Friday, 16 June 2017

Hemingway Designs fabric dress

This dress was inspired by Vogue 8577 after I saw a gorgeous version on Instagram made by Becky from Studio Snippets.  Becky's version was made from some Hemingway Designs fabric, which made me recall the Hemingway Designs fabric I had in my stash that I bought from Marie from A Stitching Odyssey during a de-stash a couple of years ago.



My dress is self-drafted, and I used the gathers at the shoulders and the big pockets.  I left out the separate waist piece, back shoulder yoke and centre back seam.


The bodice was easy to draft, I just rotated the bust dart into the shoulder and gathered it instead of sewing a dart.  Ignore the lines at the shoulder seam, I was trying for pleats but it didn't work out.

The pockets are copied from Simplicity 1610 (which I made here), and I always loved the pockets on this dress.  The pocket is made in one piece - the outside curve is sewn right sides together.  (Please excuse my fluffy carpet in these photos!).

Seam allowance is trimmed, clipped, pressed and understitched.

From the wrong side of the skirt, the pocket is folded back on itself to line up across the top and the side seam.

It's sewn in place across the top and side seam, then the bottom of the pocket is sewn.  I overlocked it in this photo.

And this is what it looks like from the right side. I cut the pocket piece on the same grainline as the skirt, so the print would be in the same direction.

I forgot to take into account the seam allowance on the waist dart, and the pocket edge and dart are about 5mm out.  This is not the end of the world, and the busy print hides it!  I have fixed it on my pattern though.



The smug face of someone who loves their pockets!

My buttons are from Textile Garden, and are called Corozo buttons.  Apparently they are made from nuts, and they are lovely!

I love how this dress turned out, especially the pockets - I predict more of these pockets in my future!  And here's a photo with my cat, Luke, attempting to photobomb me!!

Have a great weekend,


Monday, 5 June 2017

Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book - Strapless Party Dress

I've something a bit different to show you today.  This is the strapless bodice and three-quarter circle skirt from "Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book", and if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the progress photos.

This hasn't been made for any specific reason, other than I really wanted to make it!  I got the idea in my head last summer and it rattled around for a bit, but I managed to talk myself out of it.  Then the idea crawled back into my head after I saw this gorgeous dress that Gertie herself made at New Year using the same bodice, and this fabulous dress made by Janene from Ooo Bop.  

It seems I have a lot to say about this dress, so I'm going to break it down. 

Yes, I did use a piece of fabric as a book mark...

Turns out the sizing on this pattern is a bit off.  The size 6 was the closest to my size, but I traced sizes 6 and 8 together to be on the safe side.  I marked in the seam allowance on the skirt, and measured it - and it was too small!

So I through it out to Instagram, where, yet again, sewists came up trumps!  Lots of lovely sewists said they too had issues with the sizing in this book, and had to size up.  And one kind lady said she had attended one of Gertie's sewing classes (lucky thing - not jealous at all!), and Gertie herself said the sizing was out.  So I went back and traced a size 10.


A toile was made, and it was too big around the neckline.  I think I took about 3 inches out around the neckline, but I've lost the bit of paper that I wrote it on!  This bodice was really easy to adjust though, because of the princess seams.  I took a tiny bit off the seams at the waist too, maybe about 1/16" off each one.


So I was ready to put scissors to fabric, which is a good time to tell you what the fabric is.

The main fabric is a cotton/linen mix from Fabrics For Sale that has been in my stash for a while.  I had 3 metres of it, and cut the skirt back with the centre back along the grainline, so have a metre and a bit left. 

The bodice is underlined with some green cotton from ebay, and I also used it for the skirt lining.

Inside of the bodice with the underlining.

The bodice lining is some cotton that came from Sew N Sew in Belfast.  I then added the horsehair braid along the top of the neckline, as in the instructions in the book.  This is it in green in the photo below.

The bodice and lining are then attached at the neckline, and understitched.  I decided to add a decorative stitch along the neckline too, for no over reason than I liked it.


Bodice Boning

No going to lie, this was the bit I was scared of.  But you know what?  It was really easy, and great fun!  Now I want to make all the things with steel spiral boning!! 

I ordered the boning and tips from Sew Curvy.  I also wanted the Tubular Boning Tape for putting the boning in, but it was out of stock.  So I used a tip I saw on a Craftsy class called Couture Dressing Making Techniques with Alison Smith.  It was to make some bias tape, but cut it on the straight grain, and not the bias grain, then use this as the channel for the boning.  Here's what it looks like.


I wasn't sure how much boning to use, or how many channels to add.  There are a few dresses in the book that use this bodice, and there were a different amount of channels in each one.  I decided to just go for it, and add them all!

Next came cutting the boning - I put this off for a few days...  Turns out it's my new favourite thing!  My top tip is to use good wire cutters.  Unfortunately I can't tell you where my wire cutters came from, or even a brand name - I just found them in a drawer in our garage.  


