Category Archives: Dresses

‘Jane’ Pinafore #4

I wanted to make a pinafore dress that would coordinate with the two Green Palm Leaves viscose blouses that I have recently completed. I had this Forest Green Polyester Drill in my stash that I bought for £13.00 in 2021 from A Fabrics of Derby with the idea of making some trousers. When the fabric arrived I decided that it was not suitable for the trousers so has been awaiting a different project. I decided that another version of my self-drafted ‘Jane’ pinafore dress would be ideal.

I like to line the bodice of these pinafores and whilst I could have used some of the palm leaves viscose I decided to use a different novelty printed cotton poplin of sheep! I bought just one metre from Hot Pink Haberdashery at a cost of £5.99 per metre of 108 cms wide fabric. The bodice and pocket linings took just 76 cms of the print so I have a nice size remnant to add that pop of novelty print in another project.

As this is now the fourth time making up this pattern I completed the construction in record time.

As the Green drill fabric is very plain I wanted to highlight the seams. I top stitched the Princess seams, around the armholes , the neckline and front edges of the bodice. I used two strands of Light Green standard weight cotton in a top-stitch needle with a stitch length of 3.5mm. I used yet more of the coconut shell buttons and the only hand stitching was to tack down the bodice lining to the inside waist seam and the hem of the skirt. All buttons and buttonholes were completed on my Brother 550SE machine. That’s my type of project!

I am delighted with how this pinafore dress has turned out and as planned it goes very well with the two blouses in Green Palm leaf viscose.

My Juki overlocker is currently at Franklins in Salisbury having a long overdue service. The next few projects will be completed with no overlocking – French seams or Hong Kong finishes will be the order of the day. I may even finish off some patchwork and quilting projects that have been loitering in the cupboard!

Project #3 completed 9th January 2022

Review & Plans

According to the ‘likes’ on my instagram pages the following were my ‘Magnificent Seven’:-

1 Freya Blue Cowl neck top – viscose jersey – Rainbow Fabics

2 New Look 6731 Palm Leaf Blouse – viscose challis – Rainbow Fabrics

3 By Hand London Hannah wrap dress – check poly/cotton duvet – Dunelm

4 Hack New Look 6731 short sleeve blouse – cotton remnant – C&H fabrics

5 ‘Moira’ Moonflower dress – viscose challis – Rainbow Fabrics

6. Love Notions Melody Blouse – viscose challis – Rainbow Fabrics

7 ‘Jane’ Pinafore dress – Autumnal print curtaining cotton remnant – eBay

An interesting result that demonstrates my ‘conversion’ to Viscose substrate purchased mostly from Rainbow Fabrics and also the use of recycled and/or refashioned woven fabrics.

For 2022 I am determined to whittle down my stash of both fabrics and patterns. To that end I have unsubscribed from all those companies that regularly send inviting mails with enticing photographs of new and exciting fabrics and dressmaking patterns.

For the month of January I intend to ‘Go Green’, by that I mean that I would like to concentrate on projects using fabrics with a Green theme. I have several lengths selected and I hope to use them on ‘new to me’ patterns plus some old favourites.

The first project is a long sleeved blouse (‘Carmen’) using a TNT pattern, last made as the first project of 2021. What a coincidence that the pattern will again be the first make of 2022!

1st January 2022

Moira #10 Abstract

This is an unusual print choice for me but when I saw it on t he Textile Centre website I knew that I had to have it for my Autumn capsule collection. I originally ordered 3 metres of the viscose challis (cost £15.27) and was not disappointed when it arrived. However, I was a little surprised at the amount of fluidity and drape of the fabric.

I made an error with this length of fabric by making a dress that was too fitted in the bodice and had a half circle skirt (bias!) which dropped madly at the hem. Fortunately I was able to purchase the last 3 metres that Textile Centre had in stock so this dress is a replacement for the previous Harley/Penny mash up that is entitled Rookie Error!

I decided not to risk a further disappointment and turned to that TNT pattern – the ‘Moira’ dress. At the end of a long afternoon of stitching I had produced my new dress and I am very pleased!

Conclusion: Lesson learned – don’t try new designs with precious fabric, either use ‘muslin fodder’ or make a toile and remember to check the suitability in terms of drape.

Project #73 completed 6th November 2021

‘Janice’ dress

I wanted to try a slightly different, new design of dress and started out with the ‘Jane’ pinafore dress bodice pattern. I knew that I would have to adapt the pattern if I wanted to have a dress with sleeves and that a calico toile would be the best way forward. One of the first changes to the pattern was to the armscye. This was lowered by 1cm and as I planned to use my short sleeve block with the gathered sleeve head it should fit OK. I wanted to have the dress button down the front and having checked the depth of the neckline on the pinafore, raised the neckline for this dress by 4 cms.

