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Black Polka Dot Jersey Dress

polka dot printed viscose and elastane dress

Bess in her black and white polka dot viscose jersey dress (So good she made it twice)

Fabrics and Notions:
Polka dot Viscose jersey
Stay tape (shoulder seams)

Polka dots are a great flattering print which withstand the fashion cycles. Bess wore this versatile dress to death and so made another one, it is so easy it can be made in less than an hour on the overlocker.

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Cartoon Print Jersey Dress

cartoon print jersey dress

Bess (the day after her wedding) wearing cartoon print jersey dress.

Fabrics and Notions:
Cartoon print cotton and elastane jersey

Bess thought the jersey a bit lightweight for her taste so made it double (rather than lining it in a tricot which she didn’t feel was heavy enough).

Also worn at Womad for her hen party. The neckline was cut the same as her wedding dress so she wouldn’t get tan lines.

ignore the handcuffs… it was a hen party thing
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Red and White Muslin Dress

red floral printed cotton lawn dress

Kitcat in Amsterdam modelling her super-soft printed muslin dress (Made by Jane)

Fabrics and Notions:
Red and white floral print cotton muslin
White Riviera cotton lawn
Shell button

Using a cotton lining inside a fabric such as cotton muslin is not always a good idea as the fabrics are liable to ‘stick’, but in this case it worked well.

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Turquoise Silk and Linen Wedding Dress

silk and linen mix shift wedding dress

Lulu wearing her lovely silk and linen shift wedding dress, holding her daughter, Kitcat, in her printed cotton seersucker ruffled dress and matching headband. Gemma to her right wears an embroidered cotton bridesmaid dress.

Fabrics and Notions (Lulu):
Turquoise silk and linen
Silk habotai lining
Silk organza feather trim
Invisible zip
Iron-on lightweight interfacing

Fabrics and Notions (Gemma):
Embroidered lightweight cotton
Venezia lining
Invisible zip
Lightweight iron-on interfacing

Fabrics and Notions (KitCat)
Printed cotton seersucker
Cotton lawn (lining and collar))
Extra-Lightweight knitted iron-on interfacing

The silk organza trim gave Lulu’s dress just the touch of something special she wanted for her wedding dress without making it too impractical or unsuitable to wear at subsequent posh do’s. A shift is the most flattering of dress, and easy to make fit really well.

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Embroidered Denim Skirt

embroidered denim mini skirt

Bess with her ‘Credit Crunch’ free-embroidered denim skirt.
Fabric and Notions:
Dark blue dark wash cotton denim
Viscose interfacing
Gutermann silk thread (for embroidery)
Invisible zip
Pattern: Burda 8237 (modified pockets)

One of the back pockets is upside-down so she couldn’t stuff them full of rubbish, and so she didn’t have to line them up. Win:Win!

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Blue Wool Melton Frill Skirt

wool melton frill skirt

Jane wearing wool melton skirt with frill hem. (Made by Clair)
Fabric and Notions:
Wool Melton coating
Shot Taffeta Frill lining, Venezia Lining
Viscose iron-on interfacing
Piping with bias binding
Invisible zip
Pattern: Simplicity 3881

Wool melton is traditionally used for coats and heavy jackets, but can be used on other garments when the structural characteristics of a coating wool is required. (It’s a good idea to use co-ordinating lighter fabrics to make up facings, if required)

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Stretch Denim Bridesmaid Dresses

stretch denim strapless bridesmaids dresses

Jo and Lulu sporting matching bridesmaid’s dresses for Bess’s wedding, made out of strecth cotton denim, net underskirts and covered belts. (Made by Jane)
Fabrics and Notions:
Stretch cotton denim
Cotton voil lining
Nylon dress net
Covered boning
Invisible zip
Petersham (waist stays)
Pattern: custom made

When using a ‘less posh’ type of fabric such as stretch denim and you want to make it look posh, make sure the pattern choice is structured and fits perfectly. Stretch denim is great to make tight bodices as it is strong and has just the right amount of ‘give’ (which means the poor suffering bridesmaids can breathe -usually a good thing)

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Beaded Linen Wedding Dress

quartz beaded white linen wedding dress

Bess’s amazing quartz-crystal covered white linen cap-sleeve a-line dress. (made by Jane)
Fabrics and Notions:
White heavy washed linen.
4kg quartz crystal bead chips
Stretch silk satin (bodice lining)
Covered boning
Fine white Riviera cotton lawn (skirt lining)
Red satin bias and fine piping cord
Invisible zip
Lightweight knitted iron-on interfacing
Pattern: Custom made

The beading on this very special dress took three months by Jane (and her small army of helpers), the whole dress weighed so much Bess had to give in to Jane’s request that she be allowed to bone it (Bess doesn’t like being contained), as without boning the weight was pulling down and giving her a flat chest. The boning and the waist stays, although on a stretch satin foundation, were enough to support the dress.

Bess in quartz crystal beaded linen wedding dress
Bess in quartz crystal beaded linen wedding dress
Bess in quartz crystal beaded linen wedding dress
Bess in quartz crystal beaded linen wedding dress
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Smocked White Linen Baby Dress

smocked linen baby dress

Kitcat modelling smocked white linen dress with lined sunhat (Made by Jane)
Fabrics and Notions:
White medium weight linen
Pink and green embroidery threads
White cotton Riviera lawn (lining)
Self-cover buttons

Traditional smocking is time consuming and quite tricky to do well. It is important you pick a fabric that has an even and straight weave, and that markings are done incredibly accurately. It is becoming a lost art, and should be encouraged as it is lovely (and practical)

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Turquoise Corduroy Boxy Jacket

turquoise cotton corduroy jacket

Bess wearing her turquoise corduroy jacket with big 1960’s buttons and lined in Kaffe Fassett printed cotton.

Fabrics and Notions:
Turquoise corduroy
Kaffe Fassett printed cotton
Big 1960’s period buttons
Jeans rivets
Bias binding
Black stayflex cotton iron on interlining

5 years on (not pictured) Red grosgrain foldover binding (around cuffs to cover fraying)

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Wool Quilted Coat

red check wool tweed coat quilted with wool wadding

Bess with her super-warm wool wadding quilted wool tweed coat
The hood unzips to flatten out as a collar, and the sleeves have big box pleats that get graunched in at the cuff. The Gucci coat that inspired it was made from proofed nylon and stuffed with down.
Fabrics and Notions:
Shetland Wool Tweed
100% Wool Batting (for the quilting)
Tactel Breathable Windproof lining
Viscose iron-on interfacing
Satin Bias Binding and piping cord
Open-end metal zips
Anorak Snap Fasteners
Pattern: Custom made

There is a fine pink window-pane check in this coat, that would completely disappear from view at night time, there was a certain amount of swearing done when trying to match the invisible checks, but (as of May 2012) this coat has survived Bess’s tom-boy antics for six winters, with little more than a biro-ink stain. This is the go-to-coat-of-choice as soon as the temperature drops, so it was definitely worth it