Anna from Munich (brightening up a dull day in Totnes) wearing this fabulous maxi dress. It was made up in digitally printed viscose lawn and velvet for the bodice, the pattern was taken from a dress bought in the market.
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.
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!
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.
Lulu in her vintage 1970’s dress made in stretch denim with a lime green wash. Accented with patch pockets, the dress is unlined and has bias binding around the armholes/neck. She made this maybe… 15 years ago? So doubly vintage then!
Dresses in fabrics like classic denim that fit well will never go out of style.
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.
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.
Kerry wearing her green lace print silk crepe de chine princess line dress using Simplicity 2247, which she said she would not make again in such a delicate fabric but we think it looks fabulous. Hems were hand rolled.
Daiga made this aqua, brown and chartreuse green geometric print cotton needlecord up into a great retro inspired dress for a nine year old and embellished the seams and front with lace and does up with a concealed zip down the back.
Daiga made this floral digitally printed viscose jersey up into a fabulous dress for a 6 year old using simplicity 1146. The neckline is embellished with diamanté (what little six year old doesn’t love a bit of bling? And what mother doesn’t love a dress that can be screwed up into a little ball but still looks perfect when worn?
Celia looking stunning in her rose print stretch cotton sateen dress made using Burda pattern 6920 (slightly lengthened). The dress is unlined as the fabric is already quite structured. Celia loves these stretchy cotton prints, as they are so easy to make up and fit beautifully.
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.
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.
Kate outside the shop wearing her Grey Cotton mix jacquard jersey ‘Lola’ dress made from a Victory pattern. It has fabulous deep pockets that go all the way round the side seams. The neck, hem and cuffs are all finished with cotton ribbing.
Clair is Sunny Cadiz wearing her crewel embroidered Italian linen shift dress (her tried and tested pattern which Jane helped to fit many moons ago). We can’t emphasise too much how useful a good basic dress pattern is!
Whilst linen is notoriously creasy these heavy embroidered linens really don’t crease badly at all.
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).
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.
Maxine wearing her very first sewing project using a floral printed cotton and poly mix stretch drill with Vogue 8998. This is the perfect fabric for a structured dress such as this. We think this girl will go far!
Elwen wearing her green Irish shirting linen dress to her brother’s graduation ceremony. She used Burda 6758 which she altered only in the bust (to make bigger), took in on the nape of her neck (it was gaping) and shortened it a bit (which was surprising as Elwen is tall). The bodice is lined in green cotton lawn, it was hand hemmed.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The pattern is a discontinued Burda pinafore 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.
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.
Gill from classes wearing her floral stretch cotton dress. This stretch cotton is not quite as heavy as a stretch cotton sateen so it was deemed necessary to line it, she used Venezia because this dress was made for holidays in sunnier climes.
Jan made up this brilliant “Coco” dress (from Tilly and the Buttons) using an acrylic mix double jersey printed with an irregular abstract stripe. This jersey has only a little stretch in it – much like a Ponte Roma jersey. We love the way she has managed to match those stripes at the side seams despite the irregularity of the stripes. Very Clever.
Ann from classes wearing her floral printed ramie and viscose mix shift dress with frill hem. Ramie is a natural fibre similar to Linen, like linen it breathes well so is excellent to wear in the heat.
Helen made this fabulous pleated dress for an afternoon tea get-together in London. She’d had a bit of a slump before this with a couple of disastrous projects and this put a proper smile back on her face (yay!). She used sea green stretch cotton pique with daisy trim decorating the hem. The pattern is McCall’s 6953 which we’ve seen made up in a variety of fabrics and on a variety of body shapes and always looks good. The Bodice is lined in Venezia lining.
Elwen sporting her unlined LG black and white spot print cotton 1960’s mini dress, made for a party in which she was supposed to dress in the decade she was born. Either Elwen has aged incredibly well or she cherry picked the decade because she fancied this print.
The cotton is a lovely poplin weight cotton with a fair amount of body, it works very well in this kind of a-line shift dress.
The pattern is a discontinued Burda pinafore dress, they said she needed a concealed zip but when she made up the toile she found it would chuck over her head so she didn’t bother (she’s ever so agile for her age)
She totally didn’t do the pockets on the cross just so she didn’t have to match those spots.
Lulu wearing her Tom and Linda Platt (Vogue 1348) yellow and turquoise poly/lurex brocade dress, made by Jane. The pattern has box pleats with bizarre instructions (Jane followed them once then did the rest her way). It has a concealed zip, silk underlining and velvet ready made piping around the armholes and neck. There is a petticoat in turquoise cotton poplin which is trimmed in lace. There are a million pieces to this pattern and so whilst it was not particularly difficult make (especially when ignoring the box pleat construction) it took a long time to cut out all the pieces.
This dress needs a fabric with a certain amount of bounce to it and this brocade worked a treat. The petticoat has ruffles and lace trim galore but the skirt hoops out all by itself.
Elwen in her peacock leaf design cotton mix lace shift dress with lime green Venezia lining.
Using Burda pattern 8213, she lengthened it a bit (Elwen says it’s quite short but it’s more that she’s quite tall). The lace is overlocked (by Bess because Elwen was being a proper wuss), the lining was cut 2 sizes bigger to accommodate the stretch of the lace, but it was a bit too big so 1 size would have been sufficient. Made on the 30th for New Years’ Eve so no time for alterations!
Bess went on a course down the road at Social Fabric with Chinelo from the Sewing Bee. Despite being utterly star struck she made this dress using Chinelo’s amazing free cutting method. It’s witchcraft, I tell you. No patterns, no dummy… not much table space, not even that much measuring, and hey presto, a few hours later we have a dress! Bess being Bess made it less fitted than it is supposed to be and reversible.
Fabrics used: Black and white printed viscose twill.
Allow 10% shrinkage for all your washable natural fibres (including viscose). Wash before making up in the same manner as you would with subsequent washes (including drying methods).
Jerseys and fabrics liable to mis-shape should be dried flat, or in a cool tumble dryer.
Most fabrics should be pressed before cutting.
If in doubt about care instructions please CONTACT US