Over the weekend my best friend and her partner had a party to celebrate ten years of being together…and they got married at the same time! They kept the wedding a secret, so most guests had no idea they were coming to a wedding until the ceremony began!
For many years, the groom had often joked about wanting to dress up as a dinosaur on his wedding day, so when I found out that they were planning a wedding, I immediately asked him if he was going to be dressing up as a dinosaur. He said no – no doubt much to his fiancee’s relief – and that’s when the inspiration struck for my own wedding outfit! Obviously I was planning on making a dress to wear, but when the idea popped into my head to use dinosaur-print fabric, I just went with it. Perhaps dinosaurs are not traditional wedding attire, but this wasn’t a traditional wedding…and I knew the groom would like it!
I ordered the fabric from Sparkly Fabrics, which I was bit nervous about because I’d never heard of it, but it was brilliant service and it arrived the very next day, so I was pretty impressed. The fabric is a Timeless Treasures print, and look at that selvedge!!! I have saved it as it is too cute to throw away!
The pattern I started with is the Eliza M Vintage Eliza dress pattern, and this dinosaur dress is what I had in mind when I used the pattern last time for the Gin Festival dress. I was disappointed with the quality of the pattern and I changed the design of it last time, and this time I wanted to make a few more changes to make it look exactly how I wanted. The main thing I wanted to change was the neckline, which I thought came up too high on the Gin Festival dress. I lowered it by almost two inches and added in the sweetheart dip at the centre front. I also changed the shoulder straps, thinning them out a little as they were too chunky before. I kept the waistband that I drafted last time and made a gathered skirt again – this time a couple of inches longer.
What I have ended up with looks a lot more like the By Hand London Kim pattern, except that the front doesn’t have princess seams – only waist darts – and the back doesn’t have any darts at all. So it’s actually better in terms of pattern matching, and it’s quicker to sew. I think I got a good fit, too, so overall it’s a win and I may well use the pattern pieces again.
I’ll have to think of a name for the pattern: it feels incorrect to call it the Eliza dress because I altered the pattern pieces so much. Crucially, though, the changes I made only made it look more like it was supposed to in the first place according to the picture on the pattern envelope – so I guess it’s a ‘redrafted’ Eliza dress – with a waistband and a different skirt. Whatever. I’m even boring myself now.
I used a concealed zip for the back which worked out pretty well, except I totally didn’t realise I hadn’t fully zipped it to the top for the photo below of the back – hahaha! I can’t be bothered to put the dress again to get another photo of the back – so this is what it looks like when it’s partially unzipped. LOL. Also this was before I had straightened my hair. Nevermind eh. Later that evening my husband noticed the zip and zipped it up properly for me!
And here is a photo of me and the bride. She is wearing a gorgeous 50s style polka dot dress with a big frilly petticoat underneath, and she had her hair and make up done by a make up artist who specialises in retro/vintage styling. Doesn’t she look beautiful!!
It was a brilliant wedding and I got to spend time with some very dear friends who I don’t get to see as often as I would like to – friends who I spent the majority of my formative years with! We no longer all live nearby one another and we have very different lives now, but there’s a bond between us that, as far as I am concerned, will always be there. It was fabulous to all be together dancing to Pulp and taking lots of silly photos (which I will save them the embarrassment of posting here).
Congratulations to the happy couple xxx
I have quite a stack of sewing patterns which I haven’t gotten around to using yet, and as I was looking through them I came across the Eliza dress pattern from Eliza M Vintage. Claire, the lady behind Eliza M and Simple Sew patterns, gave me this pattern a few years ago now, along with the Audrey pattern for reviewing purposes (reviewed here) and the Betty pattern, which I haven’t yet made. However, although I started with the Eliza dress pattern, I’m not calling this an Eliza dress, as it ended up nothing like the original design!
From previous experience of using Simple Sew patterns and Eliza M Vintage patterns, I knew the fit wasn’t going to be quite right for me without any alteration, so I used up some African wax print cotton (leftover from my Belladone dress) to make a toile. I basted together the bodice (minus facings) and basted in a zip to find that the waistline was nowhere near my waist, so I drafted quite a deep waistband to lengthen the bodice so that when I attached the skirt it would be starting at my natural waist, which is where it should be according to the design on the pattern envelope, I think.
