Friday, 7 October 2016

My year of Dressmaking

After what has been an incredibly long blog absence I've finally worked out how to download my photos so here I am once more. I'm not sure if anyone else is, but if you are, then Helllloooo.

Annoying technical glitches aside, I've also been busy with general life and endless sewing, bordering on obsessional. I decided this year to push myself with my sewing confidence and to learn new skills by tackling projects I might normally have avoided. I've also started drafting my own patterns. 
The other major change to my dressmaking adventures was the arrival of my mannequin, named Foxy Lady. She has helped me no end in my battle to actually get measurements correct. 

A project which greatly inspired me this year and had me sewing with frenzied gusto was the instagram daily share of sewing projects called MeMadeMay. A photo a day of a new piece sounded fun. I joined up and then did the maths....May has 31 days, that meant 31 pieces. I opted to share some older pieces that were much loved, a few cheat pics with handmade lampshades on my head, but on the whole I managed to create a whole lot of new tops, skirts, dresses and trousers. No more can I say I have nothing to wear. I'd be a great big fibber.

As my sewing confidence has grown over the years, it has taken me away more and more from shop bought clothes. They simply don't fit as well as a piece created for our own individual body shapes, how can they. I personally have narrow shoulders, a long upper body, large bust and long legs which I've squeezed into ill fitting clothes for years. Now I draft patterns to fit all my peculiarities in cloth, colours and patterns that I want to wear. It's all chosen to mix and match perfectly with my shoes and accessories so it actually gets worn, rather than lingering forgotten in the wardrobe. That's not forgetting three other things, It's far more cost effective to make your own clothes. A simple shop bought top costs roughly £30, whereas a metre of cloth is anything from £6 to £10 so it's an obvious saving.  The finished quality is often better (I'm a fussy perfectionist for my sins).  And finally, you can have shapes in your wardrobe that you know suit you rather than making do. 

This was the first picture I posted for the MeMadeMay challenge. A much made pencil skirt pattern Butterick 6326 that I've made as both pencil and wiggle shapes. 

I'd bought this neon bright stretch cotton the year before thinking I'd make a dress from it, but instead it became a skirt. Perhaps a top will follow to match.

I first made the Butterick skirt pattern in a stretch denim. Denim is a wardrobe essential for me as it's easy to dress up or down. I love the shaped high waist of this pattern and the six panels which are flat fell seamed to give it a more interesting design. I've added another denim in this pattern to my cupboard since too.

Another Butterick skirt in a green, navy, white and lilac stretch cotton. This time I added a zip to the back split so I can either wear it tight and wiggly or unzip and make it a speedy walking skirt.

Fancying a dress type option with this skirt, I whipped up a short top with a side zip from Vintage Vogue 9082.

I also made this skirt pattern up in this gorgeous slinky cat cotton print, but it doesn't keep its shape as well after a days wear as that fabulous stretch cotton does.

It's a design I'll keep returning to as it's a shape that I find comfy to wear, a bit sassy and flattering.

Another skirt pattern I've tried is Tilly and the Buttons Arielle. I've made three of these, but it's the denim one that gets the most wear. It simply goes with everything. 

I've found that full skirts just don't suit me at all and to be honest I immediately feel frumpy the moment I wear one.  So it's straight skirts and sometimes lightly pleated ones on dresses all the way for me. Ever since making shapes that I feel good in I've not had a day when I hate what I'm wearing. That adds to the confidence boost we all need now and again.

Now I do love to wear a frock. I have to admit to having quite a few and have added quite a few more to the collection this year. Admittedly, I lost just over a stone after the stress caused a couple of years ago. It wasn't a conscious choice, but boy that stone loss has made all the difference. No more uncomfortable bloated tummy that I try to hide and I feel tons more energetic too. That's largely down to happiness and sorting out my anaemia for sure. All the same I feel confident to wear figure hugging clothes again.

This dress in yet more stretch cotton has proved to be another firm favourite. It's Butterick 6582 and it was a bit of a sod to make to be honest. I went wrong with the neckline, I knew what had happened and the only way to resolve it was to alter the shaping from the pattern slightly. Oops, but never mind. It's perfectly wearable, only I know (which as a fussy perfectionist I'm trying to accept) and it all helps the stitchery learning process doesn't it.

Next we have a dress I made in a raspberry wool crepe from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. This had a new to me challenge in the construction of armpit gusset's. A nasty word and not such a joy to construct and sew either. I regret not lining this dress as I've not worn it once since finishing it because it shows my undies lines. That all said, it's a great pattern, just me and my fussy ways.

After making the top from Vintage Vogue 9082 I made the dress included in the pattern that the top is actually meant to be worn over. Sewn in forgiving stretch cotton yet again. Only one outing to date for this one. Sometimes it's just the joy of making something and packing away in my memory the skills I learn as I make more and more.

