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?
I may be speeding up with my sewing projects. It took me a week of squeezing an hour, here and there, in at the evenings and weekends. Going from the cutting out stage to wearing, in a trice. Of course, in that time, the weather has changed from glorious summer-dress-wearing to refreshingly showery, but I’m not blaming my dress. The sun will come out again. I will be ready.
I picked up the pattern from a charity shop. Peering in the envelope, I could see it was already cut out and fortunately, it seemed to be in my size. I then had a quandry. Do I pull out all the piece and start arranging them on the shop floor, to check if they are there, or cross my fingers and hope all the pieces were included? Not surprisingly, I went for the latter. It was only 50p and for a good cause, so no great loss if I got it wrong.
The fabric is from a local shop. I bought it on a whim. I knew most of my dress patterns used about 3 metres. I’d figure out what to use it for later. Then I got home and pondered whether it would suit being a dress. It is a very busy print. The fabric sat in my cupboard for a few years. Beautiful and soft.
Last weekend, I tidied my sewing area. With the beautiful hot weather we were having, I needed a summer dress and I knew I’d stumble across a solution, while I sorted. And there was the fabric again. And the pattern too. Once decided, the dress was soon cut out. All the paper pieces were there and, somehow, being already cut out, it made it easier to get going on the project.
The bodice took longest and I was pleased at how well I put the collar together. It wasn’t until I tried it on, that I realised the collar looked awful on me. As a blouse it would have worked. As a dress, it made me feel like my grandmother. It wasn’t me So the collar went.
I suit a v neck. I already knew that.
Anyway. I’m pleased with my new dress. It is loose and perfect for hot, sticky summer days. The fabric is floaty and it’s easy to move in. I almost forget I’m wearing it. A nice change from my usual poplin cotton, which tends to be noisy and stiffer. I might drop the hem a little, after seeing these photos, but apart from that, I’m happy.
I used three buttons from my stash. Strangely, each of the children individually picked out the same buttons from my tin. I knew they were the right ones!
I sewed this dress using my old hand cranked Singer machine. It is a dream, especially with the top stitching. Although next time, I might use my electric machine for the long seams. They seemed to take ages. Yawn. All french seams as the fabric is thin and prone to fraying. The other neatening and button holes I did by hand.
Almost forgot to say, thank you to middle daughter for taking the photos.
Right. On to the next sewing project. Might even go for another summer dress. Scissors at the ready!
I started making this dress a few years ago, to wear to a friend’s wedding. Not wishing to turn up in the same outfit as another guest, I always make a dress for special events. I once made two dresses in a week running up to a best friend’s wedding. Same pattern, two fabrics. I just couldn’t decide which fabric I liked the most. I was tempted to take both dresses and change half way through. But that’s me.
Going back to the current dress, I missed the deadline. For a good reason. I used the time left to make a dress for one of my daughters to wear, and only had enough time left to add embellishments to an old dress of mine. Once the day had passed, the original dressmaking project just ran out of puff. Fizzle, fizzle, pop.
I love the fabric. It’s a Kaffe Fassett fabric, called floating flowers. Just gorgeous. I bought it in our local fabric shop. There wasn’t quite enough fabric left on the roll. I bought green fabric to make a jacket to go with it, so it made sense to use some of the green to make the dress neckline.
The dress pattern is New Look 6799. Due to the lack of fabric, the straight skirt version was the only option. It’s shorter than I usually wear dresses and, in the ideal world, I would have added some length to make it well below the knee. Except for the lack of extra fabric, she laments. No chance of matching the print at the seams either. Ah. You see what happens when you fall in love with fabric. You make compromises.
The shoulder construction is a little different to anything I’ve done before. I re-read the instructions several times to make sure I’d not missed the step to join the shoulder seams. If you are reading this after googling the pattern, dear reader, then, rest assured, there is no instruction to join the shoulder seams. I have checked. The neckline makes the shoulder seam. The four points of the top of the bodice, attach to the neckline separately. Never meeting, as they usually do. Hope that helps.
I must give credit to Eldest for taking the photos. She was also the creative director on the photo shoot and suggested some of the props. We pondered whether I’d wear the dress to an event serving champagne or tea. Canapes or petit fours? Most definitely a garden setting. To cover all options, I cracked open a bottle of champagne – ha! no! As if! Who am I trying to fool? It’s fizzy water with a touch of apple juice to give it colour in the glass, but I can dream.
The hens, Foxglove and Georgina, must also be credited, I’m told. They did a stirling job creating a country garden feel. Although Foxglove did try to sabotage one shot by making a grab for the lilac I was holding, but I will forgive her. She does lay exceedingly fine eggs.
Next step is to make the jacket, as I think it will give this dress a bit more wear. I’m not overly keen on the neckline and it might just save it. I do want to wear it as I love the print.
Oh and the setting we finally came down on? For me to wear this dress? After consulting the calendar and discovering I have no suitable functions to go to, it will most likely be a case of standing in the playground, waiting for the children to come out. Hmm. And still no champagne involved.
Notes for New Look 6799
+ The pattern was straight forward to follow, once I knew about the shoulder seam.
+ The skirt is made up of seven panels, but don’t let that put you off, as they go together easily and add shape.
+ I used flat felled seams at the side, for extra strength and the rest were simple turned and stitched.
+ I didn’t line the dress, but I may go back and add a lining to the bodice. Might help the structure.
+ Used hooks instead of the loops to fasten above the zip, but will change these to poppers.