Category Archives: Dresses

Shelby Dress version #1

I have had the Shelby dress pattern by True Bias for quite a long time but it was only after seeing the 6 versions made by Andie of So Andie Sews on her vlog that I decided to get on and make my own version. The pattern is very reminiscent of the ‘grunge-style’ dresses that I used to love in the 1990’s. It is described as a princess-seamed dress or romper with four views. Each has a V-shaped neckline, front button opening, and back waist tie. There are two different lengths in each style.

Shelby dress by True Bias line drawing

I knew that the dress at long (but not quite maxi) length would be ‘fabric-hungry’ and therefore ordered 5 metres of viscose from Rainbow Fabrics (I had misread the fabric requirements on the instructions!). The fabric arrived and was duly laundered.

Back to the pattern information – using my measurements I printed off View A in the ‘D’ cup in sizes 20-24. I then graded from a 20 at the shoulders to a 24 at the bust, waist and hips. Having checked the length of my other dresses, I shortened the above waist length of the bodice by 2 inches and ended up with a the total back length 45 inches inclusive of seam and hem allowances. I did not reduce any of the amount of flare at the hemline. I also downloaded the free puff sleeve hack and printed it off.

As the roses print was not a one-way design I was able to nest the pattern pieces and therefore used only 3 metres leaving the remnant 2 metres to be made up into a blouse at a later date.

As this was to be a wearable toile, I first basted the main panel seams and inserted the narrow tie belt into the back panels before having the first fitting. Wow! This dress was so big it was like a little girl wearing her granny’s dress! The shoulders were so wide that they needed to be reduced by at least 1½ inches and the overall fit of the dress could easily be taken in by around 4 inches all around. I duly reduced the width of the shoulders by taking out equal amounts from the panel seams before grading away 1 inch at each princess seam at the bust and waist before grading back to the size 24 hips. Second fitting – so much better! I then stitched and overlocked the seam allowances before adding the front and neck facings. I inserted the puff sleeves and used 15 inches of ¼ inch elastic tied in a knot. That allows for a snug but not too tight fit.

I finished off by overlocking and double turning a narrow hem. I ignored the pattern piece for button placement. I was delighted to find that I could get the dress on and off without undoing the fastenings. I stitched 9 buttons 2¾ inches apart through all layers. I had originally planned to use the Red sparkly buttons but found they competed with the Red of the roses, so back to Black!

Rose print Viscose Shelby dress

Conclusion: Although I was very disappointed at the first fitting stage this was very soon forgotten as I am now delighted with the dress. I have altered the pattern and there will be many more of this style with variations of the sleeves. The only other change will be to stitch the buttons a little closer together as there is some slight gaping between buttons 2, 3 and 4.

Project no 15 completed 13th March 2023

Tabitha dress #6

‘Tabitha’ dress no.6 was inspired by Whitney of Tomkat Stitchery ack in December 2022 I bought 3 metres of this patchwork printed viscose crepe from Rainbow Fabrics for the grand sum of £29.97. This is yet another BOLD print to go with my mini collection of Black, Red and White. This version has short sleeves and a three-tiered gathered skirt. I was able to complete 5 buttonholes (without problems this time!) and used some of the sparkly Red buttons that I bought from Amazon.

Sparkly Red buttons from Amazon

There are concealed pockets in the side seams. The bodice seams are finished as French seams. Due to the bulk of the gathering, the seams for the three tiers of the skirt are overlocked. The skirt hem length is just shy of 30 inches so fits neatly under the Black linen viscose pinafore dress.

Tabitha dress version #6 in Viscose Crepe

Conclusion: I am once again pleased with the dress and in addition to wearing under the pinafore dress, it also looks good with my Red Lisa Comfort cropped ¾ sleeve cardigan. The Tabitha dress is my ‘hack’ of the Take a Chance dress and is an all-time favourite pattern but as this is the sixth version of this pattern, I will be trying something new for my next project.

