Before I start, this post is about a dress. A dress I made. Looking at the photos, you might be forgiven for thinking it is about Blue the Deerhound. It isn’t. It seems that she has recently discovered that she likes having her photo taken. Camera comes out and she is straight there. As splendid as she is, she had absolutely nothing to do with the manufacture of the dress.
I’m glad we’ve sorted that one out
Now on to the dress.
I picked up the fabric last year at a discounted price (£1.99 per metre – I’m sure it must have been a typo!), from Minerva Crafts. They no longer stock it. It’s an embroidered, stretch needlecord and a gorgeous colour. Orangey-brown with a black cord twisted and turned on the surface of the fabric.
The only problem I had with the fabric was that some of the black cord started to undo. A quick anchoring stitch or two sorted it out. I suspect it will happen again, but I absolutely love the pattern the embroidered cord makes, so I’m not put off.
In the same order, I selected Butterick 4386 pattern. I was after work outfits and this pattern offered six combinations, which would give me a good choice. Plus more, if the sleeves are swapped around. Also, any pattern that says “Fast & Easy” on the front and “very easy” on the back suggests that the first dress I make stands a good chance of not putting me off whisking up another.
I went for view C without the sash.
The pattern instructions are straightforward, with not too many steps. I like my sewing patterns the same as recipes. Short and sweet, so I can add my own variations in.
The only part I would change is the zip stage. It’s sewn in after the side seams are stitched up, which left me fitting the zip in a tube rather than on the flat. It would have been easier to sew the zip in and then stitch the sides. The zip is 22″ (55cm) long, which makes the dress wonderful to step into when I’m dressing, but made matters worse when it came to fitting it to the dress.
Next time, I’ll fit the zip and then stitch the side seams.
Only other change I made is that I used silk from a recycled silk shirt to face the neck line, instead of the needlecord fabric. (I’ve already mentioned this in an earlier post. Forgive me for repeating). It meant I avoided the black cord thread rubbing against my neck, which would have irritated. I love the touch of green and it still does the designed job.
I am very happy with the finished dress. Super comfortable to wear and a great choice when I visit work clients. The dress is intended for the autumn. I can see myself wearing it with shoes or boots for a different look. Maybe a scarf to ring the changes. I suspect that come the cooler months, I’ll be taking the side seams in, as it is already feeling too loose and I’m determined to get fitter.
So on to the next project. I’m working on the next version of this pattern. A more summery version.
Thank you to the Teen who took the photos and her sister who tried to control Blue. It proved to be a difficult job when a young deerhound is determined to have her photo taken, but you both did well.
You can be honest. She stole the show, didn’t she?
We sat on her bed, looking at the contents of her wardrobe. After flicking through the rail, I finally agreed with her. All her dresses were not suitable for a near-teen. It didn’t help that since last summer she has stretched. I mean really stretched. Dresses were now tunics and the rest were too young.
More dresses were definitely required. (Music to a mother’s ears, who likes to sew.)
It was a Saturday morning. The fabric shop would be open. Heading downstairs, I selecting a few possible patterns from my collection and let her choose.
Being a near-teen, she has clear ideas about what she likes. It is a fearless state of mind. She doesn’t seem to compromise and worry about what her friends will think. She knows what she likes and what suits her. I hope she never loses that clarity.
The making of the dress
She opted for Simplicity 5234. A simple dress, that gave a variety of combinations. Different options for the neckline, yoke fabric and sleeves, while the dress stayed the same, simple shape. She could design her own dress. How good is that? She was decisive and went for view B. She wanted a lace overlay, with cap sleeves.
Fearless, I tell you.
Next stop, the fabric shop.
It didn’t take her long to spot the perfect watery-blue. We looked at several laces and background fabrics, finally settling for a white, soft lace against white fabric.
Secretly, I was pleased she chose this dress pattern. I knew it would be quick to make and perfect for a wedding we were all going to this weekend. The dress is a pullover. No zips or buttons. A simple shape with a tie at the back.
I’ve not worked with lace before. The sleeves needed gathering at the top to ease them into the armhole. I found the combination of lace and gathering fiddly, but got there in the end.
Originally, she wanted the long version of the dress, but once fitted, she realised that the hem would work better for her as the short version. I cut off a couple of inches. If she changes her mind, I can easily add it back on.
The pattern was quick to make and no advanced tailoring. A great choice if you’re starting out on your dressmaking journey. The instructions are straightforward. If I was to make it again, I think it would take me an afternoon.
Why it matters that she designed it
She loves her new dress. The dress she designed. She’s not one to ask for lots of things, but when I prompted her, she did say she’d love another using the same pattern. I think I can manage that.
I’m glad we took this route. Yes. I could have let her loose in any number of clothes shops, with a purse full of money. I daresay, she would have found an outfit she liked. Maybe it would have been a compromised choice as closing time neared. This dress should last her a while (especially if I add the length back on). Unlike a shop bought outfit, it will not look easily dated. Eventually she will grow out of it, but it’s not destined to be thrown away in a matter of weeks/months as so much of our fashion goods are in this country. As the fashion passes.
