Like many of us, the Covid situation threw me through a loop for a long time. I was home all the time, working from the spare room, I didn’t get out of my pyjamas many days, and barely wore makeup. And crafting? That was non-existent. In a way I’d lost my sense of identity – I wasn’t wearing or making home sewn clothes. But things are slowly starting to get better. It started with house viewings! Yes I had to wear gloves and masks, not touch anything and keep away from the estate agent as a I moved around but I had a reason to get dressed and get out the house. Then I went to an arm knitting blanket workshop at Fabricate.
I’d already seen on social media how dedicated Philippa was being about safety and going to the shop didn’t disappoint; she had socially distant workbenches, it was a zero contact tutorial, hand sanitiser a-plenty and much more. It was liberating to get a taste of what life used to be like but with a new safety-first slant. This week I’m going for a beach side break in a private cottage to celebrate my wedding anniversary and I’m taking one of my prettiest dresses to wear for dinner.
This dress has it’s own story. At the beginning of the year I was contacted by Lindybop about doing a sponsored blog post. I received 3m of fabric and in exchange I was to write a guest blog post and do social media promotion when the dress was ready.
This stunning china blue porcelain print fabric features delicate florals on a spandex cotton base which they called crepe de chine. You can read my earlier comments on how it isn’t really ‘crepe de chine’ on my magpie dress blog post. But before I could write the blog post, Lindybop went into administration. They kindly messaged me and said to keep the fabric and wished me well.
It’s rather sad, but the dress turned out so nicely that I’d like to still share it, even though it’s bittersweet. I made the McCall’s 5969 from Love Sewing mag 65 last year, one of my favourite issues (now out of stock). By merging View D with its modest wrap bodice and long sleeves with View B’s full circle skirt and sash tie, this dress becomes delightfully vintage with the right fabric.
I shared my toile of the bodice on Instagram earlier in the year – thought you’d appreciate the flash of tummy above. A brief reminder of my measurements: 36″ A bust, 33″ waist, 45″ hips. I chose a size 10 in the upper body/bust/armholes, 12 waist and 14 waist/hips. I then slimmed the sleeve width down a little and ultimately, shortened their length. I also moved the bust darts slightly and added 2″ to the skirt hem.
I’m not risking any mishaps with this wrap… There are multiple press stud fasteners used to close the dress at each side seam and the neckline. The sash belt is then purely decorative. The mix of facings and my own use of bias binding for the skirt and sleeve hems feels complementary.
This feels luxurious to wear because of the fabric. Plus it feels well drafted, as that sleeve head is lovely and the bodice has just enough ease for everyday movement without looking saggy. PLUS the swish of the circle skirt is, of course, fabulous. But that means it is also fabric hungry, requiring me to use almost all of my 3m.
Wrap dresses used to make me so upset when I tried them on as everyone said they were universally flattering no matter your shape. But when I tried them on in shops all I saw was this lumpy figure with overemphasised stomach and hips, and no bust. Then I tried the Eve wrap dress with some success. But a wrap dress with a circle skirt? This is glorious for my body shape aka the human butternut squash.
It’s been getting a fair bit of wear this Spring/Summer. The weather comes and goes but paired with a cardigan it looks rather cute. This is how I wore it during Me Made May.
This dress was actually relegated to my wardrobe for the first year it was made. I made it too tight at the waist by taking it in too much and made the straps too wide. So earlier this year I dug it out, let out the seams and recut the straps.
The fabric is a fun stretch crepe with white tigers lounging all over it. I wouldn’t recommend stretch fabrics for button down clothes unless they’re loose but I’m a renegade so I don’t take my own advice. I got it from Dalston Mill Fabrics who have an online shop of secret treasures like this.
I use a loop turner to make straps and these made me scream bloody murder! In hindsight I should have move their position a little. For the covered buttons I love the contrast pop of yellow. They’re made in a similar weight yellow stretch crepe. I still have to make a dress from this crepe. Covered buttons are so polished and quite fun to make. I use a rubber tool to press the pieces together which you can see my tutorial for Love Sewing here.
As a friend of the Tilly team I was kindly gifted the paper pattern with no obligations to promote but I love the dress so why wouldn’t I share. I made a size 4 but it was a little roomy under the armpits so I tinkered with the side seams as I mentioned. This is the plain bodice view without the waistband and the midi skirt.