Project no.12B completed 6th March 2023.

Tabitha dress #5

The Tabitha dress is my ‘hack’ of the Take a Chance dress and is an all-time favourite pattern. This version is part of my mini capsule in the colours of Black, Red and Winter White. I would not normally use polyester but this print fitted so well into the colour range that I thought ‘what the hell, let’s go for it!’

Bold print Polyester Crepe

I used 3 metres that I bought from the Rainbow Fabrics remnant sale for just £10. This version has short sleeves and a gathered skirt with no ruffle. My machine is still a bit huffy about buttonholes so for the closure I used White KAM snaps.

KAM snaps

There are concealed pockets in the side seams and all seams were finished with the overlocker. The skirt hem length is just 30 inches so fits neatly under the pinafore dress.

‘Tabitha’ worn beneath ‘Jane’

Conclusion: I am particularly pleased with the pattern print placement (not always by design). I count this dress as a success but due the boldness of the print it will probably only be worn under the Black viscose linen pinafore dress!

Tabitha #5

Project no.11 completed 23rd February 2023.

‘Jane’ Pinafore Dress in Black Viscose Linen Blend

This was to be the core of a mini capsule based on the colours of Black, Red and Winter White. I have already made two dresses and a blouse and although the ‘Jane’ pinafore dress was cut out first, I had to wait for the delivery of some Black fusible interfacing.

3 metres of Black viscose linen was purchased from Minerva along with 2 metres of Black lining at a total cost of £37.31 including the post and packing. Although in the past I have cut this pattern from less fabric, I wanted to ensure there was sufficient to make the skirt at long enough to exceed the length of the dresses to be worn beneath.

The construction was plain sailing until I got to the 13 buttonholes! First I made up the bodice and the bodice lining. Once the shoulder seams joining the front and back bodice together on both the fashion fabric and the lining, the lining was stitched to the fashion fabric right sides together around the neckline, up and down the front edges and both armholes. All seam allowances were pinked and pressed. Once turned through I stitched the underarm/side seams in one pass, ensuring that seam allowances were pressed to the lining side

Next was the skirt. I had cut two widths of fabric by the length, in this case 34 inches. I made a centre back seam and finished the seam/hem allowances with some left over viscose binding.

Seam and hem allowances finished with contrast binding

There was a goodly amount of fabric to be gathered into the waist seam, however this made it easier to ensure the gathers were even. Once the skirt had been attached to the bodice, I hand stitched the lining in place (the ONLY hand stitching in this garment!). I turned up the hem and mitred the corner with the front facings.

Then came the 13 buttonholes. I am not sure quite why my Brother 4000D machine decided to have a hissy fit but eventually all buttonholes were completed and the buttons attached. I used yet more of the plain black buttons that I bought as part of a bulk buy from Amazon. Finally the patch pockets were stitched in place.

‘Jane’ Pinafore Dress version #6
‘Jane’ and Red floral print Viscose blouse

Conclusion: Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together exactly as you wanted? The blouse and dresses all fit under the pinafore beautifully . Now the last item to be sewn in this mini-capsule is a Sorrento Jacket.

Project no 10 completed 17th February 2023.

Tabitha #4 in monochrome

As a palate cleanser after the disaster that was the Eleanor Shirt from Sew me Something I reverted to one of my TNT patterns. The Tabitha dress is my ‘hack’ of the Take a Chance dress and is fast becoming an all-time favourite pattern. There are so many variations – long, short, straight or gathered sleeves with or without cuff, collar shape, skirt in tiers, with or without a hem ruffle. The only limit is my imagination.

Until late March I intend to work on a mini capsule based on the colours of Black, Red and Winter White. The core garment will be a Black Linen Viscose pinafore dress, the ‘Jane’ which is a favourite TNT pattern.

