Hello lovely people. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… Easter weekend I was due to go to a fun dinner with my extended family to celebrate my Auntie’s big birthday. Alas it was cancelled for obvious reasons. I’d already made the dress so I’m getting around to sharing it now.
Butterick 6446 has been in my stash for a while. I first tried the pattern last March with my celestial gold mesh fabric but the stiffness of the glitter meant the folds on the bodice didn’t sit flat. But flash forward to Feb 2020 and we have a winning fabric + pattern combination.
Enter Wow Fabrics. They offered me the chance to join their blogger network after I left Love Sewing. You might have noticed I had dialled back on all those kinds of partnerships for a while but now it’s great to be collaborating again! You might remember my sweatshirt made with their interesting scuba like base. I like to try a company once before committing to ongoing partnerships. They let me print 3 metres of fabric for free to test the site and fabric quality. I’m always honest in reviews so you don’t have to worry about that. I can’t comment on delivery times as my fabric was de-prioritised behind real orders which I think is absolutely fair when I wasn’t paying and wasn’t in a rush.
I printed my own star design on the bubble crepe which has a lovely pebble texture and slight spandex stretch. The shade of blue I was able to achieve is perfect! I had saved so many azure/turquoise/cyan with white polka dot dresses on Pinterest and now I have my own to wear. It’s totally opaque too which is really important for me.
I like Wow Fabrics because the range of base fabrics they have are quite interesting. The upload process when printing your own design might not be as helpful and explicit in the instructions as other ‘print your own fabric’ companies but it still works if you’ve prepped your swatch right. For beginners it might be scary so definitely use the A4 sample option!!
I cut a 12 at the upper bodice grading to the size 16 ish at the waist (I only had the smaller size pack so got inventive). You might have noticed a couple of alterations to the base design. Because I had 3m, the ruffle was cut out at the end when I was sure I had enough for the dress. I cut the tissue for skirt version B then made a ruffle using the offcut tissue marking up 20cm from hem line D. I also added little cap sleeves from New Look 6808 for some extra coverage.
The fit of this dress can look a little odd as it crosses over the bust rather than under it. This makes for more modest coverage which is nice. But be aware the under bodice wrap may stick to your bra and wiggle out of place. Wearing a slip helps me but I should have perhaps lined the bodice in something silky rather than self fabric.
I overlocked everything and used a concealed zipper in the back. I was lucky enough to have the perfect thread and zipper colours in my stash so could get started right away. It sewed up pretty quickly so I tried to take regular breaks to slow down.
While its a lovely dress I’m not sure if I’ll make it again. The bodice moves around a little too much for me to keep an eye on but the skirt is fabulous. Maybe I’ll mash it with another bodice soon! If you’ve made this dress please let me know in the comments.
Designing your own version of this print
I went on a fabric design course a few years back, I have also ordered custom fabric before and I am quite confident in Adobe Photoshop (fyi this is a paid for product). To ease myself back in I decided to start simple with a repeating star print using the polygon shape tool. My tips below are for people who have already had a go with Photoshop so I don’t go into explicit detail about the settings. This is beginner level stuff though so have a play!
I think a lot of people forget scale when designing fabric so to avoid a print that’s too ditsy, try a minimum of a 15x15cm frame aka 1772x1772pixels. It has to be 300dpi (dots per inch). That’s print quality: it doesn’t matter how good something looks on your monitor! And if you can print it out when you’re done and hold it on your body to check you like the scale.
Another common habit is people add a single beautiful motif to the middle of the square and end up with a very regimented tile that looks a bit like checked fabric. The offset filter is the easiest way to avoid that.
Make a star print like mine as follows: With guides visible on the screen add some star shapes around the middle of frame (I don’t try to be symmetrical but the overall spread of shapes around the centre point should be balanced).
Merge all the shape layers and then duplicate so you have two versions of shapes and one colour background. Then apply the offset filter – Filter> Other> Offset with 886 pixels in each box (half the height and width). That will split one layer into perfect quarters and place in the frame corners.
After that, go back in and add more shapes to the surrounding areas, again in a non symmetrical pattern making sure to cross the guides and avoid shapes disappearing off the edges. Keep the same density of shapes you had at the start.
Merge layers then go to Edit> Define pattern > give it a name. Make a new file to test your pattern. It should be at least 100x100cm. Go to Edit> Fill> Use Pattern and select your pattern from the drop down. Use the existing settings.
