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!
Today is confession time.
Saturday evening I was sipping bubbles, swirling around a dancefloor and trying to make small talk with Footballers, WAGs and Soap stars.
That’s right, it was finally the night of the James Milner Foundation – Winter Charity Ball. And as I’d mentioned, I had every intention of making a dress for the event.
Now if you follow me on Twitter you’ll have heard my stories of woe. I had plans and supplies, but then somewhere along the way everything got away from me.
The bodice turned out gorgeous. I was so happy. But alas the skirt was not for me. No, I could not face all those gorgeous people feeling self-conscious about the way it hugged my midriff.
Now I could have raced out and bought a ludicrously expensive dress that I’d never wear again. But lo and behold, a search in my humongous wardrobe revealed with (70s?) vintage gown I’d worn to my Graduation ball oh so many years ago. I love the plunging neck (lower than I usually brave) and beautiful rose at the waist.
I bought it at the time because it made me feel like a Bond girl. Please don’t correct me otherwise.
The theme of the party was “Come Fly With Me” – held at the Concorde centre in Manchester.
The night featured champagne, Ferrari taxis, his and hers fake tan, dodgems, pretending to be an air steward, ice skating, Lawson and JLS, plus much, much more. Too much to mention I think.
One important thing to note is that although the room was filled with people who make my annual salary in a week, these were also generous folk who raised £60k from the auction alone. The final total of funds raised is yet to be circulated but for the recipient charities it will be a wonderful contribution to keep their good work going.
Apologies for the poor quality photos. It was a bit dark in there! Also don’t look at my hair too closely. All my hard work on the perfect do was destroyed as soon as I stepped out into 60mph winds.
If you are intrigued by what the heck was going on take a look at the official photos on the JMF homepage.