I wasn't too sure about how to attach the tips, and found this video on youtube.  I followed it exactly, and it worked like a charm. 


Skirt and Zip
Attaching the skirt and skirt lining was easy, and I added some pockets because, why not?


I used a lapped zip, which I recommend basting in first.  Learnt that one the hard way...


Here's what the three-quarter circle skirt looks like laid out on the floor, it's pretty big!

Then I tried it on, and it was gaping a bit at the neck!  So I did the sensible thing, and set it aside for a day or two to think about it.  I decided to move the zip over a bit at the top to bring the neckline in a bit, but I soon realised that that wouldn't work because I needed to move the zip over too much.  Then I thought I could sew some elastic across the inside of the neckline to pull it in a bit.  That didn't work either.

I recalled reading a bit in the book about sewing in bra caps, and found some on ebay.  This YouTube video shows how to sew them in using a thread chain, which would normally be used to attach a lining to a skirt near the hem.  This made a big difference, and I think really helps with the shape of the bodice too.  Ultimately though, I think the bodice is slightly too high, so therefore too long.  Having looked at the strapless bodice photos in the book, they seem to sit a little bit lower.  You can see that it is collapsing a bit at the bottom of the centre front of the bodice, even though there is a bone there, and it makes sense that shortening the bodice would sort this out.  But I've decided to get over it, and just enjoy my dress!

This is what the bra cups look like sewn inside, along with a waist stay.

As I've said, this dress was made without a definite occasion, but I have two birthday dos to go to this month, so I think I'll wear it then.

If anybody else has made a strapless dress, I would love to see it, so please leave me a link to a blog post in the comments.  Have a great week! 


Friday, 12 May 2017

Sew Over It 1970s Vintage Shirt Dress

The Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress is inspired by shirt dresses from the 1940s and 50s, but mine is straight out of the 1970s - and we all know how much I love the 70s!


This fabric is an Alexander Henry number called "Greenwich - Black" that I bought last winter when I should have been looking for fabric for my green coat.  Anyway, it went into the stash with a vague plan for a summer dress.

The plan became more definite when I eyeballed this gorgeous Vintage Shirt Dress by Colette on Instagram and then on her blog - seriously, how fabulous is that dress?!  The lovely fabric reminded me of my Alexander Henry fabric, so the decision was made.

At first I thought this fabric had a bit of an oriental look to it because of the lovely big chrysanthemums and poppies, but once I started sewing my dress together, then the 70s goodness started to show - I think it's the colours!

There's not much to say about the construction, as I have made it twice before (here and here), but I did two things differently.  Firstly, the instructions say to press the pleats to the centre front and back, but I pressed mine flat just because I like the look of it.  They remind me of the pleats on the By Hand London Anna dress, which I love.

This is what my pleats look like from the inside.
Secondly, I added pockets, because who doesn't need pockets?  The pattern piece is from Simplicity 2444.  You'd think a dress pocket pattern piece was a pretty standard thing, but it turns out this is my dress pocket of choice, and the pattern piece lives in my blue Ikea trolley to be added to any dress.


The weather has been gorgeous in Belfast for the last two weeks (but it's raining as I type...), and I'm loving how this dress turned out, so the 70s sunglasses and wedge sandals have been making an appearance!
Have a great weekend,


Friday, 5 May 2017

Summer tops

Last year I made this sleeveless blouse (scroll to the bottom of the post) from some fabric that was left over from this dressing gown.  Well, it turns out that I love this blouse, and have been wearing in the winter with a vest top underneath it.  So, naturally, I had to make some more! 

Stash was raided, I have come up with some leftovers to make some tops with, but obviously I had to buy more fabric!  I spotted a Liberty Lawn remnants sale at Alice Caroline on Instagram, and snapped up two lots of fabric.  This one is called "Florence A".


This was a 75cm remnant, and let's just say it's just as well I'm small!  I knew I could get a sleeveless top out of 80 something centimetres of fabric after making this blouse, but it still was a tight squeeze!  Thankfully, I actually had 81.5 cms, and only ended up with scraps.  Here's how it looked with the pieces pinned to the fabric.

Who doesn't love a good game of pattern tetris?!


I made basically the same top again, but without the gathers at the shoulder, and with a bust dart instead, and am delighted with the unintentional flower matching across the front! 


The second fabric is 1 metre of "Fab D", and I decided to make a sleeveless shirt with this one. 

I saw a great idea on Instagram about a faux placket (can't remember who posted it though), and thought I'd give it a try.  I wasn't feeling the love about half way through it, but it turned out really well, so I'll maybe to do a "How To" to remind myself what I did.  

Also, I love what I did with the undercollar and stand. 

The weather has, at long last, taken a turn for the better this week, so hopefully I will get lots of wear out of these.

Have a great weekend,