Category Archives: Dresses

‘Jane’ pinafore dress #2

Back in November last year I ordered 4 metres of a Maroon stretch brushed twill from one of my favourite stores, Rainbow Fabrics who are based in Kilburn. The fabric was competitively priced at just £5.79 per metre and I thought would be an ideal candidate to make some tailored (albeit with elasticated back waist) trousers. These would coordinate well with the Burgundy striped Ponte Roma Fraser view B that I made earlier this year.

However, I believe that 4 metres is more than required for the trousers and so I went ahead and cut out my second ‘Jane’ pinafore dress. The trousers would have to wait.

I knew that again I wanted to line the bodice of the pinafore dress and scouted around in my remnants stash for something suitable. I chanced upon the last few pieces of Red paisley print viscose that I had used to make a Montana dress (project #43 in July 2020). There was just enough to make the bodice lining and as the overlocker was already threaded up with Red would be an ideal coordinate for the Red print lining.

The days of being especially ‘picky’ over the colour of thread for overlocking are now past – in fact I often enjoy having a contrast!

All seams have been overlocked with the Red thread and the pocket linings are also in the Red paisley viscose fabric. Unfortunately due to a flare up of arthritis followed by tummy upset, this pinafore dress has taken quite a while to complete. However, last night I finally managed to get all 14 buttonholes and buttons sewn on using my Brother 4000D machine (this machine is absolutely ‘ace’ at buttonholes!) and hand stitch the hem in place.

I am absolutely delighted with the fabric which is so soft to the touch and how the dress has turned out. Only problem now is that I do not appear to have many blouses/tops to wear beneath it. I will be shopping my stash for some pretty ‘low volume’ cotton and viscose prints. Watch this space!

Project #12 completed 19th February 2021

‘Harley’ Shirt Waist Dress #1

This is my take on the Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielsen which is an easily adaptable modern shirt dress. That pattern features a V-neck, button front, high waistline and ties at the back to allow it to be worn in a fitted or loose style.

The pattern is listed at a cost of £21.99 on the Minerva website. Unfortunately my measurements fall outside those of the pattern so even if I were to splash out and purchase the pattern I would still have to make a number of changes to get the dress to fit me.

I took a comparatively short cut. Using my TNT bodice block I drafted a V-neckline with button front and short sleeves. Depending on my desire at the time of cutting out/making up, the dress could also be made to include a button-through the skirt, bodice with or without waist darts front and/or back, concealed side seam pockets, with or without self fabric tie belt set into side seams. At a later date I can also draft different sleeves: tulip, ¾ length or full length into button cuff.

For this first wearable toile I used some charming Blue background printed cotton poplin featuring abstract flowers, retro leaves and partially hidden cranes that I bought from JJ Textiles of Manchester. I purchased 5 metres for £25.00 inclusive of post & packing. After cutting out the pattern including skirt panels measuring twice the width of the fabric x 30 inches length I still had a generous 2 metres of fabric left. Enough to make a blouse or shirt.

So on with the construction. This is a comparatively easy make but as it was a wearable toile I did have to make some minor fit adjustments; I reduced the length of the back bodice to allow for my sway back. I found the front bodice too fitted and so let out the front waist darts a little. I made the rear neck facing extra deep so that I could add my ‘Carousel’ label but the front facing was kept to 2½ inches wide. I marked up for 5 buttons on the bodice and later added 7 buttons for the skirt. The buttons are placed 2¼ inches apart. I used ½ inch 4-hole faux tortoiseshell buttons from my stash that I originally purchased from Abakhan many years ago. Concealed side seam pockets were added and the skirt panels gathered onto the bodice waistline. The hem of approximately 1 inch was stitched using the blind hemmer on my sewing machine. All seam allowances were overlocked.

Conclusion: The dress is a good fit on the bodice and I like the V-neckline with button front. However, this cotton poplin has a lot of ‘body’ and I would have preferred a 4-gore ½ circle skirt. A gathered skirt would be best if using a viscose or polyester that has better drape qualities.

The only other thing which has annoyed me – and it is totally my own fault, is the fact that I did not pattern match the bodice and thus there are two dominant motifs on the front. I will remember next time!

Project #7 completed 26th January 2021

‘Moonflower’ Moira Dress#8

As mentioned in a previous post, Catherine chose this printed Viscose Challis for her next dress. She asked for the ‘Moira’ style but with no frill at the hem. Her wish is my command!

I cut out the dress from the fabric that came from Rainbow Fabrics, this version takes a lot less fabric as you don’t need 3 x the width of the fabric for the hem frill. I guess the dress takes around 2 metres plus a similar amount of lining. I added the usual side seam pockets and self-fabric tie belt attached at the side seams. This time I set my timer and the entire construction took just under 5 hours. All seams were overlocked rather than French seams and this cuts down the time requirement quite a lot.

The dress has been posted off to North Wales. I hope it fits and that my sister is pleased with her ‘Moonflower’ dress.

Project #6 completed 18th January 2021

Moonflower Moira Dress #7

Using the credit voucher that I received from Rainbow Fabrics I purchased 7 metres of this beautiful Viscose Challis that I have named ‘Moonflower’. After laundering the fabric I asked my sister if she would like a dress in this fabric and she jumped at the chance! But first I wanted to make yet another Moira for myself using this slightly heavier weight viscose.

The usual construction method was followed including a full lining in Ivory viscose voile. The challis fabric is a dream to sew with other than the fact that it does tend to fray. I finished all the seams with either a French seam or the overlocker. The dress has the usual side seam pockets and deep hem frill.

The beautiful colours of the print are matched with at least two of my cropped cardigans – the Pale Blue and the Tan.

This dress has turned out well and will be making regular appearances despite the fact that currently I am not going out!