I get all excited when I see these two frocks. The blue floral cotton is cut from a beautiful French bedspread that I bought from Pomme de Jour. For this make I wanted an easy to slip on summer days dress. I couldn't find the exact pattern I was looking for despite it being a simple shape so this is where I started to get braver and made my own bodice, after which I flat pinned the fabric into gently folded pleats to the bodice on my mannequin.  I even managed to pretty much pattern match too which shocked me that I can do it if I concentrate properly.

This yellow floral barkcloth was bought from one of my favourite fabric dealers at a vintage fair. It was pricey, but very well worth it. I've also made Happy Shoppers in this fabric which have gone to two lovely instagrammers. Instead of binding the neck and armholes of the bodice I chose to line this one in a yellow polka dot cotton, other than that it was the same pattern I created before.

I managed to get this Liberty Rose print for a steal and waited to get inspiration for which shape I wanted to make this in. My starting point was a vintage frock I saw but with a full 1950's skirt. I drafted up the bodice, added an A line skirt and made a quick belt from red webbing with a red deco buckle. This was made for a weekend away to Bristol in August, but instead the weather dipped suddenly from high 20's to freezing with constant rain. A fabulous weekend was had but the dress stayed at home. 

Another weekend away when the sun was hot hot hot. Another favourite and simple pattern, Eliza M's Eva dress which is is an all in one dress construction, no separate skirt or bodice making here.

My most recent dress makes are these next two. This first one is constructed using a me made pattern for the bodice, with a boatneck with cap sleeves and then I added my favourite Butterick pencil skirt pattern. The cloth is a just gorgeous blue and black Italian Ponte Roma that I found on a trip to Columbia Road and Brick Lane with my girls.

Final dress for now, but not for this year. I've got lots more in my head and cloth to match that I want to make up. 

Sew Over It London has a fabulous range of patterns to choose from. This is the first dress pattern I've used from them and I loved making it. I found this blue crepe on the way to meeting a friend for coffee, as you do when you just find it impossible to pass by cloth shops. With it's wonderful drape I thought it was the perfect match for this pattern. I have it in mind that my man and I will finally learn how to dance properly and then I can swoosh away in my 1940's Tea dress.

As you can guess I've got lots more makes to show you and I've already written that post too as I intend to get back to this blogging lark far more regularly than every few months. 


  1. hello lovely bun!
    lovely to see your post in what seems like a strange ghost town in blogland these last year or so. you make me feel like blogging again!
    i love all your makes and dresses! what a wonderful place your wardrobe must be! ;) x

  2. Wow! wow! wow! I love all your clothes, Please do you give lessons on how to do this. The are all perfectly beautiful
    Julie xxxxx

  3. Lovely to read about your sewing and the beautiful clothes you have made. I envy anyone that can make their very own clothes xx

  4. So lovely to see you here my friend!
    Love your sewing, you are an inspiration xxx

  5. Good Evening Lisa, Welcome back. Oh my word, you have shared some beautiful clothes. I adore the fabric and style of the Butterick pencil skirt and the Liberty Rose Print just took my breath away.
    I have been tinkering with dressmaking as I used to dressmake years ago. You have inspired me. I am going to buy the Butterick pattern and make the pencil skirt as I love it.
    Have a lovely evening.
    Best Wishes

  6. Yay! You're back. Pleased to see you included the lovely dress that matches my bag! I use it every day for work, as despite having many many bags, the yellow one always makes me smile. Your dress making is so impressive , clever girl x

  7. Lovely to see you back and wow, what a year you have had, some stunning outfits, very nice indeed.

  8. I saw your blog pop up in my feed and I clicked straight away. Congratulations on your wardrobe it is really great. I too am a lover of the shift style. I have just put my 1950's gathered evening dress on Ebay! I made it so carefully but it looked so awful on me. Looking forward to you sharing some more... Jo x

  9. Lovely to see you back and what a fabulous catwalk of clothes. I thought I was a prolific maker but you beat me hands down and look stunning! X

  10. Welcome back.I have missed your posts, but haven't you been busy! So many gorgeous clothes, you are talented. xx

  11. Yay! You're back! Haven't you been busy? What a fabulous wardrobe you have, and you look very stylish in all of it. Can't wait to see what you do next xx

  12. Fabby ! very mucho like you ..
    Maria ( Rosey tinted of course )

  13. Wow - brilliant post - you have been busy! Love hearing all the thoughts that have gone into your makes (and that blue on the last 2 dresses is stunning on you)

  14. How lovely to see you posting again - and what prolific dressmaking! Well done and I hope to see you again soon.

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