‘JANE’ self-drafted pinafore dress

I used 3 metres of a pretty monochrome viscose challis bought for just £11.99 from an ebay seller crystal009 from whom I have bought in the past. The fabric is lovely, soft and will be a delight to wear.

Monochrome viscose challis from ebay seller crystal009

I made sure that the length was such that it could be worn under the Black viscose linen pinafore dress.

This version of Tabitha again had long sleeves into a deep cuff and concealed side seam pockets but due to lack of fabric, no hem ruffle on the skirt. Apart from the waist seam, all seams were French seams. My usual concealed side seam pockets were also French seamed.

Multi-pack Black buttons from Amazon

In anticipation of needing lots of plain Black buttons the 9 on this dress were from a multi-pack bought from Amazon for £5.99. At final fitting I noted that there is a lot of ease in the bodice and I therefore added some self-fabric ties at the side seams to bring in at the waistline.

‘Tabitha ‘ under Burgundy ‘Jane’ pinafore dress

A bonus is that the dress is just the correct length also to wear under my Burgundy pinafore dress.

Tabitha version no 4

Conclusion: A success – just what I needed!

Project no.8 completed 7th February 2023.

Tabitha #3

Using this viscose fabric that has a print reminding me very much of the Gustav Klimt paintings, I made yet another version of the Tabitha dress.

Details from some of Klimt paintings

The fabric is fine, with some weight and has a good drape. I purchased 3 metres from an eBay seller ‘vegetextiles’ at a cost of £14.97. This time I reverted back to the short sleeve with 5-buttoned bodice and skirt with deep hem ruffle.

The yoke was completed using the burrito method and all other seams were finished with the overlocker. I used coconut shell buttons on the bodice. Sleeve hems were overlocked and turned up before top stitching in place. The ruffle hem was overlocked, double turned and top stitched.

Tabitha #3 in ‘Klimt’ print Viscose

Conclusion: Although I love the print, once again I found the fabric very lightweight and mobile, a bit like herding cats! My next project is using a much more stable fabric – quilting cotton! I am pleased with the finished dress and am sure there will be many more versions in 2023.

Project #60 completed 28th December 2022

Minerva Viscose Tabitha dress #2

Using my recently hacked Take the Chance/Myosotis dress- now called ‘Tabitha’ I was in a hurry to make up this pretty floral print viscose bought from Minerva’s recent sale – 4 metres at £6.99/metre. I have previously made a ‘wearable toile’ of my adaptations so this should have been a straightforward make.

Unfortunately due to illness I was unable to devote longer stretches of time to complete the project, it was more a question of 30 minutes here and there although overall the construction took no more than 5 hours.

The only change that I made this time was to draft a pattern for long sleeves into a deep double-buttoned cuff. The yoke was completed using the burrito method and all other seams were finished with the overlocker.

There are 5 buttonholes on the bodice and 2 on each cuff which meant that I needed 9 buttons. I could not find a complete set and so once again we have an idiosyncratic mix! Note to self: stock up on plain Black buttons.

Mis-matched buttons

Conclusion: Although I love the print, I did find the fabric very lightweight and mobile, a bit like herding cats! I am pleased with the volume and length of the sleeves so will use that pattern again.

Minerva Viscose Tabitha #2

Project #58 completed 15th December 2022

Tabitha – another blended design dress

I love the Take the Chance dress that I made recently.

Take the Chance pattern

Thinking about the changes required for a better fit a little more, I decided that it would be better to transfer those design details that I like onto the Myosotis bodice which I know fits like a dream.

Pattern Adaptation: I first copied the bodice and sleeves of the Myosotis onto a fresh sheet of paper and then laid the TTC (Take The Chance) over the top. I drew a line across the back bodice, cut and added a seam allowance to make a yoke pattern similar to the TTC. I adjusted the neckline slightly so that the TTC collar would fit. Next for the Front bodice I extended the centre front line to give an extension for the button placket. I then copied off the neckline from the TTC ready for adding the collar. I moved the shaping from the waist dart into the bust dart which is now very large. On the copied sleeve I slashed and added some extra to the sleeve head to allow for some gathers. I made straight copies of the collar and undercollar.

