This past week I've had a change from cushions and cross stitch and made a few dresses and tunic tops from what I had in my sewing room.
First up was using a lovely dark floral dress weight cotton that I bought from the flea market a couple of years ago, and I decided to make a simple tunic from an old Prima pattern.
I can't say it was a particularly happy experience, as after I'd traced off the pattern and cut out the pieces I found to my horror that right down the centre front (where else!) there were a few tiny moth holes!
After rushing back into my sewing room and frantically checking lots of my fabric stash (all on open shelves! ) I realised I had probably bought the fabric like that - it was only a few pence and I wouldn't have checked it properly at the time. Thankfully I didn't find any other pieces of fabric with holes, and I do keep plenty of lavender bags stuffed amongst my stash, but it struck fear into me and made me seriously think again about re-housing my stash behind doors and not open shelves where I can see it.
I decided to go ahead and make up the tunic anyway after all the faff of tracing off and cutting out the pattern pieces, and once I'd made it up I added a few extra tucks, darts and pleats in strategic places to cover the holes.
I'm not sure its totally successful as the tunic has lost its loose fit look with all the moth-hole-covering shaping, and I still have to hem it as by this stage I had seriously lost interest in the darn thing, but I may revisit it as I don't like to be defeated and I do like the fabric!
It didn't seem a very good start to getting back into dressmaking after a break of 15 years or so!
Next up I made a tunic type dress with patch pockets from a dress pattern bought a couple of years ago which I adapted for length then raided another pattern for the pockets. Again I used an old fabric picked up second hand for a song, and checked it closely for any sign of moth before cutting into it!
This cotton/linen look grey/blue fabric made up really well and I know it'll be a favourite top as its really comfy to wear.
Next up I found an old favourite dress pattern from the eighties when I used to make lots of my own clothes. I had this dress in a few different fabrics and it was a great casual summer dress.
I decided to have a bit of fun with the fabrics, and unpicked an old skirt for the lower front and back, then used a combination of old and new fabrics from my stash for the bodice, including a gorgeous Rose and Hubble floral for the two front sides of the top.
I made it shorter than the pattern so it can be worn as a knee length dress - just the type of dress I like to wear pottering around the garden in the summer, although I do need to add pockets I think.
Last but by no means least is my favourite make so far.
A few years ago when I was still fairly new to blogging I came across this brilliant book on someone elses blog.
I ordered it and blogged about it here way back in 2011!
At the time I was dead keen to make the skirt but never got round to it.
It's a great book, with patterns included for three simple basic patterns for a skirt, a dress/tunic and a jacket/coat, but then the creativeness of the author shows you many variations using those few basic patterns.
It is the tunic / dress that I made up using the above knee length so I can wear it as either a dress or a as a tunic top over skinny jeans.
I used a large remnant I bought at least 10 years ago from Laura Ashley, a pretty blue floral fine cotton with beautiful drape.
The pattern made up beautifully, it is definitely one I shall make again, and it fits beautifully.
One of the things I have found with these dress patterns is that the sizes on the back of the patterns appear to be very different from those for shop bought clothes - I am usually a 10 or 12 but the measurements given for those sizes on the pattern are much smaller than I am, and so with the first couple of patterns I made I tried to use the pattern which was associated with my measurements (a 14!) rather than the size I usually buy ( a 10 or 12). But they came up rather generous, so having said all that for the last two dresses, which were the best fit, I ignored the measurements and just made my usual size 12. I'm not sure whether this will always be the case though so please don't take my word for it and see what works best for you!
It's hard to see from the photos, but the bodice is gently gathered at the neck and under the bust, empire style, where it joins the flattering smooth fit of the skirt. The sleeves are elasticated on the shoulder so you can adjust for fit, and gathered onto a band and all is top stitched so it looks good.
In a week I've made four dress / tunics from stash fabrics /old clothes, using patterns I already had, so it feels like dresses for free!!!
It's been too bitterly cold here to be outside gardening, hence my current obsession with dressmaking! It's my Birthday next week and I am determined this year to ask hubby for an adjustable dress form so I can really get back into making my own clothes. It's a pain having to strip off all the time to try items on for fit, and getting pricked by pins, as I don't have the patience for measuring and adjusting pattern pieces first, nor for making up a muslin.
Has any one else been dressmaking recently? Any hints, tips, advice??? Any recommended patterns?
I always use to love the ease of making and the excellent fit of Vogue patterns, and I regularly bought the quarterly magazine as well as lots of their patterns back in the late 80s and early 90s, but even the most basic of patterns seem to cost a fortune now hence my ad-libbing with what I already have for the moment!
Have a good week everyone, and enjoy the May Day bank holiday!