Category Archives: Dresses

Re-fashion SOI hack dress

After the Sew Southampton meet up in 2018 I bought 4 metres of a cotton printed fabric from Fabricland, Southampton branch and used it to make a ‘hack’ of two Sew Over It patterns. The top was the Libby blouse attached to the skirt of the Betty dress.

The garment was beautifully made with all seams neatened and on this occasion the collar on the Libby bodice went really well. However, I never wore the dress as on the two times I planned to wear it I put it on and then took it off again! I simply could not get over seeing all that neutral (bland?) colour and print on me. What could I do to rescue the garment?

Original Dress hack of Libby & Betty

Regular readers of my blog will know how I dislike alterations but this time I had to do something to rescue the garment.

I removed the skirt and from that cut two shaped pieces which I then gathered and re-attached to the waistline of the bodice as a peplum.

Re-fashioned Tunic Top

The re-fashioned garment looks fine over skinny jeans or leggings and a by-product is that re-visiting the dress has reignited my love of the Libby blouse pattern. I must make some more…..

completed 31st October 2019

Stork print ‘Penny’ Dress

I particularly like the ‘stork’ print offered by Fabricland. I have already made up a dress in the Duck Egg Blue background colourway. When I visited the store recently (to purchase some interfacing) I noticed that there was another colourway featuring Teal Blue and Mustard. I had to have it!

Stork print Cotton from Fabricland

Although I did not know exactly which style dress I would make, I purchased 4 metres at £4.95/m.

Penny Dress by Sew Over It

Having thought about it for several days, I knew that I wanted to make a ‘Penny’ dress by Sew Over It but the problem was the skirt is cut as a single half-circle but this fabric has a very definite one-way design and if I did cut according to the suggested pattern layout, then the storks would be at right angles to the seams. The solution would be to cut the skirt in panels and thus make the angle of orientation of the storks less pronounced.

I cut out the pattern and was able to retain a piece of approximately 25 cms (10 inches) of the full width of fabric. I am sure that I can use that on another project – most probably a belt from Harlequin.

I made my usual adjustments for this pattern – lengthened the front bodice by 3 inches at centre front grading to 1.5 inches at the side seam. Made a sway back adjustment for the back bodice. Ignored the back neck facing and stitched the centre back of the collar directly to the neckline of the back bodice. I also included my preprinted label ‘Carousel’ in the back bodice.

Although I count this design as a TNT pattern for some reason the construction was slow but I am very pleased with the finished dress. I have put together a ‘flat lay’ to demonstrate how this dress might be worn – with a Mustard boiled wool jacket or Mustard jersey shrug, Teal shoes and possibly an ‘Aztec’ design leather belt.

Stork print cotton, Mustard Boiled Wool, Aztec print belt & Teal ballet flats from Hotter

All bodice and skirt panel seams were French seamed and as the skirt was cut in panels I was able to include concealed side seam pockets. The elastic casing was over locked as was the narrow hem before stitching with a straight stitch. The armholes are finished with self bias binding and there are three buttons from my stash, stitched to the top of the button band that are simply decorative (no buttonholes).

Stork print Penny dress by Sew Over It

A New Style – Vogue V9023 in Teal Ponte Roma

I am aware that my dresses tend to be of a very similar style. A fitted bodice with or without collar, short or long sleeves or sleeveless. Button front to the waist or through to the skirt, with either a gathered, pleated or circular skirt.


I am getting a little bored with that and thought it was time to try a different style. Enter the Vogue pattern V9023 which I bought from Jaycotts in Chester when they were having a 40% discount sale.

I used a beautiful Teal Blue Ponte Rma purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury. I had originally bought 2 metres thinking that it would be sufficient for some casual trousers but sadly the pattern I had chosen required a little more fabric.

The fabric was waiting to be used and I decided to trial the Vogue pattern instead. I made the size 22 at shoulders and chest then graded out for my full bust, waist and hips.

