Category Archives: Dresses

Second time Success – The Lady Skater Dress in Ponte Roma

After the previous iteration – a non-fitting toile – of this Lady Skater dress I have adjusted the pattern and intended to make another version of the dress. I WILL have a Lady Skater dress in my wardrobe!

Adjustments made to the pattern were:-

1)Add 1 inch to side seams at bust,

2)re-draw neckline by bringing in shoulder seams at neck edge by 1 inch,

3)re-draw armscye to make shoulders narrower,

4)Add 1 inch to underarm seam on sleeve to match additional width added to bodice,

5)make sway back adjustment,

6)add 1½ inches to the side seams at waist,

7)add 1½ inches to side seams of skirt

8)add 6 inches to the length of the skirt.

These are all fairly minor adjustments but in the final analysis made a world of difference.

I used 3 metres (total cost £15.00) a lovely Snakeskin print Ponte Roma purchased in March last year from M.Rosenberg & Son at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC, Birmingham. Although the colour appears Black/Grey/White in the photographs it is actually various shades from Olive Green thru’ to Ivory. Even after lengthening the skirt by 6 inches, I still had some fabric left over – possibly enough to make a cap-sleeved top to wear with the Cream circle skirt.

So, onto the construction. I mostly used the overlocker for stitching the dress. At first fitting I reduced the length of the back bodice. The disadvantage of a very upright posture is that I always have to make a sway back adjustment which can sometimes lead to strange centre back seams but fortunately for this dress I had cut the back bodice on the fold. The fact that the waistline is now cut slightly on the bias is lost in the intricacies of the print. I also graded away some of the length on the front bodice. I felt that the sleeves were a little too short and added a narrow double-folded cuff of 1¼ inches. The centre back seam of the skirt and top-stitching of the neck band were straight-stitched on the sewing machine. For the hem on the skirt I used Sian of Kittenish Behaviour’s suggestion: Having run the hemline through the overlocker I then turned the scant ¼ inch to the wrong side and top stitched with a single row of straight stitching.

The dress has gone together very well and now fits perfectly. Notice how great it looks with my ‘feature’ wide belt.

  It was not until I tried on the completed dress and ‘swished’ about in front of the mirror that I noticed how I had achieved a lovely chevron effect at the side seams of the skirt and that the pattern matched thru’ from front bodice to front skirt. A complete accident!

Not quite wearable Toile – The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo

I regularly follow several sewing vlogs and a design that has appeared many times is The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo. I could see that it was my sort of style so would give it a try.


To be fair, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the dress as I made my first version using some thick heavy scuba crepe that I bought from Cheapest Fabrics UK on eBay.

When I opened the parcel of this fabric I was immediately disappointed. It is very heavy and ‘spongy’ with not a great deal of stretch. The colour on my screen at home made it look more sort of Duck Egg Blue rather than the Grey it is called in the description box. I admit that buying fabric over the internet can be a lottery and on this occasion my £19.80 investment was definitely not for a winning ticket.

However, I decided to go ahead and make up the pattern as a wearable toile, just to see how it turned out.

According to the measurement chart I needed to cut a size 8 and add 1½ inches to each side seam at the waist point to allow for my chubby mid-section. I lengthened the skirt by 6 inches but apart from that made no alterations to the pattern.

The dress was stitched on the overlocker using a narrow seam. At first fitting I could see immediately that the top was too wide for my shoulders. The neckline was quite low but that could be remedied with a neckband. I needed to reduce the length at centre back of the bodice to allow for my sway back and remove the additional length at centre front that I had added to account for my bust. The sleeve length was fine but the biggest problem was how it squashed my bust!

This pattern is a little different to the usual in that you are instructed to measure your HIGH bust rather than your full bust. Mine measured 1 inch less than the size chart so it should have been OK – but it most definitely is not. At this stage there was nothing I could do as the sleeves had been inserted and the bodice side seams/sleeve seams sewn. So … I continued with the construction of the dress. The hems on the sleeves and skirt are stitched with a twin needle stitch length 3.5. At final fitting I found that the mid-section was close-fitting but the length of the skirt and the neck binding were fine.

The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo

I have made adjustments to the pattern and will make this dress again in a finer jersey fabric (probably a Ponte Roma)  that has more stretch. I am sure it will then be a good fit – both to my figure and my preferred dress style.

Deer & Doe Plantain Dress Hack

Deer & Doe Plantain Tunic Pattern

Whilst I am still cogitating on how to make up the faux fur/cerise knit gilet from Simplicity 4032, as light relief I decided to use up some of my stash! A quick hacked version of the Deer and Doe Plantain top into a dress.

