Category Archives: Dresses

Wrap Dress with Ruffles

Sometime ago Sian of Kittenish Behaviour filmed a ‘sewalong’ for this dress. I was inspired and purchased the pattern. However, the pattern sat in my stash for a long time before I finally got around to making a ‘wearable toile’ of the design.

Butterick B6554

For the fabric I used a new Superking sized cotton/polyester duvet cover bought during a sale at Dunelm, Salisbury branch last year. I made view B with the additional bodice ruffle as featured in View C.

As shown by Sian, I cut the ruffles in two layers and thus avoided having to make narrow rolled hems and also where the ‘wrong’ side showed, it was the same fabric as the ‘right’ side. There was insufficient fabric to make the ruffles in the same print as the main dress but I felt the use of the reverse of the duvet cover would be a good compromise.

I checked the pattern measurements and sizing and cut the largest size – 22. I decided to ignore the centre seam of the butterfly sleeves and taped the front and back pattern pieces together (overlapped by the seam allowance). I also reduced the sleeve length by 1½ inches. I added concealed side seam pockets to my usual pattern and although I was a little unsure about the lengths of the bodice and skirt, left them according to the original pattern.

As my overlocker was still threaded with dark thread, I stitched all the seams with French seams. I also used Sian’s method of finishing the edges of the skirt with self bias binding. Thus, the dress is beautiful both inside and out. Unfortunately it does not fit very well!

Butterick B6554 using a Superking Duvet Cover

The crossover of the wrap bodice is very low so I will have to wear a camisole/vest underneath and the wrap on the skirt is almost indecent so I will need to wear an underskirt of some description (probably my vintage cotton with eyelet frilled hem). Having to wear additional underwear rather defeats the object of a light and floaty summer dress!

Butterick B6554 Wrap Dress with Ruffles

I love the design of this dress and will certainly make again but next time I think I will draft from my own using my TNT bodice and skirt blocks to ensure that I have sufficient wrap on the top and skirt. I will certainly be adding circular ruffles to this and other dressmaking projects in the future as I just love them!

Completed 8th March 2020.

‘Polly’ Shirt Dress #2

In November last year I made my first ‘Polly’ dress which is a play on the Penny dress by Sew Over It. I love the Penny dress and have made several versions including a hack of the pattern into a blouse. However, there were a couple of things that I wanted to change. I found that the extended yoke/bodice did not sit very well under cardigans and the narrow button band has never had working buttonholes!

Rather than ‘play around’ with the original Sew Over It pattern I decided to adapt my TNT Bodice block into something similar. I wanted to have a bodice that gathered into a yoke, sleeveless with bias bound armholes and a fully-functioning button band.

First I cut a yoke section from the front and back bodices. I overlapped at the shoulder seams to redraw a full yoke pattern. On the bodice front I removed the bust dart and transferred the fullness into gathers into the yoke. I did the same for the body darts on the back bodice before adding seam allowance to the shoulder where the bodice attaches to the new yoke. I checked the measurements of the bodice pieces at the waistline to ensure that the half-circle skirt of the Penny dress would fit.

Close up of Bodice of ‘Polly’ dress #2

You may have a sense of ‘deja vue’ of the print of this version as it is the same as Polly #1 but in a different colourway. This fabric came from New Threads Quilt Shop sale where I picked up 4 metres at just £4/metre – a bargain!! The fabric was duly laundered and has been sitting in my ’roundtuit’ pile for a while. As it was only 42 inches wide it meant that I had to cut the Sew Over It skirt pattern in half, add seam allowance and then cut 4 panels. I was fortunate that the pattern is non-directional. By having side seams this has enabled me to include some concealed side seam pockets using my TNT pattern where the top of the pocket is attached to the waist seam thus preventing it from flapping about..

Seams of the bodice are French seamed but the skirt panels are overlocked. The armholes are finished with self-bias binding (as per Sian of Kittenish Behaviour) and the skirt has a narrow double turned and machine stitched hem. There is a casing for narrow elastic at the waistline so that I can wear the dress with or without a belt.

‘Polly’ dress #2

This dress was long overdue in the making and half-way through I became disenchanted as I kept being interrupted (hence the change from French seams to overlocking!). However, after a concentrated session of a couple of hours it is all finished and goes so well with the Old Gold Jenna Cardigan and wide Navy belt that I can’t wait to wear the combination.

