Category Archives: Dresses

Lemons print and Lemonade

Have you ever had of those projects where it seems that nothing is straightforward? Each two steps forward involve a step backwards so progress is slow and painful? There is a saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. So that is what I have been doing but in the form of a dress. 

It all started when I saw a beautiful dress made up in Duck Egg Blue cotton sateen printed with Lemons on the instagram feed of Roisin Muldoon.

The text stated that the fabric had come from Fabrics Galore. I immediately contacted them as I was unable to find the design on their website. Apparently that particular print was out of stock and there was no good news about further supplies. A search on the internet threw up an alternative Lemons design.

Emily Hallman shows a dress in a Navy background with Lemons print which is very similar to the one that I found.

This has large lemons printed on a Navy background. The fabric was listed as Cotton Poplin. I ordered 3 metres of 140 cms wide, knowing that the fabric was coming from abroad, the estimated delivery was for anytime within the next 4-6 weeks. So I settled down for a long wait.

I regularly checked the tracking. Around the time that I was expecting the parcel to arrive, I received a card from the Royal Mail advising that I was due to receive a package but that a £13.16 customs fee was payable. I paid the fee and was expecting the parcel to arrive on Friday. Friday came and went along with Saturday and Monday. I managed to speak to our postman who said that he would investigate as he did recall posting the customs fee notification card through our letterbox.

Wednesday the postman advised that there had been an error in the transcription – the parcel was intended for someone at no 5, not no 8. Their parcel had been delivered as I had ‘so kindly’ paid the fee for them! I contacted the Royal Mail who were most helpful and was assured that since the error was on their part, the £13.16 would be refunded.

OK, so now settle down and wait a bit longer for MY parcel to arrive. The very next day the package was posted through our letterbox!

Great, only when I opened the parcel I discovered that what had been described as Poplin was more or less the same weight as Cotton Lawn. Not exactly what I wanted. No matter – the bodice of the dress would have to be lined and I can do that, although it would add to the sewing construction time (sigh…).

I laundered the fabric and laid out the pattern pieces. I wanted to use my TNT bodice with a full circle skirt. Having laundered the fabric it now measured 2.95 metres x 140 cms wide. No matter how I laid out the pattern it just would not fit. Plan B was to make the TNT bodice with a full gathered skirt. I cut 3 lengths of 29 inches across the width of the fabric.

I made a full copy of the bodice front pattern as I wanted to be sure about the placement of those lemons – no way could they appear anywhere near the apex of my bust!

As it has turned out, there are almost no lemons down the centre front of the bodice. For the most part the centre panel is plain Navy which is good – therefore no accentuation of my apple-shaped tummy!

I could not fit the back bodice onto the remaining fabric and still have a centre back seam. OK, so no centre back zip then, and no pockets either! Fortunately with this bodice that has a scoop neckline, I can put the dress on over my head without the use of a zip, but I would have liked pockets.

As a dark lining would have shaded the lemons, I cut lining for the bodice and sleeves from plain White poly/cotton fabric. I cut front and back neckline facings from the fashion fabric which was applied to the lining pieces so that the neckline would be finished with the fashion fabric. I also cut a bias strip of fashion fabric for attaching to the hemline of the cap sleeve linings.

Now, ready for construction: I usually make up sleeves first and set them aside until needed. I carefully applied the bias strip to the hemline of both sleeve lining pieces only to discover that I had made up two left sleeves, not one right and one left. So ‘quickunpick’ out and start again!

Fortunately marking and sewing the darts in the bodice went well as did stitching the lining to the bodice at the neckline. I made French seams in the three skirt panels so that combined with lining of the bodice this dress would have no raw edges or overlocked seams on view. The insides would look neat and tidy which is something that I always like to aim for.

I set in the prepared cap sleeves using French seams. Not as simple and easy as my usual method but I am pleased with the result.

For the skirt I found an area at the top of the panels that matched well with the centre front waistline of the bodice and used that as my starting point for the gathers. There is a flat area of waistline seam at centre front and then the gathers start near the ends of the body darts. The flat area did take some time ‘finesssing’ the seam which is almost pattern matched.

I can now tell you that 4.2 metres of fine cotton lawn can be gathered up well with two rows of gathering threads. I am very pleased with the result but will not be rushing to repeat the process on any other dresses. I much prefer a gored or circular skirt which reduces the amount of fabric at my waist.

After attaching the skirt to the bodice I then pulled the bodice lining down over the seam. I turned up the seam allowance to the inside and hand-stitched in place over the original waist seam.

The finale was to hand stitch the hem to give a finished skirt length of 27 inches.