Plantain Dress Hack

I found this winter-weight jersey from Fabricland (£4.59/metre) deep in my stash. It was probably purchased sometime last year when I began my adventure with jersey fabrics. The fabric is no longer listed on the website so I do not know its construction – only that it has good stretch in both directions. This piece was a remnant from a top-making session with my friend Adrienne. I guess there was approximately 1¾ yards from which to cut the dress and fortunately there is no definite one-way direction to the print.

First step was to trace the pattern and make a few small adjustments. I graded the waistline seam of the back bodice to allow for my sway back. The final CB seam was 16½ inches. I cut the skirt 27 inches long allowing just ½ inch for the hem. The centre front of the bodice neckline was raised by 2 inches and I also cut a neckband 2¼ inches wide. I lengthened the centre front waistline of the bodice by 1 inch to allow for my bust and graded back to 0 at the side seams. The sleeve pattern is 4 inches shorter than the original and I added double folded cuffs.

The dress went together very easily. Due to lack of fabric I cut the back bodice at the selvedge and made a seam. The skirt was cut from the full width of fabric and had only one seam at centre back. I applied a neckband with finished width of ¾ inch and cuffs that are 1¼ inch deep. At first fitting I took in the sleeves by 1 inch grading to 0 at the underarm. All seams are overlocked and the skirt hem is finished with twin-needle stitching.

At the final fitting I noticed that the waistline seam on the bodice had stretched. I added some clear elastic to the seam – stitched with a triple zig-zag. This has pulled in the waistline and makes for a much more flattering fit. Here I have yet another dress that looks good with my wide double-buckled belt.

3rd Dartmouth Dress Hack – Border printed Ponte

This is the third Dartmouth Dress hack that I have completed and once again I count it as a success!

For this iteration I used 3metres of Single Border Floral/Shutter print ponte from The Textile Centre at £3.59/metre.

I cut the skirt from the main floral border leaving the shutter print for the bodice, sleeves and neckline banding. I still have approximately 70 cms remaining, sufficient to cut the front and back bodice for a raglan-sleeved top with plain Black ponte for the sleeves and neck banding. So in the final accounting I will have achieved a dress and a top for the grand sum of £10.77 – can’t be bad!

I love, love, love, sewing with ponte. It is such a stable knit and behaves almost like a woven.

I already had notes for cutting across the bodice at waist height, plus the length required for the skirt. This time, I did remember to add pockets. I used my TNT pattern so that the pocket tops are stitched into the waist seam which prevents them from flapping about too much inside the dress. The length of the skirt means that the dress can be worn with flats, heels and boots. Apart from top-stitching the band and hems, the entire dress was sewn on the overlocker. 

My only concern when making the dress was the fact that as it was a border print, the maximum stretch is actually down the length i.e. not across the bodice which is where I would have preferred. But no great shakes, it still turned out to be a comfortable garment.

For the photograph I have added my wide statement belt which has the advantage of covering the seam and helping to pull into my waist – n.b. I have now lost sufficient weight to be able to use the next hole along to buckle up. Great!

Sally Jersey Dartmouth Dress Hack

Yet another pre-Christmas sale purchase was this 4-way stretch jersey from Fabrics Galore. Described as Viscose Elastane Jersey, a medium weight super soft jersey fabric 150 cms wide at £4/metre. I had not realised that dealing with this fabric was like trying to wrestle with liquid Mercury! The fabric slips and slides all over the place, additionally the cut edges curl tightly to the right side. Getting raw edges to match was a struggle! But, I persisted and the result is a lovely new dress.

Sally Jersey Fabric

I used that old TNT Dartmouth wrap top pattern from Cashmerette to hack a new bodice with a waistline seam to which was added a gathered skirt.

Original Dartmouth Wrap Top

First step was to measure my centre back-to-waist length. I transferred this measurement to the pattern, added a seam allowance and then cut the front pattern length to match. As usual the neckband applied like a dream. How I wish all neckbands were that simple! For the skirt width I measured the width of the waistline of the bodice, doubled it and cut 2 panels. I had originally intended to add side seam pockets but that idea got lost somewhere during the construction process. The sleeves have a narrow double-folded cuff and the hem of the skirt is stitched with a twin needle. I have deliberately made the skirt a little longer than usual as I think I will be wearing it with heels. For the photograph I have added a wide statement belt which has the advantage of covering the seam and helping to pull into my (imaginary) waist.

