Tag Archives: dressmaking

New Dress

I have finally finished making my new blue dress. I say finally as it has been a long process of alterations as I went along. Dressmaking means you can get the right FIT for YOU.

It was only that I so loved both the feel and the look of the linen and wool blend fabric that kept me going dressmaking at times. Perseverance means I now have a classic, easy to wear dress, which will take me through the changing seasons.

It will go well with the trench coat I made last year.

The Dressmaking Pattern

The pattern I used was the Simple Sew Skater Dress. Contact me if you would like this pattern for your dressmaking.

I do agree with Simple Sew pattern advice to launder fabric before you begin. If your fabric is going to shrink, you want it to do so before you make it into your new dress!

What I didn’t do though, was make a toile, which is also a good idea. What I did do was use the pattern according to my bust measurement. I am still getting used to one effect of the peri-menopause – an increase in bust size!

What needed altering? Quite a lot!

I do just need to mention that the pattern instructions do not mention:

  1. creating a hem on the sleeves
  2. sewing a sleeve or side seemThese are necessary to make a dress! otherwise the dressmaking instructions seem clear to follow.

Neck Line Alterations

The neckline gaped so I inserted darts into the neckline (and also the neck facing) to correct this. This did alter the shape of the neckline but gave a much better fit.

To get the neckline to lie flat:

  1. I clipped the curves on the neck and neck facing seam
  2. Top stitching using a twin needle
    I used this for the hems too and it gave a firm finish
    I also increased the lower front bodice darts for a better fit.

The bodice also needed some adjustments at the back as it didn’t fit too well at first.

The right back sleeve seam was baggy – maybe I am rather lopsided, but that is one of the joys of making your own clothes, you can make them fit YOU!

Here is the back bodice before alteration:

I turned the dress to the wrong side and unpicked the back of the sleeve. I then took in the excess back bodice and re sewed.

You can see that the left bodice back slopes down differently to the right side. So I unpicked the top-stitching and the facing at the left back. I then made a paper template of the right side and then used this to re cut both the back bodice and the facing.

The facing was then reattached and the top-stitching completed.

I think these pictures shows the improved fit:

They also show I need to get my hair straighteners out!

Dressmaking Finishing Extra

My final addition was straps with press studs to hold my bra straps and the fairly narrow shoulder together. This took a few minutes but will increase my comfort and confidence in wear.

There are lots of advantages of dressmaking

If you would like to increase your joy of stitching, I have a new workshop programme, including a weekend dressmaking course.
I usually put workshops on my FaceBook page events

Please contact me if you would like to join me.

I would love to hear about your dressmaking issues, please leave a comment.

Sew your own style

Sharing my sewing adventures to show how to add a lining. Add a lining to take your sewing from home made to haute couture. Sew your own style.

Blue Trench Coat

My Spring wardrobe would not be complete without  a coat to keep the blustery showers at bay.

Blue is a favourite of mine so I can choose to wear my blue boots or blue court shoes to complete the outfit. What colour coat would best suit you and your wardrobe? Sew your own style.

 

I used Simple Sew The Trench Coat pattern and some blue suiting from a local tailor.

Simple Sew Trench Coat pattern

This coat pattern is a flattering belted style without buttons. however it is short for a coat, and there in no guidance for adding a lining.

Haute couture

I made it more versatile to wear over a wider range of clothes, and in a range of weather by increasing the length.

Haute couture is French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” or “high fashion” and is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Not as difficult as the term may suggest, and is all about getting clothes right for you and not the same as anyone else. Sew your own style

Adding a lining

Rose & Hubble fabric for the lining

I chose some lovely Rose & Hubble cotton for the lining. The lining of a coat can be extra special, almost like a secret between the wearer and the coat, which can be chosen to be shared, or not!
I’m not a fan of slippery man-made fabric linings, as they can wear out quite fast, and be sweaty (this could just be me of course?!). I prefer a natural fabric which is more breathable, and in this case I chose a hard wearing cotton. I do tend to sling my coat around, when out and about in the car, or under seats etc at venues so they do need to stand up to this treatment!

What do you need to take into account?

The great thing about adding a lining is that all your seams are covered up so although they need finishing to stop any fraying, you don’t have to feel they will be open to inspection.

First things first, I always wash fabric so if there is going to be any shrinkage, it is before making.

While the fabric drys, inspect the pattern construction and instructions and decide on any alterations you want. I  lengthened the belt as well as both the bodice and skirt length.

Cuting out in my kitchen as the worktop height is kinder on my back. I love using my fabric weights. Quicker and easier than pinning, especially with thick fabric. You can find these in my Etsy shop. I ship worldwide from Yorkshire. I’m also happy to create a custom order for you, if there is a particular colour or design you would like. Just let me know.

Using Fabric Weights

The lining pieces are the same as the main body (no need for the belt or facing though).

The sleeves and back pattern pieces are cut out the same as for the main fabric pieces.

You can see here where I use the main fabric piece to get the same length – this shows how much length I added – tall girls need more fabric!

Planning the lining

Use the pattern markings for grain and fold lines for the lining.

Cutting out the lining pieces

However, because the lining is attached to the facing, the front lining pieces don’t want to be as wide as the main fabric front pieces.