Do you like what you see? If you need to make tweaks, unmerge the layers on your tile and move add shapes before merging again and defining a new pattern.
Oh lemon print fabric how I love you. This is my third dress made from lemon fabric. The second made into New Look 6587 my delightfully ’90s pattern.
My pretty sateen is from B&M fabrics in Leeds last year but you can also get it here and the buttons are ebay. They’re so pretty I added two big patch pockets with buttons on them as well.
I made view E without the trim in a straight size 12. The skirt is barely gathered which I find quite flattering and works well in this style of fabric. I also added 2″ inch to the length for midi coverage. A tie belt cinches the dress perfectly.
There’s something magic about this dress, it instantly lifts my mood everytime I put it on. Oh and course I had to break out my lemon earrings for these photos! They are the best pair I’ve bought in a long time (thank you H&M).
I think because its not tight but has enough shape and structure I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. I can eat as much as I like without feeling uncomfortable and it fits me regardless of my fluctuating weight.
What else to add? Well I have two more lemon prints in my stash but I do like the look of Primevera by Rifle Paper Co! Trying to sew my stash first though. There’s a burning desire to shop while cooped up but I have been trying to resist adding to my heaving sewing room. I’ve only bought a couple of patterns and some buttons so far.
My productivity is having random little spikes of activity during this situation. I photographed three dresses today and whipped up a few garments over Easter. But then I also sit for hours uninspired and exhausted! I imagine that is the same for a lot of sewists. I’d love to hear how you’re coping.
When I visited New York a few years back I knew I wanted to go to the garment district and was lucky enough to go with some fantastic sewists. I met up with Karen, Sonja, Charlotte and Emma Jayne! Plus Peter joined us for a little bit too which was fantastic.
We headed to Mood Fabrics first. A project runway fave. It’s pretty overwhelming as there’s several floors and bolts are stacked so high you have to either know what you’re after or rummage. Swatch is uber adorable though! You can read more about my NY trip here.
In a bid to avoid panicking I decided to look for a pretty cotton eyelet as it’s so rare in the UK. The coral that I found was both gorgeous and reasonably priced so I got 2m. Now as is always the case… I should have got more for pattern matching but I made it work. It took 6 months to find the perfect lining then a full year where I painstakingly planned and cut out the dress. Then I put on too much weight to fit into the size I’d cut.
If I didn’t make enough of a song and dance about it at the time, 2019 was the year I finally visited Paris. And I wanted to finish this dress and take it with me. I had lost a little weight and I let out the seams and just got it to fit. We had quite a nightmare second day where after no sleep the night before we had to move out of our Airbnb so it was so fun wearing this dress to make me feel better on day 3. The weather was fantastic!!
I picked the By Hand London Anna dress because of the bust pleats that come up from the waist. This eyelet was too bulky for darts and the pleats don’t interrupt the pattern too much. I hand gathered the skirt as it was too bulky to baste stitch and I’m pretty pleased with the results. To do this you pin the seams and CF/CB points, then pin the halfway points between those pins and so on until you’re only hand gathering very small sections of around 2″ and you can keep things even.View this post on Instagram
I’m VERY pleased with the pattern matching at the invisible zip. I love pattern matching and try to indulge every so often in a tricky match. Isn’t this video hypnotising!?
Here’s a brief guide for this symmetrical fabric which needs to match vertically and horizontally across an invisible zipper:First I pin the left hand side back bodice first with the CB seam allowance on the pattern piece folded under. The folded edge sits straight down the centre of the motifs.
Then I unfold the seam allowance and cut out the whole piece. See how the motif looks at the centre back below?
I then repeat for the right by laying the left cut piece on top of my fabric to find an exact matching location then line up my right hand side back bodice and move the cut left bodice out of the way.
I ensure that my folded pattern edge is again straight down the centre before unfolding the seam allowance and cutting out the right hand side bodice.
When installing the invisible zip in the centre back it can help to mark the seam allowance in water soluble pencil and baste the zip in place to achieve the perfect match. This method works for centre sewn regular zippers but you need a different method for a lapped zipper. This approach also works for printed fabrics like florals or scene prints.
I hope you liked the dress and tutorial. I’m hoping to get some wear out of it this spring and summer somehow!
Hello everyone. I’m currently sat intermittently knitting in front of the telly and thinking about sewing plans.
I’ve been playing around with some beautiful pleated fabric and dabbling with ladder trim insertion. Two projects with no deadline and a real desire to make considered choices before getting started. This means pinterest boards, testing machine settings and doodling designs.