When my husband saw the dress modelled on ‘Dolores’ the mannequin he remarked that it looked like a very nice dress. Result!



For my first post of the New Year –  something different and unusual – I have made an alteration to a brand new project.

I was not happy with the ‘Apples & Pears – where did my waist go?’ dress that I posted recently. As it was, I knew that it would never be worn. I had nothing to lose and therefore decided to ‘hack’ it!

I removed the bias frill from the hem and cut off 8 inches from the length of the dress before adding the frill back on again. I now have a flippy, flirty, new tunic dress that co-ordinates well with my grey leggings. The length of fabric that I had removed from the dress was converted to a detachable cowl collar. Result!

Newly hacked flirty tunic top

Apples and Pears – where did my waist go?

Inspired by one of the Stitch Sisters wearing this Hazy Floral Double Border printed Ponte Roma in one of their vlogs, I purchased 3m from The Textile Centre at just £3.99/metre.

I planned to use my TNT shift dress block, add long sleeves and a detachable cowl plus my favourite bias hem frill. I pulled the pattern envelope and was dismayed to find that the pattern for the hem frill was missing. There followed an hour’s search through various stashes of patterns in the vain hope that the missing pattern piece had been stored in a.n.other envelope. No luck.

However I did find McCalls pattern M7046* that had not just one but two bias hem frills included. I traced the pattern from view D (single frill) and set about cutting out my ‘Christmas’ dress. It was only much later that I remembered that I could easily have drafted my own bias hem frill using the slash and spread method. I will work on that when I have completed this dress.

Changes to the pattern: I cut the main pieces for the front and back, carefully centred on the border print design. I reduced the length by 8 inches to accommodate the hem frill. The sleeve pattern was for a ¾ length, I simply added another inch and would later cut a cuff to ensure that the sleeves would reach my wrists.

It should be noted that my TNT shift dress block is actually drafted for woven fabric but as I was unsure of sizing and stretch I cut the full size pattern which could then be ‘finessed’ in terms of fit at the side seams. I reduced the neckline curve at the front by approximately 2 inches and would see how that looked at first fitting.

I marked all the darts with tailor tacks. Having tested the stitching on spare fabric I found that horizontal (bust)darts needed to be stitched with a stretch (lightning) stitch and the vertical (body) darts could be stitched with a normal straight stitch. I applied a narrow strip of fusible Vilene ® to the front shoulder pieces and overlocked the shoulder seams.

I basted the side seams together which is when I discovered that I had ‘lost’ my waist. I have transformed from a Pear to an Apple!

I re-basted the side seams before overlocking to the amended size and shaping that involved taking in over 1 inch each side and removing any ‘waistline’ shaping. The front neckline also needed to be dropped by a further 1 inch at centre front before grading back to the original point on the shoulder seam.

Having established the new neckline I used my TNT method to apply a neck binding with which I am very pleased. So, onto the sleeves. As I had already stitched the side seams I could not do a flat sleeve insertion. It did not matter as the sleeves went in like a dream. However,they were very wide and needed to be reduced by over 1 inch at the wrist grading to 0 inches at the underarm point. I cut pieces for the cuffs at 5½ inches deep x 9 inches wide. Adding a cuff is a simple construction technique which does away for the need to twin-needle the hems so gets a ‘tick’ from me.

Now all that was left to stitch was the bias hem frill. I had matched up the border print to centre front and back and applied taking a 5/8ths seam allowance. On 2nd fitting I felt that the dress was a little too long. Rather than cut off the length of the frill at the hem, I re-stitched the joining seam taking a further ½ inch from the length of both the dress and the frill. Much better. As the fabric is a Ponte Roma and does not fray, for the time being I have left the hem of the frill raw (Gasp – sacrilege!).


Perfect pattern matching!

The dress is now finished (well more or less). I have to say that I am not in love with it. Not sure exactly why but partly because the fullness of the bias frill is nowhere near the fullness as demonstrated on the pattern envelope. I will definitely have to draft my own FULL circle bias frill for the future. For now I have decided not to proceed with the detachable cowl collar.

There is quite a long length of fabric remaining and providing that there is sufficient yardage, I would rather use it for a tee shirt-style top. Meantime, I think I will leave shift dresses alone for a while, so it’s back to waisted garments, probably with full circular skirts which are most definitely my favourite.

* McCalls 7046 – Having reviewed this pattern I have decided that I will never make it up with all those gathers across the main body so have listed it for sale on eBay.