‘Polly’ dress #2 worn with’Jenna’ cardigan

Completed 25th February 2020

Cobra Corsage Jersey Crepe ‘Gerry’ dress

This is yet another version of my ‘Gerry’ dress which is a hack of the Dartmouth Wrap top by Cashmerette into a dress with a variety of skirt options. Once again I used the half circle skirt from the Penny dress by Sew Over It.

Cobra Corsage on Black Double Crepe

The fabric is from my stash and is another Cobra Corsage print, this time on a fine viscose jersey 4-way-stretch-double-crepe. There were 3 metres in the stash – enough to make my favourite version of ‘Gerry’.

Cutting out was a trial as the fabric is so fine and slippery. It stretches every which way so in an effort to gain control I pinned the layers to my corrugated cardboard cutting out board.

Construction was straightforward as usual. I may have to go back and put some form of stabiliser in the waist seam as the weight of the skirt is stretching out the length of the bodice. The v neckline may end up at my waist and I will definitely need to wear a camisole underneath!

GERRY dress in Cobra Corsage on Black Jersey Crepe

I have just one more length of this fabulous print left in my stash – an ivory background cotton lawn. I will retrieve that later this month and hope there is sufficient to make a long sleeved blouse.

Ivory Background Cobra Corsage in Cotton Lawn

Completed 16th February 2020

Revisit a Jean Muir designer Vintage Dress

Many years ago before I was married, I made up a dress using a Jean Muir original designer pattern from a magazine. The fabric used was a fine Light Blue cotton jersey, at that time one of my very few forays into jersey sewing and it was a ‘special’ dress. I remember I wore it twice to attend concerts at The Mayflower theatre in Southampton. The first time was to see the group SKY and second time to watch Wayne Sleep with his dance troupe. That dress is long gone and in any event I am sure that it would no longer fit me.

The thought of the dress remains in my ‘treasured dress’ memory and just by chance I came across a collection of vintage Vogue patterns featuring Jean Muir designs. I decided to do some further research to see if I could locate the original pattern.

Unfortunately I could not find the exact same one (probably because my original came from a sewing magazine) but I did find Vogue 2883 printed back in 1973.

Jean Muir 2883 (C) 1973
Vogue 2883

This is almost the same dress with the exception that mine had long sleeves into a deep buttoned cuff and did not have a zip closure at the back. The pattern that I purchased from a seller on eBay is a size 16 – Bust 38 ins so will need to be drafted up to fit me.

As I am not especially confident about that process, I also purchased a copy of McCalls #M5640 for woven fabrics which has a similar shaped yoke, full short sleeves and gathering front and back.

McCalls #M5640
M5640 line drawings

I believe that I can utilise the yoke and sleeves using a jersey fabric and design a high-waisted band to replicate the Vogue dress. Depending on the amount of fabric that I have in my stash, I may make long sleeves, otherwise the flutter sleeves will look good and balance out the full skirt.

I have a few other projects that need to be completed in the next 4 weeks but after that I full intend to spend some time slow sewing a replacement ‘special dress’.

13th February 2020

Cobra Corsage Pinafore Dress -hack Vogue 8577

During my recent review of fabrics to be used during the Autumn and Winter months I came across this length (2 metres) of Cobra Corsage printed on a stretch cotton base that was bought from Minerva. Originally I had intended to make some slim leg trousers but have still not sorted out the very best pattern to use. I knew that I needed/wanted a new pinafore dress and thought this fabric would be ideal. Hmmm, though which pattern to use?

After a search through my previously used patterns (I did not want to have to make a toile of an as yet unused patterns) I decided to try a repeat of the hack Vogue 8577/Sew Over It (SOI) Penny dress skirt.

Vogue 8577

In truth the only parts of the Vogue 8577 and SOI Penny that are used in my version is the yoke and bodices but even they have been amended. The ‘old favourite’ half circle skirt pattern from the Penny dress by Sew Over It does not normally have a centre front button opening but I added to the centre front seam (originally a fold line). I also added my standard side seam pockets that are attached to the waistline seam to prevent them flapping about!

To cut the dress from this meagre 2 metres was really ‘pushing’ it and I did have to reduce the length and then the width of the skirt panels at their hemline and also cut the front facings in pieces that were then combined to produce the full length required.

