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.
Hello my loveliest ones!! I am hating humanity after a hellish time on public transport and the motorway but you’re all exempt. You wouldn’t leave giant cases in the aisles and blare music without speakers would you?? I hope not. And you wouldn’t try and drive me off the road in your a supermarket delivery van right???
I’ve been doing a little less sewing than normal lately but wanted to experiment with the latest pattern from Love Sewing magazine. This pattern is included with issue 73 on sale October 3rd. That’s tomorrow! As you know I don’t often have time to make the magazine patterns but I just loved this neckline!
Isn’t Lis’s version below so gorgeous? I knew I couldnt pull off the shift style so I wanted to see if I could hack the dress to a more retro silhouette. To do this I used the waistline mark on the front and back bodice pieces. I marked lines across the pattern pieces 1.5cm below the waistline point. This was the cutting line.
I then worked out the finished waist measurement and measurements for the front and back and adjusted slightly so my skirt pattern would match at the side seams. The skirt here is actually my wedding dress skirt pattern! It makes it very swishy.
I made view D of the pattern with its lovely sweetheart neckline and no sleeves. This stretch spot cotton sateen is amazing quality and gives the dress a lot of structure. It took 3m to get all the pieces of this dress on the fabric even at 60″ wide. It’s a pretty huge skirt!!
I finished the hem with red bias tape; my preferred method for a circle skirt. There’s an invisible zipper in the back. And of course I added pockets. SO MUCH FUN!!
Please don’t think of me as terrible birthday brat but I wanted to share details of day 3 from my long weekend of celebrations. I still have one more day to go before I head back to reality and another press day on Tuesday.
My family weren’t free to catch up until the Saturday after my birthday so we made plans to have afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall near Adel. This 17th century manor house is popular for weddings and parties and there was a wedding going on as we arrived! We sat in the indoor terrace. All the beauty of a garden area but safe from the elements!
We dined on gorgeous sandwiches (I had the veggie selection of aubergine and hummus, avocado and salsa, and cream cheese and cucumber plus a huge onion bhaji). Then there was a dessert tray of scones, treacle tart, brownies, lemon posset, candyfloss and choc ganache lollipops!! Fizz, wine and Earl Grey tea finished the table off nicely and we chatted away the afternoon.
Sometimes you need a baggy dress. When you have this much food to eat its practically mandatory!! I haven’t been fitting into my clothes very well lately so a baggy dress fits well into my life right now. I’ve been inspired by DIY Daisy’s floaty dresses which are quite straight up and down while still feeling figure flattering.
I drafted a basic bodice with grown on sleeves and removed the darts from the front and back. Then I adjusted the front to a wrap extending into the waistline (rather than the side seam) using a v neckline as a guide. It sits high on the shoulder then drops in a steep v, crossing just under the bust. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle.
The excess fabric was used to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline. It was an awkward assembly in that I had to bind the front up to the shoulder and leave the ends unsewn first. That meant I could construct the bodice and join to the waist then install the zip. Then finally I could bind the top of the zipper and remaining bit of neckline. Of course I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the binding. I got impatient before adding a hook and eye at the top… a job for later.
I decided to topstitch the wrap in place as I can’t be arsed worrying about flashing people. I don’t have a lot of boob to flash but no need to take the risk. The waistline is slightly raised to help the body feel and the rayon means the dress is delightful floaty!! My favourite part of the dress is this stunning print.
Susan Driscoll designs the most gorgeous prints and I was overjoyed when she released her rayon collection ‘Soiree‘ with Dashwood Studio. I actually bought three of the designs! This print is called Fragment and it reminds me of geology and gemstones. It’s all my favourite colours in one design. It looks a little navy in my pics but is on a black base. I got this dress out of 1.5m of 45″-wide fabric by the skin of my teeth!
Do you think you can identify rayon? It’s known in the UK as viscose and is a natural fabric made of plant pulp. BUT sometimes shops just call drapey polyester ‘viscose’ which blurs the lines and sometimes it’s mixed with polyester… the same way any other fabric base can be mixed with polyester of course.
You can get rayon challis, rayon linen, and rayon jersey plus much more. 100% rayon challis is prone to shrinking, goes hard and rumpled when washed then goes back to being silky and smooth when dry. It doesn’t melt under heat or make static when you wear it. Its breathable and luxurious to wear and it’s my favourite fabric type! You need a sharp needle and sharp pins as its prone to snagging and you need a large space to work on so the fabric doesn’t slide as you work or cut out.
I hope you enjoyed this post and the details of my self drafted dress. I’m building up courage to cut into the Secret Garden print above and figure out what style to sew. If you are keen to try pattern drafting I recommend the Aldrich book series. I also attended a great evening course at Leeds Art School which taught me other methods of drafting if you don’t get on with Winnie Aldrich.
