Back in May 2023 I bought 3 metres of a Watercolour Floral printed Viscose Challis from Rainbow Fabrics at a total cost of £19.82 inclusive of p&p. When I was young I always made a point of having a White dress for wearing in High Summer. Using this particular fabric I decided to re-visit that idea. In fact the fabric has an Ivory background rather than White which is probably more flattering to my complexion.
The fabric is very, very fine and mobile so once again I used the overlocker to stitch the first pass of my narrow French Seams. The 3 metres were ample for cutting out as the print is non-directional. I cut the ‘butterfly’ sleeves as the fabric weight is perfect for that style. Also once again, unfortunately no pockets as the fabric is not sufficiently opaque – they would definitely show through the dress. Learning from the previous Viscose challis fabric, I interfaced both the Upper and Lower collars so that there is enough structure in the collar for it to be turned up at the back. There are narrow double turned hems to the dress and the sleeves, also my favourite shell buttons on the front bodice placket.
I am delighted with the dress and pleased that I now have a ‘White- themed’ dress for the Summer. This dress is my final project for July 2023.
Having already made 11 versions of this dress, it is well and truly a TNT. For this first version of 2023 I used a beautiful light Viscose fabric bought from Fabric Godmother, 3M total £23.94 featuring Cheetahs and Lilies on a Light Salmon Pink background.
I prefer to line the very lightweight viscose dresses so this one has a lined bodice and skirt in Ivory viscose voile. The lining is attached at the neck and armholes but otherwise hangs free inside the dress.
Construction was straightforward although I did forget to include the self fabric ties into the side seams so they were added on the outside and stitched so that the raw ends were enclosed. I am reminded yet again that sewing when you are over-tired and very stressed is not always a good thing.
Perhaps due to my recent makes (my version of the Shelby dress) being slightly more fitted with Princess seaming to give the flowing skirt that I prefer, when I tried on the completed ‘Moira’ I was underwhelmed. I love the fabric and the print so have ordered more to make a blouse which will coordinate well with the knotted fabric headband. In the meantime, I think this dress is a ‘fail’ and will be listed immediately on eBay. The ‘Moira’ pattern will also be consigned to the ‘archive’!
Having copied off my Shelby/Charlotte hack onto pattern paper, I used it for my second iteration. Once more with a further hack!
Shelby hacked into ‘Charlotte’
This time I made the button placket full length – through both the bodice and the skirt with no waist seam. I shaped the collar with rounded points and due to the lack of fabric, cut shortened sleeves on the cross grain.
Grace Leaf Viscose Remnant
I used Grace Leaf Viscose 2.5metre piece from Rainbow Fabrics at a cost of £12.50. I had bought it as a remnant with the intention of making a blouse to go under the ‘Jane’ Sage/spotted pinafore dress. However, with careful pattern placement I was able to get the latest Shelby/Charlotte hack from the piece although I did have to cut the shortened length sleeves on the cross grain.
I started the construction with the sleeves, the hems were cut on the selvedge so I simply turned up 1 cm and topstitched in place. I constructed the tie belts on the overlocker and used my ‘wonder turning tool’ to get them right sides out. The ties were basted to the centre back panel.
Then I moved on to the collar. I added some narrow gathered Broderie Anglaise trim in Cream colour that I had found in my stash to the outer edge of the rounded collar. I had to add the centre back panel to the front at the shoulders so that I could complete the collar and placket construction. I then completed the construction of all the panels and neatened with the overlocker. I hemmed using my TNT method of overlocking then double turning a ¼ inch and top stitching in place.
With the fitting completed I stitched 14 buttons through all the layers of the placket as once again I can get the dress on over my head. No need for all those pesky buttonholes! The sleeves were inserted and the seams neatened.
Shelby/Charlotte hack no 2
Conclusion: I am delighted with the completed dress, only small niggle is that the sleeves are a little too wide in relation to their length. Still the dress is most comfortable and will be perfect for the coming Spring and Summer.
I am still searching for the ultimate shawl collared blouse and so recently purchased this pattern. I had some pretty ‘Peach’ crinkle dobby fabric that I thought would coordinate well with the Sage spotted pinafore dress.
Ignoring the measurements chart I cut a size 20 across the shoulders, neckline and collar grading to a 22 over the waist and hips. I would make the ‘boxy’ version without the body fish-eye darts. What I should have borne in mind was that the crinkle fabric stretches and therefore the garment would ‘grow’ when ironed but more of that later.
