Category Archives: Dress

Oh, Vienna

I made this dress as a bit of an impulsive palate-cleanser, for my birthday drinks last week and using some fabric I’d only bought the night previous!

The pattern is the Fibre Mood Vienna dress which was kindly sent to me by them as part of their pattern-preview blogger network. (It was back in September so it’s hardly a preview any more though, ha ha.) I was drawn to the chuck-on easiness of the style and am feeling like after a long period of very trouser-centric dressing I might want to try bringing some more dresses back into wardrobe rotation.

I picked my size according to the measurements chart and the fit turned out well. The shoulder draft of the bodice is particularly nice and the skirt is slim but with ample hip space. The only tweaks I made were to take about 3 inches of length off the skirt and to swap the overlaps so both the bodice and skirt have the left side as the overlap rather than right/left offset, I don’t know why but it just looked better to me this way (although it works really well as designed in the striped sample).

The digital pattern overall is a nice package – you download the PDF and the instructions separately from the Fibremood site and they are clear and comprehensive in measurements, fabric requirements etc. I struggled a bit assembling the PDF pattern as the pieces aren’t super well-marked, and bear in mind you do need to add your own seam allowances – this is a bonus for me but I know some don’t like it. I did not really follow the instructions and deviated slightly in both the sequence of sewing and some techniques – I did the bias facing differently and also made a channel for the waistline elastic instead of sewing it directly onto the seam allowance.

This fabric though, right?! I got it from the New Craft House who have just expanded their workshop space due to getting a massive new shipment of amazing fabrics, all of which are deadstock (unused leftovers from the fashion industry). This is an ex-designer viscose with this incredible Roman busts print and I’m afraid to say I got the very last of the roll, however keep your eye on NCH’s site and Instagram as they have a ton more amazing prints from the same designer that they will either be putting online or selling IRL. This slightly beefy but still drapey viscose was a great match for this pattern, however I could have been a bit more careful to avoid the slightly rippled hems along the fronts – I was rushing a bit.

I made a tie belt last minute to hide the elastic waist but I think it looks okay either with or without it. This dress definitely has spring/summer vibes to me: although I did persevere and wear it with tights and boots I can’t wait to wear it bare-legged when the weather warms up.

Thanks to Fibremood for the Vienna pattern and New Craft House for a discount on the fabric!

Two frosting frocks

I’m a million miles late joining the fun #sewfrosting challenge started by Heather and Kelli before Christmas, but I finally got around to photographing two fancy dresses I’ve made in the last couple of months, both of which have been successfully party-tested already.

First up a jazzy dress I wore for my birthday party last weekend. I bought this amazing outer space embroidered tulle from Stonemountain & Daughter last year (it still seems to be in stock!). It cost me an absolute fortune in shipping and custom fees but luckily it was worth it. I only got 1.5yds so had to do some very careful cutting to get the midi length dress I wanted with decent pattern placement. I had basically zero scraps and the shoulders with no embroidery are eating riiiiight into the selvedge, heh.

I wanted a dead simple pattern and used this Stoff & Stil pattern that I threw in out of curiosity in a recent fabric order. They have an awesome range of patterns for cheap prices in very cool, wearable styles. They come single size, and unusually come pre-cut in whole (non-halved) pieces and made out of a lightweight fabric-like material. I imagine you could tissue-fit the flat pattern with pins very easily prior to cutting. I liked working with the pattern a lot, the grippy fabric pieces made cutting really easy and the nice big bellows envelope makes it easy to re-store the pieces.

I had to adjust the fit as the size that fitted my hips was way too big on the shoulders and chest, so I sliced down from mid-shoulder to hem and overlapped the pieces, tapering to less as I went down. Otherwise the fit is great and will likely become a TNT for simple tee dress shapes.

I thought carefully about seam and hem finishes in this very transparent tulle. I tested French seams but they looked pretty horrible, so in the end decided to overlock then press and topstitch down to one side. Similarly for the neckline and sleeve hems I overlocked the raw edge, finger-pressed it back twice and topstitched. The hem is still raw! I confess I was finishing the dress five minutes before I got out the door for my party but hey, sometimes fuss-free (non)finishes are the best and who’s looking that closely when you’re covered in sparkly planets and stars.

