Category Archives: Dress

Bamboo Sahara

I’m a bit late for the Sewcialists’ Tribute Month, but this garment was very much inspired by Shauni of The Magnificent Thread! It’s a Ralph Pink Sahara shirt; Shauni has made two beautiful versions and slowly coached me into buying the PDF.

This was my first time sewing a Ralph Pink pattern, and it was a largely positive experience. The PDF layout is a little different to usual but once I figured out which markings to match it went together easily. The instructions are well illustrated but a little brief in places so a beginner may struggle, but this pattern is fairly standard shirt dress construction so I found it fine. 


The Sahara is obviously very oversized so I cut a size small without toiling and I’m pretty pleased with the fit. The only adjustment I did make was to take an inch off the hem length and slightly level off the dipped hem in the back. I did notice that my side seams are buckling a bit; I’m not sure if I got something a bit off-grain or the slightly bulky seams under the arms are causing it to drag a bit.

Collar open… I think I prefer it fully done up.

Having not sewn for a while I went to town with the finishing and used a mix of French and flat-felled seams throughout: no overlocking in sight. I also topstitched along the main seamlines to bring out the cool curved yokes on the front and back. Even so, I got the whole dress finished in a day of fairly leisurely sewing, buttonholes and all (I’m that weird sewist who actually enjoys sewing buttonholes…)

I especially adore the fabric I used which was a perfect match for the pattern: it’s an organic woven bamboo from Ray Stitch. I’ve never seen woven bamboo fabric before but it has the same silky smooth hand and soft drape of bamboo knits and was a dream to work with, taking a press beautifully and easy to manipulate around the curved hem yet still pretty stable so easy to handle. It has an almost sanded/peached finish and doesn’t seem to crease too badly. I used a size 60 microtex needle to make sure it didn’t snag. I might buy up some more of this fabric in white and try dyeing it as it’s basically dream dress fabric.

I feel rather like a fashionable bat wearing this, and I’m pretty into it! Needless to say, it’s insanely comfortable and being basic black it’s going to get a ton of wear. Much as it pains me to consider autumn weather, I feel like this’ll work great with tights and boots as the temperature dips. I feel like it’d work well worn open as an overshirt too. I’ve just got a new job after a summer contracting and having some delicious time off, so it’ll be great for work too.

More Saharas: Self-Assembly Required, Paprika Patterns, Frock and Sew, and of course thanks again to Shauni for the main inspiration!

P.S. If you’re reading in a reader, I gave my blog a bit of a fresh look – click on over to have a look!
P.P.S. If you’re not on Instagram, you may have missed that I was a guest on Helen and Caroline’s excellent new podcast, Love to Sew, talking about my sewing and blogging journey. You can find my episode here or on all podcast apps.

A wedding New Look

I made this a little while ago, wore it to a wedding, and completely neglected to get photos – but I dug it back out to photograph with no occasion whatsoever, as I think it turned out so nice it needs sharing!

I used New Look 6499 with a few of my usual little tweaks. I think it’s one of those dresses that looks rather fancy but was actually delightfully simple and fun to make, however I did put a bit of effort into preparing the pattern before cutting my fabric. I pre-empted some neckline gaping by rotating out a dart, which I converted into making the whole dress more flared/full than the gentle A-line as patterned. Here’s a quick video that I made of this process which I posted on my Instagram stories:


(Click through if you’re reading in a reader and can’t see the video above.)


I also added some side slits, and made a simple waist tie to draw in the fullness. All the tweaking was worthwhile as the fit turned out great and it was super comfortable.

I did find the instructions given to add the little sleeve flounces disappointing. Firstly you are instructed to hem the highly curved edges using a 3/8″ hem allowance: LOL NO, not going to happen. I overlocked the edge and used that as a guide to turn in once and make a baby hem which only just worked out ok with a judicious use of steam. For a nicer finish I think it’d be a good idea to self-line the flounces, especially if the fabric has an obvious wrong side like this one does. Also the flounces are just tacked on by hand at the end of the sewing process; I think it’d be neater if the corners were extended a little and they were caught in the seam that joins the strap to the bodice. I’ll do that next time. However this does mean I could unpick the flounces if I get bored of them!

