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Floral Cotton Drill Dress with Cut-Out Detail on Back

floral cotton drill dress with cut out detail on back

Marion here wearing this super fitted stretch drill dress with lovely cut out detail on the back. She cheats by getting the uber talented Dawn Hooper of Hardy and Hooper (Maidenhead) to design and make it up for her (I must say if I had a Dawn I would too).

There is a danger with not-so-good designers to make ‘funeral clothes’ -clothes that look great on the front but are plain and boring on the back (you don’t need the back to look pretty if you are lying in a coffin). When we look at ourselves we rarely see our behinds (hoorah for that I say!) but other people do so it’s good to make it look pretty.

floral cotton drill dress with cut out detail on back
look at the pretty cut-out back!

 

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Grey Bouclé Tufted Tweed Dress with Velvet Gimp Trim

Jane made this “Channel” inspired dress using a LG tufted bouclé mixed fibre tweed for her daughter Lulu. The pattern is a discontinued Mizrahi vogue pattern that has been altered by adding a sleeve.

The whole dress was quilted to purple silk habotai lining – Jane cut all the pieces bigger and recut after the quilting was done (because the quilting tends to draw the pieces smaller), then a few more lines of quilting were added near the seams once it was sewn. Jane trimmed the neckline and pockets with velvet gimp braid.

tufted bouclé tweed channel dress

 

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Red, Blue and Yellow Princess Dress

super woman princess dress

Bess was supposed to be making a princess dress for her niece Eloise but it kind of mutated into a Wonder Woman dress instead. This is what happens when you sew with no real idea of what you are making! The skirt is made up of many layers of tulle with a Venezia lining, the bodice is yellow viscose jersey that was a bit thin for the job so was interlined with a cotton jersey, and then appliqued with a piece of sequinned fabric. There is elastic in the waist and sleeves to draw it in and red plastic snap fasteners on the back bodice.

The skirt was made without a pattern (gather the tulle until it is 7″ bigger than the waist), the bodice was pinched off a bridesmaid dress -long since discontinued and certainly not intended for floppy jersey. The worst bit was sewing the heart on straight…. or getting the bulk of the tulle onto the bodice (it had to be ripped apart and regathered with pleats as just gathering was too bulky with all the layers). Despite the moments of GAAAHHHHH! WHAT AM I DOING! it was a great fun make.

 

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Pink Tulle Tutus with Feathers and Sequins

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers

Bess made these two tutus for her nieces Kitcat and Miaow with a loose brief of Nutcracker in mind. There are a gazillion layers of tulle gathered and pleated and sewn onto a silk dupion elasticated waistband and embellished with feathers and sequins. Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers at Chatsworth House

3 colours of tulle were used to get a greater depth to the skirts. A short layer of creamy beige, and second longer layer of sugar pink and a top (longest) layer of very pale pink.

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathersBess doesn’t really do ‘fluff’ but had a lot of fun making these. Her kitchen was well and truly tullified.

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers

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Floral Embroidered Silk Organza Halter-Neck Wedding Dress

black and white silk organza halter-neck wedding dress

Sue looking STUNNING in Greece getting married, wearing the dress she made using fabulous embroidered silk organza.  Sue slightly amended the Vogue Original pattern so she could make best use of the scalloped edge, removing part of the lining to allow for 180” of skirt material being gathered into 27” (few sleepless nights there) but all in all, it was the best possible fabric choice she could have made.

black and white silk organza halter-neck wedding dress

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Kitsch Cats Print Jersey Dress

kitsch cat digital print jersey dress

Kitcat wearing her terribly kitsch cat digital print cotton and elastane jersey long sleeved dress (made by Jane). The pattern is Burda 8455 but Jane pieced together the yoke and hem so as not to cut up the print. Kitcat is such a squinge it is cut to age 6 but lengthened in sleeve and body (Kitcat is 9!). The neck was lowered so as to go over her head and negate the need for a zip but next time the neck will be altered so it doesn’t gape.

Now all the grown-ups want one too.