I had enough fabric to cut a circle skirt, but I wanted to see what the dress would look like with a gathered skirt as I have something specific in mind for the final dress (which I haven’t made yet). I cut the pieces for a gathered skirt using the whole width of the fabric and a length of 24″.
I’m sorry to say that the instructions for the construction of this dress are pretty terrible. The pictures don’t always match the design of the dress – for instance a round-neck dress is sometimes shown when this has a square neckline. Side darts are included in the instructions and the diagrams but there are no side darts drafted in the pattern (or indicated in the line drawing). And, most crucially, there are no instructions whatsoever on how to create the sweetheart neckline (even on the other side of the paper pictured below). It seems a bit shoddy to me: I’m certainly glad I didn’t actually pay for the pattern. I did also mention in my review of the Audrey dress that the pattern envelopes are sealed with sticky, gummy glue that sticks to everything once opened – not a good feature – and the pattern tissue is all in one mega-gigantic piece which makes it extremely tricky to handle.
I’m happy enough with the outcome: it’s a pretty dress… but it isn’t exactly how I’d like it to be, so for my next version I’ve still got a few small changes to make in addition to the added waistband and the gathered skirt. I’m quite pleased with my lapped zip in this dress, although at the top the left side is a scant 1/8″ higher than the right – arrgh! I’ve already bought a concealed zip for the next version.
I wore the dress to a Gin Festival with my good friend and co-blogger Aileen (she hasn’t blogged on here in a few years now, but maybe she will come back if we ask nicely!). She was also wearing a handmade dress – a By Hand London Anna dress with a gathered skirt that she made last year sometime I think. Isn’t it gorgeous?! I love the print!
I like that photo a lot, but I’m going to leave you with a sillier version:
Unusual title for a sewing post, right? Today I want to show you a dress I was asked to make for a stage production called The Tree of War – a new musical which premiered in September 2015 in Manchester. The protagonist, Bert, tells his granddaughter the story of his time as a soldier in the great war of 1914, and the main story is reconstructed through these memories, with some amazing music and lyrics.
The brief I was given for the costume was a basic dirndl cotton dress, similar to one worn by Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music, in a forest green colour. The By Hand London Kim pattern seemed to tick all the boxes, so that’s the pattern I used (not for profit, as I will explain later).
I bought a plain, medium weight 100% cotton for the dress. The sewing was pretty simple. I cut a size 2, and lengthened the skirt considerably as I was asked to make it 31″ below the waist. I lined it in black satin so that it would slip on easily over the white underblouse (which I didn’t make!). I used a concealed zip, which possibly wasn’t the best choice for a WW1 costume, but in any case the zip was hidden from view by the Eilidh’s long hair.
The scene in which the dress appears is in the memory of one of Bert’s comrades in the trench: the formidable Scottish soldier Dougie McBride (Jamie Rahman). He is remembering dancing with his girlfriend before the war started.
I attended the penultimate show of the run and thoroughly enjoyed it. Photography was not permitted during the show, but Eilidh was kind enough to let me take a few photographs afterwards and to post them here.
The dress was an unpaid commission. I was reimbursed for the cost of the fabric and postage, but my labour was a donation. It was the producer who commissioned me to make the dress, and she is a good friend of mine, so I was more than happy to do it. It was fun to be involved, albeit it in a pretty minor way! I would have loved to be in the choir (I have belonged to a church choir and a professional choir in the past), but unfortunately although Manchester will always be ‘home’ in the sense that it is where I come from, it isn’t my real home at the moment.
It was lovely to see something I made being used in a musical!
Hello there. Today I’m going to show you a dress that I made back in July using products kindly sent to me by White Tree Fabrics. I chose this pretty printed cotton, which at first I thought was a border print, but in fact it’s more of a wide, repeating strip of floral detail on an ivory background. The print reminds me of a Cath Kidston design, actually, with its colourful, vintage style.
I wanted to use the By Hand London Anna pattern because it’s ideal for showing off fabrics with interesting borders or large designs. I spent hours cutting out the fabric, choosing exactly where I wanted my floral stripes to be, and matching up the lines across all of the skirt panels, the sides, the centre back, etc. I’m pretty pleased with how it has turned out across the bodice – I definitely wanted flowers along the neck and shoulders and then again at the waist.