On the calico toile I noted that the Princess seams were a little tight over the apex of my bust – I added about 1 cm at the fullest part of the side front panels and shaped back to the original line. Taking inspiration from Regency dresses as seen on television adaptations I added a double thickness frill at the sleeve head. On the calico toile I made two different length of sleeve head frills – the first one was the length of the sleeve head from single front notch to double back notch. The second frill was that length plus half as much again and was gathered up before attaching to the sleeve head. I decided that the first frill length was the best especially as it cut down on the amount of gathering I would need to do! I completely unpicked the toile and made changes to my paper pattern.

I had originally planned to use a pretty floral printed viscose on a Turquoise background but for this ‘wearable muslin’ changed my mind and instead used 3 metres of a Khaki Green background floral print viscose marrocain that I bought from Rainbow Fabrics (£14.97). I had just enough fabric after cutting out the main dress to cut the front facing, back neck facing and pockets from the fashion fabric, the remainder of the bodice lining was cut from plain Black viscose voile purchased in bulk from the Fabric Room.

At first fitting I noticed that the bodice was not as fitted at the high waist as I would like. I added some self fabric ties at the side seams and adjusted the pattern for the front side bodice panels.

Construction of the dress was fairly straightforward apart from the fact that once again I have chosen a very mobile fabric. I love the feel of this viscose marrocain to wear as it is warm to the touch and drapes well but the making of the dress is challenging as it slips and slides away from you all the time. Many, many pins were used to ensure that the fabric stays where it is put!

I found that I had cut the sleeve hem facing too deep but a quick whiz around with the overlocking soon sorted that out. The facings for the sleeve are hand slip-stitched in place as the interfacing gave them more weight and caused them to drop down. I could foresee that I would be forever tucking them back up into the sleeve. The frills on the shoulders have worked well and this has given more ‘width’ to the shoulders to counter balance the gathered skirt.

I used 16 four-hole buttons in Sage Green from my stash, 7 on the bodice and 9 down the skirt. All the buttonholes were stitched on my Brother 550SE as were the buttons. There is a 2 ½ inch hem that is hand slip-stitched in place.

Conclusion: There is a little more ‘finessing’ to do to the pattern to make the bodice more fitted and do away for the need of a tie belt. I think that next time I would like to make the style in a fine cotton or poplin with a gored and gathered skirt. Perhaps I will do buttons down the bodice only. We shall have to wait and see how the mood takes me!

Projects #97 completed 28th December 2021

‘Jane’ Pinafore Dress #3 Autumn Leaves

I bought a couple of remnant pieces of this lovely printed ‘curtain weight’ cotton from a seller on eBay for the grand sum of £10.99. In total there was about 3 metres in length x 120cms wide fabric. I knew immediately that this would be perfect for a Pinafore Dress and ideal to go over many plain Autumn-coloured jersey tops (yet to be made!).

I used my self-drafted ‘Jane’ pattern which is now a TNT design that I intend to hack into a Summer dress next year.

I lined the bodice with Grey acetate lining that I found at the bottom of my stash. This will work well for making it easy to pull on the pinafore dress over the tops as it is so slippery.

I added a total of 12 buttonholes down the front of the dress and used some coconut shell buttons that I recently purchased from eBay (60 buttons for £2.99 – a bargain!). This time I added two patch pockets on the front skirt, the pattern is so busy that you can hardly see them and I did not even try to pattern match. I finished the hem of the skirt with the blind hemmer stitch on the machine as the tiny stitches disappear into the print.

I am very pleased with this make and sure that it will get a great deal of wear through the rest of Autumn and through Winter until the Spring flowers appear.

Project #77 Completed 18th November 2021

Rookie Error!

I fell in love with this particular printed Viscose Challis on sale from The Textile Centre and ordered 3 metres at a price of £15.27 for the length.

After considerable humming and hawing I decided to make the Harley Bodice with a Penny (Sew Over It) skirt. The viscose has a superb drape and is so fluid that I now realise that this style of dress is just so wrong for the fabric! The bias on the skirt panels means that it was the very devil to get an even hem. Whilst I continued with making up the dress, I did not spend hours and hours on the construction – no French seams, no side seam pockets!

The other major error in making this particular style is the fact that the bodice and waist need to be fairly fitted. I cut out the dress a couple of weeks ago and since then have lost 7lbs in weight (I believe that 10lbs weight loss is equivalent to 1 dress size) so it will always have to be worn with a belt. In the meantime, I have ordered more of this design. When it arrives I know that I will be making a ‘Moira’ dress that will be absolutely perfect to showcase the print and drape of the fabric.