Cutting out took just 1.6M x 130 cms wide fabric and I was able to include the long sleeve into a cuff. As this would be my ‘wearable toile’ I used the overlocker to finish the seams. Also as this was a new pattern for me I followed all the instructions to the letter.
When constructing the blouse I found that all the notches matched up which was quite something on this very mobile fabric! However, I found the drafting and construction of the collar overly complicated and the end result is very narrow in the back collar.
At the fitting stage I found that the shoulders were (once again) far too wide, the bust dart was too low (makes a change!) and the sleeves were about 2 inches too long.
To resolve the shoulder and sleeve length issues I re-stitched the sleeve insertion by sewing the top of the sleeves at least 1½ inches away from the cut edge. This also solved the problem of sleeves being too long as it took up some of the excess length. I did like the cuff construction although they are a little too big for my preference. I have adjusted the pattern in the shoulders and also taken 2 inches off the length of the cuff. With regard the overall excess of fabric in the body, I made the blouse double breasted. As I could still put the blouse on over my head I stitched the 10 buttons straight through all layers and did not go to the effort of making buttonholes that would never be used. I had been unable to find any colour coordinating buttons and therefore used 10 shell buttons from my recent bulk buy of 15mm buttons.
Lilian Blouse in Crinkle Dobby Viscose
Lilian and Jane
Conclusion: I can’t say that I am particularly pleased with the final result. It will probably end up in the charity bag but at least I have learned quite a few lessons while constructing this blouse. The colour of the fabric does indeed coordinate well with the Sage Green so that is something to bear in mind when thinking about fabric colour for another blouse or shirt to wear with the pinafore dress.
The first ‘wearable toile’ of the Shelby needed quite a lot of ‘finessing’ to get it to fit.
Original Shelby dress line drawing
For this version I decided to ‘hack’ it! I copied my TNT basic darted bodice and converted to a shoulder princess style. I placed that over the original Shelby panels and then just to make sure it was nothing like the original, hacked on the collar and front button placket from the Pattern Emporium Easy Fit shirt/Take the Chance dress.
My hacked versionSide Front panel
Side Back Panel
I used 3 metres of a ditsy floral printed viscose from Rainbow Fabrics. This fabric has a fantastic drape and will be lovely to wear in late Spring and Summer – provided the alterations work!
I placed the yoke and back bodice over the appropriate Shelby pattern pieces and cut around them.
Back neckline adapted ready for the collar
Front yoke adaptation for collar
I cut the centre front panel ‘around about’ the waist line so that the button placket only goes to that point. The remainder of the centre panel could have been cut on the fold but I did not think of that until later!
Centre Front Panel cut for new waistline seam– space for the seam allowances
My ‘Charlotte‘ dress design
With fabric this fine I would normally prefer to use French seams but as this is very much a toile, I made full use of the overlocker.
I started the construction with the sleeves, the hems were overlocked, double turned and top stitched in place with White thread. I constructed the tie belts on the overlocker and used my ‘wonder turning tool’ to get them right sides out.
Turn It All – wonder gadget for narrow ties
The ties were basted to the centre back panel. Then I moved on to the collar. I had to add the centre back panel and side back panels to the front at the shoulders so that I could complete the collar and placket construction. The shoulder seam was neatened with overlocking but only part sewn as I need to check the width of the shoulders before finishing the panel seams.
Having completed the collar and placket I then had my first fitting. All looking good except that the shoulders were going to be about 2 inches too wide. I took in the excess on the panel seams, grading back to the original seamline at the ‘bust’ notch.
I made 5 buttonholes and by way of a change from shell buttons, this time I used some self-covered buttons in White that look just like Mint Imperial sweets!
Now I finished sewing together the side front, side back panels and side seams so that I could insert the sleeves. Once that was done I finished off the hem with overlocking before double turn and top stitching in place. A quick final press and the dress was complete.
My new ‘Charlotte’ dress
Conclusion: I am delighted with the completed dress and will now copy out a ‘perfect’ pattern onto clean white paper. I can’t wait to make another dress in this style and will call it the ‘Charlotte’ as by now it has very little similarity to the Shelby!
I have had this remnant length of fine viscose in my stash since I bought it from Fabricland, Bournemouth in February last year. As there was a bare 1.7 metres of 130 cms wide and I would not be able to buy anymore of this particular print, I wanted to be sure which pattern I made up. After a great deal of procrastination I finally settled on my TNT blouse pattern which is a hack (yoke removed, fullness converted to a bust dart, shirt tail hem shaping) from Style 1441 from the 1980’s that I have made so many times I have lost count.
