Hello everyone! I’m keeping up my run of weekly blog posts and it feels so good! Today I’m sharing a dress that I cooked up by mashing a few things together. It’s the perfect 50s style swishy midi dress that makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I could easily swish around on a Greek island too if needed. Anyone offering a mini break?
So are you curious about my superhack? I started with the Elisalex dress bodice which I’ve made twice before but skipped the sleeves this time. I’m wearing the size 10 with a little bit of excess taken out of the shoulders. Then used Vogue 9000 which I’ve made here, and merged the skirt panels into a front and back rather than seven piece skirt. I’m wearing the size 14 waist and hip. I then adjusted the side seams and centre back edges slightly to make sure they’d match up and chopped an inch off the length.
I’m so happy with the result as it’s modest with the neckline and length, but a little cheeky with the dipped back, AND the skirt has fantastic swish! Seriously good swish. Which is mostly down to the fabric I chose but important to say that being flared rather than circle, there’s limited chance of the skirt blowing up and flashing everyone on a windy day. Result! My invisible zipper went in like a dream (I love my invisible zipper foot to death – if you don’t have one, go get one) and the waist matches nicely! I handsewed the lining to the inside for a change as I normally stitch in the ditch but had some telly to watch while I did it.
I really like wearing dark colours in hot weather as I am always cold and this is a guaranteed way to warm up, but also I think black looks great with a tan. This is of course one of Lisa Comfort’s gorgeous fabric prints. I was very tempted by the first collection which features pastel colours and soft florals. I love Elderflower and the pink colourway would have been perfect for me but I resisted as I hate hate hate ironing and need to limit the amount of cotton dresses I make before I go insane over the wrinkles.
When the crepe collection was released I snapped up the Wild Flower print in black. At 150cm-wide it’s perfectly designed to fit a flared skirt like this without needing to cut on the cross grain but at midi length the pieces are fabric hungry. However the princess seam bodice of the Elisalex dress is a great space saver on a fabric layout. I lined the bodice in black habotai to help as well. In the end I got this dress out of just 1.5m of fabric! SO EFFICIENT!
The poly crepe barely wrinkles, floats like a dream and is totally opaque. Big points for my lifestyle! I’m only slightly bummed that there is a permanent crease in the centre front of the skirt from where the fabric was folded in half before being put on the bolt. I don’t know if this is just my piece, or just the bolt. It could be how the fabric was pressed during transit after printing. I don’t know… but every time I look down I try not to look at the crease line. BUT to end on a more positive note, I can totally recommend the fabric quality, the Elisalex pattern for how well drafted it is and Vogue 9000 as the perfect half shirtdress (eyes peeled for my newest version of this dress in one of the prettiest viscose prints I’ve ever found).
*Just to let you know this post contains affiliate links but products I link are from trusted sellers like The McCall Pattern Co selling through Amazon or Minerva Crafts. There’s no obligation to buy through the link of course. I don’t advertise on my blog so this is a little way to fund the running of the site!
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.
I’m still getting used to what might be a ‘typical’ day! Since taking the job of editor of Love Sewing Magazine a few months ago, my life’s been pretty hectic. It generally starts off the same though – either my alarm buzzes at 06:30 or my cat slaps me in the face with her paw demanding breakfast. I have a massive cup of tea and pick out one of my handmade dresses to wear. Then I’m off on my way to the train station, it takes me two hours to get to Stockport in Manchester, where the Love Sewing offices are based. I get home around 7.30pm and once I’ve had dinner I have a brief window for sewing time. If I’m desperate to get my teeth into sewing something I have to save it for the weekend.
This fabric demanded to be a shirt dress. And I became pretty obsessed with having a yellow/mustard collar in the same shade as the bow on the cat’s tail. I searched all of Leeds and Birmingham for coordinating fabric but no dice. But that absolute sweetheart Marie said she thought she had a piece of double gauze in her stash that was a close match. I sent her off with a little snippet of a cat and she posted back the PERFECT colour gauze that was so soft and lovely I felt terrible cutting into it. I bought some French vintage buttons from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge to pull everything together.
I used the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress in a straight size 8 as before but I cut the collar, and two facings out of yellow. This is a really nice trick for a contrast collar. You just have to be quite precise with your understitching – I didn’t want navy showing around my collar seam, and I didn’t want yellow showing around my centre front!
I went sleeveless again as you can see. There’s also self made bias binding which you can’t see. Not cutting the facings or collar out of the cat print gave me enough scraps to cut bias strips. I got the dress out of 1.5m of fabric! I’m pretty chuffed with that I have to say. And I didn’t skimp on cutting out pieces on grain. And I added the extra inside button to stop the waistband gaping – thanks go to Emmie for that ingenious addition.
The kitty fabric is a polycotton from the Abakhan bargain bins at Manchester. I searched for ages to see if there was more but this was the only piece. Man that place is a treasure trove. I think it was £4 for the piece! The title of this post comes from me watching too much Portlandia recently. Sorry (not sorry).
So what more can I say! Sorry to post this so close to the other shirt dress, but I wanted to get it online before the end of the month. I’m going to enter it in the Sew Over It monthly show off competition. I don’t expect to win but it’s a clever comp for people to show how they’ve put their own spin on a pattern. I’ve seen some gorgeous floral shirt dresses and lovely Bettys and so on. I like noseying at what everyone is sewing who don’t have blogs heehee.
Until next time, happy sewing everyone!
What a happy thing to be writing about.
As I mentioned in my previous post, this past Saturday I was very happy to help celebrate 150 years of John Lewis with Lisa Comfort and some awesome sewing bloggers.
We held our very own sewing bee in the Haberdashery floor of the Oxford Street premises. We cooed over the fabric, patterns and supplies and stitched up a storm with the lovely Lisa, our celebrity host and founder of the Sew Over It sewing cafe and shop. There was lots of cackling and pink cheeks amongst the spoolettes as we gossiped over our work.
The photos are the wonderful work of our photographer Brian Doherty Photography, Kim and Holly from John Lewis and the lovely Charlie (who managed to find time to sew and snap pics!).
One of the cool things JL have done to mark their anniversary is to launch a line of heritage print fabric by bringing back special edition archive prints and putting a modern twist on them by rescaling the prints and using the 150 years colour palette.
For instance the colourful brick print was originally a 1950s John Lewis dress fabric.
I went with white, yellow and turquoise floral print called “Daisy Chain” and an AKO for Vogue pattern V1102, a backless dress with a bow. It’s finished and photographed now so expect a post about the dress VERY SOON!
Charlie took this lovely photo of me. I’m so focused!
Amazingly we all managed to choose different fabrics. And I’m pattern twinsies with Charlie, who also went for the Vogue pattern.
Everyone was so lovely to us during the day, making sure we had everything we needed. Each blogger had an amazing prym toolbox chocca full of notions and gadgets. The shears cut like BUTTER!
We took the group photo on the new rooftop garden. It was pretty amazing up there and JL have planned some swanky parties to make use of it. Very jealous!
Look at Roisin’s pretty dress. “Winner Winner, Quorn family roast dinner”.
I might even have to buy myself a few metres of some of the other stunning fabrics on offer during this 150 year celebration. Possibly to recreate this little beauty!
So all in all an EPIC day. I came home exhausted and hoarse and thoroughly happy. I’m so so grateful to have been included on such an amazing event.
More on my finished dress soon!