As per the label on the pattern – VERY EASY VOGUE the dress was an straightforward construction and because of the style was an easy fit. However, once completed I did not like the look of the dress. The under bust band is set too high, it should be about 1 ½ inches lower (one’s bosom has a tendency to drop with age!). The V neckline is much lower than I had expected and as it is such a radical departure from my usual style and silhouette I felt uncomfortable wearing it.

The dress

However, I wanted to give the dress an outing so with opaque tights, flat shoes and a beautiful scarf I attended our usual Friday house group.

With the addition of a scarf to protect my modesty

I received several compliments on both the colour which I know does suit me and also the fact that it was a different silhouette to my usual. I wore the dress again on the Monday when I met with other friends for coffee and cake and again received compliments – so the dress will continue to have a place in my wardrobe. For now I have sold the pattern on eBay and will progress with trying out other styles and silhouettes of dresses to provide diversity in my wardrobe.

Yet another version Vogue 8577

Molly embroidered Duvet set

I am certainly getting my monies worth from the Vogue 8577 pattern. Hot on the heals of the previous incarnation I used the last of the three Superking Duvet covers purchased recently at Dunelm Mill to make yet another version. This duvet set was the ‘best’ of the three in that the front of the cover has many embroidered floral posies. Something that had I completed the embroidery myself using my Brother 4000D sewing/embroidery machine would have taken a very long time.

All the embroideries on the duvet cover!
A single embroidered motif

I used the same ‘hack’ as previously by omitting the midriff band and extending the bodice down to the waist seam. I also omitted the giant pockets and instead kept to my TNT concealed inseam pockets. The bodice was lined with White cotton, the yoke lining was cut from the gingham fabric and the front bodice button facing was extended to join with the yoke lining.

Initially I was not very pleased with the placement of the embroideries but in the final garment I believe that they are acceptable.

Front view before completion
Back view – with better placement of embroideries

I have now made this pattern (and its hacks) up four times and each time I am able to complete the construction a little more quickly. Whilst I am very pleased with this dress, with my self-imposed limit of 5 versions of a pattern it is getting very close to the time to move on to a different style.

Vogue 8577 – hack

Having paid full price for the Vogue 8577 dress pattern, I was determined to get my money’s worth! However, by way of something a little different, I decided to ‘hack it’!

Original Vogue 8577 pattern

Whilst I like the neckline and gathered bodice into yoke, for a change I wanted to remove the midriff band and extend the bodice to the waistline seam.

I had won a voucher for fabric at the SEW SOUTHAMPTON event in August and having browsed the website of the vendor selected this pretty multi-coloured floral cotton.

‘Watercolour’ printed cotton fabric

At 60″ wide this 100% cotton is ideal for dressmaking. This is a cotton poplin meaning that it’s not as light or smooth as a lawn but still ideal to make shirts, dresses, tops and accessories. This cotton is very stable so it would be ideal for a beginner project.

I thought that I had ordered 4 metres but received only 3 which meant I needed to change the skirt design. The Vogue 8577 is very fabric-hungry when cutting out the skirt and so I substituted the ½ circle skirt pattern from the ‘Penny’ dress by Sew Over It.

I used the skirt pattern of the Penny Dress

Another change that I wanted to make was to extend the front facing all the way up to the yoke facing and thus avoid any raw edge at the neckline seam.

Extended front facing in print fabric

Having cut out the main fabric I selected some plain Sky Blue cotton from my stash for the bodice lining. I also had sufficient of the outer fabric to make the yoke lining in the print. I added a small loop at the centre of the back lining as an additional decorative feature.

Completed back bodice with decorative loop

Another very small change was to round off the leading edge of the front at the base of the V-neckline.

I completed the dress quite quickly and also managed to include some in-seam pockets. The pretty Purple buttons came from my stash. All seams were worked as French Seams as demonstrated by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour and the skirt hem was double folded before being machined in place.

The finished hack

I am delighted with this dress which co-ordinates well with many of the shrugs that I have in my wardrobe – Mustard, Cerise, Purple, Burgundy and Blue. This is certainly a hack that will be repeated when I do not have sufficient fabric for the original pattern.

