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.
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:
creating a hem on the sleeves
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:
I clipped the curves on the neck and neck facing seam
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
After months of anticipation and planning our daughter, Hannah’s wedding to Craig was this weekend. The Home Coaching sewing lounge became a hair and make up studio with no boys allowed!
The crafting has been taking place throughout the year with Hannah making paper flowers for the bouquets, corsages and button holes. Lots of the Moyes clan females made flowers, when we met up in the summer, to start the flower wall.
I was comissioned to make a cake with three tirers of sponge cake: red velvet, lemon and carrot cakes. The purple theme was used with pearl and gold embellishments.
I had one cake tin in each size so gradually made the cakes and stashed them in the freezer. Planning ahead meant I was not too fazed when one of the carrot cakes was an epic fail! Thankfully the next attempt worked fine.
Decorating had to be done at the last moment as fillings included cream and cream cheese. So after the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner we set to.
Hannah is woman who know what she wants and often amazes me with her quick choices when shopping. This is a skill she uses in her job as a merchandiser. This was no exception when I went down south to go wedding dress shopping. Hannah had seen an Anna Sorrano dress she liked online and tried this on first. This being the first time I had ever seen my daughter in a wedding dress, I wasn’t sure if my “wow” response was due to just that. However, after trying a few more dresses we quickly returned to the first one, a classic a-line gown with long sleeves and sequin lace .
We hadn’t been sure if we would make a dress, as I had for my wedding, but felt that for all the fabric and inner corsetry, we certainly wouldn’t save any money by making from scratch and we felt we had found the right dress. Nick was sent a text with a picture of Hannah wearing the dress but had to delete it from his phone. It was then kept secret until the big day.
There was the conundrum of the wedding dress swishing down the isle of the church, but then not getting in the way of partying. We solved this on my return South by removing lots of the underneath layers of the skirt at hip level and turning them into an under skirt. This involved trying the dress on lots of times on the hottest day of the year – the last Sunday in August! The sleeves were taken in to fit snugly and the hem length checked with Hannah wearing her purple heels.
Here is Hannah and Nick arriving at the church, with the the dress A-shape with the underskirt layers. Dior is quoted as saying “I have designed flower women”, when referring to the A-shapes. Incidently I am rather envious of Hannah who will be visiting the Dior exhibition later this week in Paris.
And here is Hannah and Craig dancing, showing the dress without the underskirt layers, and with the train fastened up using a button and loop.
Mother of the Bride Outfit
Back in Sheffield, I chose a Vogue pattern which suited my love of putting fabrics together as well as my shape. Now my attic studio was originally Hannah’s bedroom and needed to be reinstated as such. This meant much sorting and clearing up was required. The great thing of sorting through my fabric stash under the eves, was finding I already had the fabrics for my dress!
Also found was a cotton jacket I had stashed away from a charity shop spree, which I had never worn as it was a bright yellow (cheerful but not one of my colours) and was rather dated with it’s shoulder pads and long length.
The pads, buttons and lining were removed and the jacket dyed with a dye I had also had a while, to tone down the bright yellow to a paler pink.
I had chosen some wool on a trip to Wingham Wool in Wentworth, earlier in the year and set to with the embellishing machine. I chose navy, jade, grey and purple wool, a turquise silk and a blend.Playing led to a swirling design, which turned out reminiscent of some of VanGogh’s skys.
Unlike my sewing machine, the embellisher isn’t designed for sleeves so these needed their seams unpicking. Felting caused the sleeves not to be long or wide enough, so some calico was added and then needle felted. The loss of length on the jacket was not an issue as I wanted it shorter, and I remodelled the front facing to get the front to fit.
The upcycling continued as a silk blouse that no longer fitted me was used to line the jacket.
I used the cotton from one of my Grandpa’s old shirts I also had in my stash to make a toile of the dress bodice. I hadn’t used a Vogue pattern with different pieces for different cup sizes before so wanted to test it out. I had to adjust the fit on the shoulders, and across my upper chest and after fiddling around to get the toile to fit, decided to use it as the bodice lining.
Since I had already cut down the length and re-fitted the waist of my wedding dress netted underskirt (sadly I am not the same waist size I was at age 19!), I decided this would be right for the circle skirt of the dress.
The sleeves also needed adjusting for a better fit.
As I was using some silk for the mid setion, I found I needed to add interfacing to this for a smooth fit.
The simple dress lines are enhanced by top stitching, but I did need to unpick some of this to get one shoulder to lie flat!
Here is the non fitting shoulder
And then modified
I used an invisible zip from my stash, which worked although a little shorter than the length suggested in the pattern.
The pattern instructions were clear to follow.
The hem was finished using horsehair braid, which is great to add body to a hem. I wasn’t totally happy with the finish of the hem as it was a little ruckled. However it was good that I was staying with my mother in law when I was finishing the dress, as she was able to give me a pep talk that it is only me who would notice this!
I chose a one colour hat which was not too high, as I am already tall. The added bonus was this was in the sale! I trimmed this up with a fabric flower from offcuts from the dress and some feathers in the jacket colours.
As it’s been rather windy lately,to keep my hat on, I embellished a filigre hat pin, to go with a couple of vintage plain hat pins inherited from my grandmother.
With all the saving, using inherited vintage items and up-cycling, I was able to justify a Radley handbag which was in both petrol and purple!
The Pavers court shoes I chose were navy and purple and I wore them while sewing to “wear them into my feet”.
So the anticipated wedding day came and now we have so many happy memories shared with family and friends, and also with you. I do hope you have enjoyed sharing the special day with us.