Hello everyone! I was unbelievably excited to see the Dior exhibition at The V&A museum this weekend. I took my Aunt and cousin and just knew I’d tear up when I saw everything… I’m oddly emotional about the idea of all that design and talent gathered together. See a few personal highlights on my Instagram account.
Tea dresses are the ultimate wardrobe staple for me so it’s no surprise I reach for the same few patterns when I want to show off a great fabric. Feminine, timeless and modest they suit my workwear wardrobe as much as my out of office outfits. I love going out for lunch and on day trips in vintage style clothes as much as I like vintage glam evening wear! During the work day I don’t get to pile on the vintage make up or hair but I like to wear retro inspired clothes to the office as they make me feel turned out and confident. There’s no actual dress code in my office so sometimes wearing a shirtwaist dress or a circle skirt while everyone is wearing jeans makes me a point of difference but it doesn’t put me off. I honestly enjoy getting dressed every morning… I hope you do too?
So as you will have guessed, I’ve made this pattern before (three times now but only twice blogged). This is the Simple Sew Annabelle dress which I’ve always made in drapey crepe fabric. This time I thought I’d try something a little more structured! I treated myself to this “cotton spandex mix” from Lindy Bop who have just started selling fabric. They have a small collection of prints on two bases; scuba and “crepe de chine”. The latter arrived and was stretchy and relatively well structured so I think it’s a creative interpretation of what crepe de chine fabric is. It still gathers like a dream and has a lovely shine to it so please don’t think it’s not a quality fabric. I chose the magpie print and the bookcase print (as an editor I had to).
The blue is so vibrant and each of the magpies are depicted chasing different jewels and treats like rings, charm bracelets and gems. I live in a new build house from the early 2000s which was a long empty plot of land originally. When the builders turned over all the soil ready to build on, magpies came in the droves to find shiny bits that were unearthed and even now the houses are built they can’t help return to the spot. On a daily basis I see between 5-10 magpies around my street so I am constantly singing THIS nursery rhyme. And I ALWAYS say hello to a lonely magpie to make sure he’s not on his own.
You buy the material in either 1m or 3m lengths so have a think what you’d prefer and maybe partner up with someone to share if you The fabric is printed on a white base so when you stretch it you can slightly see white beneath. It’s also surprisingly closely woven so I recommend a very sharp fine needle to avoid snagging. You may want to line the fabric in case it sticks to tights but it’s totally opaque so makes a really lovely garment. I’m really pleased with the dress and the fabric and I’m looking forward to making my bookcase print dress! I think it would look fun as a Simplicity 1419 or a Selkie Patterns London dress don’t you?
Time for something unusual today… a “pretty fail”. I don’t tend to share garments I’m not happy with on the blog as I probably won’t wear them and the problems aren’t something that others can usually learn from (like bad colour choice or low quality fabric, etc). This time I love the fabric used for this dress so much I’m going to fix it at the weekend to make it more wearable!
This is the Eve dress by Sew Over It. I bought this pattern from Village Haberdashery something like a year and a bit ago as I loved the elegant versions popping up on the internet. I then paused as wrap styles never really suit me due to my extreme difference in proportions. I’m still currently a 36A cup size and 31″ waist with a 44″ hip. I need a really flared wrap skirt to flatter my lower half and need to ensure a close fit at the bust given I don’t have much to fill the top. I made view A which features fluted sleeves and a longer hem length. My fabric is suitable drapey and opaque (always a winning combination in my book) and I love the bold teal colour.
This is a twill fabric from Mandors of Glasgow priced £5.99 and comes in a couple of colours but I couldn’t resist the teal. They sent me the fabric for free in exchange for a review of their service and I was pleased to see my parcel nicely wrapped in tissue paper and sparkly ribbon, and washing/care instructions were included for the fabric. The range and prices on offer were surprising when I started browsing as I’d always assumed Mandors were a small business but with plenty of lovely dressmaking fabric and unique patterns on offer I’d be tempted back again for sure. And as I look at fabric shops for a living I have high standards.
While I adore how swishy the sleeves are I think the combination of longer length and big sleeves are drowning my 5ft4 frame. I have very narrow shoulders and feel like they’re getting lost. The print on the fabric being ditsy does suit me I think as it’s not too overpowering and the bold block of colour makes it an eye-catching dress.