Project #71 completed 3rd November 2021

Jayne V-neck Pinafore Dress

I was so disappointed with the Babycord fabric that I used for the ‘not quite Texas pants’ #6 that I ordered 2 metres of Yarn Dyed Stretch Denim in 10 Gold at £7.25 per metre from Hot Pink Haberdashery to make pair #7.

The fabric is described thus;  A stunning range of soft, yarn dyed stretch denim fabric in 10 exquisite colour tones. Blended with polyester to control shrinkage and creasing, together with spandex to add a gentle, comfortable stretch, this lovely denim fabric is perfect for denim clothing from denim shirts & lightweight jackets to denim dresses and skirts. The colour range covers classic denim shades of blue, black and greys together with rich, brights to suit all ages and styles. With a soft feel & midweight weave, this denim range would also suit soft furnishing & craft projects. – Available in 10 colours – Rose, Pink, Fuchsia, Peacock Blue, Gold, Sky Blue, Blue, Stone, Grey & Black. 140cm/55″ wide, 255gsm,75% cotton,22% polyester,3% spandex.

When I showed the fabric to my husband and discussed my plans he suggested that I make a skirt or dress rather than trousers as I would surely get more wear from either of those. Thinking about his suggestion I decided to make a new pinafore dress that I will be able to wear with all the pretty new viscose fabrics that I plan to make into blouses.

I did not want to make a third ‘Jane’ pinafore style, instead I would take advantage of the plain Mustard colour and design something with the opportunity for lots of contrast top stitching. I started out with my TNT bodice block and made the following alterations:

1 Made a V-front neckline into button closure.

2 Drew an angled shoulder front yoke and straight back yoke (to be cut on the bias) with centre back seam.

3 Added princess panel seams by moving the fullness of the darts from the side and waist on both front and back bodice.

4 Fullness of the skirt panels would be made into unpressed pleats.

5 Would add either side seam or patch pockets on the skirt.

6 Would make a feature of the button closure down the front bodice and skirt with additional top stitching.

The fabric was pre-washed and ready for cutting out. I just managed to get the outer pattern pieces from the 2metres. I had intended also to cut the yoke lining and front facing from denim but there was simply not sufficient fabric – even with piecing. So the lining would have to be edge-to-edge, the same as in the previous pinafore dresses. For the bodice lining I used some of the Golden Palm print viscose from Rainbow Fabrics. I also cut some self-fabric bias binding from the Palm print viscose to make Hong Kong finishes on the skirt seam allowances.

All the construction was sewn with in a coordinating colour thread. Contrast top stitching was in Paprika with two threads in the needle. The bodice and bodice lining seam allowances trimmed with pinking shears. Pocket and skirt seam allowances were overlocked.

I searched through my extensive button stash but could not find just the right buttons for the pinafore. Armed with a scrap of fabric with the contrast top stitching I browsed the button stands in Franklins, Salisbury. I bought 12 buttons ‘Vogue Star’ which came to the grand sum of £7.20.

When I got home I was still not sure, searching a second time I came across these Traeknapper buttons that I purchased when on a cruise in Norway. Isn’t it just typical that I had the ideal buttons all the time and just the right number too?

I completed the pinafore with some top stitching around the armholes and neckline which was yet another trial as the tension went adrift. I switched off the machine, changed to a new needle and disassembled the bobbin case. I removed all the fluff and gave the bobbin chase a good clean. Once that had been done I unpicked the original top stitching around the armholes and re-stitched. This time I used only one thread in the needle but completed the circumference twice to get the depth of top stitching that I wanted and that would match all the other top stitching. The hem was turned up by 2½ inches and hand stitched in place. At last – finished!

Conclusion: The fabric is lovely and is complimented by the contrast top stitching and the Norwegian buttons. The pinafore dress will be an excellent component of my Autumn/Winter wardrobe as it coordinates well with various tops and blouses.

I will need to re-draft the bodice pattern as there is a little gaping in the front armscye and of course, I need to remedy the sizing so that I can use 5/8th seam allowances throughout. I had not accounted for the replacement of my right hip which throws out the alignment of the pleats on that side of the skirt back. Another time it will be best to gather fullness in the back of skirts.

Project #67 completed 19th October 2021

Autumn print Vogue 8577-refashion

My take of the Vogue 8577 made in an Autumnal toned fruit print cotton lawn was originally completed in September 2019.

Since then the Covid pandemic and lockdowns have taken their toll so that now the dress is too small in the bodice.

The fabric was purchased at the Festival of Quilts and after making the dress there was a large remnant. I am so glad that I kept it!

