I would go out tonight... But I haven't got an occasion to wear this dress to

Sooo I finished my first make of the year, and this one really has been a long time in the making, with the process spanning the last few months of 2014... it's my (almost) final self drafted dress! If this is starting the sewing year as I mean to go on, then I think I'm onto good things!

This is a wearable muslin of sorts, made from fabric that I wasn't at all scared to chop into and ruin - it's some sort of viscose/synthetic, drapey stuff that was £4 for 3.5yds from the Hebden Bridge WI Rag market, very late 80s/early 90s no? My retro fabric is sort of at odds with the perhaps more vintage design of the dress - it's based on a picture of a Viven of Holloway dress I collected for a mood board - but I'm going to claim that it's all the name of added interest.

Although I've made and tweaked many a muslin during the pattern drafting stages, this is the very first time I've put the whole pattern, bodice, skirt and lining, together as a finished garment. I've already spoken about the most challenging part to fit (the bodice) in an earlier post, where I made it up as a dress with a simple gathered skirt. It was mainly an excuse to use this lovely patterned brushed cotton, and break up what felt like weeks of staring into calico-white-space.  

The bodice and sleeves have only had a couple of tweaks since then. The tulip sleeves pulled a bit at the back during wear, so I lengthened the back-sleeve pattern piece just a bit. This piece then gets gathered in ever so slightly, so it has a bit more 'give' or movement. I also moved the shoulder seams so they sat a bit further forward too.

The skirt had to be drafted from a basic pattern block before I could make the draped and gathered tulip skirt that I dreamed of. This is great though, as now I have an overall basic dress pattern that I could make up or play around with - one pattern, many looks!

I did some draping and pinning on the model and a little bit of cutting too - I have to say that I was a bit reluctant with the cutting, it took a bit of encouragement of the tutor at the evening classes I went to at college! It helped to give a rough idea of how the finished garment might look, and I could work backwards from the pinned version to understand the pattern pieces I needed.

By the time I got to making I just wanted to get on with it, so I hardly took any pictures, sorry! I sort of worked out the skirt and skirt lining pieces as I went along. The skirt lining seems to want to peak out just a little where it's draped at the front, but I can live with that, and I think I'm prepared for what to do when it comes to the final final version.

The only bit I struggled with - and it was entirely my fault - was the lining for the bodice. I drafted it against the facing which I'd already added a seam allowance to, and then added a seam allowance to the lining  as well - CONFUSED?! Basically there was too much bodice lining to fit into the garment. I only realised what I'd done wrong when it was pretty much sewn up, so took the lazy 'oh well, it's on the inside, no one can see it anyway' route and left it as it was. But I need to shame myself and show it publicly to make sure I don't do it again. Here you go...

So there is a bit of gape and excess in the middle. But if you ignore that, the rest of the lining doesn't actually look too shabby...

Other than that one one blip, I'm so so pleased with how the dress has turned out. Even though I'd drafted it to fit me perfectly (and tested it) I still had 'the fear' when I was inserting the zip, that it might not do up - it has just been Christmas after all... but it fits, and I feel absolutely fab in it :) Now if only I had somewhere to wear it to!

So to round up, pattern drafting takes time, effort and patience, lots of it. But I don't think I've ever been more proud of something I've made and I can't wait to wear it! 

I've already got my fabric ready to make the final final version. I've chosen a rich teal crepe with a bit more weight to it, and a contrast mustard/gold fabric for the lining (for when you get the tiniest flashes of it). The only thing I'm struggling with is finding a perfectly matched concealed zipper - does anyone have any internet shopping suggestions to help me track down one in the perfect hue?

An almost year in sewing...

Happy New Sewing Year everyone! I hope everyone has had a wonderful festive season - I'm writing this one from my bed rather than the sewing station.

It's been just under a year since I started channeling my crafting and general need to be creative into it's best possible use - dressmaking! Making a serious commitment to sewing and starting up this blog was probably my best decision of 2014, so I thought I would do a bit of a round up of some of my favourite sews from the past year.

Most Worn Garment of 2014
My first Megan dress from Tilly Walne's Love at First Stitch is BY FAR my most worn me-made garment. Anyone who has read my blog will know how much I love Tilly's first book, and I encourage anyone who hasn't already got a copy to snap one up!

This dress is also pretty special because it was the first thing I made on my brand new sewing machine - a grown up Janome! - which was a massive upgrade from the tiny half-size one I was making with previously. I used the jazzy John Lewis 'Modern Animal' fabric and drafted a collar for the Megan dress to make it a bit more 'me', and now it's my go-to dress. Day/work/night out, it get's thrown on whenever!
Read the blog post here.

Most Made Pattern of 2014
When I was writing this post I was looking over my blog and couldn't quite believe how much I'd made, but my most made pattern was easily the Simple Sew Lottie blouse. Since I got the pattern free in an early issue of Love Sewing magazine, I've made it up 5 times.

My first version was this sleeveless poppy print one. I found the instructions a bit on the sparse side, but really liked the finished blouse. With a bit of tweaking to the making process - and a lot of practice - I've just about mastered the Lottie and can put the whole thing together in an evening now!
Here are the other versions - a couple for me and a couple were made as gifts for friends.

And my favourite so far is the newest one (above), made especially for the festive period (though I imagine it will get a lot more wear in the future if I can pass it off as my groovy 70s disco blouse). The fabric was £3 a metre from the brand new B&M Fabrics shop on the edge of Leeds Kirkgate market and I LOVE IT!

Biggest Sewing Achievement of 2014
I think I'm going to go with my self-drafted dress. It's been my biggest project so far - so big that I'm still tackling the final version, but it's well on it's way now! I drafted the pattern whilst taking evening classes at the local College of Art, and it's definitely taken more work, patience and brain power than anything I've ever made before. 

This version is the finished bodice and tulip sleeves with a simple gathered skirt. I'm just putting together a wearable muslin of the final pattern, with a fancy skirt and everything. I'll no doubt be posting about it in 2015, but here's a sneaky peak of it (jazzy fabric as ever)...

And finally, a few sewing resolutions
  • Keep sewing and keep blogging!
  • Make things that I'll actually wear - no un-finished or un-worn garments in 2015
  • Take part in Me Made May
  • Make my own pants
  • ...and maybe get an overlocker

Here's to a great New Year full of sewing!

Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting!