Category Archives: Dresses

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

Recycling a Favourite

I love the ‘idea’ of the Vogue 8577 dress although it is particularly fabric hungry with its very full skirt.

I made this version using the front part of an embroidered Super king-size duvet cover bought in the sale at Dunelm a couple of years ago.

I loved the dress but sadly the bodice is now too small. I did not want to ‘waste’ all the lovely fabric in the skirt so decided to recycle it onto a new bodice with set in sleeves. Those that know me also know that I have an intense dislike of alterations, even calling this project a ‘recycle’ does not really help.

First I had to get unpicking. This was when I discovered how well I had made and finished the original dress. All the skirt and pocket seams were French and inside the lined bodice – pinked or overlocked! It took a good couple of hours with the stitch ripper to separate the bodice from the skirt.

Now to review a bodice pattern that would fit neatly onto the skirt. It would have to be a front button shirt dress or blouse and I definitely wanted sleeves. Because of the fact that I had only pillowcase fronts with the beautiful embroidery the pattern would need to be one with few seams and interruptions. I chose the Harley design that I first made in January this year.

I measured the panels of the skirt, excluding the gathered sections and adjusted the waist seam of the Harley to match. I recently drafted a new style of sleeve with generous gathers at the sleeve head for the ‘Linda’ dress. As I liked them so much, drafted a similar style sleeve for the ‘Harley’.

I cut the front bodice pieces from the pillow case fronts taking as much care as possible with the placement of the embroideries. Then I used the backs of the pillowcases (with no embroidery) for the sleeves and a remnant from the original duvet cover for the back bodice, again no embroidery motifs.

I cut lining from Polyester cotton for the bodice and sleeves. Lining the sleeves helps to give them some structure and support for all those gathers at the sleeve head. It also provides for a neat clean seam finish on the hems.

Construction was fairly straightforward and after the first fitting there was just one small adjustment to make – letting out the side seams of the bodice at the waistline by ¼ inch and grading back to 5/8ths at the underarm.

It took a couple of hours to attach the completed the bodice to the skirt plus a deal of ‘finessing’ in respect of marrying up the front edges and facings.

Lastly the finishing tasks were to slip stitch the bodice lining to the waist seam, make buttonholes in the bodice and attach the buttons that had been removed from the original bodice.

All that work has resulted in a lovely new dress with a bodice that fits beautifully. No-one would ever know that this is a recycled project!

I have a couple more dresses made to the Vogue 8577 hack and they are also too small over the bust. I can see more ‘recycling’ in the future!

Project #51 completed 8th August 2021

‘Linda’ a new design in Stripes

I previously used the front of a superking duvet cover to make a dress detailed as Dunelm Yellow Shirt Dress project #44, now it was the turn of the reverse of that cover to trial make a new design.

I made a quick sketch and using the bodice block from my ‘Harley’ dress proceeded to draft the new style. First I drafted a square neckline and then repositioned the darts into a Princess seamed bodice, incorporating the new neckline into those seams.

I wanted a completely different short sleeve – using the cut and spread method I increased the sleeve head so that it would have plenty of fullness gathered at the shoulder. Inspired by a costume in a Jane Austen dramatization I also added a frill to sit between the sleeve head and the armscye.

The skirt would be a simple gathered rectangle with a wide band of the contrast fabric set approximately 5 inches above the hemline and I would possibly add patch pockets, also with the contrast fabric tops. Well, that was the plan!

I cut and stitched a toile using plain White polycotton fabric that would then be used to underline the bodice (the fabric is not as opaque as I would like). I was very pleased with the fit and so proceeded with cutting out the striped fabric. The stripes were mounted on the underlining and the bodice stitched together.

First hurdle was to work out how I would finish the square neckline: a facing, binding, what? I continued with making up the sleeves which were lined with the White polycotton (makes the curved hem much easier to finish) and inserting them with the little shoulder frills – a delightful design feature.

Still not knowing how I would finish the neckline, I continued making up the skirt and attaching to the bodice. By now I was pretty disenchanted with the dress so there was no point in spending more time inserting the contrast band near the hem. The skirt has a 2inch double turned hem stitched in place by machine blind-hemming. I forgot to add concealed in-seam pockets so would have to add patch pockets which also means some pattern matching will be involved.

Finally I had to resolve the issue of the neckline. I made a shaped back neck facing to which I added my ‘Carousel’ label plus strips cut on the straight grain to neaten the side edges of the neckline that are slightly ‘off grain’. These were stitched in place, turned to the inside, under-stitched by machine and hand stitched to the underlining. The top straight edge of the neckline was simply turned to the inside and slip stitched to the underlining. If I repeat this bodice/neckline design I will make that centre panel longer so that there is more fabric to turn to the inside.