It may seem like a small thing, but I love that I was able to give her control of the design.
I try to bring my children up not to be sheep. Following others blindly, without a thought. They may roll their eyes, but they’re also the first to point out when they see others following for the sake of following. I can also see in their actions that they understand. My daughter loves to draw. She loves to design. Doing it this way meant she could take her skill and transfer it to something she could wear. She led rather than being led by others. She designed it. She did it. Confidence boosted a notch or two more.
She wore her dress to the wedding and had a great time. She said it was an easy dress to wear.
Bizarrely, after the wedding, in a way that no one could ever have co-ordinated the timing so perfectly, we stepped out on to the pavement, and straight into the Bath carnival.
The music and dancing swept us all away. I had wondered if my dress (and this blue one) might be too bright for a wedding. Apparently not this wedding. Not with a carnival to finish off the proceedings.
Linking up with Crafting On and …
I woke to find the sun peeping through a slight gap in the curtains, one Sunday morning recently. Highlighting the dust in the air, as it sliced decisively through the room like a finely-forged sword, intent on bringing shame to the slothenly occupant.
Two thoughts hit me. First, I really should get round to vacuuming soon. Maybe today. Or tomorrow, but more pressing was the tantalizing idea that today was one of those wonderful days I could don a summer dress and enjoy the summer warmth.
Even if only first thing. The weather might turn later.
I’m British. We talk about weather. It’s part of our salutations.
“Hello. Nice to see you. I think it’s going to rain.”
“Hi. Long time, no see. How are you faring in this heat-wave?”
“Morning. Nice day for ducks and slugs again. Heh?“
You get the idea. Our weather is so unpredictable it is almost predicatable. Making it the perfect conversation opener. We respond to each change. Dressing accordingly. Or at least talking about what we should wear. Revelling in how it challenges us. Caught out without an umbrella. No problem. At least it gives us something to talk about.
Back to my summer dress. Today was going to be a dress day. Springing out of bed, because I am a morning person and that’s how us morning people do it, I opened my wardrobe. Work dresses were ignored. All two of them. I pushed my party dresses to one side. A tad too dressy for the day. This left one empty hanger, gently swaying in the nothingness. Sigh. My new handmade dress was in the wash. I had no dress to wear.
Hmm. One dress was obviously not enough. What was I thinking? I needed to make another dress. After all there was a good chance that the sun would wake me up again, in the same way. If not this year, maybe next. It was time to do one of my favourite things. Dig through my fabric and select a pattern.
I settled on Simplicity 8345. I bought the pattern about 19 years ago and used it once. I think it was the scalloped neckline that sold it to me. The dress is fit and flare. It takes a lot of fabric, which probably explains why I’ve not used it since.
My previous dress was yellow. Just like the one on the packet. I suspect I was heavily influenced by the photo. I too could wear a yellow dress and laugh, like the happy person in the picture. She looks like she’s having fun. Me too! Me too! Equally, I may also have been persuaded by the “easy to sew” wording. Turns out they weren’t exaggerating. It is a straightforward pattern.
Apart from the scallop neckline, which I love, the sleeves are worth a mention. They are fulled faced, giving them a no-nonsense feel. No easing to fit the sleeve either. The pattern suggests shoulder pads, but I’m still undecided. Did shoulder pads make it out of the 90s?
The zip is fitted by machine basting/tacking the opening first, sewing the zip in place and then removing the basting/tacking. It makes a very neat zip, with no gaping holes, showing the zip teeth. I did sew it the other way up than they suggested, as I wanted the sewing lines from the outside to look good. After all that is the part people will see. From the back.
(Pup was determined to join in.)
This pattern is no longer in print. The 8345 number is now a different style of dress. More laughing ladies on the front, having fun. After a quick search, I can see the older version does get listed on the second hand sites.
(Freshly painted leaves and bench. Leaves unintentionally blue!)
I had a Liberty Rose fabric in my stash. So beautiful to work with. A cotton poplin. I bought the fabric a few years ago from Minerva Crafts. I don’t think they stock it anymore.
There was not quite enough fabric, but I’m learning to excel at adapting the pattern to fit the available length. For all my adapting, this time, there was no way I had enough for pattern matching. Saving grace, this pattern is busy enough, that roses, cut in half, were not going to stand out.
Finally. One finished dress. Ready to hang in my wardrobe. Ready for one of those wonderful, summer days. I’ve been invited to a wedding. Not sure if I’ll wear this to it, or is it too loud for a wedding?
I am on a roll. I finished another dress, while waiting for a dry day to photograph this one. Fingers crossed, that the weather holds so I can take photos of that one too.
Hopefully next time I reach for a dress, they’ll be just the right one swinging on the hanger.
So, how’s the weather in your neck of the woods?