In this pattern there’s lots of fullness from pleats in the front skirt pieces, which I din’t want in the lining, as it would be far too bulky.

You can see here how I pinned the pleats on the front skirt pattern piece and folded in the facing width to create my lining pattern piece.

adjusting the pattern for the lining

Sewing  in the lining

Make up the lining as a second version of the garment. If curves need clipping do this after neatening the edges. I love using pinking scissors for finishing seams of cotton fabric.

constructing the lining

I hung my nearly finished garments up, to allow gravity to work and see how it would hang in wear.  I checked the sizing before sewing  together. The lining garment is placed wrong side to the wrong side of the main garment once the facing and lining  are sewn together right sides together.

 

hanging during construction

The lining needs to be 2 – 3 inches shorter than the outer coat and I didn’t hem them separately, but chose to sew the hems right sides together and then turn through.

At this stage there are no sleeves.

Sleeves

The sleeve is inserted into the main garment, right sides together with even gethering.

insert the sleeve

You won’t get a smooth lining finish if you don’t hand stitch the lining sleeve top, or head, in place. So, first sew the wrist part of the lining and sleeve together. Place right sides together with the lining on the outside. Machine stitch the wrist circle and then turn the sleeve lining to the inside of the sleeve. Match up the side seams and ensure it isn’t twisted.

Fold over the top edge of the sleeve lining and slip stitch it to the lining bodice, matching the undearm seams. Careful hand stitching here really does finish the garment off well.

The other thing I added to finish my coat, was silver top stitch along the front edge, all around the collar. Along with clipping the seams, and tapering the collar point, this really helps the collar to lie flat aswell as finishing the garment. Some extra attention to finishing details really helps to sew your own style. I am thinking about which sewist brooch to add.

front of finished coat

back of finished coat

I’m looking forward to the end of wintery weather here, so I can step out in my blue coat. What clothesmaking would help you to sew your own style?

UpCycled Denim Annika Tunic Dress

Dressmaking Pattern

The Anneka Tunic Simple Sew pattern is very versatile, and can be made up in a variety of fabrics, but this time I chose to make it from upcycled denim with shirts for the optional lining.

Shirt detail and orange satin stitching (to match the jeans seams) add styling. Three jeans pockets made the new outfit even more practical for me.

I am teaching courses in Dressmaking with this being one of the possible pattern choices, and as a Simple Sew Stockest, can also supply the pattern for you to use at home, so please get in touch for more details.

anneka-patternUpcycle Denim

Much hard wearing denim remains when jeans are discarded. My family provides heaps of fabric and charity shops are also good sources. Often it is worth asking if they have any that has not been put out, which may be even cheaper. If jeans are not of a fashionable style or if shirts have some wear or staining (which we can cut out) they may not have been but out on display.

helen-moyes-up-cycle-Annika Tunic-before-medium

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a buttoned back pocket from one pair of jeans as a breast pocket, and a loop I liked from the back of a shirt added some extra detailing to the upcycled denim.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This dress can be worn over leggings and a top in winter and the front and back pleats give lots of movement for a busy lifestyle. I did extend the stitching on both pleats down further than marked on the pattern. This was more flatterning but still gives me plenty of movement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bias Binding

I used a comfortable soft brushed cotton pyjama top to make bias binding for the neck and arm edges. Then there is no discomfort from upcycled denim rubbing at your neck or underarms! This also conveniently binds the outer and lining layers together.

Joining Lining Using Bias Binding

Joining Lining Using Bias Binding

 

Hand Finishing Binding

Hand Finishing Binding

When I tried on the lining for size before joining the layers, I liked it so much I think I will make a shirting dress for summer. What do you think?

Helen Moyes Designs Simple Sew Annika Tunik in Upcycled Shirts

If you haven’t tried upcycling clothes in this way, it involves choosing parts of garments you want to use. You sew these together to form a patchwork large enough to lay on your pattern pieces.

Join pieces right sides together with a 1.5 cm seam allowance.

 

Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic

Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic

 

I then like using pinking scissors on cotton fabric seams to stop fraying. But you can use a zig zag stitch instead. Press seams open, and cut each piece straight before adding the next piece.

helen-moyes-designs-denim-patchwork-for-annika-tunic

It is worth thinking about where you want certain pieces to be as you work, and the mix of pattern and colour. Upcycled denim has so much variety.

Helen Moyes Designs upcycled Annika Tunic back detail

Helen Moyes Designs upcycled Annika Tunic.

You can see here, I also added a small dart (on outer and lining) as I found the armhole gaped a little. It is worth regularly trying pieces against you, and trying the garment on, as you make them up to check for fit. I was able to make this adjustment before adding the binding. So I now know I need to do this for this pattern to fit me well.

Helen Moyes Designs – A custom made, re-purposed  designer dress for the cost of some thread!

You  might be interested in reading more about upcycling in my previous blog/happy-upcycling-day.

The Annika Tunic is also great in wool and can look very 60’s, similar to a Mary Quant dress.

anneka-pattern-back

anneka-tunic-check anneka-tunic-tweed-jpg

If you would like the Annika Tunic pattern, it comes printed on quality paper with clear A4 instructions.  Please get in touch