In other news I shared a new video for my Sew North Soiree gown plans. I’m making a minty organza dress using a gorgeous sketchy floral with mint satin underneath. Check out the video here for more.
This leads me nicely onto today’s topic! Often a fabric would be amazing as a fancy party frock and sometimes it’s fun to make a great everyday dress instead. I picked up this cupid/cherub print twill fabric from Ditto fabrics after squealing at the sight of it. I was very torn between this and the mustard colourway and while I think made the wrong decision, it is still a stunning fabric.
Its a medium weight cotton twill which means it has that visible weave pattern and a lovely floaty drape. It shoots a touch redder than it is in real life. Twill is very prone to fraying and snagging plus standard slippery fabric rules apply. I used fine sharp pins and a size 70 needle.
I decided to choose a pattern I’d get a lot of wear from… enter the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress with my previous hacks to remove the buttons. See that version here. It’s the perfect dress if your weight fluctuates as the drawstring means you can cinch the perfect amount. I love that feature!!
At the minute my measurements are 36A:32:45 but know my first version still fits so I cut the straight size 12 and lengthened the skirt by 2″. It shrunk a tiny bit in the wash which makes it fit even better actually. My first version was polyester but the twill is slightly stretchy so a tiny bit of shrinkage counteracted this perfectly.
The drawstring is made in self fabric with the seam allowance rolled inside to make it very round almost like roulueau but not cut on the bias. If I’d had any I would have added cord inside. And instead of using eyelets like last time, I sewed buttonholes for the openings.
Proving it can still be dressed up I’ve worn the dress to a) my work leaving do, b) my dad’s 65th birthday dinner and c) the New Craft House Galentines party. The latter was extra special as my #sewingwife Marie of A Stitching Odyssey and I had a lovely weekend in London together seeing the Mary Quant exhibition, having dinner with our friend Allie and then winning the #sewingwife bingo at the party!
Dressing in the same fabric pushed us over the edge into winning I think. Marie’s dress is the Solina by Named with extra long waist ties. She hasn’t blogged it yet but watch this space. The prize was fabric vouchers for the NCH shop and we both ended up buying the same fabric!
I don’t think I’m done with this pattern yet as it’s a great showcase for prints as well as being endlessly comfy to wear. I have some solid chartreuse/mustard twill that could be good and a couple of viscose florals that would work well. Maybe just one or two more versions then…
I’m writing this late at night as storm Ciara batters my house. The streetlamps are noisily rattling and the rain is pelting against the roof. It’s February everybody!January was pretty quiet on the sewing front as I dealt with training my replacement at work, saying goodbye to everyone and joining a totally different company. And though I found time to make a new Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress for my leaving do, I lost my sew-jo a little by the end of the month.
Thankfully it’s just starting to come back and I’ve cut out a pair of Juno pyjamas, found supplies for my eyelet trim dress and started a new embroidery project. I even managed to slap on some make-up and take blog photos! This is my second Indigo dress by Tilly and The Buttons. I made the same view again as you can see but learning from my last version I made a couple of changes. I added back in 1cm to the centre back bodice and 0.5cm to the front.Though this fixed any tightness in my range of arm movement, the dress still has this nasty habit of riding backwards slightly, as if the shoulder and sleeve head isn’t in the right position. Something to tinker with if I make another.This stunning golden yellow fabric features blue outlined white flowers. It’s a viscose cady from Selvedge and Bolts, run by the gorgeous Dibs who I haven’t had chance to meet up with in like 7 or 8 years, crazy! But her online shop is beautifully curated with designer prints and high quality fabrics. This print is sold out but the ochre tencel twill is also a gorgeous gold colour.With fine draping fabric like viscose I appreciate having my cutting table as I can really ensure the grain is straight and the fabric doesn’t shift as I cut. The top of my table is covered in a jigsaw of cutting mats so I can use my rotary blade to work speedily.A sharp new needle was required for snag free sewing and I even managed to find four yellow spools for my overlocker to make the insides pretty! I’ve worn this dress to work a few times and I’m super excited to have a shade of yellow that suits me. I think it suits me better when my hair is out of the way as it gets stuck in the neckline sometimes heheh.Time to get back to the sewing room! But here are three more Indigo versions I love. Tiers and pretty colours from Purple Sewing Cloud, classic chambray from Patsypoo Makes, and last but not least a golden make from What Bec Sews.