Category Archives: Dresses

The Wedding Guest Outfit

It has been over a week now since I attended the wedding of my husband’s eldest grandson, Michael to his fiancée Lisa.

Since then I have attended a Sewing Retreat day and a Patchwork & Quilting class. It was only today I realised I had not posted a picture of the final outfit that I wore for the wedding.

As you will see from the above photo, the wedding ceremony was held out of doors in a Bluebell Wood. Very romantic!

To get to the location involved a walk up a hill via a couple of fields and a wood. I therefore changed from my Silver stiletto shoes into ‘much more appropriate’ Cerise pink loafers.

The day was lovely and Mike and Lisa make a charming couple.

I shall be wearing my dress and jacket ensemble again in the future but do not foresee many outings for the fascinator!

Wedding Guest Outfit – back up dress

Bearing in mind the vagaries of the Great British weather – I thought it advisable to have a second dress available, to wear in case the temperature drops. Scuba fabric tends to be warm so I decided to use the 3 metres of attractive floral print that I bought from Fabric Styles at a total cost of £19.50.

As the previous iteration of the Lady Skater dress made in Snake print Ponte Roma worked so well I decided to use that pattern again.

          

However, a different fabric with different qualities, produced a very different result. At fitting I discovered that the bodice was much too long in front, the shoulders still too wide and the entire bodice too big overall. I made some adjustments and now the dress fits just fine. I used my TNT method for adding the neckband and again added double thickness 1 inch wide cuffs to the ¾ length sleeves.

I am undecided on how to treat the hem of the circle skirt. Being a Scuba I could just leave it but that is a little ‘bohemian’ for my taste. I shall probably twin needle hem stitch when I have finished the Fraser top that I am currently working on.

I am also rather ambivalent about the finished dress, I don’t feel 100% comfortable with the design/fabric print combination. But hey, it is a new dress and I am sure that it will ‘grow’ on me. In the meantime it does look good on the mannequin, paired with the Cerise linen jacket.

Wedding Guest Outfit – The Complete Ensemble

Well, after yet more procrastination, here is the finished dress made up in the fabric choice of the Friday P&Q Sewing House Group. Listed as Stretch Poly/Viscose, I bought 3 metres from CheapestFabricsUK eBay shop at just £4.95 per metre (sadly now out of stock) and used my TNT hack of the Dartmouth top by Cashmerette.

    

This fabric is really fine and drapes beautifully, but is not for those new to stitching jersey fabrics. It slips and slides and is like trying to wrestle mercury! However, I persisted and have to say that I am now very pleased that I did as the dress is so comfortable to wear and looks really ‘classy’.

Most of the stitching was done on the overlocker but there are a few places where I have top-stitched by machine, partly to control the fabric! The gathered skirt was made using two panels cut 29 inches long by the full width of the fabric, so approximately 120 inches of skirt width. Two rows of gathering stitches plus clear elastic helped to control the fabric and ensure even gathers. For the hem, I plan to machine using a twin-needle but at the time of photographing the outfit, I did not have access to my machine (cat asleep on sewing chair!).

Every time that I make up the Dartmouth top, I have used a different jersey fabric. Each and every one has performed differently. On this iteration the crossover of the wrap has come out a little low, I may have to invest in a light lace-trimmed camisole to wear underneath.

Other accessories are a Silver Grey satin clutch bag trimmed with fabric roses and some Silver ‘crocodile’ textured peep-toe shoes. I will also have a pair of Silver-coloured mules to change into when the need arises!

 

The 4 P’s

Planning, Prioritising, Purchasing & Procrastination

Now that I am well and truly back home and the weather has improved so that we are enjoying a very late Spring, I have to make my sewing plans.

I have been delayed from my first love of dressmaking as I insisted on completing the quilt top in memory of my Caribbean cruise. But now that is done, it is back to dressmaking.

Planning. I have lost weight since last Summer so several of the makes no longer fit. I hate making alterations – I would much rather make an entirely new garment. I have sold a few of last year’s dresses and have plenty of ideas, patterns and fabrics to make new ones – but which ones?

Prioritising. I have a family wedding to attend in just three week’s time – I cannot wear the same dress as last year’s wedding for two reasons a) it no longer fits(!) and b) the wedding will be attended by the same family members. I have a certain reputation to maintain – if I attended the wedding wearing the same dress, rumours would start that I was feeling unwell!

As my readers will have concluded, I enjoy wearing bright and colourful clothing. So, for this wedding my colour choice is Cerise Pink. I have the fascinator and will make a little jacket in the same colour.

Purchasing. The fascinator hat was purchased new from The British Heart Foundation charity shop in Winchester. The linen-look fabric for the jacket was bought from Fabricland in Salisbury. I plan to make another version of my ‘hacked’ jacket from KwikSew 3736.

  

Whilst the design of the dress will be a simple fitted bodice with an almost circular skirt (from the Lady Skater Dress),

the fabric choice for the dress is almost limitless.

Procrastination. I have been buying lots of jersey fabric. Whilst at Fabricland I fell in love with this ponte roma that coordinates very well with the Cerise ‘linen’ for the jacket but the ladies of the sewing house group deemed that it was not sophisticated enough for a wedding.

Alternatives that I have purchased:

  

Scuba from Fabric Styles

Although the floral print would be fine unfortunately on closer inspection I found that the colour in the tassels print clashes slightly with the Cerise ‘linen’. Finally, the ladies were unanimous in their selection of this fine jersey from CheapestFabricsUK who sell through eBay.

I have to agree that this delicate print is fabulous. I only hope that I can do it justice. To take advantage of the great drape qualities, I may well opt to make the wrap front bodice- a hack of the Dartmouth top from Cashmerette.

Other plans were inspired by a visit to the Joules store on board ship during my recent cruise holiday. I was particularly taken with these striped jersey tops.

 I could use the Fraser sweatshirt pattern from Sewaholic – or draft my own dividing lines for the different prints. 

From an eBay seller I bought some lovely ponte roma in White with a narrow Navy stripe and plan to combine with some floral print as a yoke across the bodice and sleeves.

  

The floral ponte roma came from the CheapestFabricUK.

I also plan to re-fashion the Neenah shift dress (now too big) that I made with the Navy/White version of Ponte Roma and use some of this bold-coloured floral printed fabric (purchased from Minerva Crafts) for the yoke.

  

So that is just 3 garments – possibly 4 that I plan to make in the near future.

If I can just stop procrastinating and get on with sewing the outfit for the wedding then I can pursue the exciting projects that I have planned for the Summer. I will write and tell you of my progress and finished garments next month.

 

 

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!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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