Construction: I did not want to use any ‘precious’ fabric so picked some that I am ‘not in love with’. The fabric chosen was some Dark Green Palm leaf printed viscose challis that I bought from Rainbow Fabrics and has been in my stash for some time. I already have a couple of blouses and a ‘Moira’ dress in this fabric design so it definitely won’t be a gap in the wardrobe if not successful.

Sewing had to be halted whilst I took time away from home to visit my sister in North Wales. On my return there was the preparation of handmade gifts for Christmas that due to postal workers strikes, needed to be completed and posted in good time for December 25th. So…. it was not until the beginning of December that I finally returned to this project which had been started as long ago as 7th November. By now the days were getting much shorter and the thought of sewing dark fabrics with Black thread late into the evenings did not appeal but needs must. I have now learned my lesson – do not sew dark things at night and do not sew late at night when tired!

I started sewing the skirt panels. There is a main panel of 20+ inches plus 3 panels each 12+ inches long. I attached the self fabric pocket bags and then proceeded to use the pleater/ruffler foot to gather up the top edge of the frill. I was surprised to discover that there was insufficient ruffle for the total width of the main panels. A quick removal of 4 inches from the width of the back panel and now there was sufficient to finish the ruffle. Ioverlockedall the seams and finished the ruffle with a narrow double turned hem. Setting the skirt aside, now onto the bodice.

Construction of the bodice was plain sailing. The front placket and collar attached like a dream. No problems with the burrito yoke or setting in the sleeves. It was when overlocking the seam allowances of the second sleeve that I had a mishap!

For only the second time in my sewing career with an overlocker – I caught the point of the collar in the seam and managed to cut off the point! Oh rats!! I know that I could remove the collar, cut a new one from the final scrap of fabric and attach that without any interference with the rest of the bodice – but can I be bothered?

Cropped point of the collar

I went online and ordered some shirt collar point clips. I am hoping that they will cover up the offending ‘crop’ without me having to make an alteration to a brand new dress!

Collar clips

For now I am ignoring this mishap, buttonholes and 5 coconut shell buttons are in place on the placket. The skirt is gathered and attached to the bodice and as far as I concerned, at present the dress is finished.

Collar Point Covers

Conclusion: I will wait and see if the collar clips do the job of hiding the mishap but if not then I will ‘bite the bullet’ and re-make the collar. In the meantime, due to the ‘busyness’ of the print, the ‘crop’ hardly shows.

Accidental nearly pattern matched

There is some accidental nearly pattern matching on the front bodice which I am counting as a ‘win’. In hindsight I feel that the skirt of the dress is too long. I will make a 1 ½ inch tuck near the seam with the ruffle to reduce the length by a total of 3 inches. That will look better.

‘Tabitha’ version #1

The purpose of this ‘wearable toile’ was to check out the amalgamation of the Take the Chance yoke, collar and button placket with the Myosotis bodice and this has certainly worked well. I will repeat this version, named ‘Tabitha’ on my next dress using some Burgundy printed viscose challis.

Project #55 completed 4th December 2022

Leopards in the Jungle – Myosotis # 5

Leopard print Viscose Challis from Stitch Fabrics

I ordered 3 metres of fabric from Stitch Fabrics back in July at a total cost of £34 including p&p. Having overlocked the raw edges and laundered the fabric I was somewhat dismayed to discover that the length was a bare 2.73 metres. I am sure that the fabric did not shrink so much and feel that the cut length supplied must have been short. Not happy!

