I’ve decided that this is by far my most successful project to date! The satisfaction I felt when I finished this dress and it looked like I wanted it to look was great.
The fabric came from a craft fair that was held in the Heysel exhibition hall a few months ago. The stand I bought it from was run by a fabric shop in a small village in Flanders called Duffel. It was pretty cheap so cycling there to check out their stock is high on my to do list!
I drafted the pattern myself from scratch. I decided to make a new set of basic blocks and I used Winifred Aldrich’s method in the third edition of her book ‘Metric Pattern Cutting’. I first made the close fitting bodice block (page 18-19) and then followed her method on page 34 for making a close fitting two piece dress block. This was toile number 1. Next I adapted the skirt block to an A-line style. In the back skirt I removed one dart using the pivot method and moved the other to be in line with the back bodice dart and made it slightly bigger (3cm wide and 14cm deep). In the front bodice piece I moved the shoulder dart to the waist. This was toile number 2 which I wasn’t enamored with.
In the end I decided to draft a simple circle skirt style for the skirt part of the dress, using the finished waist measurement of the bodice instead of my natural waist measurement. I made some further fitting changes to the bodice before I was completely happy with finished toile number 3.
The sewing came together fine and this was my first attempt at making my own continuous bias binding to finish the neckline and armholes. I used the famous Colette continuous bias tape method. I HIGHLY recommend this!
And some other Colette blog posts that I can’t express my love for enough are the invisible zipper photo tutorial and the invisible zipper video. The zip in this dress went in quite well, and while I’ve definitely got a way to go before I can do it with my eyes closed, I can feel that I’m getting better when I look back at the shoddy zip insertions on previous projects.
I’ve worn the dress loads so far and it is really comfortable. It gapes slightly at the armholes but I’m just so happy with this dress that I don’t really mind! I never ever thought I’d be able to make something like this and I don’t mind saying that I’m pretty chuffed that I drafted the pattern myself. Next time I make it up I’ll consider lining it too and maybe adding short raglan sleeves.
Me wearing the dress and eating some lovely cake!
Here is a photo of my friend John’s girlfriend Ylva’s sewing machine. It was taken about a year ago in Malmo, Sweden. One of my favourite colours is this type of deep orange.
I discovered Tilly’s brilliant blog after watching the ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ and soon after bought both her wonderful patterns Mathilde and Miette.
What can I say…I enjoyed making the Mathilde blouse a lot! I didn’t leave my house for about four days! It was a huge learning curve for me and in many ways a ‘game changer’. I think I can break down my sewing journey into pre-Mathilde and post-Mathilde. I really took my time with this project and tried to overcome bad sewing habits like being too eager to complete a project to the detriment of the final garment’s finish.
Tilly’s instructions can’t be faulted one bit and they really give you confidence. The cut of the pattern itself is just lovely too. I made mine in a quite thick blue cotton and I used an orange linen for the yoke and the cuffs. The buttons I used were in my sewing box for ages and I can no longer recall where they came from!
The main things I learned were:
– never underestimate the importance of pressing seams. The finish of a garment is improved ten-fold when everything is properly pressed.
– interfacing is your friend and is really not that scary!
– to be more creative when thinking about future projects: after all I can now do cuffs, tucks, and gathered puff sleeves!
– French seams are brilliant and really make for a tidier finish.
I enjoyed this project so much that I then adapted the pattern to make it into a shift dress. I took out the tucks and changed the button centre back opening for an invisible zip and I used some green linen. It’s the first time I’ve used linen for a dress like this and it certainly is not a myth that it is a fabric that crumples easily. I’m pretty happy with the dress and it feels lovely on but next time I’ll make it in a different fabric and maybe add a lining too.
Here are some pictures of the Mathilde blouse as it is meant to be, and I’ll add some of my dress version soon!
Having a place where you can sew and pattern cut is a luxury and most sewers have to work with what they’ve got. Kitchen tables double up as cutting tables; bedroom floors are littered with pins.
I was getting a bit sick of getting a sore back drafting patterns on my bedroom floor so when I found this tutorial I knew immediately that I had to make it.
I added wheels to mine though so it would be easier to move around. Here are some pictures of it in my old bedroom where it really dominated the room!
I picked up this blue spotty fabric in Les Petits Riens. I got about 4 metres of it for 2 euros! I think it is some sort of silk-polyester blend, I’m so bad at identifying fabrics! It drapes nicely and is nice and shiny so I thought it would be perfect for a simple elastic skirt. I followed this great tutorial. Et voilà…a new addition to my wardrobe I know I’ll wear time and time again.