The fabric is my buy of the year so far: it was from a random little shack-shop (with a kitty!) on Ridley Road market in Dalston and was a ridiculous £2 a metre. I bought six metres in excitement and passed some on to Amy. It’s a heavy polyester crepe and I’m in love with the swishiness and print (which is not dissimilar to my Atelier Brunette Cassiopee!). Wedding season seems to be over for us now, but I’ll definitely dig this back out for future occasions.

Cassiopée in Atelier Brunette

This is a double-French dress: both the pattern and fabric come from companies français! It’s also a little out of my normal style zone, but I think I love it.

It’s my second I AM Patterns Cassiopée dress – I made a winter version in a dark floral with long sleeves last December which I wear a lot, so another version was always in order. When I saw that I AM released a free short sleeve extension pack it was time to give it another go.

The sewing is really fast and easy: four raglan seams, bit of gathering and hemming and you’re done. The new short sleeve has a very deep self-cuff which you can either turn back or wear as-is, which comes to roughly elbow length on me. I like it both ways!

A few people have asked me and yes, the Cassiopée has a LOT of ease built in: this is actually the size below my measurements. A fluid, drapey fabric is essential so it doesn’t stick out like a circus tent. I don’t actually use the pattern pieces for the skirt as it’s just a big rectangle. I basically used up the rest of my fabric this time and made it really quite voluminous: the hem measures about 90 inches around. (I swear the hem isn’t puckered like it looks in the photos: I’m going to go back and press it again!)

The wonderful fabric that’s making me feel like a baby marshmallow is Moonstone pink viscose by Atelier Brunette, which I got from Maud’s Fabric Finds. As well as being a beautiful colour and print, this fabric is the perfect weight for dressmaking projects: floaty and light but with a little bit of body to make it more stable than some and pretty much opaque. I don’t think I can resist buying the blue colourway, as well as some of the other beautiful prints in this collection.

I French-seamed the entire thing and it’s one of those garments that I think is quite lovely as an object as well as clothing. It’s been hanging up in my sewing room for a while pretty much as decoration, though now it’s photographed it’s definitely going to make its way into my wardrobe.

Tropical NL 6493

Summer wedding season has opened, and this is a New Look 6493 jumpsuit I made for the first occasion. I really like this final garment, but I did have some difficulties getting there with the pattern!

I didn’t toile or make any prior adjustments because I thought the pattern’s princess seams would give a chance to fine-tune fit as I went. I cut a smaller size in the bodice than the trousers after checking out the finished garment measurements, but the bodice still turned out way too large and flashed an alarming amount of skin! Upon re-checking the line art on the back of the pattern envelope you can see the back is intentionally drafted very low, but it was also baggy under the arms and on the wrap front too. The ease and wrap is necessary to let you pull on the jumpsuit without fastenings, but personally I think it would have been very difficult to wear as drafted, so it seems a poor design decision. (Also what’s with the random knit crop-top pattern included? Are you supposed to wear that underneath?!)

I ended up fixing it by overlapping both the front and back a couple of inches more than patterned, hiking up the straps a considerable amount and taking in the side seams, then lightly gathering the trouser waistband in the newly-smaller bodice so they still lined up. I put a little safety pin through the front neckline to keep it in place and could also do the same in the back, however for the wedding I just left it loose and cowl-like (and went braless!).

At least the fabric was well-behaved, a lovely lightweight poly crepe from Minerva, and the print hides where I had to fudge around with the fit on the bodice, hah.

This was really nice to wear to a warm evening wedding: the elastic waist meant it was super comfortable and even braless I felt very secure in the top after all the tweaks. I’m not sure I’ll make this pattern up again as I don’t think the bodice design is worth tinkering with to fix and the very low back means it’d be difficult to wear in the daytime (I might try layering a tee under it though). However I do really like the fit in the trousers – especially the single-piece pockets which were deep enough to hold my phone and cards so no bag required, hurrah – so I might splice on a simpler cami bodice for more summery jumpsuit fun.

Ogden camis, and a different construction method

It’s been deliciously warm in London this last week, with more nice weather forecast. A good chance to dig out the True Bias Ogden cami pattern and make use of some remnants I’ve bought lately.