It was only when I came to put the part-stitched bodice onto the mannequin that I realised the glaring error in motif placement! When cutting out I had been concerned that I had a good-sized motif placed at the shoulders, just under the yoke seam but overlooked the checking of the other motifs. Now I have the same large, dominant motif on either side of the lower bodice front. Unfortunately even with a generous overlap of the buttonholes and the addition of a wide elasticated belt, these two motifs are rather ‘in your face’. An important lesson to learn when next I use a fabric with such large motifs.

I used some plain Black anti-static lining from New Threads Quilt Shop for the bodice but did not line the skirt as I would always be wearing a slip.

Having managed to construct half of the dress I then fell ill and was unable to continue for nearly two weeks. The dress was on the mannequin – taunting me. However, I finally managed to return to the project. I was fortunate that even after reducing the skirt panels, they still fitted onto the bottom edge of the bodice at the waistline seam.

Having searched through my button stash I selected from a range of painted wooden ones that I had bought in bulk from eBay.

I worked 9 buttonholes, 3 on the bodice and 6 on the skirt, before laying out the dress to try and coordinate the buttons with the pattern around the buttonholes. I think that I have succeeded quite well in this.

Finally, I came to the hem of the skirt. I had to reduce the length of the panels when cutting out and therefore did not want to make a deep hem and lose anymore length. The solution was to have a narrow seam with bias binding (as demonstrated by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour).

Handmade cotton bias binding

I did not have any satin or plain cotton bias tape so decided to make a feature of the binding. I used a fat quarter of some French General quilting cotton to make 1¼ inch wide binding. I stitched to the hem of the skirt using a ¼ inch seam before turning to inside, edge stitching on the machine and finishing with a hand sewn hem of the binding to the skirt. I am really pleased with this finish and will probably use it again whenever I want a narrow hem.

Cobra Corsage Stretch Cotton Pinafore Dress – front
Cobra Corsage Pinafore Dress – back view

So in conclusion, some good points and a couple of disappointments for this project. Finally, although the fabric has a great print design, is lovely to cut, stitch and press it is terrible at picking up lint. I have been forever picking off threads and ‘fluff’ so perhaps it is just as well that I did not make trousers from this fabric.

Completed 11th February 2020

Abakhan Jersey Dress

This is yet another version of my ‘Gerry’ dress which is a hack of the Dartmouth Wrap top by Cashmerette into a dress with a variety of skirt options. This time I used the half circle skirt from the Penny dress by Sew Over It.

The fabric is a pretty understated geometric design in Mustard on a Navy background. The fabric is a soft and warm jersey from Abakhan that I bought in August last year. Unfortunately I do not know the fibre content, only that it has good width-wise stretch and recovery.

Due to the width of the fabric I cut the skirt in 4 panels and adjusted the waistline to fit the Dartmouth bodice. The sleeves have deep double cuffs that can be folded back if required. The hem of the skirt is stitched with twin-needles. Sewn in part on my sewing machine and partly using the overlocker.

Abakhan Jersey Wrap Bodice Dress
matching Hotter ‘Jewel’ballet flats

The dress is one of my favourites and I have already worn on two occasions. The finishing touches are my usual wide Navy elasticated belt and Navy faux snakeskin ballet flats from Hotter.

Completed 24th January 2020

House Mouse Dress

This is my hack of the Dartmouth Wrap top by Cashmerette into a dress witha variety of skirt options. I shall call this my ‘Gerry’ pattern and this particular iteration is the ‘House Mouse’.

The colour and print is so not my usual style. This is a muted floral print on a dusty Burgundy background. I don’t know the construction of the jersey but it does have a tiny loop wrong side that is a sort of taupe colour. Also don’t exactly know if it was from Abakhan or a gift from my sister – either way it definitely counts as stash so that’s 4 projects made. Now I can justify buying something new.

I used the Dartmouth wrap top for the bodice and a simple gathered skirt. Wished that I had put in pockets! The back panel of the skirt is patched as I did not do a very good job of calculating the skirt length and width. Still it is at the back and fairly well disguised by the gathers. Long sleeves have narrow hem band and skirt hem is finished with twin needle stitching. Mostly sewn on my Juki overlocker.

House Mouse Dress

The addition of the wide elasticated belt helps to improve the look of the dress but I will never wear it outside the house!