With some pattern tetris I was able to cut a new bodice and sleeves using my ‘Harley’ pattern. The back bodice has a centre seam and the front facings are pieced. I used some fine White cotton as a lining for the bodice and sleeves which provides some additional structure to this fine lightweight cotton lawn.

I re-visited Sian of Kittenish Behaviour’s vlog where she gives some hints and tips for sewing the Vogue 8577 and this helped enormously when fitting the bodice to the skirt at the front where there was a continuous facing plus lots of buttons and buttonholes to contend with. All bodice seam allowances were trimmed with pinking shears and the side seams pressed open and flat. The lining was turned up and hand stitched to the waistline seam.

I re-used the buttons from the original bodice plus the spare so there are 7 buttons on the bodice.

I am delighted with how the dress has turned out and it will form the key element to yet another capsule collection for Autumn. Notice how well the print coordinates with my latest elasticated wide belt and suede wedge-heeled espadrilles.

Project #63 completed 23rd September 2021

Yet another recycle?

Oh yes! I have made at least 5 versions of the Vogue 8577 and unfortunately some of them no longer fit across the bust. This particular version is the very first one that I made according to the pattern in so far as there is a midriff yoke and the giant pockets in the skirt.

Another two hours of unpicking during Friday morning sewing get together resulted in a separate bodice and skirt. I no longer have any remnants of the fabric that I used for this dress so having had a cogitate decided to attach a contrast bodice – made using some pretty Broderie Anglaise from deep within my stash. I would later add a belt so that the finished result would look like a blouse with contrasting skirt.

Having previously completed this type of ‘hack’ I was fairly confident about attaching a new bodice to the skirt. Again I used my ‘Harley’ bodice pattern but this time with the re-drafted sleeve. I just love how the gathers at the sleeve head sit and the length is just right. As there are many holes quite close together in this Broderie Anglaise design, I used some plain White cotton for the facings and all seams were flat felled into place.

The bodice went together well and I soon had the ‘recycle’ completed. I top- stitched the facings in place with a narrow seam allowance tucked under so now there are no excess seam allowances inside the bodice.

The final decision to make was regarding buttons. Should I use plain White buttons on the bodice, or the same Pale Turquoise that came off the original bodice? The decision was easy as I found that I did not have any suitable White buttons in my stash. I think the Pale Blue ones look very nice.

I am now waiting for an elasticated belt to arrive to complete the look and in the meantime I have some pretty alternatives from my wardrobe to compliment this new faux ‘blouse and skirt’ ensemble.

Project #54 completed 24th August 2021

Hannah #3

I have had the reverse of a new Superking-sized duvet cover ‘lurking’ in my stash for a couple of years now. I previously made the front which had some charming embroidery into a version of Vogue 8577 that I recently upcycled. Now to use up the remainder of the cover I was inspired by pictures on Instagram to make a ‘Hannah’ dress.

I have previously made two versions of Hannah and was therefore quietly confident regarding fit and construction.

I decided to use the latest re-drafted sleeve that has a full gathered sleeve head and cut it on the bias. I would add a bias cut frill around the neckline as I particularly liked that on my previous Hannah make. The only other change was to lengthen the bodice pieces by 1 inch.

The bodice and sleeves were lined with plain White polyester cotton and the construction of the sleeves was plain sailing.

When it came to the bias frill I mis-calculated the length required. I had measured the front edges of the wrap bodice and the back neckline before multiplying by 1½ times which I thought would be sufficient for the gathers. In a moment of ‘laziness’ I decided to use the ‘ruffler’ foot on my machine instead of traditional gathering. I set the foot to pleat every 6 stitches and stitch length 4.5mm. I then attached the frill to the bodice before stitching the bodice lining right sides together. I tried a fitting. There was insufficient frill to match up once the bodice fronts where they overlapped. I tried to ‘fudge’ it by unpicking then re-setting the pleats on the underwrap but this was still insufficient for a neat overlap. So…. I cut more bias fabric and attached to the end of the frill that was partially sewn. Re-pleated the additional length and then, once again tacked to the neckline and re-attached the bodice lining. Phew.. now it was OK. A reminder for the future though is to ensure that the pleats on the front wrap would be facing down rather than up as they are on this version!

Next I worked on the skirt panels. I attached pocket bags and completed the side seams using French seams. Once the dress was complete there would be no raw edges as the bodice is lined and the hems on the wrap edges and skirt hem were double folded and machine-stitched in place.

To complete the dress I hand stitched the bodice lining to the waistline seam and worked a machine buttonhole at the right hand side seam to facilitate the tie wrapping around to the back.

I am very pleased with the dress and look forward to wearing it both now with White sneakers or Tan wedge espadrilles, then later in the Autumn with a Tan cardigan, tights and loafers.

Project #52 completed 21st August 2021