I first made this dress version in some great stretch cotton-viscose that I bought from the Cloth House Camden warehouse shop just this last week. I got the last metre on the roll which was just enough to lengthen the Ogden into a mini dress. To do that I just extended the side seams down by about 9″ (the total length armsyce to hem is 24″) maintaining the flared angle. I’ve been after a basic black slip for ages and I think it’ll work well with a tee underneath when the weather inevitably dips again.

I made another one pretty quickly in this adorable cat-print polyester remnant that I got in Tokyo. I refined the fit a little bit around the top; basically darting out a bit of gaping on both the front and back. I also came up with a revised construction method which I think is a little faster and easier than the the instructions, so I took some photos and wrote up how I did it below. It’s quite similar to my facing tutorial in that the front and back are constructed before sewing them into the ’round’. Here we go – sorry the photos aren’t very good but shout if you have a question.

Complete steps 1-3 to staystitch and create/baste the straps. (…Except I don’t staystitch or baste, because I am a REBEL.) Now instead of sewing the side seams next, pin and sew the front facing to the front bodice across the top edge, securing the straps in the process.

Trim, clip and understitch per the instructions.

Now, lay out and layer up the pieces as follows: back facing right side facing UP; the loose strap ends (attached to the front bodice) right sides facing UP; back bodice, right side DOWN. Again you could baste the straps to the back only here first but I just deal with all three layers at once.

Pin, sew, and trim/clip/understitch the top edge just like the front. Turn right side out and give it all a good press – you’ll have a funny side-seam-less cami joined by the straps as above. Now is a good time to finish the lower facing edges – I just pinked mine – and to add a label to the back facing, as otherwise it’s hard to tell which way round to wear it!

Now to finish the side seams: open up the facing again so the right sides touch. Pin and sew the bodice and facing as one long side seam.

Finish the seam as desired, snip a notch where the facing and bodice meet to reduce bulk, and press seams open.

Turn out, press and ditch-stitch the facing down to the side seam to keep it in place. Alternatively, you could also treat the facing and bodice as one and do a French seam, catching both layers and meaning the facing gets anchored into the side seam. Hem the bottom and you’re good to go!

Akinori Kimono in Japanese florals

I have three weddings to attend in the space of a month starting mid-July, so I’m getting ahead on making some pretty dresses to wear to them! This one is the Wardrobe By Me Akinori kimono dress, and in pleasing synergy I bought the fabric on my recent trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Danish indie pattern company Wardrobe By Me were a new find to me. I can’t even remember where I first saw this pattern but the PDF got snapped up as soon as I clocked the line drawing. I love the wrapover front with soft pleats, cut-on sleeves and integrated tie belt.

Sewing it up was crazy fun, and very fast. It’s not nearly as complicated as it looks, with just four main pattern pieces plus the ties and facings. The pattern has some clever construction details, like a cut-on facing for the front neckline which simply gets folded inwards and connected to a separate back neck facing to make an elegant topstitch-free finish. It was also fun to sew up the semicircular waist detail at the front, cleverly constructed in a such a way that all raw edges are concealed inside.

The PDF is a manageable 23 pages, with instructions to self-draft the ties rather than needlessly print a large piece, a detail I always appreciate. The instructions are great too; I would say geared towards non-complete beginners as only the trickier aspects include illustrations. The only thing I thought was missing was a direction to finish the raw facing edge, which I did early on before basting to the semicircle panel.


I made a straight size 8 with no adjustments and the fit is perfect. Just a note that the given final hip measurement in the pattern booklet is wrong; as written it appears as if it has negative ease but actually there is about 10″ ease in the hips. 2.7m of fabric is recommended but I squeezed it into 2m with a few liberties taken where grainlines were concerned. (If you look closely, my inset waist panel has flowers growing sideways – whoops…)

The fabric is a polyester that’s doing a pretty damn good job of imitating sandwashed silk. At least I don’t think it’s real silk by the price I paid for it in the Okadaya fabric store in Shinjuku; it wasn’t more than £6 a metre. Not all polys are created equal; this one is slinky and drapey yet was remarkably well-behaved to work with. The sandwash effect gave some grippiness and it pressed well with no melting or plastic smells.

The ties can also be omitted, which gives a really nice loose but still shapely fit, and are long enough to wrap around to the front to tie there too.

I’m thrilled with this dress; it was such a nice sew and perfect for a summer wedding. I’m plotting a daytime version of the Akinori now, perhaps in an ikat cotton or chambray without the ties.