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.