My Christmas Party Dress

This dress was the main thing I had to get finished in November, in time for the New Craft House Winter Party which was the first weekend in December. I did finish it in time, but it did spill into December as I was hand stitching the lining down on the Thursday before the party, which is early for me!

The fabric came from this dress which one of my work friends gave me as it didn’t fit her. It was a bit big for me, and not really my style. But I loved the fabric, so set about unpicking all the seams. Because the skirt was so full I did end up with some quite big pieces of fabric to cut my new dress from. I reused the zip and I’ve saved the boning to use at a future date if I ever need boning for something. The dress was completely lined in black shiny lining fabric, which I reused to line the bodice of my dress – there wasn’t enough fabric or any need to line the skirt.

The original dress had pockets, which I also unpicked and reused, even though the pattern I used didn’t originally have pockets. You can never have enough pockets! At the New Craft House Party everyone whose dress had pockets got a cheer when they did the best dress fashion show, and I can definitely understand why!

The pattern is the By Hand London Sophia DressBy Hand London really are the best indie pattern company for party dresses. I made the size 6 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist, and I cut the skirt out in size 10. In a break to my usual modus operandi, I made a muslin (well, actually I made 2) as I thought I would probably have to do a small bust adjustment, as I have done before with fitted BHL dresses.

Because of the shape of the darts on the bodice of the Sophia Dress, I did kind of fudge the bust adjustment as I didn’t want to affect the darts’ shapes so I took a 1cm wedge out underneath my bust, from the boob out to the armpit. I also extended the bust darts by 4cm, making sure to make them straight as I didn’t want to ruin the great style lines of the dress.

I don’t know if I ended up over-fitting the dress or whether I should have gone a size up at the top of the bodice and done a bigger bust adjustment, but the bodice ended up very snug – like so snug it wouldn’t do up! So I reduced the side seams’ seam allowance to 1cm instead of 1.5cm and this helped – I wanted it fitted but not so tight I couldn’t breathe! It was still maybe a little tight, but it was pretty comfortable.

Usually the place where I have to make adjustments to a fitted pattern is on the back because I have a fairly narrow back, but this pattern fitted me pretty well right out of the packet. I took a 1.5cm wedge out of the back straps, taking the widest part from the side of the strap towards the centre of my back, tapering to nothing on the arm side of the strap.

I did, however, do something very odd to the back of the dress I think when I was attaching the bodice to the skirt. I don’t know what I did, but when I then put the zip in, I made sure to line up the waist seam on both sides of the zip, but then the bodice really did not line up at the top of the zip and so neither do the darts which should match across the zip. I didn’t notice until I had stitched the lining to the bodice because The Boyfriend was kindly zipping it up for me and I didn’t zip the zip with the dress off my until it was completely finished and I was giving it a final press. Lesson learned! But it’s not tooooo noticeable – though in typical sewist style, I pointed it out to everyone at the party! Does anyone else do that? When someone says ‘I like your dress’ you point out all the things you did wrong!?

There is a sort of weird bulge over my tummy, but that’s just room for eating!

I added the pockets into the side seams right at the top because I thought them being on my hips would look the better than if they were part of the way down the side seams.

The next time I get invited to a Winter party I’ll definitely wear this dress again! Do you have a go-to festive party dress? Did you make one this year?

 

 

#SewDots Dress

In my October plans post I mentioned I was going to try to join in with Rosie Martin’s #SewDots movement for the RNIB. She raised £791.29 so far (with a target of £500 being smashed) and you can still donate to the JustGiving page if you’d like. I finished my dress in the nick of time – literally! I posted it on Instagram at about 5pm on the last day.

sew-dots-dress-2This is the Drapey Knit dress from the 3rd Great British Sewing Bee book.

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This is the fabric, which I’ve had in my stash for ages. You may recognise it from my running armband tutorial.

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I did make a couple of changes to the pattern. The main one was when I traced the pattern, I widened the hem line as I didn’t like the 80s style narrowing. I think I could maybe have widened it a bit more, but I think it looks quite balanced.

sew-dots-dress-5I reduced the sleeve seam allowance to 0.5cm instead of 1.5cm because the fabric isn’t probably as stretchy as it should be for this pattern. Also I think I cut them in the wrong direction – the fabric has more stretch one way than the other and I think this stretchy direction runs up and down the sleeve instead of around! It’s not normally my style, but I like the batwing-style of the upper sleeves.

sew-dots-dress-6The other change I made was to the neckline. The head hole was so small I couldn’t get it over my head (same non-stretch issue I think!) so I sewed it with a 3cm seam allowance instead of the 1.5cm allowance suggested. This did unfortunately mean I slightly messed with the crossover pleat-y-thing at the neckline. I think other people have mentioned this doesn’t sit perfectly and mine definitely doesn’t when I resewed the neckline.

sew-dots-dress-8I can sort of fudge it a little if I arrange it and stand still! Eagle-eyed viewers may spot that my pleat-y-thing is the opposite way around than it should be. For some reason – and without noticing at all – I had the fabric with the wrong side up when I cut out all the pieces for the front (they’re cut in a single layer because it’s obviously not symmetrical) so they ended up a mirror image. Luckily I cut all the pieces wrong so it was sort of fine in the end.

I do like the pockets and the way the pleats flow straight into them. 🙂

sew-dots-dress-3For once I like the fit on the back of this dress! It’s meant to look a bit wider at the top, so it doesn’t look too big I don’t think. I also like how in this photo it looks like I have a real shelf of an arse!

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I’m sure I say this every time, but I really think I’ll make this pattern again. I’ve worn it quite a few times already, with a top underneath for warmth. When the weather gets a  bit warmer I think it will still be a comfy dress to wear – but it’s smart enough for work. And I got quite a few compliments on it, which is always pleasing 🙂

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