I’m not sure about the skirt, though. Although I deliberately spaced it so that there would be alternating strips of flowers and plain, I wonder if it might have looked better to have flowers at the very top of the skirt – giving a very wide band of flowers around the waist. I think the reason I wonder about this is because I feel the dress is just that bit too figure-hugging after a summer of picnics, and having a strip of plain cream fabric across my tummy feels weirdly revealing.
For greater opacity on this pale background print, I chose to fully line the dress. I have never fully lined an Anna dress before, but it was pretty straightforward. I followed the instructions from the By Hand London blog when they did an Anna dress sewalong. Basically it involved cutting the whole dress again in lining fabric, minus the facings, and hand sewing the kimono sleeves together. The invisible slip-stitching was time consuming and annoying, but that’s because I’m massively impatient when it comes to hand sewing. It took me about as long to do the hand sewing as it did to make the rest of the dress!
The lining fabric is anti-static formaldehyde-free lining made of nylon. Lisa from White Tree Fabrics told me that lots of nets and linings used to have this chemical in them but it’s now really frowned upon, and any decent fabric won’t have this chemical in it nowadays. I was really impressed with it. I had seen it before in some RTW clothing and I never knew what it was until now. It perhaps wasn’t quite as opaque as I was wanting for this specific project, but it worked well enough and it feels gorgeously soft. I’d definitely use it again for lining other dresses. It comes in a range of colours, too.
I was also sent matching thread for my project and a transparent concealed zip. I tried one of these ‘transparent’ zips when I made my red lace dress, and wasn’t so impressed with it because it’s more white than transparent, but for this project that wasn’t a problem. I like how the zipper pull is silver too – it’s a nice little detail.
Overall I am pleased with the dress. I think once I’ve gotten rid of the half stone I put on over summer it will look even better! I’m going to have to put it aside until next spring now though: winter is coming :-(
This month for my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network project I chose to try something a little different – instead of a dress, a skirt and a top! WHOAH THERE. It’s mind-blowing stuff, isn’t it?!
I have quite a collection of sewing books and many of them contain patterns within them that I have wanted to try for a while. This month’s project is two patterns from ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’ book which my good friend and co-blogger Aileen bought for me as a birthday gift last year. The patterns are for the ‘Knit Sweetheart Top’ and the ‘Easy Knit Pencil Skirt’. This combination of fitted but mega-comfortable clothing seemed like the best thing ever to sew right now, after putting on about half a stone over summer due to having a picnic lunch with the children almost every day. You always need more food than normal for a picnic – it’s the picnic law. I’ve eaten a lot of bread and a lot of cheese and a lot of crisps and a lot of biscuits and a lot of chocolate and a lot of cake and a lot of pies. It’s been pretty awesome.
Let’s start by talking about the top, then. For the top I chose ‘black and beige wide stripe viscose jersey‘. I really like the width of the stripes of this fabric, and I was really pleased with the quality of it. Viscose jersey which I have used in the past has been slippery and drapey, but this one seems slightly thicker and more sturdy, which as far as I am concerned is a good thing. The top was simple to construct. I used my overlocker for most of the sewing. I used clear elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams and I used a twin ballpoint needle for the first time ever to hem the top and also to sew down the neckline and armhole binding. Having never used a twin needle before I was wondering how it would turn out, but it was great! It helps that the fabric was really easy to handle.
The skirt – well. IT IS SO EASY TO MAKE. It’s just one pattern piece – front and back – cut on the fold. An elastic waistband at the top, twin needle hem at the bottom, and Bob’s your uncle! But the wonder of this skirt is not only to do with the ease of construction, oh no. It’s the fabric: Ponte Roma heavy jersey – it’s the actual bomb. Thick, proper, no-nonsense fabric, absolutely perfect for a pencil skirt. It has enough body in it not to reveal every lump and bump of the ‘body’ in it. AND SO COMFORTABLE. I never want to wear anything else ever again. I don’t even want to make more because this one is just THE ONE. If you haven’t made one of these skirts then I’m telling you now if you can sew a straight line you can make this skirt in under an hour and then WEAR IT FOREVER.
The waistband elastic also deserves a special mention. I chose ‘32mm non-roll Peterstretch waistband elastic‘ and it’s great. Having recently made some pyjama bottoms with cheapo waistband elastic that rolls and folds and twists despite being strategically stitched down, this stuff is like the Rolls Royce of waistband elastic. Excellent stuff.
Thanks to Minerva for sending me the supplies for these two garments – opinions as always are completely my own!