I made a size 8 around the upper bodice, grading to a size 10 waist and then a size 14 hip. Given the wrap style there is a lot of room for adjustment here but I think the bodice is quite loose and prone to moving so I either safety pin it shut or wear a pretty slip underneath. It billows a little at the back too so is quite airy to wear on a hot day (not that they seem to be coming back soon!) The length feels very romantic and looks nice with heels or flat shoes. It just comes back to those darn sleeves.
I tried tucking the sleeves in for a photo (don’t laugh please) and instantly felt unburdened so I’m going to unpick the sleeves and bias face the armholes. I just don’t think I’ll wear it again if I don’t do this, even though I love how vintage 40s the silhouette is.
Isn’t it funny how your brain can picture some garments so clearly in the planning stages to help you match the right fabric to the right pattern and sometimes it can lead you down an odd path…
Time to look at some gorgeous versions of the dress like this “nightie” version by Emilie with some clever observations, Cheryl’s stunning rose print and not forgetting this “too big and too small” dress by Daphne inspired by Boden.
Hello all! I’ve recovered from my extremely busy December and am back with a finished make for myself.
This dress was a rather spontaneous make as I was lucky enough to try on a finished version we had in the office! This meant I quickly worked out the couple of tiny adjustments I’d need to make it fit me. I could then cut out with confidence and whizzed this up in a day. In fact I made the yellow version you’re seeing on the new pattern envelope! We’re now making the designs in UK fabric and reprinting the envelopes. Squeal!!
The pattern is M6891 which is on the front of Love Sewing 63 on sale from tomorrow! It’s double stuffed so you get sizes 8-24 in one envelope and the issue includes tips on collars and cuffs if you haven’t made them before. I love a notched collar and The McCall Pattern Co instructions direct you to make theirs differently to other brands like Simplicity or indie designs.
As normal you position the collar between the facings and shirt neckline, instead of sewing over the seam allowance they ask you to push it out of the way and stop at the seam point marked by a dot, then sew on the other side in the same way. Here’s a diagram to explain a bit more:
This reduces bulk as it means you can grade the seams and trim a bit more freely as the seam allowance isn’t trapped… But this technique seems more beneficial on thicker fabrics like coats really. Unless I’ve missed another reason for this technique.
It’s not a surprise I like this pattern, as retro style shirtdresses are a big proportion of my wardrobe. They’re both smart and casual – perfect! I made view C and love the full skirt. The darts give a nice shape and of course the notched collar has a lovely vintage feel. It needs a reverse button/hole at the waist point for extra security but I can add that any time.
Now of course the Ultimate Shirtdress which is my favourite shirtdress pattern but in truth I’ve never got on with the sleeves. On the McCall’s design the sleeves fit great so maybe I need to try and merge the armscye and sleeve of this pattern with the Sew Over It pattern in the future.
I made the size 10. The bust fits my 36a-cup really nicely so no SBA here. I just adjusted the waist at the side seams to fit my 32″ tummy and the wide flare of the skirt is very roomy on my hips.
You might be wondering about the fabric… well to that I say, “Sewing friends are awesome”. They are especially great at birthday time because they think like a sewist when getting you a present and remember what things you say you like! This gorgeous Robert Kaufman spotty chambray was a gift from the darling Marie! Creative mind behind blog www.astitchingodyssey.com, Marie is such a lovely soul so I highly recommend you follow her inspiring blog/social media accounts and if you run into her at an event you’re guaranteed to leave smiling.
If you clicked into my shirtdress tag you’ll see I now have two spotty Robert Kaufman chambray dresses. Well I actually have a third UFO of Vogue 1102 cut out in the black colourway but I messed up some of the pintucks and have been putting off fixing it for months. Maybe 2019 is the year you’ll see that dress appear.
I’m currently trying to plan some sewing for the coming year. There are some lovely fabrics that have been in my stash for way too long. I’d really like to fix that and not be afraid of making the wrong thing anymore. I have my dressmakers ballgown to make too. Will I see you there?
So on Friday I got married to my favourite bloke in the world. We had unbelievably good weather, exchanged sweet and slightly soppy vows, laughed with all our friends and family, and danced the night away.
It was a joy to wear my handmade dress and see the mix of reactions from people who finally saw it finished as well as people who learnt during the day that I’d made it myself. Made of organza layers over duchesse satin it was floaty, romantic and a dream to wear. I wanted to feel like I’d stepped out of a vintage Dior photo shoot and it really felt that way when I stepped into the ceremony room.