Vogue 8577 – Autumn

A few posts ago I told you about my very first iteration of the Vogue 8577 dress pattern ‘Sian made me do it’. I was so enamoured of the style which was a big departure for me that I have since made three more versions of the dress.

Cotton Lawn from Fabrics Galore

Using the fantastic bargain cotton lawn purchased at the Festival of Quilts. The fabric had been was laundered and sat waiting for me, in less than one month I started cutting out!

I made up the dress according to the pattern but omitted the huge pockets and used concealed side seam pockets instead. As I was using concealed side seam pockets, I cut the front skirt panel from the lining pattern. First I made up the skirt panels using French seams and incorporating the pockets. This was then pinned to the mannequin whilst I concentrated on the bodice.

The bodice is again lined with some White poly/cotton from my stash but the skirt remains unlined.

Having already made the dress once before, this time I paid attention to Sian’s sew-a-long and made a couple of changes to the order of work. I attached the front facing only partway down the bodice front lining before stitching the lining to the main fabric at the neckline and front edges. Having trimmed the seam allowances I was able to understitch the facing before then stitching the armholes and turning through to the right side. By following Sian’s method this meant that I did not need to use bias binding on the armholes and it left a much neater finish.

After a fitting I stitched the side seams of the main fabric and lining of the bodice in one pass. All seam allowances were trimmed with pinking shears and the side seams pressed open and flat. I now had a bodice ready to attach the skirt.

Once the skirt was attached I completed the stitching of the facings and started looking for buttons. I knew that like on the previous iteration, I wanted to have 15 buttons. With such a busy print I was a little unsure as to what buttons to use but came up trumps with these charming flower-shaped buttons in Brown that were in my stash – and I had 17 of them!

close up of Buttons

For the finish of the hem, I still did not use bias binding. Instead I overlocked the hem edge before turning to the inside and top-stitching in place.

Vogue 8577 – Autumn

I am very pleased with the dress which takes pride of place in my new Autumn collection and coordinates with several of my cropped shrugs.

With one of many shrugs

Festival of Quilts 2019

It is now almost one month since I joined the coach trip to visit the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham. I visited with my friend Pat and we were joined at the Festival by another friend who had travelled from Chiswick. We all had a great day and for once the weather was brilliant sunshine.

There were so many quilts and shopping opportunities, I did not really know where to start. In the end, we started with the shopping – no change there then. I had a list – I did not stick to it!

From the Fabrics Galore stand I bought another 2 metres of my favourite Frida Kahlo printed cotton which is destined to be a simple shift dress to showcase the design.

Frida Kahlo |Border print

I also bought 4 metres of an unnamed cotton lawn at the bargain price of just £6/metre which has since been made up into my second version of Vogue 8577.

Unidentified Cotton Lawn – BARGAIN
Vogue 8577

From the Lewis & Irene stand I collected some free patchwork patterns, and a hug from one of the owners of the company (he remembered me from a talk where I had worn a dress in Lewis & Irene print fabric)!

On to the Thimbles stand which I visited twice. On the first visit I bought some leaf print (Monstera Deliciosa) which I intend to make up into a bag.

Leaf print heavyweight cotton for bagmaking

The second visit I bought this beautiful Tapestry-style fabric with Roses plus 4 lengths of faux leather with a snakeskin finish.

Roses Tapestry fabric + Faux Leathers

The Roses and Red faux leather will be made up into a Companion Carpet Bag (pattern by Mrs H).

Mrs H Companion Carpet Bag

I have already sewn some of the Gold finish as an accent on a pouch (detailed post coming shortly) and I have plans for several new style bags which will utilise the Black & Navy-coloured faux leathers.

After a break for lunch (a very tasty Haloumi salad) we viewed a few more of the many, many quilts before returning to the shopping hall. We visited the Sewing Quarter stand where I had the opportunity to chat to John Scott – what a lovely man.