She then said that she needed pink leopard print ponte jersey cardigan to complete the outfit -personally we are not so sure this is a good fashion move but what do we know in the world of 9 year old fashion? We shall leave it to you to decide. The pattern is McCall’s 6542 (age 6 with lengthened sleeves), it is bound down the front and around the neck with jersey binding.

punk and black leopard print ponte jersey cardigan

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Red Scuba Jersey Chado Ralph Rucci Dress

Jacoba triumphant in her Chado Ralph Rucci dress made up in red scuba jersey, she said it’s been great to do some sewing again. The (minor) changes made to the pattern were raising the front slit by 2 inches, omitting the front panel pockets (didn’t want the extra bulk), and also slightly changing the curve on the shoulders. She said the jersey was remarkably good fabric to work with. Huzzah for that top-stitiching!

red scuba jersey Chado Ralph Rucci dress
red scuba jersey Chado Ralph Rucci dress
V1317 Chado Ralph Rucci dress pattern from Vogue
V1317 Chado Ralph Rucci dress pattern from Vogue

 

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Light Blue Broderie Anglaise Panelled Dress

Bess wearing her super summery light blue broderie anglaise cotton dress at the Pimm’s stall at the village fête. The dress is her same Jaeger dress pattern with the neck cut lower and lined in ivory cotton lawn. The neck is piped with red satin piping (made with a super lightweight bias binding and piping cord) and bias binding around the armholes.

Just to be extra fancy Bess used french seams on the lining (this has practical reasons as well as showing off -it is stronger and everything looks neater), and a heavy repp bias binding around the hem to give it a little structure. Despite the snug fit and no lycra Bess can still wiggle in without a zip.

Neon shoes are an optional extra 😉

 

 

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Purple Stretch Cotton Piqué Panelled Shift Dress

Bess was looking at this purple piqué for well over a year before she decided she was able to wear purple, and is rather loving the extra colour in her wardrobe. The pattern is a long tried and tested pattern she took from a Jaeger dress (seen here in many guises). This time it is unlined and piped in green satin around the neck and has green bias binding inside the hem (just in case anyone should look inside.

Despite the close fit no zip is necessary – she just wiggles in.

 

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Cream Daisy Lace Maternity Dress with Pink Yoke

Clair made this cream daisy lace maternity dress with pink linen viscose yoke for Rosie for a Scottish high summer (ha ha) wedding… on the morning of the party! The toile had been sorted out previously (see pic below in embroidered linen and viscose). The pattern is a 80’s /90’s vintage McCall’s pattern found on Ebay.

embroidered linen and viscose maternity dress
embroidered linen and viscose maternity dress
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Aqua and Black Frigate Bird Dress

Bess made this super fine linen dress with black bird print for her holiday in Tobago, it’s made using her basic block with just the shaping from bust darts and a centre back seam. Nicknamed the frigate bird dress as the print is similar to the ubiquitous birds of the Caribbean.

It is unlined and the neck is bound with super lightweight satin bias binding.

 

 

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Black Guipure Lace Dress with Cream Silk Lining

Bess wearing black circles lace dress holding a glass of bubbly

Bess enjoying a glass of bubbly wearing her black guipure lace dress which was lined in cream silk rep suiting. The pattern is her very basic dress block that only has bust darts and a centre back seam for shape. It’s tricky to tell in this photo but the lining is 3″ shorter leaving the scalloped edge unlined. Also unseen is the perfectly matched centre back seam (You’ll have to trust me on this one).

The lining and the lace are made up separately and joined at the neck with a vibrant turquoise satin bias binding. There’s no zip- it just chucks over the head.

 

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Geometric Teardrop Print Cotton Jersey Child’s Dress

geometric print cotton and elastane t-shirt dress

Frances made this dress for her grand-daughter to go to the school Oscar awards. It’s an easy pull on dress using McCall’s Pattern 7079 and made with a t-shirt weight cotton and elastane single jersey.

It’s a good idea to stay the shoulder seams with a bit of tape on t-shirts and dresses, you can use a seam tape, iron on a bit of stabilising interfacing or even sew in a bit of the jersey selvedge (if it is stable enough).

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Orange Bouclé Wool Mix Knit Braced Skirt and Jacket

orange bouclé wool mix knit braced skirt

Holly made this tangerine orange cotton wool and viscose mix bouclé heavy knit from LG as part of a Plymouth College of Art Fashion project to make a ‘skirt’ and cape as part of her university project. The not so practical skirt has large pockets – the entire front and back panels, braces to hold it up and metal boning through the top to hold the shape!  It was inspired by Cornish China Clay and they held a fashion show at the eden project to help raise money for the people and gardens charity.