Mayan Border Print Tunic with detached Cowl Collar

This fabric was on sale from the Textile Centre at just £3.49 for a 1.5 metre length remnant plus £2.50 for post and packing to make a grand total of £5.99. I thought that it would ideal to use for a ‘wearable toile’ of a longer length tunic top. The fabric is a heavy polyester/viscose/elastane ponte roma jersey 157 cms wide. I have not used this type of fabric before and was especially pleased that it is so soft and does not feel ‘synthetic’.

For the pattern I used the Style Arc ‘Amy’ top which due to the design constraints of the print was subsequently ‘hacked’ out of all resemblance to the original. First I re-drew the neckline as I had previously found the cowl to be very skimpy. I would make my own design that would be detached so that if necessary I can slip a turtle neck under the tunic. The new neckline would have a band stitched by my usual method. The length of a previous Amy was too short in front and again, to take advantage of the border print, this time I simply cut the hemline straight across where the print had finished. The sleeves, neckband and cowl collar were all made from the plain Navy fabric. The tunic was stitched entirely on the overlocker with the exception of top stitching the band and twin needle hemming of the sleeves and bodice.


Tunic with neck binding                Detachable Cowl Collar

I am very pleased with the final garment which suits now and I will be able to incorporate some back body darts to improve the shaping as I lose weight.

Cobra Corsage print Scuba for McCalls 6754


I bought a bare 3 metres of this fabric from Sewisfaction a little while ago intending to make the McCalls 6754


(as inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour). I have made up the pattern twice now and have yet to get to grips with the best method for reducing the width of the sleeves. Prevarication and procrastination have been operating in force but yesterday, enough was enough – time to get to it and make the dress!

I found a picture on flicker showing the sleeve pattern with three narrow tucks to reduce the width so decided to try this method.

I laid out the fabric and pattern and was disappointed to see that the fabric was not as wide as I had hoped and there was no way that I could get the dress with long sleeves out of my 3 metres. In fact, even short sleeves would be pushing it.

For the previous iterations of this pattern I have extended the length of the skirt by 4 inches. Again, I could not do that this time, 1¾ inch extension was the absolute most that I could obtain across the folded width of the fabric. The finished length of the skirt was 22 inches which is the shortest I have ever had. Definitely the dress will have to be worn with opaque tights!

Construction went according to my revised order of work and was completed on the overlocker with the exception of top stitching the neckband and hems. Somehow with the changes that I had made to the sleeve pattern had also affected the shaping of the neckline, this is now almost a ‘sweetheart’ shape but in fact I quite like it.

Below is a photograph of the original pattern against the revised pattern. You can see the difference in width.

After constructing the dress I found that the sleeves were STILL too wide. I reduced their width by a total of two inches and graded back to the original stitching line by the time I reached the waistline of the bodice.

The hems on the sleeves and around the skirt were completed with a jersey twin needle and all seams were pressed on the wrong side with the steam iron.

McCalls 6754 in Cobra Corsage Scuba fabric

I am happy with the dress but wish it had been an easier make. I need to do more research on methods for reducing the width of the sleeves, or perhaps just find another raglan sleeve pattern to hack with this bodice and circle skirt.

McCalls 6754 – still room for improvement

How I wish that I had read the reviews for this pattern on the PatternReview website. Then I would have known to make the dress at least one size smaller than dictated by the measurement chart on the envelope. Also one of the reviewers has shown how to reduce the width of the enormous sleeves that appeared yet again in this my second make of McCalls 6754. These factors have been exacerbated by the fact that the fabric is very fine and has a 4-way stretch. I still count myself as an improving beginner when it comes to sewing knits so on this occasion I will let myself off with a stern reminder to check the amount of stretch in a fabric BEFORE rushing in to cut this style of dress.

I fell in love with the print which is an abstract floral in great Autumnal shades. Bought at the Craft 4 Crafters show at Shepton Mallet, at just £5.50 per metre it was a steal!

I made those changes to the pattern that I discussed in the previous post, i.e. adjusted the back bodice for my sway back, dropped the front bodice at the waistline by 2 inches, raised the front neckline by 1 inch, kept the sleeves 3 inches shorter and the skirt 4 inches longer. However, the weight of all that fabric in the skirt has pulled down the neckline so that it is an almost indecent scoop but at least the back bodice waistline seam now sits at my natural waist!

Again the sleeves were baggy and due to amazing stretch of the fabric, the bodice was quite loose-fitting. However, the dress is extremely comfortable to wear and provided I have a scarf to hide my décolletage, a great Autumn garment.