My dress was all finished the week before and packed in a long garment bag, hidden from view. I started working on my frock before Christmas, testing toiles, deciding on Simplicity 1606 as the base, and draping a test dress to see how I could create the bodice effect I wanted. I practiced seam finishes and stitch settings and agonised over fabric choices for each layer.
In April I did the bulk of the work, with the sewing room door firmly shut and my playlist blaring. I redrafted the skirt and just managed to get the pieces on my cutting table. I spent a long time on the bodice and used every single entomology pin I had. Hemming the four skirt layers was extremely stressful and then lining up my lapped zipper nearly pushed me over the edge but as I handstitched my lining into place I knew it was going to be alright.
Everyone said to me on the day they couldn’t imagine what I was making but then they saw the dress it was exactly me, which was music to my ears. I’ll be sharing how I made the dress, tips and resources for future brides, and thoughts on the whole process throughout August. Like this post, a few will go up while I’m away on honeymoon but I’m excited to hear what you think when I’m back. So until then…
Lots of Love
Mrs Scarr xx
Hello everyone! Hope you’re enjoying this amazing weather!! I’ve been sewing up a storm for my honeymoon and finalising wedding details. It’s all pretty manic at work because I’m trying to do two issues at once so then my team only have to cover the third issue on their own. Oh what fun! But when I’m laid out in the sunshine with a tropical cocktail in my hand, the publishing panic will be far far far out of my mind. In other exciting news I finished my macrame plant hanger from November! I dyed white rope with tumeric, used wooden beads as accents and bought a pretty fern to go in the base. This is a result of our Wednesday craft clubs at work but I had to pause because it turns out you can’t buy little ferns during winter… who’d have thought!
I made myself another version of the utterly fab Lisette Simplicity 1419 dress that I made once before here. I really need to make a few more before the year is out! The sweet keyhole detail and perfectly fitting sleeve make this the dream bodice for me and you can add any style of skirt you like on the bottom for an all round winning dress.
This time I used a beautiful teal crepe from Fabworks that has a slight texture to it but not too pronounced. The print is oriental in feel with pretty birds and peonies (MY FAVE FLOWERS EVER so I’m calling them peonies even if they’re not for definite) but I can’t seem to find it on the website so it may have sold out, or be an in-store special. A reader already emailed me after seeing a little pic of this dress on my welcome page. So sorry I couldn’t help further Tara! I love working with crepes like this as they don’t really need ironing, plus the amount of drape is great and garments from it hang perfectly. Fabrics like this fit into my lifestyle so well as I never have time for ironing and even when I do, two hours in a car and the seatbelt crumples everything I’ve smoothed out!
Unlike my last version I didn’t alter the neckline at all; Being a touch higher works when you’re adding a button loop but I’d lower it again if sewing a plain front. The loop somehow makes it feel even more traditional like a cheongsam dress or something. I wasn’t really going for that but I think it makes the dress look a touch more formal. This is of course the Emery dress skirt added onto the bodice.
I made this dress on a whim to wear to the lovely Ruth’s hen do in York. It was a bit of a rush so I sewed the most awful zip I’ve done in a long long time. Partly this was because I just added a centre installed zipper where you use a close ended zipper and sew down either side. I’ve always hated this finish as they never sit neatly flat and open up, exposing the teeth in an unsightly way. BUT, now it’s done will I really be bothered to unpick and resew? Other than the shame of other sewists seeing it, I don’t care what non-sewing folk think as their clothes usually pale in comparison with off grain jeans, misaligned plaids and careless stitching.
I’m not sure I’ll ever made a version with the peter pan collar as they may be look extremely childlike on me but I won’t say never… that’s not the way to live. I should really try the included skirt pieces as the pleats would be quite flattering now. My changing waistline has led to me rediscovering some patterns and styles I previously ruled out.
If you find this fabric please do send me the link or tag me on social media so I can spread the word! It’s sooooo gorgeous, you’re definitely going to want some. For more dress loveliness, check out the fabulous Roisin of Dolly Clacket in red, and an amazing pattern hack from the darling Rachel also in red and last but not least the jacket that’s included in the pattern whipped up by Kerry in an awesome bird print!