Completed 20th January 2020

Burgundy Shirtwaist Dress

Many years ago I had a Burgundy needlecord shirt dress and this dress is a re-imagining of something that I loved back in the 1970’s.

I used a King Size Duvet cover from Dunelm Mill in a Burgundy jacquard cotton/polyester blend to make a wearable toile.

I had originally intended the dress to be worn on Christmas Day. Unfortunately the construction was delayed and I thought ‘OK never mind, I will wear the dress on New Year’s Eve’. The Eve and New Year’s Day came and went, then due to illness it was not until 10th January 2020 that I finally completed the dress.

To paraphrase a western movie, the construction has been a tale of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ouch!’

The good – brilliant pattern matching on the bodice,

The bad – uneven revers on the collar,

Pattern matching on the collar at back

The Ouch! – I left a glass headed pin inside the collar and stitched it closed.

All that was on 29th December and the thought of unpicking combined with a raging headache meant that the dress was put aside until I could face the unpicking and re-stitching.

I had also originally planned to make the dress button through the bodice and skirt, although the buttons from my stash were a perfect match, there was not enough so I had to fix the opening at the waistline seam.

The skirt is the full width of the duvet cover gathered into the waistline seam and there are concealed pockets at the side seams.

I also drafted long sleeves into a button cuff (similar to the original inspiration) but on completion found that I had been over-zealous in shortening the sleeve length so even with the addition of a 2 inch wide cuff, they are just short of my wrists. With a big sigh – I could remove the cuffs and make new wider ones but with all the previous problems, I don’t think I can face another alteration to the dress.

Completed Dress

I do have sufficient fabric to be able to send to Harlequin for a matching belt but I was pleased to find that one of my wide elasticated belts co-ordinates well with the colour of the dress and that is how I plan to wear in the future.

I have retained the modified pattern for this dress and have several other lengths of fabric that I plan to use to make more in this style. I even have some needlecord….. hmm watch this space.

10th January 2020

Alteration to Shift Dress

Regular readers will be aware that I dislike alterations but I have in my wardrobe a shift dress that I made when first exploring jersey sewing and it was in need of some radical alteration.

The dress was originally made according to a Prima pattern APRIL 1997 designed for woven and having been washed and worn over the years was now too big. The dress bore the styling of the the eighties including shoulder pads and was very long. I have never liked the faced neckline which was a little too high and also the shoulders were too wide for current fashion.

To start the alteration I first removed the facing and re-cut a lower neckline. I removed the sleeves and shoulder pads before restitching the shoulder seam. Then I stitched new side seams, taking off approximately 1 inch from each side seam. The sleeves were then re-inserted.

I cut about 4 inches from the length of the dress and used some of that to make a neckband. I re-hemmed the dress with a 1 inch turning.

Altered dress

The dress is now much more flattering although it could still do with some skimming down at the hips. I will wait and see if I lose any more weight to make it worthwhile altering the dress further.

I plan to revisit this pattern in 2020 and try this different silhouette as a change from my numerous shirt dresses!

completed 28th November 2019

Ponte Roma Faux ‘Georgie’ Dress

Sew Over It had just released their latest pattern, the Georgie dress and I bought the PDF version.

According to the description by Sew Over It, the Georgie Dress is a chic, everyday knit dress that is as comfy to wear as it is stylish. With a fit and flare style, it’s flattering on so many figures and makes a gorgeous outfit all year round. Whether you’re wearing it to the office, whilst out and about at the weekend, or simply having a cosy day at home, you’re guaranteed to look put-together in Georgie. It’s an outfit in one!

Unfortunately I had run out of ink and was unable to print the pattern immediately – but I was impatient to make this style of dress, what could I do?

I have a great wrap front top pattern for jersey (the Dartmouth by Cashmerette) and a half circle skirt pattern (Penny dress by Sew Over It) and decided to combine the two to make my version of the Georgie. I had some beautiful Ponte Roma print that I had bought from Abakhan when visiting my sister in North Wales and knew that this would make for a quick and easy sew.

In a little over two hours I had produced a lovely new dress, ready to wear and flaunt when joining friends for lunch the following day.

My version of a Georgie Dress

I have a great elasticated belt to wear with the dress and am now checking my stash for more jersey fabric to make yet another ‘faux Georgie’ dress.

completed 24th November 2019