Vintage pattern – Style 1441 from the 1980’s
Provided I cut the back bodice at the selvedge rather than on the fold, I had just enough to make the long sleeved version with my own drafted deep double-buttoned cuffs.
Working with this fabric was akin to dealing with silk crepe de chine. It was very, very fluid and frayed as soon as you looked at it. Thus all seams were French seamed and the edges of the facing double turned and hemmed. I used fusible interfacing on the collar, facings and cuffs. Once again the shell/mother of pearl buttons were selected for the 5 buttonholes on the front bodice and two on each deep cuff. The shaped hem was first overlocked before double turning 1/4 inch and top stitching in place.
As I wanted the colour and print to be the star of this project I have not top stitched the collar, facing or cuffs.
Conclusion: After just two sessions of concentrated sewing the blouse is finished and I am delighted with the result. The fabric is so soft and has a beautiful drape. It will coordinate with the Sage Green/Ivory spot ‘Jane’ pinafore dress and also look good over trousers as a blouse or over a camisole top as a light jacket.
I was really pleased with the Viscose Linen fabric used on the Black ‘Jane’ I made last month. When I saw the same substrate but in a Light Green with Polka dots on the Rainbow Fabrics site, I immediately ordered the 4m remnant. This ‘Jane’ will be the core of my Spring capsule. I will wear it with different tops and also over some of my Spring/Summer dresses.
As usual I cut out the pattern with the fabric folded right sides together and unfortunately this meant that I did not see the fault lines on the front bodice and side bodice panels. These were then set aside to use as lining and those pieces re-cut so that I could ensure no faults were apparent.
Again I cut the skirt as 2 width of the fabric x 32 inches long. Having stitched the two panels together I decided that was too much fullness for the skirt so removed a total of 30 inches width from the centre back. That has still left a generous amount for gathering the skirt. I will still have just enough of this fabric left over to make a Summer top. I used a remnant of viscose crepe print for the centre back lining panel and also to bind the hem and facing edges.
Construction was plain sailing and I made 14 buttonholes down the front of the pinafore dress. I used 15mm shell buttons for the front fastening and later added a button to the top of each of the patch pockets to prevent gaping. NB The excellent pattern matching of the pockets!
Conclusion: Blouses, fine polo neck tops and dresses all fit under the pinafore beautifully. Next project is yet another ‘Tabitha’ dress in the Viscose Crepe used for the lining.
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.
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!
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.
A long time ago I purchased this pattern as a pdf from Sensibility.com who have several modern interpretations of Regency-style patterns. After several failed attempts to get the document to print, I abandoned the project and went other garments. Forward a couple of years and with more experience of using pdfs under my belt I revisited this pattern. Aha! To have the pattern printed to size one has to make adjustments to the settings – select ‘Poster’ and all will be resolved!
In the notes accompanying the pattern, the designer admits that whilst the pattern was created as a companion to the Romantic Era Dress, it is not period authentic. The first idea came from viewing a dramatisation of “Wives and Daughters” on TV.
The blouse is very versatile. It can be made with or without the shaping tucks, short or long sleeves, with or without trimming to the collar. There is a good range of sizes, from 6 – 24 and I chose to make the largest size. I shortened the sleeves by 3 cms and extended the length of the cuffs by 1 cm (next time they need to be at least 3 cms longer to provide a good overlap).
For this wearable toile I used some of a length of viscose bought from Minerva which although it was lightweight with good drape, was difficult to control and caused a few headaches where precision was required e.g. the collar. The sleeves themselves are lovely and full with gathers at both the sleeve heads and into the narrow single button cuffs.
The pattern itself was hand drawn and this maybe from where some of the problems originated. The illustrations in the instructions were also hand drawn. I started by following the pattern but soon realised it would be better to use my TNT methods for this type of collar construction.
As it was, the mobility of the fabric combined with less than precise drafting and fabric cutting out made that part of the construction a bit of a ‘fudge’. I will know better next time.
The fit is OK but not especially roomy. The length is also longer than I was expecting and I therefore added 6 plain Black buttons to the front closure.
Conclusion: I especially like the collar and blouse works well with a soft fabric but needs to be cut and sewn with precision. I am unsure about the colour and print of the fabric used although it does look good under both my Burgundy Brushed cotton and the recently-made Black viscose linen pinafore dresses.
‘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.
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.
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.