Finally thanks do much to everyone who commented on my tile dress on the blog and on Instagram. I definitely appreciate it!! Cheers to you all!
Hello happy people! I’m in a great mood because this post is going out on my birthday!! I never work on my birthday and always try to do something fun. As it’s a Thursday this year I also took the Friday off so it’s double the fun! Today I had a trip to the spa with a back and head massage and a foot massage. Then I ate my favourite skillet pancakes for lunch in the sun of Mill Kitchen’s outdoor seating. I’ve come back super chilled! And there’s time for a bit of sewing before we head out to dinner!
In other news I finished my dress for the New Craft House Riviera party and had a wonderful time on the night. There were so many familiar faces to catch up with plus some ladies I follow on Instagram but had never spoken to. There was Aperol spritzes and the biscuit fairy Claire was making sure we had regular snacks. I managed to get in a couple of photos with my darling Marie but in my usual style failed at getting a proper outfit shot. I AM THE WORST when I get chatting and forget all about photos.
So this week I managed to get a few photos at the studio with the lovely Renata this week so I’m not leaving it for ages to share my finished dress. I love the overall look and paired my lemon earrings and blue belt with the dress to pick up the colours in the fabric.
This embroidered mesh was pretty damn difficult to work with. The ‘squares’ are actually slight rectangles and they’re a huge 6″ tall which I didn’t think was actually that flattering when cut on the grain as it chops your body up in weird directions. It has no stretch and of course needed lining. Here’s the fabric if you’re tempted.
With all this in mind I decided to cut everything out on the bias! This left me with much less fabric to work with. I used Vogue 9000‘s hacked skirt from this dress and shortened it another 2″. I then cut both the front and back on the fold.
For the bodice I could only manage to cut the front on the fold and used my old Vogue 1102 (made so many times with too many tweaks to count) as I could hide the waist darts inside a tile without it looking too obvious. The back bodice had to be cut with a centre back seam but think it looks okay.
This all meant I needed a side zipper and to figure out the opacity. The bodice is underlined and then the two layers treated as one for construction and the raw edges finished with nude bias tape. The skirts were assembled separately and joined along the waist seam and zipper position. Below the zipper the skirts hang free and both layers were finished with an overlocked rolled hem. To finish I hand picked a side lapped zipper to make sure nothing would catch in the teeth and the stitching would be as invisible as possible.
If you didnt know this fabric was used in Dolce and Gabbana’s Majolica collection. This dress above sold for £4,800…. yep that’s insane. Anywhoo my dress is surprisingly swishy and I feel great in it. It took a lot of brainstorming to figure out the perfect silhouette, pattern placement and order of construction. It was quite nice having a meaty project to work on as I’ve been sewing a lot of quicker things lately but on the flip side there was also a lot on my plate so life suddenly felt very busy. It’s such a happy dress so I’m really pleased I powered through and think it will be nice for future events and holidays.
I know I’m a little bit of a diva when it comes to birthdays but I really just take the chance to see as many people as possible, eat and drink well, find joy in everything and feel grateful for another year! My husband and his family know me so well, I got flowers, gin, my favourite most relaxing White Company candle and a voucher for fabric! And on Saturday my family are taking me for fizz and afternoon tea! Life is grand!!
Oh and surprisingly I won one of the party raffle prizes for a Selkie Patterns pdf of my choice. I’m going to wait to see their exciting new launch and then decide which to get as an extra birthday present!! Thanks for reading. Maybe I’m writing to myself but I still love blogging, sharing my makes and documenting the process.
Aaaah another weekend over!
It’s been a good one in my books. I saw Wolf of Wall Street, had a long lie-in, did some sewing machine window-shopping, had a delicious paneer curry and went car booting with my parents!
The other nice thing is that I can share this ace dress I made for the Sew Dolly Clackett competition!
Errr I didn’t stand on that daffodil, promise.
Yes yes this dress is exactly the same at my last, but I was maximising my throughput. I cut both out in one go, my machine could stay threaded up with white cotton throughout and I was really efficient with sewing these up in parallel!
Another non-Hazel dress. Imagine how good those synchronised swimmers would have looked on the hazel bodice!
So this is the infamous swimming ladies fabric. Roisin used this for her first Anna dress. It’s also cropped up on House of Pinheiro, The Amazing Adventures of Taracat, and The Cinnamon Slipper to name just a few.
The only things I did differently with this version of the dress related to print placement. I made sure my swimmers were nicely framed below the neckline and on either side of the zipper. Plus I lined up the lady in blue with the orange cap so she peeks at you on the start of the straps heehee!
Obligatory Roisin door shot coming up!
Have you seen the retro swimming ladies crop up anywhere else? Leave me a comment if so, or if YOU’VE made something from it. I’d love to see.