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dressmaking pattern review

Rose dress – Simplicity 8345

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 cut defiantly 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 perhaps tomorrow, but this was immediately pushed aside by my second, and far more pressing thought. The tantalizing idea that today was one of those wonderful days I could don a summer dress and enjoy the summer warmth.

Oh yes!

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. Leaving me with one item. 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.

Pattern detail

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 fully 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!)

Fabric detail

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.

{stage direction: looks up at sky}

So, how’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

McCall 9251 – handmade summer dress for me

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!

A shirt with dogs. Plus flying bikes

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt back

Seeing as it’s the summer, I offered to make the Boy a shirt. It’s the one time of the year that I can sew something for him, that isn’t going to spend most of its time hidden under layers of warm clothes. I love sewing for him. He always choses such fun prints for his fabric and has just as much fun wearing them.

I’m a big believer that boy’s clothes don’t have to the boring. When his older sisters were little, I used to feel sorry for the boys’ clothes sections in shops. They always seemed to be full of muddy, green coloured clothes, as if they already anticipated the colour the garments would turn after a day outside on the back of an adventurous boy. What did they think washing machines were for? Also, why the girls weren’t supposed to join in, I really don’t know. Judging by the colours in their clothes sections, their world was brighter and cleaner.

Then the Boy arrived in our lives and I found myself searching out brighter colours. He wore a lot of red and brighter blues. He has his share of darker clothes, but he has a sense of fun, so why shouldn’t his clothes reflect it? Least when I sew, I can add that in.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt with skeletonBack to this summer’s shirt.

He suggested a long sleeve shirt this time round.

Gulp. That means a pattern with both a collar and two cuffs. At the same time. OK. Time to get the big scissors out.

He chose a dog print. We have big dogs so of course he adores small dogs. His ultimate favourite are dachshunds. It’s the paws and the way they walk. Everything, really.

We couldn’t find a dacksy print in cotton, but we did find one with Boston Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Pugs on it. Close enough.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt

I love that blue.

Turns out the cuffs weren’t as hard as I thought. The instructions walked me through it without a problem. Only two niggly points. I thought the cuff would be bigger. More like a grown-up shirt covering more of the wrist. Next time, I’ll cut them out twice as big. The other problem is that somehow the sleeves are a bit too short. I thought I’d measured. I think this is my error and not to do with the pattern.

He loves the sleeve length. I can see how it stops them draping in paint and food, which is a good thing, but I am really tempted to cut out bigger cuffs and swap them for the smaller attached version. It wouldn’t take too long and it would mean he could wear this shirt next year.

We’ll see.

I added buttons to the cuffs that look like cufflinks and he is as pleased as punch that they look like his father’s, without being as fiddly.

dog fabric and shirt instructionsThe collar wasn’t too different from the usual shirt pattern I make for him. I still paused. Misunderstood. Understood. Added notes to the pattern for next time and moved on. Am I the only one that adds notes? I do it in recipe books too. Amazing how I manage to forget in between and then am glad of my scribblings.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt matching frontAs always I like a matching front. It would have looked weird to have dogs cut in half in the centre of the shirt. I really think it is worth taking time at the cutting out stage to get this right. I took the advice of the fabric shop on how much extra to order, to allow for the repeat of the pattern, so it would match. I wasn’t keen to repeat the same mistake as last time.

I did manage to sew all the buttons on in the wrong place, as I did it late at night. Out came the unpicker and they were sewn on again. When will I learn!

The buttons are simple, half inch shirt buttons. I have my Grandmother’s collection of buttons. Bringing up four sons, she was a resourceful lady. I have a tube of these buttons which show signs of being cut off other garments. Presumably once the shirts were worn out, they were turned into dusters or rags, while the buttons were saved for another shirt. Nothing was wasted.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt Pultney Bridge weirSo the shirt is made and being worn. The Boy could not be happier. I took the children into Bath for a bit of back to school shopping and a hair cut for the Boy. It’s the height of tourist season, although that is pretty much all year round for Bath.

I don’t usually take my camera on shopping trips, but this time it was too good an opportunity to take some photos of the Boy in his new shirt. Bath is a fabulous setting.

I thought I’d fit right in with my camera, while we did our shopping. Its true. You cannot walk anywhere without dodging a good number of people holding a phone or camera. One person even walked straight into me as she filmed her whole trip around Bath. She will have captured the moment when she startled an English woman. Weighed down with shopping bags and a camera.

flying bikes in BathMy daughter was less than pleased when I stood in the middle of the shopping area and snapped the flying bikes. Why not? There was a bunch of tourists doing it. Why not a local too? I could hardly resist flying bikes now could I?

Anyway, the sewing details….

Details

Pattern: Simplicity 4760
Fabric: Dog Print cotton Poplin in Teal

Notes and alterations to the pattern

I made view A in size M. I added a bit of length to the shirt as the Boy is tall, but slender. He is age 9.

I liked the folded pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff. It adds interest and also a bit of room in the sleeve. There is also a little loop and button at the top of the front, which closes the top of the shirt. Presumably useful when wearing a tie, although I don’t think the Boy will use it.

I would add length to the sleeves next time.

The repeat is big. To match the pattern, I was adviced to add an extra 30cm. This turned out to be plenty.

I used french seams, instead of the suggested ones, as I think they give a better finish.

Would I make it again? Yes.


Disclosure: Minerva Crafts supplied me with the fabric and pattern, in return for a review. All opinions and words are my own, and honest.

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

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