Remember those sewing and dressmaking classes I attended? All that sewing I said I was (going to be) doing? On my other blog, I even created a Sewing Saturday series and a sewing page. Well,now it’s time to revisit all of that here, on this new blog.
I’ve been wanting to share my sewing escapades with you lot for aaaaages! But only now — after moving house, trying to more effectively manage my time, lots of work (the day job!), some travel, and of course, procrastination — am I finally at a point where I can start doing that. And I’m really excited for you to see what I’ve made so far!
If you’d been reading my other blog, you’ve already heard about totes bags, cushions and more in the Sewing Saturday posts. But what I’d not shared, were any of the dressmaking projects I’d completed; a good number now! So that’s what’s I’m going to do.
Be warned: I’m a novice sewer, and certainly not a sewing blogger, of which there are many awesome examples! Also, I cannot promise excellent photography: the problem with trying to show off clothes is you have to wear them and get someone to take photos of you. Good ones. But I’ll try.
By Hand London — Georgia | £9 PDF Pattern | Variation 2 (skinny straps)
My first dress! Well, that isn’t strictly true. You probably don’t remember — I’m not even sure I do, or want to — but I tried to make a dress before; New Look 6968. But, it remains in my fabric drawer, unfinished. I’d become fed up with it; the cotton fabric, the fitting issues and not really wanting to wear it. Maybe I will finish it one day…
Anyway, so I was apprehensive about starting another dress and not finishing it but as it was for a friend’s big birthday party, I couldn’t really not finish it, else I’d have nothing to wear. But just to be safe, and to avoid forced feedback, I didn’t tell anyone I was constructing my attire for the evening.
I have a couple of photos from the evening itself but none that show enough of the dress to be suitable here. Instead, you get a shot in our sunny garden.
Geometric print, stretch cotton sateen. Purchased during a a fabric trip to London’s Goldhawk Road, ~£7 per metre.
Sizing and cutting
A couple of points:
- Size: based on the finished garment measurements, and accounting for the amount of stretch in my fabric, I graded the pattern between a UK 8 bust : UK 10 waist : UK 12 hips. This is not the sizing you see in the photos, see Fitting and alterations below.
- Adjustment(s): according to my measurements, no Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) or Small Bust Adjustment (SBA) was required. I made a toile of the bodice in some cotton from my stash and was happy I did. Whilst a FBA or SBA was not necessary, it was very helpful in determining this without using my geometric fabric.
- Fabric: I was going to have alternating panels of black and print à la House of Pinheiro’s panelled Georgia dress, which is beautiful! But in the end, I wanted all of mine to be in the fab geometric print that I’d been waiting to use, and did the straps in black stretch cotton sateen. Also, it might look like I cut some of the pieces wonky but there was a slight slope in some sections of the fabric. I also didn’t pattern match because a) I think it’s fine and b) would’ve taken an age and more brainpower than I have!
In general, the pattern instructions were very good and the BHL’s sewalong posts helped a lot. I got somewhat confused between some of the images in the pattern instructions and those in the sewalong posts. This may have been due to my beginner skill level but I personally found the sewalong instructions more accurate. I contacted BHL for some clarification and they were quick to respond and very lovely.
Fitting and alterations
After trying it on, I needed to alter the pattern quite considerably, but some elements also fit out of the packet:
- Skinny straps: I shortened these by ~1″ but they were still a little too long so would shorten them further if making again.
- Side seams: the whole dress was too big so I shaved 1–2″ off the side seams, to fit my body shape. I could’ve spread this reduction across all of the panel seams but this worked fine (and I was in a bit of a rush), especially for such a busy print. Ultimately, I think I could’ve cut at least a UK 8 all round.
- Lower back: I have a big booty and a relatively small waist and under-bust area. This meant I had a lot of a fabric hanging loose around the lower back area. I came in by 1″ at my waist, grading out to my hips. Even if I’d cut a UK 8 all round, I suspect I still might’ve needed to bring this area in.
- Under-bust: there is still a little bit of loose fabric here but actually, I don’t think it looks too bad.
I now just need to make these adjustments to the pattern pieces! Ya know, when I learn how to do that properly.
- Seams: An overlocker gives a professional finish, as seen on clothing in fashion stores. But since I don’t have one of those (on my wish list!), I pinked all of the seams.
- Lining: I lined with white cotton lawn, although in hindsight, perhaps black may have been better. Due to time constraints, I just tacked the lining and really must sew it in properly.
- Hem: Again, due to time constraints, I opted for a double-turned topstitched hem. I planned to have a blind hem but as the fabric is so busy, you can barely see the black cotton, and where you can see it, I quite like the look. So I probably won’t change it.
Overall, a success I think! And I would make this again. I now want a black version with the wide collar straps. Lessons learned? I should allow more time for sewing as this took longer than I thought, especially with the alternations.
Tilly And The Buttons — Lilou Dress | Traced pattern | Book £10 on Amazon
After settling into the flat, and purchasing a desk for sewing and blogging purposes mainly, I set out to kit out my sewing space (more on that soon!), including some relevant literature. I’d given myself some breathing space to see whether my zest for sewing and dressmaking was going to continue now I was no longer attending classes. And I’m very glad to say it has! If anything, I’m even more eager to progress and excited by the possibilities for developing my skill(s).
After much consideration, I opted for:
- Tilly Walnes’, of Tilly And The Buttons, Love At First Stitch
- Sarai Mitnick’s, of Colette Patterns, The Colette Sewing Handbook
- Tasia St. Germaine’s, of Sewaholic, The Sewtionary
The first two contain patterns; 7 patterns you have to trace or draft for Love At First Stitch, and 5 full-sized tissue paper patterns for The Colette Sewing Handbook. Whilst The Sewtionary is an excellent A to Z, spiral-bound reference book for sewers of any skill level.
Of all the projects I could choose from Love At First Stitch, I have gone for the last project: the beautiful Lilou dress and shall be added a scalloped neckline. I’ve cut a size 2 in some blue cotton with white polka dots I picked up from Abakhan fabrics in Manchester for ~£7 per metre.
I look forward to sharing more of these with you!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all items mentioned myself and all views expressed are my own.