We then visited Rosenberg & Sons’ stand. I was ‘persuaded’ to buy some beautiful boiled wool in Blue to make a jacket (Simplicity 4032) and a remnant of Mustard boiled wool to make a ‘hack’ waistcoat/vest from the same pattern.

Another break for afternoon tea and a further browse of the quilts before a rest and relaxation whilst we waited for the coach and journey home.

I loved my visit (not sure my credit card was as keen) although I did find it very tiring. Bearing in mind the size of my fabric stash (I swear the fabrics reproduce overnight) and lack of resistance when it comes to fabric buying, perhaps I should refrain from attending any more shows for a while until I have reduced my ‘stock’ and the bank account has recovered!

Some Skullduggery!

Skull print cotton by Rose & Hubble

My regular readers will know that I love a novelty print so when I came across this skull print on a Cerise Pink background, I just had to have it! I ordered 4 metres as I knew that I wanted to re-visit the Penny Dress by Sew Over It. I have previously made this dress in a jersey fabric back in August of 2018. Now I wanted to make in the fabric recommended by SOI – a woven.

Penny Dress by
Sew Over It

The Penny Dress is a simple, easy-to-sew and utterly gorgeous shirt dress. Stylish, wearable and flattering for so many shapes, Penny is a summer wardrobe must-have. Penny features a sleeveless button-up bodice, flat collar, pretty gathered shoulder panel, easy-fit elasticated waist and on-trend midi-length skirt. The flattering dropped shoulder offers a nod to the 1950s whilst her simplicity will keep you looking contemporary and cool. Though shirt dresses can often be fiddly, Penny makes for a refreshingly simple sew. With no darts, zips or collar stands to contend with it is a simple project, perfect for sunny summer days.

I laundered the fabric and within a day or two was busy cutting out the pattern. I increased the bodice width slightly to accommodate my tummy but forgot to add to the waistline of the skirt – more of that later.

Construction was straightforward but once again I had to review the video tutorial on sewing the facing in such a way as to make the top-stitched button/buttonhole placket. The end result is very neat but narrow, insufficiently wide enough to make my preferred horizontal buttonholes. Instead I placed the buttons on the top placket and stitched them through all layers. There is no problem using this method as the waistline seam has sufficient ease to allow the dress to be put on pullover fashion.

Although not included in the pattern instructions, I cut four of the narrow shoulder yoke so that there would be a lining in this part of the bodice. I used my preferred method for attaching the collar that does away with the need for a separate back neck facing. I did however add a piece of half-moon-shaped fabric into the back neckline that carries my pre-printed label ‘Carousel’.

Having completed the construction of the yokes, button placket and collar I turned my attention to the armholes which form a small cap sleeve. The instructions suggest that you turn up a narrow hem and top stitch in place before joining the front and back bodice at the side seams. I dislike the ‘unfinished’ look of this method so instead made some self bias binding to neaten the armhole sections before completing the bodice. I shall certainly be repeating this method in future as it has turned out very well.

Bodice/skirt waistline – nb no elastication

Now, joining the skirt to the bodice. This is where I made an error. I forgot to add sufficient width to the skirt so that it would match the slightly extended bodice. As the skirt was just wide enough (with a couple of inches of ease) at the waistline, I simply made some tucks (where there would normally be darts) in the bodice so that it matched the skirt panels. Having reduced the width of the bodice and skirt there was now no requirement for elastic in a channel to give the dress a close fit at the waist. Perhaps next time I will remember to extend BOTH bodice and skirt so that an elasticated waist can be included. Alternatively, I may replace the tucks with body darts for a more streamlined effect. The other omission was that I forgot to stitch in my side seam pocket bags. A real nuisance and maybe I will go back and put them in although it will be a tiresome and time-consuming task to unpick the overlocked seams. So maybe not to be undertaken – I shall have to live with no pockets in this dress!

Some Skullduggery Penny Dress

Apart from these minor niggles I am delighted with the dress. I see that this particular print is also available with a beautiful Teal background but perhaps I should concentrate on using some of the ‘miles’ of fabric in my stash……

A new venture – Vogue 8577

I am a regular follower of Sian Singleton of Kittenish Behaviour. There is a particular dress, Vogue 8577 that Sian and her Mum have made several times and they have inspired me to tackle this very different pattern.