My next project is going to be something really quick and easy!

p.s. I have now located even better versions of Lemons print on Duck Egg Blue from Spoonflower and I will be able to dictate the substrate. I will probably select their excellent quality cotton sateen.

Joni Dress by Tilly and theButtons – Version 2

I was so pleased with the way that the first ‘wearable toile’ dress turned out that I immediately set about making another version.

For this version I used some Pink floral patterned polyester jersey that I purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury back in April 2018.

As mentioned in the previous post, I was unhappy with the construction method for applying the neck binding and also the fact that the twist pulled up the bodice seam and skirt hemline at centre front.

To resolve these problems I made a Full Bust Adjustment to the bodice by dropping the point of the centre bust bodice seamline by 2 inches. I used the Nancy Zieman method of pin and pivot which means that the length of the seam remained the same whilst still providing that extra room for my bust but without distorting the seamline. Whilst cutting the skirt panels I added about 1 inch to the length – just to provide a little extra coverage for my knees.

For the binding of the neckline I changed the construction method slightly. I cut the binding as per the pattern but this time stitched together at the short ends. I made the seam the centre back point and added notches to mark centre front and quarters between CF and CB. Having completed the twist I then stitched the centre front bodice seam and also above the twist as far as I could. I marked the neckline on the bodice in the same way as the binding before attaching right side to right side. The binding was turned to the inside and stitched with a narrow zig-zag in place.

The final result is good and bad. Good in that the neck binding is a complete finish with no bulky turnings at the front which I had encountered on the first version. Bad in that there is a definite ‘gap’ above the twist and below the neckline binding. I don’t mind it but feel sure there must be an even better way to manage the twist and the neckline. For the next version I plan to make a front bodice lining which I hope will resolve these outstanding issues.

I did write out a crib sheet for the construction method but in the end did not follow it as having made the dress once before I was confident to go straight ahead and sew!

This pattern has a 5/8 th inch seam allowance and as I was confident of the fit I stitched mostly on the overlocker.

I repeated the hem of the short sleeves by turning back and overlocking so that the result looks like a hemband. The hem of the skirt has been left unfinished. This fabric does not fray and I did not want to run the risk of a ‘lumpy bumpy’ hem by stitching with either a narrow zig-zag or a twin needle (plus of course, I wanted to wear the dress a.s.a.p!).

Now that I have ‘nailed’ this dress I want to try a hack into a top at the same time using the lined front bodice method plus the fluted sleeves.

Now where did I put that fine jersey that I think will be ideal for this project?

Joni Dress by Tilly and the Buttons

I purchased my copy of Tilly’s latest book ‘Stretch’ as soon as it was released and have been waiting impatiently for a ‘window’ to be able to stitch the Joni dress.

The Joni is the final garment in the book and is described thus;

This showstopper dress may look complicated but it’s surprisingly simple to make! The fitted bodice has a stunning draped twist at the front, creating a plunging neckline and a shaped empire waist seam. The dress flares out into a flirty half-circle skirt that’s great for twirling, with a gentle dipped hem that lands just above the knee. Choose from three-quarter or elbow length sleeves. Make Joni in cotton or viscose jersey for every day, or a sumptuous stretch velvet or silk jersey for parties.”

For this ‘wearable toile’ I chose a pretty floral print viscose jersey bought from Fabricland (in December 2017) for £4.44 per metre. The dress takes 2.5 metres of 150cms wide fabric.

I traced off the pattern (size 8 in Tilly sizes!), adjusted slightly for my rubenesque figure then set to and quickly made the dress.

The book contains many pages of instructions with photographs but I found them a little confusing as they go off on a tangent to describe the various techniques. I intend to re-visit and type up my own ‘crib’ sheet which will be much more succinct. Additionally I did not find the instructions for the finishing of the area around the twist very clear, I ended up neatening the area and stitching the undersides of the twist together. The neck binding was, I believe, more complicated that it needed to be and I will investigate alternative methods for finishing the neckline.

I attached clear elastic as instructed by basting with a long straight stitch on the sewing machine. When it came to overlocking the pieces together, due to the 5/8ths inch seam allowance, the elastic was cut off. This does not appear to have had a detrimental affect on the dress. In future I may well omit the elastic on the bottom of the bodice and will use my TNT method of fine ribbon to stabilise the shoulders.

The elbow length sleeves hit just into the crease of my elbow which is uncomfortable. I folded back 1 ½ inches before overlocking so that the hem now looks like a sleeve hem band. I like that effect. The hem of the skirt was stitched with twin needles.

I had failed to notice in the description that the pattern is drafted for a dipped hem. On me it looked as though too much fabric had been taken up by my bust. I have re-drafted the bodice front pattern and made an FBA (full bust adjustment) which means that the bodice seam and front hemline will now be parallel to the floor.