Construction notes: As I was aware that I had limited fabric, I decided to forego my usual hem ruffle. In a way this was a blessing as it meant that it took only about ½ hour to make up the skirt with its concealed side seam pockets. I spent time to ensure a beautifully finished stand collar and think this is the best one yet. The sleeves were cut using the elbow length sleeve pattern from the Sofia pattern by Victory patterns. I stitched 4 rows of shirring approximately 2 inches from the narrow hem to give a little frill and I am delighted with the finished sleeves.

Conclusion: Although I am pleased with the finished dress I have to admit that I don’t particularly enjoy wearing it. I find that the skirt without the hem ruffle feels too light and flimsy. I have been wearing the dress with a petticoat and opaque snag tights. Hopefully after a little ‘time out’ I will fall back in love with the print and the dress.

Leopards in the Jungle Myosotis #5 with Sofia sleeves

Project #47 completed 13th October 2022

Take the Chance Dress by Pattern Emporium

Inspired by the vlogs of Karina of Lifting Pins & Needles and Whitney of TomKat Stitchery I decided to do just that!

Take the Chance Dress pattern by Pattern Emporium

The Take The Chance Shirt Dress has been designed with the relaxed structure of an easy fit shirt. It features buttons (or snaps) along the front opening, a simple placket & collar (with the easiest instructions ever!) & is finished with a tiered skirt.

For this toile version I used some recently purchased Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, I bought 3 metres for a total cost of £10.78. This had been washed and dried on arrival and sat awaiting inspiration as to the design of dress that I would make.

Ditsy printed Owls on Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn

Construction notes: I printed off the design in size 20 using the layers function in Adobe, a first time of using that option. I made no changes to the pattern – just went for it! First I cut out the bodice fronts, back, collar, under collar and short sleeves. When laying out the fabric I had discovered a nasty mark across the entire width so knew that the skirt would have to be cut to avoid this mark. This means that the skirt was not cut in the tiers as per the pattern illustration but I was able to cut 2 longer panels each 40 inches wide x approximately 20 inches deep and a further 3 widths of the fabric, each 12 inches deep for the hem ruffle. I used the spare pieces to cut 4 of my TNT pocket patterns.

To begin construction I made up the skirt. I attached the pocket pieces to the main panels then followed with the hem ruffle. This latter was pleated with the pleater foot using a long stitch length of 5mm with a pleat every 6 stitches. I found that the 3 widths of fabric pleated in this way were sufficient to complete the hem of the main panels with just a short section approximately 8 inches long left over. All seams were overlocked as although the fabric was fine enough for French seams, I wanted to complete this ‘toile’ quickly. The skirt was set aside whilst I worked on the bodice.

Following the vlog by Karina I completed the yoke, grown-on facings and collar before basting the side seams and having a ‘first fit’. I noted that I needed to shorten the back bodice length by at least 1 inch, the front bodice will need to be lengthened by at least 1 inch on the next iteration. The side seams were also taken in by ½ inch on both fronts and back. Next time I will also need to reduce the shoulder width by at least 1 inch. I took the time to adjust the pattern pieces now whilst the changes were still at the front of my mind. Once I had made those adjustments to the pattern, I returned to the bodice and marked up the buttonholes. I made 5 vertical buttonholes and attached 5 of my favourite 4-hole tortoiseshell buttons.

Bodice with collar and Faux Tortoiseshell buttons

The bottom of the button placket was basted together as the front skirt panel had been cut on the fold. Next I set in the sleeves. These were very well drafted and were set in easily with no gathers or tucks to spoil the shoulder line. The top edge of the skirt panels were gathered with 2 rows of long stitches and then attached to the bottom of the bodice. As I had already hemmed the ruffle, the dress was now complete.

The finished ‘Take The Chance’ Dress

Conclusion: Working with this very fine Viscose was like ‘herding cats’ as it was so slippery. Overall this was a simple enough dress to make and the drafting is very good with all notches matching up as they should. I am very pleased with the result and with those changes to the pattern mentioned above, I am sure that the next iteration will be even better.

Project #48 completed 19th October 2022