On single dart bodices I prefer them to be at the waist. I understand they couldn’t do that because of the tie front view. I could have moved the darts I suppose but pressed ahead regardless. The skirt is a great length if you don’t want to shave your legs properly and is lovely and swishy. Plus now it makes me think of of the show Tiger King.
Abstract prints like terrazzo or Matisse style cutouts are having a fantastic revival. They’re so bold and imperfect and interestingly can evoke different feelings depending on the colours mixed in. After spotting a dress on Pinterest I had been searching for a great abstract floral print and sewsewsew came to the rescue.
I needed a terrazzo that wasn’t on a pale or white base as that doesn’t suit my colouring so it was really exciting to find this beautiful Gabriella Peachskin on the website which comes in grey, red, mustard or navy. Katie has a great eye for fabric so I nearly got sidetracked 10 times looking at everything that is available. I chose the red background with white, grey, mustard and black pattern. It’s like terrazzo meets flowers which is wonderful.
Peachskin is that magic combination of drapey and opaque so it’s perfect for blouses, dresses and skirts. I really wanted to make another version of my self-drafted birthday dress which features grown on cap sleeves, a faux wrap bodice and gathered skirt. I learnt pattern drafting a few years ago and it’s lovely to have it in my back pocket when I want to sew something specific.
Multi-directional prints like this are really worth their price in my mind as they open up garment layplans to be much more efficient. Even though I was kindly gifted this fabric in exchange for a review I honestly believe at £4.50 a half metre it’s a great price and definitely recommend it. It would look great in a tiered hem skirt or Cielo from Closet Case Patterns.
Peachskin does have a tendency to fray so all my seams were overlocked and the necklines and sleeves were finished with bias binding. This was cut from the same fabric and stitched before turning to the inside as a facing. I installed a red invisible zipper in the centre back and added a nice deep 1” hem to the skirt.
I love invisible zippers but know they can be tricky for people. I find it best to baste the zipper in place by hand with needle and thread at the waistline. It only has to be a couple of inches to get the intersection aligned. And I absolutely swear by my invisible zipper foot for easy first time installation. My other tips include avoiding a high iron heat so you don’t scorch the fabric and start with a new fine machine needle to avoid snagging the fabric.
The dress is boxy and breezy, perfect for the recent hot weather but would easily work with tights in winter. Peachskin doesn’t crease easily so this style is a perfect partner for the fabric and I feel relatively smart no matter how long into the day I’ve been wearing it. The sheen of the fabric and scale of the print make it a joy to wear.
Well hello sunshine. It’s a bright and happy week outside and the sky is clear and calm. Which makes me feel a bit calmer too. I’ve been keeping busy doing quizzes with family and friends, experimenting with air dry clay and of course sewing. It is still rather difficult to know what to make but I’m managing to keep going. My Plum dress is a good example of that!
Sometimes you gave to be bold and challenge yourself to try a shape you wouldn’t normally wear/make. When Ana’s call went out for testers, my hand shot up. I like checking pattern instructions and testing construction so I miss that part of my old job. That’s why I also checked some patterns for the recent Sewing Bee book.
Plum is extremely loose and floaty babydoll but features fun frill sleeves with an interesting construction and a charming buttoned back bodice. I’d had success with the similarly roomy Indigo dress so was intrigued by the drop shoulder detail on Plum.
The dress us unlined so very quick to put together (perfect for beginners) but I was slowed down trying to figure out the fit. I ended up with a size 2 in the upper body, size 1 in the lower body. It’s a smidge tight in the biceps… I use that term loosely as I don’t have any! So perhaps a 3 in that area would have been best. The size 1 has oodles of space for my 45″ hips so it’s nice and breezy.
This polka dot visvose challis fabric was a present from Marie from Birmingham rag market. We both bought it in 2014 (I think) but I managed to rip mine. So sweet Marie sent me hers as a bonus treat when I recently shopped her stash. I found some adorable flower buttons to finish the placket and used blue bias tape around the neckline.
I made my version before the neckline was altered on the final pattern but knew it was being lowered so trimmed it down to be a close match. I hemmed to just above the knee so I didn’t feel swamped.
The husband approves of how floaty it is but I’m hyper aware of the frills when I wear it. My fear of ruffles continues!! It’s a great working from home dress for definite.
See the other tester versions and buy the pattern here to make your own version!
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.