As the clock ticks closer to the deadline of the competition, I present my entry to the ‘Simplicity Star Sewist’ competition. Nothing like last minute hey?! Details of the competition can be found here. When I first saw the competition advertised a few months ago I saw that it is only open to bloggers. At that point I didn’t have a blog so although I had thought about starting a blog at some point, it was definitely a big incentive I needed and gave me a push in the right direction to start mine!
There are 3 categories to enter in, each having its own pattern for you to make your own version of. I decided to enter the ‘Best dressmaking project’ category which involves making a garment from the New Look 6145 shift dress pattern.
In my previous blog post, (here) I gave a sneak preview of my chosen pattern and fabric.
I received the floral cotton as part of a subscription offer to ‘Sew style and home’ magazine. Although I do really like the fabric it wouldn’t have been one that I would naturally have been drawn to for this dress – I would have gone for a bolder print. I did however have 2m of it and thought that was quite cool using it for this project.
In order to add some contrast I decided to use some plain grey cotton for the sleeves, collar and belt. This was from Hobbycraft.
So before I go into the details here it is…
There is quite a lot of ease included in this pattern. I think this is the style of a shift dress. I was a little concerned it may be too roomy for me as I do normally end up shaping garments at the waist in order for them to be flattering. A toile would have been the most sensible approach in this instance but I just didn’t have enough time with the deadline for entering the competition. I therefore decided to do a tissue fit. Compared to the pattern sizing I measured a 12 bust, 14 waist and 12 hips. Given the amount of ease included in the waist I elected not to grade between sizes and cut a size 12 throughout. I also increased the length by 9cm as I am quite tall and do prefer dresses to finish just above the knee, especially if wearing without tights in the summer!!
This photo of me doing a tissue fit is really not a great one (!) but hopefully it will give you the idea of how I did it.
I pinned the bust and back darts on the tissue pattern pieces and pinned the shoulder seams together and the side seams. As far as I could see it looked like it might be a good enough fit but to be honest on my own it was really tricky to do accurately. Not doing it properly may well be just as effective as not doing it at all!! The one advantage of doing it was that I initially increased the length by 5cm but that felt too short so added another 4cm to the length; 9 in total. So not a complete waste of time after all!
The sew was pretty straight forward and the instructions were nice and clear, although there were a couple of new sewing features for me.
At the bottom of the centre back dress is a vent. Initially I wasn’t sure about this feature as I didn’t think it would suit me. I contemplated taking it out and just sewing a straight seam. Then a change of heart and was curious to see what it looked like. I actually really like it!
When setting the sleeves in, the pattern instructs you to ease stitch the top of the sleeves. I have set sleeves into garments a few times before but have only gathered them before. I consulted my sewing bible, The Sewtionary by Sewaholic. This told me exactly what I needed to know! (Btw…this is a really great reference book for sewing tips and techniques with some fab photos!). Basically when easing the top of the sleeve in you need to ensure the sleeve tops and sides are flat with no puckers or gathers. I was quite nervous about this…being the perfectionist that I am, even one pucker would have really annoyed me!! I was pleased with my job!
I made my own bias binding to add details to the sleeve hems and dress hem. I left a peep of the main colour right at the hem of the sleeve and the skirt section.
To make the floral bias binding I used the continuous bias binding method as described in my previous post here. This is a great method but you do end up having more joins showing. In a patterned fabric you can get away with it but it is more noticeable with a plain fabric, and didn’t want that to potentially show around the hem. I also had enough grey fabric left to cut a few long separate strips, therefore reducing the number of joins/seams in the bias binding. I think my next investment will be a bias tape maker to make life a bit easier at the ironing stage!
In order to add some detail, complement the grey of the sleeves and help nip the dress in I decided to make a cute bow belt.
I have been wanting to try one of these for a while and I think it suits the overall style of the dress. I used the instructions in Tilly and the Button’s book Love at First Stitch. You can also see a tutorial for the belt on her blog here. I think you may see this feature again in some of my garments as I love it!! I hand stitched thread chain belt loops either side to stop it from slipping south!
I did end up shaping it considerably to get the look and fit that I wanted. This is how it looked before any shaping…
It did look a little better around the bust when the sleeves went in. I did this first whilst the side seams were basted together and then shaped the side seams.
So all in all I love this dress and can’t wait to wear it. My favourite parts are the collar – (hair must definitely be up wearing this one) and the sleeves with the bias binding edges. Oh and the belt….and the vent….!!!
I can’t possibly finish the blog post with those pictures above so here is a final happy (very chuffed with my sew) one for good measure…..
So that’s it..wish me luck!! 🙂