Friday, 13 September 2013

Sew It - A Self Drafted Dress

As much as I love sewing with vintage patterns and woven fabrics, I really don't think a wardrobe is complete without the odd item with a bit of stretch. I'm sure it's not just me that has days when I crave an outfit with a bit more give, an outfit which is forgiving enough to allow you to have another chunk slice of cake without the guilt-inducing judgement from that tightening waistband. So after finishing my overlocked/serged Pajamas and being on a bit of a sewing high I decided to hit the ground running and have a go at something a little more challenging, it was time to make space in my wardrobe for a home made jersey dress or two!
My cat Beau attempting to sleep on my fabric
"If I don't look directly at her, I might just get away with lounging on this fabric all afternoon"
When I bought my overlocker I had the foresight to also order a couple of meters of red ribbed Polly Jersey fabric, from Minerva Crafts and at £2.99pm figuring it would be just perfect for having a bit of a practice on, without feeling too much pressure at having to get it right first time. I also bought myself a bargain copy of Sew U home Stretch from Amazon, as I'd heard great things about this book and was eager to learn as much as I could about my new machine and those previously avoided stretchy fabrics.

My aim with the above was to create a dress that I could wear to work. For me, my workwear has become much more 'practical' than 'pretty' lately. Though my job mostly requires me to sit in front of a computer, there are days/weeks when I have to help out in other areas of the factory or warehouse, so I wanted something that could still make me look and feel smart, but that would be comfortable and not require most of my day being spent readjusting. Something stretchy enough for me to let's say, do a stock check up a ladder, oh and long enough that me modesty is preserved whilst up said ladder!

So armed with my copy of Sew U Home Stretch, I decided to design my own. I knew I wanted it to be long sleeved, with a nod to the 40s puff sleeves I love so much, below the knee in length and though the fabric has a lot of stretch, I wanted it still to be loose enough to be flattering rather than revealing my every seam in my rather ample underwear!
My Alterations to the standard Pattern Block from Sew U Home Stretch
I used the basic pattern blocks from Sew U Home Stretch with the above alterations. It really surprised me just how simple it was to change. The pattern blocks supplied were wonderfully basic, meaning they could be altered very easily, and the book itself makes everything so straight forward that you have no qualms about trusting your instincts. Also knowing that it didn't really matter if the alterations were going to work was seriously liberating.

Front and Back
You know what, I think it's come out rather well and again, really quickly! Once I set to the cutting, it took me no more than 4 hours to completely finish the dress (that's if you take out the hour I spent searching for the elastic I had in my hand one minute and was gone the next). I overlocked/serged all the seams and only used my sewing machine for the cuffs hem and neckline, which I used a stretch stitch.

I decided to forgo putting cuffs on the sleeve, instead, I hemmed them and inserted some light elastic in the seam to give it a light gather, which also means I can push the sleeves up my arm and they will stay there! I added length and width at the waist so that the bodice could 'blouse' a bit over any belt I chose to wear with it also giving me a bit more breathing room! Bring on the cake!!

I didn't have any matching ribbed fabric to make a neckband so I just hemmed the neckline by folding it over and stitching it with a stretch stitch on my sewing machine it has worked out rather well so far there has been no gaping!
I have worn it to work more than a few times now and can say it's been a success, it's definitely comfortable enough for sitting at my desk all day or occasionally running around with my bosses 4 year old granddaughter and just the right side of smart that it would work for any impromptu meetings, if needed! 
Excuse the crumpled dress and side-eye in this photo!
Though I am over the moon with my new dress and it has given me a much-needed boost to my wardrobe and my sewing confidence, I think the biggest winner here really has to be my fury pattern weight and patient sewing companion Beau!

"All mine, Purrrrrrrrrrfect!!" 
Wendy x


  1. Ha, no such thing as a slice of cake, it's always a chunk in this household!

    That dress is beautiful, well done you! It all looks so beautifully finished and you are rocking the colour!!

    Your pretty puss tat looks like my much missed childhood kitty; so fluffy! :-) xx

    1. Thank You Lucy, red is one of my favourite colours but I hardly ever wear it!! Hehe I'm glad its not just me that eats cake by the chunk or two :-) xx

  2. That is a gorgeous dress.

    Beau really loves up to his name - such a fab kitty. Ah, I could look at cat photos all day!

  3. This is beautiful! What a great pattern and looks lovely on you.

  4. That dress is gorgeous - you look gorgeous.
    Julie xxxxxxx

  5. Oh your dress looks great. How was the book do you think you will use it again?

    1. Thank you Charlotte! Yes I think the books wonderful its all laid out so simply that you don't have to do tons of reading to get started, which is great, I have already started on more dresses so it was definitely worth buying! xx

  6. So lovely, and so comfortable I bet. I love the shade of red! A true red! I too wonder how you like the book? I enjoy your sweet little blog here, always a joy to come by. What a sweet little kitty, so handsome on the red material. We have four cats in our home plus doglets. : )


    1. Thank you Ameila you are very kind! The book is really great, especially as it shows you don't need to have a serger to use it, I am sure I will be using it lots in the future, and its certainly given me confidence in my pattern cutting and sewing skills! xx

  7. That's a gorgeous dress! I love the sleeves :)

  8. Ooh it's lovely, the sleeves are so pretty! :)

  9. Super skills! Love the colour, it really suits you! Jx

  10. Oh...Beau is such a darling! And I love the dress.....can't believe you managed to finish it in a day! Utterly fabulous....bring on the cake is what I would definitely say's too short not to have cake (though my growing muffin top may disagree). Also glad to see the photos of your victory garden....brings back thoughts of a lovely summer that we had this year. Here's to a fabulously sweet weekend my dear!
    May xx

  11. Such a lovely warm shade of red, it really suits you.
    Cute cat photo too!
    Lisa x