A really strange thing happened this week. I made a summer dress. And the day I finished it, the sun shone and I was able to wear it without requiring three vests and a cardigan!
OK, there were thick black tights, but that was just to prevent the glare from my pasty white legs from blinding people: more of a public service than anything else.
As those who follow me on Instagram will know, I recently started trying on some of my clothes from last summer, establishing whether they were OK for this year or not. By and large, for the dresses, the answer was not.
Hmm, just assessing last year's summer makes ahead of #mmmay16 (in a bout of total optimism, obviously!) I knew I had lost weight and would have to alter things : this may take rather more than taking in the side seams!! I hope I haven't overstated my pledge of me made 6 days a week!!! #slightsewingpanic #isew #sewingblog #needtosewsummerclothes
It dawned on me that this means I’m not only going to have to make new dresses (gutted!), it means I’ve got all the patterns to trace and adjust again. Less good.
I decided to start with the By Hand London Anna dress, as it’s a relatively straightforward pattern and I absolutely love it. I made 4 separate versions last year, so thought I knew what I was doing.
My new measurements still put me between sizes, but I no longer need a full bust adjustment. Not sure how I feel about that one tbh! As ever, I’m larger on the waist and hips than I am on the bust. I graded between sizes accordingly.
I think this is where I went slightly wrong. Although the front bodice piece on the paper is printed as “usual”, where the central line in a single line for all sizes and then the sides, darts, shoulders etc are slightly staggered, the back pieces are nested differently. I decided to take the central back line from one size (the smaller) and then align the side lines with the pattern sizes as I had at the front.
End result? When I sewed the front and back together, the back was rather shorter than the front. Meh.
Fortunately, I appear to be somewhat short in the torso so I got away with taking a small seam allowance on the back when sewing the skirt on and “levelling off” the front bodice as I sewed.
The other adjustment I make on the Anna dress is to make the skirt panels rather wider than designed as I prefer a fuller look. I’d already taken 2″ off the length of each piece as I find BHL dresses to have more of a midi look than I prefer (and I’m 5’7″ so they must be very tall or like really high heels!)
I have absolutely no idea if this is the proper way to do things but I draw 3 or 4 lines down the length of each skirt panel piece, cut up from the bottom almost to the waistband then spread the piece out by the same amount for each cut (1.5″ each time in this case).
Anyone know if there’s a “proper” way to do this?
I sewed the dress on my machine and then finished the seams using the overlocker. I’m really starting to like the overlocker, and the inside of the dress looks so neat!
I turned the hem up rather more than I expected, but used the bias tape technique anyway as I like the flash of a contrast colour. The bias was from Scrap!, no idea how old it was but it was wound on pieces of card, wrapped in cellophane and it turned out to be the most incredibly soft and lovely tape. Clearly I need to get back there and get some more whilst they have some!
The finishing touch was the label: I really love sewing labels into my home made clothes. I bought these last year from BHL in a batch of 10.
And, just to prove it was actually sunny, I took a few pictures on the patio too.
There was a need to twirl!
And then I got two avid “helpers” who wanted in on the action!
I’m particularly happy with the fabric (Fabworks again!) – it’s a lovely shirting cotton and it feels gorgeous in a summer dress. And again, it was a great price – result!
So, all in all, a very happy sewing experience and a dress I’ll get lots of wear from. Oh, and a mum at the party (OF COURSE it was a children’s party!) asked whether it was from Warehouse or Oasis – get in!