I managed to finish sewing my second Avid Seamstress Day Dress at long last! This project has taken me around two years to complete. I was very close to finishing in late August, but this dress became yet another casualty of the secret project, my series of coat classes and my thumb injury. I prioritised finishing the coat instead, which turned out to be a wise decision given how cold January was. That decision meant this dress narrowly missed out on being the last item completed in my #2017makenine and now cannot be included in either make nine challenge.
In the end, it only took around an hour to finish the machine sewing on the neck facing. I was very relieved that the pieces all fit since I’d cut them such a long time ago. The facing looks so much better than my botched attempt at using bias binding on my first Day Dress (a combination of rookie error and overconfidence). I also hand-stitched the hem, which took a while but looks pretty good. I managed to complete the finishing in time to wear this dress on my 31st birthday.
Overall, I am very happy with how this dress turned out. The day dress pattern fits perfectly into my work wardrobe. More details about the changes I made, and my views on the pattern, can be found here. I really like this dress in the drapey rayon. It’s going to be great to wear in summer, though I’m not sure how well the fabric will wash. I have some gorgeous viscose ready to make into a third Day Dress, and I’m very excited by that project. I think I will cut a straight size 10 rather than the mashup size I attempted here, for unremembered reasons.
Pretty sure I popped a couple of stitches while I was messing around but I just can’t resist a cheeky crow pose
Notes for next iteration
- Lower the darts on the bodice by a couple of cm
- Use self fabric for pockets if possible
Pattern: Avid Seamstress Day Dress in a hybrid size 3/4 (corresponds to UK size 10/12)
Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased in Indonesia
I cut this dress out soon after finishing my denim day dress, but didn’t do anything else in over a year. I intended to take the pieces to a sewing cafe to overlock them, but never quite got round to it until a couple of months ago.
Weirdly, I had to re-cut a lot of my pattern pieces. No idea why, but a lot of them were too big. This also gave me a chance to take some length out of the back bodice.
The dress seems to be going together okay so far. I found the viscose more difficult to gather neatly than the denim of my previous version. I think next time, I would sew the elastic even closer to the tops of the skirt pieces.
I also found the invisible zip installation instructions a bit confusing- they state to sew using a normal zipper foot, but at no point seem to instruct you to go over it again with an invisible zip foot. I’ll just add this step in as I see fit.
You can see the offending sleeve at the top of this pic. On a more positive note, adding a row of gathering stitches made it a lot easier to pin in the sleeve.
Fortunately re-cutting the sleeve didn’t cause me too much of a roadblock even though I couldn’t find the pattern piece and so had to trace a new one off the second left sleeve. Hope the other piece turns up. The construction goes really quickly once the sleeves are in, so now it’s just the hems and neck facing to go.
Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased on holiday in Indonesia
I just about finished sewing my dress in time for the wedding. If I ever mention starting a garment with less than a week before the event I am due to wear it, someone please slap me. This dress jumps straight to the top of the list of most complex garments I have ever made. The difficulty was due to a combination of altering the pattern and working with tricky and costly fabrics. However, as has fortunately been the case often in my craft life, she who dares wins!
My initials are MEAD, so I was kind of tickled by this sign.
This was my first time lining a dress. I underlined the bodice and lined the skirt with lovely navy viscose. I stupidly cut the skirt lining too short, so I had to fudge lengthening it with some ribbon. I didn’t make the best choice in selecting velvet ribbon- though pretty, it’s much stiffer than the fluid viscose- but actually it looks okay under the voile.
For the first time, I added snaps to the dress to stop my bra straps peeking out. It worked pretty well! Here you can also see the guts of the dress- probably the best wrong side finish I’ve ever achieved.
This was such a fun summer wedding. So much so that I forgot to take any pictures except the few next to the sign on the way! Thankfully Glory posted this candid picture that shows the back of the dress.
I love how the scooped back turned out. I will most likely incorporate this change into any further Southports.
Here are my two lovely Southports.
I really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.
I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.
I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.
I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.
- Eliminate button band again
- Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
- Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
- Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
- Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
- Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.
So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.
The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.
I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.
Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.
I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.
- Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them
Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining
Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)
I finished my pineapple Tulip Skirt in plenty of time to take it on my minibreak to Hamburg. Here I am posing in front of some street art.
I posed in numerous other locations also. Here I am befriending a local fisherman.
I didn’t make many changes to the pattern. The size 10 is right for me, and I moved the pockets up as I always worry that my phone will fall out of the pockets on my original fuchsia version. I would probably make the pockets EVEN BIGGER in future. I would probably also use self-fabric rather than lining fabric if possible.
I have a feeling that this will be a great skirt to wear with sandals in the summer.
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)
Fabric: 1m linen-cotton mix from SOI
My eyes locked on to this fabric from across a crowded room and I knew I had to have her. I really can’t resist a fruit print and these pineapples are so much fun! I instantly pictured myself in a cute skirt, frolicking joyfully during a mini-break. For a while, I thought that we couldn’t be together. The lady in the shop told me that the fabric was all used for online orders. I was heartbroken. But then I checked the website and was able to buy her there. She’s worth the postage.
I decided to take a risk and try to squeeze this skirt out of a metre of fabric. When I measured the last tulip skirt I made, it took 1.1m of fabric. I really hoped those 10cm wouldn’t cause me too many problems…
Nope! Most sizes could easily be cut from 1m of 145cm wide fabric. I didn’t even have to use a different fabric for the waistband facing.
Having seen the gorgeous sample in quilting cotton in the Sew Over It store, I decided to use lining fabric for the pockets. This cotton-linen blend is quite heavy. I used the pocket pieces for the Day Dress because the pockets on my first tulip skirt aren’t quite capacious enough for my liking.
Doing the pleats and darts was a breeze as the linen in this fabric allows it to hold a crisp fold. I’ve never worked with linen before, either as a knitter or a sewist, so it’s been fun to learn about a new fibre. I’ve just realised this skirt will probably crease like billy-o, but I’ll be too fabulous to care.
I wanted to overlock the pattern pieces as both the fashion fabric and lining fray easily. However, I ended up pulling out my trusty overcasting foot and finishing the edges that way. This is the most excited I’ve been about a project since my zebra shorts and I couldn’t wait to get to a sewing cafe.
I couldn’t find a suitably coloured invisible zip at Liberty or John Lewis, so I decided to use an exposed zip. I followed the same tutorial I used before. I’d forgotten how laborious it is to put in one of these suckers! It took forever. I also had to use a 7″ zip (8″ recommended in pattern), which gives me just enough wiggle room to get this thing on and off. Be careful of using a shorter zip for this skirt if you are pear-shaped!
I have to say that my perfectionist tendencies came out big time when installing the zip. I found myself getting very frustrated that the two sides weren’t symmetrical. Fortunately, I decided to give myself a little break from the machine and try the skirt on. I was very relieved that it fit! I decided to use my mother’s old trick of cutting some pattern pieces on the selvedges to save finishing those edges. The problem with doing that on the centre back seam was that I wouldn’t have been able to let the skirt out if it had been too small. I’m not sure I’ll do it again in future.
Even though I realised the zip looked absolutely fine when I tried the skirt on, I also noticed that the placement of the pattern isn’t amazing on the back. There are lots of pineapples cut in half. As usual, this is something that I would probably ignore if I bought this skirt RTW, but it bothered me that I hadn’t foreseen this problem. I just need to take it as a reminder to be more mindful of pattern placement when using such a bold print in future.
Fabric: 1m (145cm wide) cotton-linen mix from Sew Over It
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)
I was scrolling though Pinterest the other day, looking for pinspiration, when I was reminded of the Macaron dress I planned to make nearly two years ago.
I’ve got a wedding coming up in a few months, and I think this dress would be perfect. I immediately dug out the pattern pieces I cut over a year ago.
I’m pretty much planning for this project to be a toile. I have a weird love-hate relationship with the fabrics I chose. I never normally wear pink, but I couldn’t resist the pretty floral pattern and birds. I remain unsure about whether the blue looks good, or the top of the dress would pop more with a white contrast.
Anyway, it will be a pleasant surprise if I end up with a wearable dress. I’ve never bothered making a toile before, but I paid full price for the Liberty fabric and I’m really looking for perfection in the final garment. Macaron is quite an intricate pattern so I’m a little apprehensive about my ability to fix fitting problems. Eek!
I whizzed through the steps of constructing the bodice pretty quickly.
As soon as I tried on the bodice, I realised there were big problems. The fit on the waist was tight and the bust seemed okay, but I had a lot of fabric pooling in the back.
You can even see the bagginess on the hanger. I tried pinching in the side seams and tugging in various directions, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it lie flat. This is my first solo attempt at a fitted bodice.
I decided to trace a copy of the bodice pattern to make my adjustments. This is a bit of a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted- since I cut out the pattern pieces, I’ve lost the larger sizes. However, this way I still have a back-up in case my alterations somehow make the fit even worse.
I ended up deciding to book a private sewing lesson to get some expert fitting advice. I completed as many steps as possible to take along. I have to say, Macaron is surprisingly easy to construct given the polished final look of the dress.
Slashing the pleats to place the pockets was a bit scary, but I adore the final result. This is what the pieces looked like before my lesson.
Wish me luck!
Pattern: Macaron by Collette Patterns
Fabric: Viscose bought on holiday in Indonesia. The blue is some random fabric purchased on Goldhawk Road