I made some long self-fabric ties and top stitched them in place next to the Princess seams on the front bodice. Tied in a bow at the back they give a little more shaping to the dress.

A good press and I modelled the dress. I was underwhelmed and was thinking of calling it a ‘dis-as-ter’. However, my husband thought it looked nice but no need for patch pockets. Just as well as I am currently still not in love with the finished dress but maybe when a few days have passed it will improve.

Project #50 completed 31st July 2021

Vogue 8577/Penny hack = Venezia #2

I first made a dress using a hack of the Vogue 8577 + Penny dress by Sew Over It back in August 2019.

I have named the dress Venezia after my favourite European city.

Adaptations were to remove the midriff band on the bodice of the 8577 and extend to the waistline. I also extended the bodice facing up so that it is stitched under the front edge of the yoke. For the skirt I used the Penny but cut into 4 panels, added side seam pockets and lengthened the pattern by 4 inches.

Thinking about making a new dress for my birthday – yes it is that time of year again, I tried on Venezia #1 and was delighted to find that it still fits PCL i.e. post Covid lockdown! Just to be sure, I ran up a toile using some lightweight pre-washed calico. Yes, it is still fine so used the calico toile as a full lining of the bodice (a la Sian of Kittenish Behaviour). For the skirt panels, I checked the width at waistline for the bodice fronts and back to ensure that they would fit and made sure to add for the button closure down the front of the skirt.

Fabric: I have a 3 metre length of beautiful ‘Paradise’ cotton lawn bought from Stitch fabrics in August 2020 for £40 and decided that this would make the perfect dress for my ‘special’ birthday. The 150cms width of the fabric meant that there was sufficient to cut out my Venezia, especially as ‘Paradise’ is a one-way design. I cut out all the pattern pieces from a single layer of fabric which meant that I could ensure no birds were perched on the apex of my bust! It is a delight, although a mystery to me how I have also managed a pattern match at the centre front of the bodice! Who knew?

Construction: It took approximately 8 hours to make the dress as I used French seams for the skirt panels and side seam pockets. The bodice is lined with the lightweight calico. All 13 buttonholes and buttons (from my bottomless button stash!) were completed on the machine. The narrow double-fold hem on the skirt was also top stitched on the machine. Thus the entire dress was stitched by machine with the only exception being the slip stitching of the bodice lining to the waistline. That is my idea of a great project (hand sewing aggravates my arthritis).

So that’s it – a new dress all ready for the big day.

Project #45 completed 1st July 2021

Sunshine Yellow Shirtdress Wearable Toile

For this ‘wearable muslin’ shirtdress I used a new King size Duvet cover from Dunelm in the design called ‘Ashbourne’. Once unpicked this provided me with 2.15 metres x 260 cms wide fabric in each of the prints. One side is the floral and the reverse is a multi-stripe, more of that in another post.

This will be the #5 version of my ‘Polly’ basic shirtwaister dress pattern which I used knowing that it would need some minor alterations. I added to the length of the bodice, took in the side seams at the underarm, extended the width of the yoke shoulders and top of the armscye and added to the width and length of the skirt panels which came originally from the ‘Penny’ dress by Sew Over It.

The fabric had been laundered when the duvet cover was originally purchased back in 2019 so was ‘good to go’. I had a good colour match of thread to use in construction and there was Pale Cream/White in the overlocker.

I used a light fusible interfacing on the undercollar and facings. There is a self-bias binding for the armholes and 5 pretty flower-shaped buttons from my stash for the bodice. Although clearly marked on the pattern piece, I forgot to cut the yoke pieces on the bias and this has shown up some pulling across the shoulders once the dress was completed.

The major change for this dress was an inset band for the elasticated waist. I cut two lengths of fabric to match the overall length of the waistline edge of the bodice, x 2¾ inches wide. This accounts for 1½ wide elastic plus 2 x seam allowances of 5/8ths inch. This method has worked well although next time I will need to reduce the length of the bodice as this version has a little too much ‘blousing’ over the bust for my taste. In any event, the waistline casing is covered by the wide elasticated belt that will always be worn with this dress.

I added my standard concealed side seam pockets to the skirt. I had lengthened the skirt panels by 4 inches and finished them with a narrow double-folded hem machine-stitched in place which has given me an ‘ideal’ skirt length. I can wear the dress with mules, heels or indeed white plimsolls.

Conclusion: With a few more minor adjustments this could be a TNT dress pattern. This particular version is wearable, especially when worn with a cropped cardigan which conceals the pulling across the shoulders and the excessive blousing of the bodice. I love the flare of the skirt and may well hack the pattern to make a button-through skirt in Cerise linen-look cotton that I have in my stash.

