I have named my latest finished sewing project the Ziggy dress, because a) it is zig zag print and b) it’s a reference to David Bowie. The news of his death broke the morning after I had laid out this fabric to begin sewing, and as I was making it I listened to a lot of Bowie on the radio. What an extraordinarily talented, interesting and downright cool musician he was. May he rest in peace.
So this fabric is one I bought on a Leeds sewing meet-up in 2014, I think. It was 55″ wide and I bought 3 metres, so I decided to make the most of the width of the fabric and make a dress with a circle skirt. I chose Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606. As it turns out, the pattern is only a half circle skirt, but it’s big enough to wear a huge poofy petticoat underneath, so it’s still a winner.
I first used this pattern to make my 50s style halterneck dress, and then I used it again to make my red lace overlay dress. Both of these dresses have been worn to weddings and both are very special to me. This version is a bit less fancy, and consequently more wearable. It still has nice little details though, such as the back opening, which fastens with a little button at the top, and the zip starts further down. The pattern instructs you to do a centered zip, but I much prefer lapped zips and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
I was lazy when fitting this dress, in that I basically didn’t bother: I just cut the same size as the last two times. It seems I might have changed shape again since then, since the bodice looks a teeny bit bigger than I anticipated it would. The top half of me seems to change shape a lot more easily than the bottom half!
In these photos I am wearing a black linen bolero jacket I made in 2014. I used a Built By Wendy pattern for it to start with, but changed the shape. It’s really simple and plain but it does look nice with the right dress.
In terms of finishing – the bodice is lined with white cotton, and the seams are mostly pinked as I thought that would keep the zig zag theme going. I did overlock the centre back seam, though, and the seam where the bodice meets the skirt. I machine stitched the hem after letting it hang for about a week (not necessary to leave it that long – just didn’t get around to it!).
I really like how the linear pattern looks curvy due to the cut of the skirt. And I know I’m going to sound like a massive sewing geek, but I actually found it fun doing the pattern matching of seams on this dress, and immensely satisfying to get such good results!
I’m very happy with my new dress!
Hello and happy new year to you all! Today I am showing you a dress that is like, so 2015. It’s a dress I made to wear on Christmas day. I wanted to make something super easy, comfortable and flattering, but just a bit sparkly. I bought the fabric from Minerva – it’s a black lurex Ponte Roma with silvery shimmer, and it’s quite a bargain at £6.99 per metre (I ordered 2m).
As you can see above, the shimmer really shows in electric light, but in daylight it’s more of a subtle effect. There was a moment where I was worried that I might look as though I was wearing a bin bag, but thankfully I’m pretty sure I managed to avoid that.
The fabric was lovely to work with. It’s very stable. It would make a lovely Coco dress! As I already have a plain black Coco dress, though, I opted for the Lady Skater. It’s the third one I have made as I really like the pattern. My only gripe is the wrinkle from the underarm above the bust, perhaps indicating I need a full bust adjustment, but it doesn’t bother me so much that I would mess about with the pattern. I just feel obliged to point it out!
I topstitched the neckline with some silver metallic thread and although it’s only a little detail I really like it. I hemmed the dress is the same way as I have hemmed my other three Lady Skaters – with a tiny rolled hem on my overlocker.
There’s not much else of interest to say about this, so I shall leave you with my Christmas Day ‘selfie’ – because I know you all want a giant photo of my face – which I mainly took to show off my new ‘Mancunian’ necklace made by my friend Jody. I was born in Stockport which is in the southern part of Greater Manchester, so naturally I think Manchester is the best city ever and I am proud to come from there, and always happy to visit our family and friends who still live there!
Back in September my sister in law had her first baby – a little boy called Jacob. I was very excited about being an aunt. Whilst trying to decide what to make for my next White Tree Fabrics project, I came across the embroidery and sewing kits they sell, and thought it would be nice to make Jacob a Christmas stocking. I felt very smug because it was only September and already I was planning a Christmas project. The older and wiser me looks back at the younger, smug, more foolish me and laughs scornfully.
If you know me, or have read my blog for a while, you will know that this is not my usual kind of project. I’m not a fan of hand sewing, really. But still, I thought it would be nice to try something different, and I thought that it would be pretty easy. I mean, it’s a kit, right? You just, like, sew on some bits here and there and a few sequins and you’re done, right? I envisaged setting aside one (child-free) day, and just sitting down with the radio and a pot of tea and making a lovely stocking.
Under this misconception, I decided it was too early to start making this when it arrived in October. Instead I made a start on the family Christmas pyjamas, and by November I had made three childrens’ pyjama sets and two pairs of adult pyjama bottoms. SO SMUG. Then I made the dinosaur dress for my friend’s wedding at the end of November. Then I did some boring sewing I had been asked to do but was putting off. And then it was December. Eek.
A child-free December day arrived – Monday 7th – and I got out the kit, made a brew and put the radio on. I had six hours before I had to collect my daughter from school. Plenty of time. Six hours later, I had this:
Hmmm. Maybe this was going to take longer than I thought. The following Monday – 14th December – I had another child-free day. I spent another six hours and got this far:
I started to get very worried that I wasn’t going to finish this in time. I started to prioritise it and try to do as much as I could here and there. By December 19th I hit the 18 hour mark, and was still only on step 9 of 20.
Suddenly I was thinking of everything I had to do before Christmas (I won’t bore you with a list – but be assured it was long). I was going to have to really knuckle down to this and just get it finished so I could do all the other things in time. It took a further ten and half hours to finish – so twenty eight and a half hours in total to complete.
Looking at it, I still can’t believe it took that long. This kind of craft is so deceptive! Having said that, I want to state, just for the record, that I did actually really enjoy the process. It was a very absorbing activity and I listened to a lot of radio whilst doing it, so it felt relaxing in one way – I just wish I’d started it earlier so that I wasn’t worrying about all the other things I had to do. I don’t love hand sewing, but that’s usually because I prefer to use a machine. But this project wouldn’t be possible to make by machine – so it’s a totally different kind of hand sewing. I have never done embroidery before and I’m pleased with how it turned out even though the embroidery is mainly just very simple stem stitch.
As for reviewing the kit itself – well I thought it was very good. The instructions were excellent and the quality of the materials was top notch. The only criticism I have is that you are supposed to stuff some of the applique pieces to give a more prominent, 3D, quilted effect, but the stuffing was not provided. Everything else was provided – right down to the needles – so why they couldn’t also provide stuffing is a mystery to me. Having never done a project like this, I have no idea what sort of stuffing I need, and frankly I didn’t have time to traipse around a craft shop guessing. So, the stocking is not stuffed, and I think it looks fine, although I think a bit of stuffing would have made it look even better.
I’m very happy to have finished the project, and have already informed my own poor children that I will not be making one each for them: they can make do with the mass-produced £1 stockings from the Card Factory. As for Jacob, I’m going to get him to sign an agreement to use this every Christmas Eve until he is at least 21 ;-)
Merry Christmas one and all!
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: