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After a brief look at the pattern layout, I thought making this dress would be easy: two main pieces, (there are seven in total), with a few darts and sewn together at the side seams.  Because of this, and because I didn’t know what to expect of a pattern that comes free with a magazine, my expectations were quite low.  I was wrong in both respects: the pattern was not particularly easy to follow, but the finished result is stunning.

The pattern assumes prior knowledge of dress-making and would not be suitable for a beginner.  Terms such as ‘catchstitch’, ‘narrow hem’ and ‘gathers’ are not explained (luckily I knew from previous patterns how to do a narrow hem and how to gather, but had to look up how to catchstitch in one of my sewing books).  The pattern is also incomplete: it tells you to add 16cm to the end of the dress front and dress back (presumably to save paper), and to ‘cut sufficient 3.5cm wide bias strips to join and finish armhole edges’, leaving you to work out the length required!  If you’re a beginner, how would you know what a bias strip is, and how to press it correctly?  You would have to look it up!

However, detailed instructions of how to insert a concealed zip were included, and thanks to these instructions I was able to do the best concealed zip I’ve ever done.  I have never been bothered about stitching showing on the outside of a dress before, as I quite like the uniformity and evenness of machine stitching, but this time I took sufficient time and care to ensure that the zip really is concealed, and the slit at the back does not have stitching either side (thanks to catchstitching).  The only place where the stitching shows on the outside is around the armholes where the bias binding is attached, and the hem.  The hem allowance was two and a quarter inches, but when I tried the almost-finished dress on, I decided I would prefer it to be a little longer, and so opted for a narrow hem at the bottom instead of catchstitching a deeper hem.

The finished result is such an elegant shape.  My hips, bottom and thighs are usually too big for this style of shop-bought dresses, but making it myself allowed me to create a perfect fit.  I am looking forward to wearing it as I have nothing like it in terms of style or fabric in my collection.  The fabric is 100% cotton and purchased from my local market for £3.99 per metre (and I only needed 1.5m of 150cm-wide fabric).  I think the dress has a very Vivien of Holloway feel to it (and in fact is quite similar to a lovely halter-neck Vivien of Holloway dress that Lemonianta bought in March, which is also red and white polka dot).  I will definitely be using this pattern again to make variations on the dress, perhaps the next without the bow (depending on the style of fabric I choose, as the bow adds a fun, retro element).  I think it would look good in a plain navy with the waist drape in a contrasting colour such as rose pink.  I think it would also look excellent in tweed for winter.  Lemonianta suggested using duchess satin for an elegant evening dress.  YUM.

I will certainly not turn my nose up at Prima patterns in future!

Overlockers scare the living daylights out of me. Quite probably it’s because I’ve never used one, I’ve never seen anyone use one and I have no idea how to. With a sewing machine you pretty much know where you’re at. Almost everyone has used a sewing machine at some point in their life – be it at home, at school or elsewhere. How many people can put their hands up to say they’ve used an overlocker? Certainly not me.

With that in mind, guess what I’m getting next week? That’s right…

On the Me-Made-June front, I’m doing alright so far. I’ve not really had time to put up pictures of everything I’ve done yet as I’m still frantically trying to get stuff finished. Mostly, I have to hem things, and I just really hate hemming. Like, really hate it. Like I really hate doing the dishes. I am looking to the Flickr Me-Made-May group for inspiration though and it’s really great to see other people out there doing the same thing (and doing it better, I might add!). My efforts on the Me-Made-June front were pushed back by the call up for CPD I had from the RPSGB. I therefore spent hours labouring over a dry form instead of a hot iron.

I am also about to embark on making my first pair of trousers. I found a lovely pattern on Burdastyle for some wide leg trousers with hip yoke pockets.

I’m making them in black linen so they’ll match my Lady Grey coat if I ever need to go somewhere clad in a “suit”. They also come in a shorter, knee length version (on the same pattern, just cropped up a little) which makes them perfect for the summer. If I get round to it, I might make those as well.

I know I’ve banged on about Burdastyle before, but it really is a great place to go when you’re starting out. I learned a lot of stuff from there, and I probably owe it mostly to them that I got interested in sewing in the first place. It really helps to have a community like that out there.

Anyway, I have about 2 metres of that black linen left over so I reckon I’ll probably make another Rooibos dress with it. I lined the lady gey with pale yellow polka dot material from Spotlight and it looks lovely. Matching dress anyone? Is that a bit sad? This time, I’m definitely going to pipe it all around so I may not have enough material left over to do that – I shall have to see!

Anyway, this was supposed to be a quick update. I have only 4 days left until I have to start wearing all me-made clothes for a month so I’d better get on with it!

…is off to a great start! I figure if I have 8 or 9 pieces I can probably pull it off. So, yesterday, I remade the Rooibos pattern in navy twill with the daisy chain fabric. It’s pretty much done but It’s coming up a little short so I[‘m going to add a band of  fabric around the bottom to make it a little longer. I hope it doesn’t spoil the look of it! Here’s everything ready to go:

Raw materials

The raw materials - Pattern preiously traced and cut out, navy twill, green daisy chain fabric and instructions and

All pieces cut and ready to sew

Of course, it wouldn’t be a good sewing day if I didn’t sew at least one thing wrong and have to unpick at least 4 seams, which is exactly what happened. Thankfully everything turned out alright – although I probably need to redo the invisible zip since I couldn’t find it yesterday. I will post pics of the finished product once I have fixed the zip and added my little panel to the bottom. It’s a little on the large side (I forgot the previous one I made was too) so for the next version I’ll make it a size smaller. I also didn’t do the piping, something I promised myself I would this time, mostly because I just didn’t have any cord. Next time, for sure!

After having (alsmost) finished the rooibos dress I was in the mood for more sewing so found a pattern similar to the Beignet Skirt in one of the Burda magazines I subscribed to a while back. I made it in some of the remaining navy twill but have yet to add the little pockets to it (Pics will follow, don’t worry!). It doesn’t have the same elegance though, and I think I will buy the Beignet pattern anyway as it has a nice high waist anda nicer front. I’m also hoping to win the Sencha blouse in the red dotty fabric from the competition at The Sewing Directory which will be lovely with either my Burda skirt or, for a bit more elegance, the Beignet. It’s also one less Colette pattern to buy!

Back to the plot…

For Me-Made-June, so far I have:

The Burdastyle Danielle Dress. (that’s me on the left a good while back. Look at those chins!) This was a free pattern and the first dress I ever made. It’s terrible, but I kind of love it. I ran out of black polycotton and used normal cotton for parts so it’s two different colours, I hemmed it on the wrong side (I know!) and the zip is placd really badly. But it’s ok to get away with under a cardigan for work.

The Rooibos dress – I have two of these now – a maroon one and the new navy one.

The Burda skirt – Very easty to make so I may make another few as staples.

And opefully, soon, the Sencha blouse.

My mission today is to finish the Rooibos and start either the Macaroon  or the Parfait dress. First, there’s CPD to do (damn you, RPSGB!) and some cakes to make…

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