I like the dress and will definitely be making another incorporating the above alterations. My husband also liked the dress. He pointed out that the twist in the bodice and empire waist seam certainly ‘highlight’ my ‘lovely, blossoming bosom!’

Lobster Print Cotton Dress

You may have noticed that I have been rather self-indulgent recently with all my fabric purchases!

To redress the balance slightly, I decided to use  fabric from my stash to make a new dress. This delightful Lobster print cotton has been loitering in the stash for at least a year, probably two. Whilst I was washing some of the latest fabric purchases that are in a Red colourway, I included this 3 metre length so it was now ready to ‘Sew&Go’.

I used my TNT bodice block with scoop neckline, self-lined cap sleeves and added a 2xwidth of fabric gathered skirt.

No problems with construction – all my usual methods and techniques were applied. They included a lapped zip set in the centre back seam approximately 3 inches down from the neckline. There is roughly 2 inches of ease at the waistline and this seems to be the optimum amount. I will make a note of this for when I prepare the Vogue 8577 pattern.

The skirt panels were cut 29 inches long, the finished hem is at 26 inches. There are the usual pocket bags set into the side seams, the top of the pockets are stitched into the waistline.

In my haste to get the dress cut out and sewn, I forgot all about pattern matching. Also unfortunately, somehow along the way the width of the shoulder seam, especially on the front bodice, has been reduced and this has affected how the self-lined sleeves are set. In addition, I need to re-draft the back neckline as that does not sit quite right. I shall still wear the dress but it will never be a favourite. It is possible that at some time in the future I will remove the sleeves and make the dress sleeveless.

Fabric Buying Ban

Oops! What part of a fabric buying ban did I not understand?

Having recently spent my budget on a gift for my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary, there was supposed to be a fabric buying ban in force until the Festival of Quilts in August.

Somehow I seem to have misunderstood.

I purchased some pretty cottons in Franklins, Salisbury on Monday last week and then this week I visited Fabricland for some more that I simply had to have! 

The Red with White polka dots is to be made up into a shirtdress – pattern tba.

The Blue spotted teapots print is to be my version of a Betty by Sew Over It with short/cap sleeves

The Beige floral will be my TNT bodice with a full gathered skirt (inspired by a dress seen in a shop window in Salisbury).

The Lilac floral has been made into a Teddy Designer Tunic by Style Arc – details already posted.

The Turquoise fern print could possibly be a Vogue 8577.

The Brown background floral will possibly be another Teddy Tunic – getting ready for the Autumn already!

Not shown in the picture is a length of Classic Blue denim that I ‘needed’ to make the Pippi Pinafore Dress by Jennifer Lauren.

All fabrics have now been laundered and are ready to ‘sew&go’ so watch this space for some new garments!

Ruby Wedding Anniversary Dress – 2nd part

After some careful consideration I decided that the short self-lined sleeves would be the best way forward to completing the dress.

With the vagaries of the British Summer weather and because I don’t always want to have to wear a cardigan, short sleeves are ideal for wearing in the UK.

Construction notes:

TNT bodice, used the full 5/8 ths inch seam allowance on the side seams. Raised the waistline by ½ inch at centre front. Self-lined sleeves. Light fusible interfacing used on the neckline facings. Understitching completed using a 3-step zig-zag stitch. Lapped zip in centre back seam, set 3 inches down from neckline. Hand picked final seam of the zip insertion. Extended back neck facing with printed ‘Carousel’ label. Full circle skirt using ‘Betty’ pattern by Sew Over It. Side seam pockets stitched into waist seam to prevent ‘flapping’ about. All seams neatened by overlocking. Machined narrow hem on skirt.

I am particularly pleased with the way that the pattern has matched on the centre back seam although this is purely accidental.

The dress has turned out very well, I am delighted with it and definitely plan to make another in this style. Depending on the occasion, I may even get to wear the dress with my Red can-can petticoat!

Ruby Wedding Anniversary Dress

Over the weekend my husband and I will be celebrating our 40th (RUBY) wedding anniversary. On browsing through some of the photographs from our honeymoon I see that I sometimes wore a Red cotton floral print dress. Inspiration then to make another to wear on the anniversary….

I will use my TNT bodice pattern with the cap self-lined sleeves and centre back zip fastening. I will add the circle skirt from ‘Betty’dress by Sew Over It to make my favourite dress style.

Later the same day…

Construction was very straightforward. After about 3 hours I had an almost-completed dress.

   

Now – a decision to be made. Do I make the dress sleeveless or should I insert the sleeves that are made up and ready for insertion? Hmmm, I will leave the dress on the mannequin overnight and decide in the morning.

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!