Project #4 completed 14th January 2021.

‘Jane’ Pinafore Dress

I love Jane Austen novels, have read all of the novels and seen all the film adaptations of her books. The costumes from the films (excluding those from the Hollywood version staring Laurence Olivier) inspired me to make a Pinafore Dress based (loosely) on the style of that period.

I purchased a copy of the Romantic Era Dress Pattern from Sensibility.com but unfortunately have not been able to print off the pattern to scale. I am not particularly ‘au fait’ with Adobe so need a friend to help sort out the problem.

Meantime I tried the Hughes dress pattern by the Friday Pattern Company. I successfully printed the pattern and prepared size 1X at the bust grading to 2X at the waist and hips. I cut a calico toile of the bodice and tried it for fit. Haha! Not a good look. It is a very long time since the apex of my bust was that high and there was a lot of excess fabric over my upper chest. To alter to fit would take a lot of time and energy that I was not prepared (at the moment) to expend.

Third try – I took my basic TNT bodice pattern and hacked it! I removed darts and added Princess panels to front and back. I also extended the front bodice shoulder over onto the back bodice and made a diagonal seam line similar to those in the line drawings of the Romantic Era pattern. I made my second calico toile. Success – a reasonably good fit.

Now I could proceed with the project using some Navy needlecord from my stash that I have had for many years. I would use some pretty floral printed viscose that came from JJTextiles (an incorrect print that was later corrected with the print I had ordered) for the lining of the bodice and binding of the seam allowances.

I first made up the bodice lining to double check the fit. Still all OK so on with cutting the Navy needlecord. Taking particular care to ensure that the nap ran down the fabric on every pattern piece I stitched the bodice before attached the lining. I particularly like the way that the nap runs in opposite directions at the diagonal shoulder seam.

There is under-stitching around the armholes and neckline and front closure which would be completed with some ½ inch 4-hole buttons from my stash.

Now onto the skirt. To begin with I cut 2 widths of fabric by 34 inches long and planned on making pleats with concealed side seam pockets set underneath the pleats. However, I could not get the pleating just how I wanted it so reverted to gathers. The leading edges and side seam edges of the front skirts were bound with the 1¼ inch binding made from the floral viscose before the pocket pieces were attached. The front pocket pieces are also in the floral viscose but the back pocket pieces are in the Navy needlecord. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly I did not have sufficient fabric to cut all pocket pieces from needlecord and secondly, by using viscose for the pocket lining I could reduce the bulk a little.

The side and centre back seams of the back skirt panels are bound in the floral viscose. I found that I had sufficient binding to run it around the outer edges of the pocket bags – just to complete the look!

I was most fortunate to find exactly the right sort of buttons in my stash – and plenty of them. There are a total of 13 buttons down the front of the pinafore plus a spare that is stitched to the inside. Buttonholes went like a dream until the very last one on the bodice. A couple of false starts and then they were all complete. Would you believe it, I had cut open all of the buttonholes except that last ‘rebellious’ one when the stitch ripper slipped and I cut through the end! A quick fix with zig-zag stitch and some “fraycheck”, I think it is OK now but not the best-looking buttonhole ever.

Now it was just the hem that remained. I bound the hem and turned up 2½ inches and decided to mitre the corner where the hem joins the front facings. It is a long time since I did this so took a little thinking before I got it right. A lovely finishing touch. The hem and facings were stitched in place using the blind hem feature on my machine.

The pinafore has just a nod to the styling of the Regency era and I am delighted with it.

Now I want to make a blouse from Ivory dobby viscose similar to the one in the line drawing and photograph from Sensibility.com patterns to wear with the pinafore. First I must make up the long sleeved blouse and Jenna skirt that I have already cut out from the very last inch of the floral viscose fabric.

project #80 completed 27th December 2020

Palm Leaves Print -Moira #6

The previous Moira dress was a great success and when I saw this lovely palm leaves print from Rainbow Fabrics posted by an Instagrammer I knew that I had to have it. I ordered 6 metres at £4.99/M and waited impatiently for the delivery.

Once received I immediately overlocked the raw edges and put the fabric into the machine for a quick & cool wash. Once the cycle was completed the fabric was placed on the airer to dry. As I was folding the length I noticed that there was a disparity in the print. There had obviously been a problem as 1metre in from the end the colour for part of the design was missing. The fault was approximately 1.5 metres in length before the printing returned to the correct colouration.

Fortunately I was able to cut out my Moira dress from the opposite end of the fabric and get on with the construction. However, it did mean that I was unable to cut out and make another Montana dress for my sister’s Christmas present.

Meantime, I contacted Rainbow Fabrics, sending them photographs of the fault. They were exceptional in their swift response and sent me a credit voucher for £40.

If you have not read any of my previous postings about ‘Moira’ she is a hack from the Hannah dress By Hand London and the Montana by Style Arc patterns. ‘Moira’ has short sleeves, a scoop neckline, bodice with side bust and under bust darts, a raised waistline, no buttons but a self-fabric ties set into the side seams of the bodice, gathered skirt with deep hem frill and concealed side seam pockets.

This iteration has a bodice lined with Black 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 and apart from the neckline and armscyes, the lining is free from the fashion fabric.

For the fashion fabric skirt I cut two panels 40 ins wide x 21 inches long. The frill is 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 4.5 and pleat every 6 stitches. The seams, including the pockets are overlocked. The sleeve hems and the hem on the frill are double turned and top-stitched in place.

I am absolutely delighted with this dress and have checked the Rainbow Fabrics website several times but unfortunately the Palm Leaves print is out of stock and I understand that it is not repeatable. Shame. I will have a think about the best way to use the remaining fabric whilst avoiding the mis-print.

Project #67 completed 23rd November 2020

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