Vogue 8577

This style is particularly ‘fabric hungry’ and as I did not have sufficient yardage in my stash, this was an excuse to buy some more!

Vanilla Wood Cotton Lawn £4.95/metre

I bought a pretty ditsy floral print cotton lawn from Fabricland, Salisbury branch to make View B. The fabric was laundered and sat waiting for me to get started…..a year later I finally ‘bit the bullet’ and prepared the pattern.

As the bodice (and skirt) are lined I chose to use the bodice lining as my toile and ‘iron out’ any fitting issues before I cut out the floral print.

Having added extra to accommodate my bust and tummy, at the first fitting all that additional fabric was removed! Vogue patterns in general and this one in particular do seem to have a lot of ease.

First Fitting

I unpicked the basted bodice, cut away the excess fabric and adjusted the pattern. I then re-stitched the bodice to check the fit for a second time. Great result, just a little fine tuning – making a sway back adjustment and adding another inch to the front bodice for full bust. Second set of pattern adjustments.

Sway Back Adjustment

Unpicked the bodice for the second time and compared against my revised pattern. All OK so now I could cut and make the bodice in the floral fabric. I also cut out the remainder of the pattern pieces. I have to say that the skirt is very full and the pockets are huge!

As I had spent so long refining the bodice and due to the fullness of the skirt I decided to forego the lining of the skirt. In any event, a full skirt lining would have made the dress very heavy to wear.

Construction was fairly straightforward although I wish now that I had re-visited Sian’s Sewalong and then I would have avoided having to make bias binding for the armhole edges. Next time I will adopt her method and ‘bag out’ the bodice lining.

Vogue 8577

The only changes that I made were to fold out the centre back seam on the bodice, make a centre back seam in the skirt panel, top stitch part of the pocket band in place and increase the number of buttons from 10 to 15. The buttons came from my stash and are the same as those used on the Stork print dress.

I am very pleased with the dress and having spent time and effort to get the bodice just right, will definitely make again. I just have to find a long length of fabric!

Pioneer Duvet Cover into a Dress

As promised in the previous post, here is the description about my re-fashioning project – I re-fashioned Superking size Duvet cover into a dress. There was a sale advertised at Dunelm Mill store and inspired by the makes of Ditsy Tulip I decided to browse the bedding department to check if there was anything suitable for dressmaking.

I struck Gold! I ended up buying three covers. The ‘Pioneer’ designed cover of Blue and White stripes with an embroidered border was a real bargain, reduced from over £50 to £14.99 so obviously I could not pass that up.

Pioneer Duvet Cover
The Embroidered Border

I could not wait to sew up a new dress with the Striped cover and by the end of the first day it had been laundered and was ready for unpicking.

Thinking about the design I did not want to break up the border of the skirt so it would have to be gathered or pleated. I could use the border stitched on the pillow cases for the sleeves and that left the bodice to decide upon. As there was ‘busyness’ on the skirt and sleeves I thought it best to have a fairly plain bodice, but this time I would try a V-neckline. I drew a quick sketch of my ideas and then hacked my TNT bodice to give a V-neckline with front button closure to the waistline seam.

The duvet cover is a poly/cotton blend and as I did not want any ‘show through’ on the bodice, I interlined with some of the plain White fabric that was the reverse of the duvet cover. I think that it has worked well. I also used the plain fabric for the pocket linings.

Pretty buttons from my stash

I used some buttons from my stash that pick up on the Blue & White theme with an little accent of Red.

Pioneer Duvet Dress

The design has worked well although I have made a couple of ‘rookie’ errors in that the top-stitching on the neckline does not quite match up but that is ‘small beer’ in the overall scheme of things.

The final analysis – I have experimented, produced a pretty and different dress without taking days to work the elaborate embroidery on the skirt and sleeves.