrics I always have to allow for the various levels of stretch incorporated into the fabric and this particular one is very stretchy. I had already taken this into account when cutting out so no further adjustments were required. I have sewn a single fold up hem, stitched with a long straight stitch on the machine.

I know that this dress suits me much better than version 4 as the colours are darker and the print more bold. It will look good in the coming months worn with opaque tights and possibly boots.

Anaconda & Butterflies ‘BEST’ dress

Back in July I made a dress from the Lemons printed Cotton Lawn that I had bought from an eBay seller in China.

I fell in love with the quality of the fabric so when I came across some more fab-u-lous cotton lawn printed with Anaconda snakes, butterflies and floral bouquets it was no contest – I had to have some to make another dress.

I bought 3 metres of the 140 cms wide fabric from the Sew me Something stand at the Festival of Quilts. This was not a ‘cheap’ purchase as the fabric retails at £16 per metre but as it is wide at 140 cms I knew that I would be able to get a full skirt from this length.

I overlocked the raw edges the day after the Festival and laundered the fabric which then sat in my ’roundtoit’ pile until now.

The colours are absolutely right as a key piece of an Autumn capsule wardrobe and more about that in a later blog post.

I wanted to use my TNT bodice with the scoop neckline plus a full gathered skirt. I cut 3 lengths of 29 inches across the width of the fabric. I made a full copy of the bodice front pattern as I wanted to be sure about the placement of those motifs – no way could they appear anywhere near the apex of my bust!

I was able to fit the back bodice onto the fabric using A 1 inch seam allowance for the centre back seam where I inserted a zip. I also had sufficient fabric to make two x side seam pocket bags plus the facings for front, back and sleeve hems.

As the cotton lawn is so fine, I found some perfect Light Blue cotton fabric to use for the bodice and sleeve linings.

Now, ready for construction: as per my usual method, I made up sleeves first and set them aside until needed.

The lining of the sleeves has a wide band of the feature fabric so that if the insides should show at all, you can see more of this fabulous print.

Marking and sewing the darts in the bodice went well as did stitching the lining to the bodice at the neckline. I made French seams in the three skirt panels so that combined with lining of the bodice this dress would look neat and tidy which is something that I always like to aim for.

The zip was set 2½ inches down from the neckline so that there would be no interruption to the line. I used machine stitching for most of the lapped zip insertion but the final line of sewing was completed with some hand prick stitch for a couture finish.

Unfortunately due to lack of fabric I was unable to pattern match the back bodice but I think the final result is acceptable.

The bodice lining was stitched wrong sides together at the neckline and armholes before adding the neckline facings. The back neck facing is extended and sits between my skin and the insides of the zip fastener pull.

The 3 widths of fabric for the skirt were French seamed and by using the centre back seam as a starter point I then marked the fabric in quarters to match up with side seams and darts in the bodice. I marked a point for the insertion of the pocket bags and slashed to make ‘in-seam’ pockets. This method worked well on the previous dress and as it reduces the amount of fabric at my waist is something I will repeat when there is no side seam in a skirt.

Initially I had not planned to repeat the very gathered skirt but as the cotton lawn is so fine it has worked out well and I am pleased with the final result.

After attaching the skirt to the bodice I then pulled the bodice lining down over the seam. I turned up the seam allowance to the inside and hand-stitched in place over the original waist seam.

I set in the prepared cap sleeves but as I was not 100% happy with the French seams used on the Lemonade dress, for this iteration I used the overlocker to neaten the seam. I also set a few small gathers at the sleeve head to counterbalance the width of the full gathered skirt. 

The finale was to hand stitch the hem to give a finished skirt length of 27 inches.

I am delighted with this dress and at present it is being kept as my ‘best’ dress. All I need now is an occasion to wear it.

2nd Sleeveless Shirt Dress – ‘Kirstie’ in Rue de Fleur printed cotton

I was so pleased with the outcome of the first sleeveless shirt dress that I made a couple of weeks ago, that I wanted to repeat the success using some fabric from my stash before the Summer ended.

I found some pretty Blue background floral printed quilting weight cotton that I had purchased back in 2015 from a little shop in Hunstanton when I was visiting relatives in North Norfolk. The fabric is Rue de Fleur for Fine Lines Fabric and once laundered there was 2.95 metres x 107cms wide.

I used the same TNT bodice pattern as for the previous sleeveless shirt dress – now known as a ‘Kirstie’ as the style reminds me of Kirstie Allsop of Location, Location, Location fame (although all of her dresses appear to have sleeves).

    

As I was a little short of fabric, this version has a skirt cut from twice the width of fabric x 29inches long which is gathered into the waistline seam. Oh and it has pockets at each side set into a slash as there are no side seams, only a centre back seam.

The original bodice pattern was drafted for set-in sleeves so for a sleeveless version I remove the 5/8th inch seam allowance from the armhole before adding a bias binding. I cut the bias binding 1¼ inches wide and fold in half (wrong sides together). I then stitch the raw edges matched to the right side of the armhole using a 1/8th seam allowance. The binding is turned to the inside and top stitched close to the folded edge of the bias binding.

For this version I used 11 x 5/8th inch buttons set 2¼ inches apart, that I had bought from C&H fabrics in Winchester.

All raw edges inside the dress have been overlocked. I folded up 2 inches for the hem which was then stitched in place by hand.

I have purchased yet another jersey tie front shrug to wear with this dress and think that it will be an ideal outfit for transition to the colder months of Autumn.

                                                                    

Joni Dress no 4 – Dandelion Print

As the last project took quite a long time to complete, I wanted to make a quick and easy dress in jersey. I had some lovely Viscose/Spandex stretch jersey by John Kaldor bought from Rosenberg & Son at the Festival of Quilts (4 metres x 150 cms @ £10/metre) that I had ‘earmarked’ as an early Autumn project.

Now that I have adjusted the pattern to my exact requirements, the Joni dress is a ‘quick fix’ and so I cut out the pattern late one evening.

I cut the ¾ length sleeves and in acknowledgement that this would be an Autumn/Winter garment, added 2 inches to the length of the skirt.

The following day I spent a pleasant couple of hours at the overlocker and sewing machine. I constructed the dress using my revised method by cutting 2 of the bodice front. I added a neckband to the bodice back before sandwiching between the front bodice and its lining at the shoulder seams.

The sleeves were inserted into the flat bodice before the bodice side seams and the underarm sleeve seams were stitched in one pass. A faux cuff that measures just ½ inch was sewn to make the hem of the sleeves. The skirt panels were added before a final fitting.

With jersey fabrics I always have to allow for the various levels of stretch incorporated into the fabric and this particular one is very stretchy. I had to take in the side seams from just below the armholes grading back to the original seam just below the full hip. In this way I retained the fullness of the skirt. I have left the hem unfinished as the jersey will not fray and at present I do not have a jersey twin needle available.

Whilst I continue to enjoy sewing with jersey and the Joni style in particular I am counting this project as a fail. I find that the neutral tones of the print do not compliment either my colouring or figure. I have hung the dress in the wardrobe whilst I decide on its fate.