It’s nuts. I want one. 

orange bouclé wool mix braced skirt -back
orange bouclé wool mix braced skirt -back
catwalk show of orange bouclé knit braced skirt
catwalk show of orange bouclé knit braced skirt

 

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Duck Egg Silk Damask Ralph Rucci for Vogue Dress

silk damask Ralph Rucci Dress

Suzanne from Cyprus celebrating her son’s wedding (he’s the one holding the flowers) wearing Silk Damask made up in a v-neck flared dress by Ralph Rucci for Vogue (V1381). This pattern is not simple – there are quilted yokes and bands, an attached belt with some tricky rouleau to tie it together —all in a fabric that doesn’t easily yield. It took her a while but it was very much worth it.

We love this photo. Such fun.

 

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Blue Floral Stretch Cotton Sateen Shift with Cap Sleeves

floral stretch cotton sateen shift dress with cap sleeves

Jane at the Royal Academy Summer exhibition flaunting her floral stretch cotton sateen dress. The pattern comes from her block -which if you look at flat on the table looks absolutely barmy but fits her fabulously so don’t argue- Symmetrical, she is not!

The dress is lined in Venezia and there is a concealed zip up the back.

Matching shoes: model’s own.

floral stretch cotton sateen shift dress with cap sleeves
floral stretch cotton sateen shift dress with cap sleeves

 

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Digitally Printed Balloon Jersey Panelled Dress

balloon digital print jersey panelled dress

Bess wearing her digitally printed cotton jersey dress made using her (much repeated) panelled dress pattern-this normally has waist seams but she omitted them so as not to cut up the balloons too much. As the pattern is normally used on woven fabrics she also pinned out the little bust darts as they were unnecessary in this stretchy fabric.

This jersey is quite a heavy cotton jersey with a high percentage of elastane (6%) so it keeps its shape well and doesn’t need lining. Rather than meddling with facings (which never lie terribly well in such a stretchy jersey) Bess used jersey binding around the neck and arm holes.

All the seams were sewn in a jiffy with the overlocker, the hems and bindings were done on the machine (because it’s quicker to zigzag than drag out the flat locker).

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Ultramarine Blue Ponte Roma Persey Peplum Dress

ultramarine blue ponte roma jersey peplum dress

Lesley made this ultramarine blue Ponte Roma jersey dress with a peplum. The pattern was Simplicity Project Runway 1650.  This pattern wasn’t lined, but she preferred a fully lined dress so did it with a polyester Tricot (knitted) lining. 

Lining  a dress like this gives it a more professional finish as it meant the armholes and neck could be under-stitched so the stitching is not visible on the right side.  She also lined the peplum rather than just hemming it (as per the pattern) to get a better finish.  Ponte Roma jersey is not that stretchy so an invisible zip is used at the centre back which she tacked -something she hasn’t done for years but so worth it to set it in evenly on a stretch fabric and to make sure that seams lined up perfectly.

 The Ponte fabric was lovely to sew; for anyone not comfortable with sewing jersey or stretch fabrics it is a good place to start.

 

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Reversible Cotton Lawn Shift Dress

Liberty archive print cotton lawn reversible shift dress

Elwen with her Liberty archive printed cotton lawn shift dress that reverses to show lime green organic cotton. It chucks over her head so there’s no need for a zip. The printed side is longer than the green side so with a reasonable hem you see a border of print when worn on the green side (trying to make each fabric the same length is a recipe for disaster). Patch pockets are added to each side.

Liberty archive print cotton lawn reversible shift dress
Liberty archive print cotton lawn reversible shift dress

The pattern is a discontinued Burda pinafore dress.

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Floral Digital Print Shift Dress

Floral digital printed cotton canvas shift dress

Jane wearing her floral digitally printed cotton dress. This cotton is a light canvas type with a soft brushed finish. The pattern is Jane’s block which just has bust and waist darts so the pattern is minimally cut. The dress is unlined and has an invisible zip.

 

 

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Possibly the Poshest Embroidered Linen Dress in the World

embroidered and hand painted Italian linen dress

Jane’s amazing embroidered Italian Linen dress. This fabric is hand painted on top of the embroidery and doesn’t come cheap –it’s enlightening to discover what things cost when they are made properly and the artisans are paid a fair wage.

With such an amazing fabric you only need a very simple shift pattern, Jane used her block which just has bust darts, front darts and back darts so there was minimal chopping up of the pattern.

The fabric truly is stunning.

embroidered and hand painted Italian Linen
embroidered and hand painted Italian Linen