Project #44 completed 26th June 2021

New Dress – size 18

A new dress in size 18 – 18 inches that is!

About 15-20 years ago I used to enjoy making soft-bodied porcelain dolls and dressing them. Although most of the dolls have gone on to new homes, there are still a few that I have kept. When trying to get some order in the chaos that is my stash of fabrics I came across a pattern and a ready-cut-out dress for an 18 inch doll.

As two of my dolls were in dire need of new ‘frocks’ this seemed like a good opportunity to get at least one of them made up.

I have used this pattern as a starting point for many dolls clothes. Although working on a very small scale the sewing is straightforward and fairly easy to complete.

Stitching this dress was a pleasure and made for a very nice change to the trouser-making that is my current project. The seam allowance for dolls clothes making is 1/4 inch and most was sewn on my sewing machine with a little seam neatening by zi-zag stitching or on the overlocker. There are three buttons and buttonholes on the back bodice which makes it easy to dress the doll.

Now at least one of the ‘girls’ has a new dress, I will have to find some fabric for the other so that she does not become jealous!

Project #40completed 25th May 2021

Moira dress #9 in Mustard Viscose

Having completed the Kitty dress in Autumnal tones Feather print viscose I began planning my Spring sewing collection which I have called ‘Spring Green and Daffodils’.

First I made the pin tucked tunic top (B6024) that has been on my ‘to do’ list for several years. Then I wanted to make another Yellow/Mustard dress that would have different features to my current Yellow Springtime dress.

I bought a length of Golden Yellow/Pale Mustard Floral Breeze viscose from JJTextiles, Manchester for £18.00 back on 13th November 2020. I had 4 metres of this fabric and decided to use my TNT ‘Moira’ pattern to make a dress with deep hem frill. Originally I had intended to add full length sleeves gathered into a cuff. Then I thought I would draft a fuller short sleeve that would be gathered into a frilled cuff but when it came to cutting out, I stuck to the standard sleeve. If I had sufficient fabric I would possibly add a frill to the hem of the sleeves.

Construction of this dress is like a well-oiled machine. There is a full lining in Ivory Viscose Voile that was purchased in bulk from the Fabric Room. I can usually complete the sewing in two sessions but this time due to interruptions and a bout of illness it has taken several.

At last it is completed, as usual I am pleased with the resultant dress that is so comfortable and easy to wear. Now I can get on with the next project on my ‘to make’ list.

Project #29 completed 9th April 2021

Feather print ‘Kitty’ dress

This is yet another version of my self-drafted ‘Kitty’ dress which I originally created a few years ago.

I had to re-draft to a slightly larger size due to ‘lockdown weight gain’. The bodice has bust and waist darts. The shawl collar is shaped with a gentle curve finished with self-fabric frills that have rolled hems completed on my Juki overlocker. The front bodice buttons to the high waistline and ties at the back to allow it to be worn in a fitted or loose style.

For this version of Kitty I used some pretty feather print on a Terracotta background viscose bought from Rainbow Fabrics last year. The fabric was a 3 metre remnant at a cost of just £10.91.

After cutting out the bodice and sleeves, I cut 2 skirt panels measuring 40 inches wide x 30 inches length. You will notice that on my sketch the frill extends down the front button closure. However as this was a single layer frill, I kept the frill to edge the collar only so that the wrong side of the fabric did not show. For the frills I cut 2 x 30 inches x 2+5/8 ths inches wide that were stitched together to make a long frill of 60 inches before hemming using the rolled hem function on my Juki overlocker.

The combined front facing and collar was interfaced with some lightweight fusible and then the frill was gathered and applied with right side together. 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 find this type of collar is very easy to complete but the addition of the gathered frill set between the outer and facing made it a little more fiddly. The sleeves were very easy to set into the armholes with no tucks or gathers. The hems were overlocked before turning up by 1 inch and machine top-stitching in place. I added 5 buttons from my stash for the front closure and an spare is stitched inside on one of the seam allowances.

The skirt was made from two panels 40 inches wide x 30 inches long. The concealed pockets were set into the side seams before the top edge was gathered with two rows of 5mm long stitches. This fabric is so light and has great drape that the drawing up of the gathers was particularly easy. The result is a very comfortable ‘swishy’ skirt. The hem was overlocked before a double turn and machine stitched in place.

I overlocked the seam allowances rather than use French seams.

This was a comparatively easy make as I was anxious to get the dress completed before I move onto ‘Spring Greens’ and ‘Daffodil Yellow’ projects. I have left it rather late to make this dress which has a distinct ‘autumnal’ feel. It is unlikely that it will be worn a great deal until late September and October when the Autumn season is in full swing.

Project #27 completed 27th March 2021

‘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