Just made, gathered waist dress

I tend to accumulate dressmaking fabrics, forever hoping that I’ll make clothes out of them but there’s never enough time and there are always other things to do. I’m off work for a few days so I finally got a chance to lift the sewing machine cover and make this dress:



I downloaded the pattern as clothes making time this week doesn’t quite stretch to pattern making + toiling. The fabric is a very lightweight cotton and silk mix, came from a fab little fabric shop in South London and is apparently an old Prada print, it only cost around £20, can’t remember exactly as I bought it last year. It’s so lightweight that I managed to rip the back piece while stretching a seam a little but I patched it up so that it can’t be seen. The pattern came from Burda Style, I made the hem and the sleeve shorter and changed the neckline a little. Very simple to make – the waist is elasticated and so are the sleeves. Wore it today to a meeting, felt very light and floaty, am very happy with it.

Just made, petrol jersey tunic dress

A few weeks ago, I treated myself to a new sewing machine, Singer heavy duty and it’s proving to be brilliant, helping me to get through a big pile of jersey fabrics I’ve accumulated over the years. First little project, a red marl T-shirt is documented here and I’ve also made a similar blue marl one with a straight hem since. Now that I’ve done a couple of basics, thought I’d attempt something a little more tricky:

 This is a Helmut Lang dress that I looked at for several months and then eventually got in the sales last year. It doesn’t look that great on the dummy – the dummy is a size too big and the dress quite fitted at the shoulder/ neck so apologies for that.

Over the past year, I’ve worn it a lot as a tunic over jeans, it’s very comfortable and a good fit and I’ve been meaning to make a pattern of it for years. The front is cut on bias, which I am not hugely experienced with but I thought I’d try. Was actually a lot easier than I thought. The pattern itself didn’t take long and, because the petrol jersey I was going to make it in was cheap, I didn’t bother toiling, just cut it. I did baste the front and back first though (no sleeve at this point) to see if I’d gone completely mad and to my utter surprise, it actually worked. It then took around 2 hours to make up – I pinned it and basted first. Here’s the finished result:

I did a cowl neck because it was easier and I hemmed everything (Helmut Lang one is not hemmed at front neck, sleeves or hem, which is a bit of a piss take considering the cost). Really happy with the result, the cowl neck looks great on and it’s very comfortable. Good colour too.  Still have a little bit of petrol jersey left, not sure if quite enough for a top but enough if I combine another colour. I still have quite a few…

Dress finished, yay!

Sometimes my vintage dress pattern purchases from ebay are a bit questionable. I’ve built a nice little collection of them but some I am not sure that I’ll ever make. I wasn’t too sure about this late fifties (I think but could easily be wrong) shift dress with a fitted midriff but then I thought below the knee length is quite big for winter and then I had this very soft charcoal wool with a bit of stretch that I thought could work. Anyway, for the past two weeks I’ve been working on the dress – again decided to make entirely by hand, otherwise would have been done in a day or two and, I finished it this afternoon. Here is the result: 

Gathered front panel, fitted waist, pleated skirt (darts in the back) and a pocket on the right hand side too! Totally impressed with that. Also rather like the photograph – turned black and white and then applied lomo.


Side and back views.

Side front closer up.

The pattern also featured a cummerbund and a detachable collar. I originally really liked the idea of a cummerbund but now quite like the austerity of the dress so not sure if I’ll make one – should be in a different fabric anyway. Collar idea I really like. Beaded or sequinned so shall have a rummage through ‘crafty cupboard as am sure there are beads and sequins about.

The Guardian’s measure this weekend had a rather good idea of wearing below the knee skirts/ dresses with bare legs and ankle boots – it actually worked quite well when I tried it on. Beloved thinks it’s quite sophisticated, don’t you know.

I love a good tree

So I was at this self-styled fancy country hotel (of which more later) yesterday for a wedding. I was hoping I’d get an opportunity to wander about and take some pictures and I got lucky. While the official photographer went around taking official pictures, I spotted some nice trees and tree trunks. Unfortunately I was in heels so couldn’t venture too far. Only managed to get close to a couple of tree trunks:

I don’t do stylised effects on other photos but they work quite well on tree trunks. Am building a nice collection of these, maybe some day, if I have time and if printing on silk doesn’t cost a fortune, I should get some fabric made. Not just for scarfs, dresses too and other marvellous things.

All dressed up

An outfit (well most of the outfit) post – had a wedding to go to yesterday, this is what I wore. It’s a dress I made last year, using another vintage ebay pattern. I made a lot of it by hand while watching bad TV. Fabric came from favourite fabric shop in South London – I think they must have only just had that fabric in so I got very lucky. The white of the petals was added on later so you can feel the paint – someone who knows told me that means whoever produced the fabric didn’t do discharge – in any case, they ended up with a simply marvellous printed silk. Can’t believe it’s only the second time I wore this dress too, must give it some more outings.

In other news, am still working on the charcoal wool fitted shift, it’s nearly finished but must go out now before the shops close and get a zip – have loads of zips at home but none are long enough. With a bit of luck, will finish the dress by end of weekend.

In the works – getting there

So the late fifties fitted dress is coming along nicely. Top part is done:

Pinned to the dummy as fitted midrif too fitted to go over dummy (no collapsable shoulders, dummy a bit old). Was a bit worried that it wouldn’t go over me either as forgot to buy a longer side zip but have tried on and looks fine so far.  Working on the skirt part now, finish this weekend is looking doubtful, never mind, the weather is still too warm to wear anyway.

While searching for best light in flat this morning to take photo, this nice little accident happened, love the colours:

In the works

I’ve built up a nice little collection of vintage dress patterns from ebay, mainly 40s dresses but, this summer I got a few late fifties and early to mid sixties dress patterns too. I get obsessed for about a month at a time, looking daily for anything with an interesting front, good cowl, draping, and so on but also try to control myself and not spend a fortune. This recent addition to my pattern collection:

is not what I usually go for but I liked the very fitted waist and the simple shape. I also loved the fact that it has a cummerbund. I’ve always wanted a cummerbund! Such a brilliant word that.

I’ve started making it in a charcoal wool mix – not sure of the fabric content, it’s definitely wool and has some stretch in it. Bought it last summer for a pair of trousers but never got around to making the pattern for them so when I looked at recent ebay purchases, it seemed right to forget the trousers and use the wool for this dress.

Making just the dress, not the cape, shortening the length a little – not mid calf but it will be below the knee. Also making it by hand. If I work v.v. hard I may finish this weekend but perhaps not – it’s quite hard going sewing dark fabrics by hand. Machine would have done it in a day (I started last Sunday). Undecided on what to make the cummerbund in and also thinking of possibly making the detachable collar – beaded or something. That would make a good transition from day to evening and also not make it look too plain. Think I’ll decide on that once I’ve made it up.