The transparency also necessitated an under-layer which I hadn’t really considered; in a pinch I wore an Inari knit dress I made a while ago. It’s not ideal as it’s looser fit and the ties add some bulk, so at some point I’ll make a simple close-fitted tee dress to wear underneath.

Here’s the dress looking cool under a blacklight in a bar, and doing some serious karaoke, my two preferred birthday activities.

I used the same pattern before Christmas to make a mini dress for my company’s Christmas party. It had a ‘red, green and/or sparkly’ dress theme so this excellent snake-y sequin fabric I bought a year or so ago (also from S&S but sold out now) was perfect. It is also quite sheer so I’m wearing a black Ogden cami slip I made a while ago underneath.

This was my very first time working with sequins, but luckily it was a gentle introduction! Crucially the sequins are pliable enough that they could be cut and sewn straight through, no need to remove them from the seam allowances. I finished the neckline with purchased black bias tape facing, which I handsewed down – stitching into the mesh means the sequins cover it and it looks invisible. The other hems are rather shamefully just overlocked and left plain. I tried the same bias finish on one of the sleeves but it made it flute out weirdly, and actually I like the weightless look and near-invisible finish of the black overlocking.

The great thing is this simple tee shape is so comfortable and forgettable to wear, but the fancy fabrics make them still feel special. That’s ideal frosting for me!

Seren for summer

In my ongoing quest for the perfect sundress (and jumping my project>blogging queue again) I sewed up Tilly’s newest offering, the Seren dress, at the weekend in a pretty printed viscose from my stash that I bought locally last year.

Tilly and co kindly sent me the pattern for free to try out. Their new packaging is so pretty and I found it as user-friendly as ever to work with. The pattern includes a view with a neckline flounce and a sweet tie-front option, but it’s already at the upper limits of my ‘girliness’ taste-o-meter so I kept it plain.

I made a toile as this style is usually difficult to fit on me. Starting from the size 4 I made the following changes:
– graded into a size 2 at the top edge, blending out towards the waist; a typical adjustment for me as I have a narrow upper chest.
– split the bust dart into a two – pivoting half of it down into a waistline dart – as it’s quite a big dart and I was getting some bubbling at the tip. I also had to drop the bust point a little lower.
– omitted the waistband from the pattern: not a fan of it visually and I didn’t want to chop my print up too much. I cut a size smaller in the skirt to match with the lower bodice edge directly, since the waistband is contoured hence wider along the bottom edge.
– moved the front straps towards the centre by an inch. Bra strap coverage for the win!



The good thing is this style is pretty easy to adjust as you sew as well since the main fitting points to get right are the upper edge and waistline, so you can fine-tune via the side seams. I think it’s also the type where fabric choice might influence the fit: this viscose version fits a bit looser than my muslin and I have 2-3″ of comfy ease at the waist. I was worried the shape wouldn’t be so flattering on me but it actually skims the lower half really nicely. I typically default to a gathered skirt but will definitely experiment more with A-line or quarter circle types now.



I didn’t massively follow the instructions as it was quite intuitive to construct. I especially liked the all-in-one facing unit which finishes the top edge and gracefully curves into the button band facing; a technique I haven’t really seen before but will be saving to my bank for future use. I did do a couple of things I did my own way for preference:

– topstitched the entire facing down, which as well as keeping it in place created quite a pretty detail around the centre front of the neckline
– created a jump style hem to get a nice finish at the front corners. To achieve this the facing is cut an inch shorter and sewn horizontally to the skirt’s lower edge RST; the resulting length difference ‘jumps’ the hem allowance up, and when it’s turned RS out you get a nice crisp corner.

It feels so cool and comfortable to wear! This viscose was cheap as I recall but it’s nice quality and perfect for this style. I’ll definitely be making a second one in a solid colour (pink or olive green linen, mmm). I also have Closet Case Patterns’ new Fiona dress cut for a wearable toile; it’s a not too-different-style so it will be interesting to see which I end up preferring.

Silk Statues, and swing cami dress tutorial

This dress skipped both the sewing and blogging queue. The sewing part was pure necessity because London has gone full heatwave (or summer is actually just starting for really-reals), and the blogging part just took advantage of this sweet golden morning light.

I’ve really got quite behind on blogging, because I bought this fabric on a recent trip to Hong Kong and I really expected to write up the fabric shopping situation there before sewing any of my purchases up! Anyway this is an absolutely gorgeous silk crepe de chine that I bought for about £7.50 metre in a treasure trove just off Ki Lung Street in Kowloon. The shop had a rainbow of plain silks and loads of my weakness, fun ‘conversational’ prints. It was unfortunately cash-only and one of the last places I stopped, so that hampered my buying a touch, but I’m very pleased with what I came away with, especially this one with its weird lady statuette print.


I decided to sew the fabric up rather impulsively, as I didn’t want to be too scared to use it and have it sitting around for ages, and silk crepe is perfect for aforementioned sticky heat season. I really wanted a chuck-on dress and have seen lots of this pretty square neckline around. The problem is this style is all but impossible to fit on me out of the packet. I look at people wearing things like the Tessuti Claudia dress in wonder: HOW is it not gaping at the top or straining at the bust?! HOW did your hips fit into that elegant column shape?! Pear-shape-hollow-chest problems. I knew to get the fit right I would need to go a self-draft/extreme hack route.

Here’s how I drafted the pattern. I used the Salme Double-Layer Cami pattern as a basis, which I had knocking round in PDF from ages ago (it looks like Salme have disappeared off the internet so no link, sorry); the True Bias Ogden would also work although it lacks darts.

1. Cut a line up the bodice front, stopping at the bust point. Also cut along the middle of the bust dart, stopping just before the first line so you have a little hinge point. (If your camisole isn’t darted, run this line all the way almost to the top of the front.)
2. Swing out the lower piece around this point until the gap at the bottom is opened up by around 2 inches. (Your final ‘swing’ will be 4x this measurement as it will be doubled on the front and back.) You might close the bust dart completely in the process, or just make it smaller.
3. Fill in the gap with paper, tape down and true up the side seam at the dart.
4. Add length, following the angle of the side seam and the curve of the hem. Mine is 32″ from underarm to hem. I would’ve gone a bit longer but this was all my fabric would allow.
5. Repeat these steps on the back, but take the vertical cutting line nearly all the way to the top and swing out from there.
6. Square off the neckline from the strap points to centre front. Fill in with paper.
7. Draft facings off the new front and back pieces. Come down about two inches from the underarm and curve up to the centre.
8. Make a toile! This is quite important to check the level of flare is good and that the front and back necklines are not gaping. I used my alternative construction method when it came to adding the straps and facings.


Annoyingly I found that even after a toile and making further adjustments, the front and back STILL gaped, just enough to be noticeable and annoying. My upper chest is very narrow and rather concave, so I can see why it’s difficult to encourage fabric to hug it nicely. I approached the solution differently on the front and back. On the back I nudged the straps inward by 1/2″ and shaved a bit off the side curve, which isn’t ideal as it doesn’t follow the line of my bra straps any more. On the front I sewed a strip of flat elastic into the facing seam, pulling it taut slightly. The result is a slightly puckered front neckline but it does finally lay flat. I’m not sure how I’ll fix this for next time. A narrow band across the top which is tightly eased-in to the bodice edge perhaps.

Outtake for ya to finish! Despite the minor neckline issues I’m thrilled with this dress and it definitely beat the heat today. Josh took these photos as my self timer has broken and I really like how they turned out. Much nicer to be smiling at my boyfriend than a screen… he’ll be delighted to have got the job I’m sure.

Wiggle Reeta

This is my second Named Reeta dress. My first one, made coincidentally almost exactly a year ago, still gets worn regularly (and for those curious, the Spoonflower poly crepe has held up to washing and wearing very well) so I wanted another one to throw into dress rotation this spring.


I used exactly the same size as before with no extra modifications beyond the length I took off last time. This time I did add the collar and found that while it required careful easing-in the pattern piece does fit fine, so I dunno what I did wrong last time!

I followed the given directions this time which make for a really nice clean interior finish. I managed to get the inner yoke inside out (at least I assume the fabric’s right side should actually face outwards) and sewed a strange Möbius loop at some point which necessitated a bit of unpicking, but it all turned out okay. I’m going to blame those things on sewing in the weekday evenings when my brain’s a bit fried from work.


I made a self-fabric waist tie – just a skinny tube with the ends knotted shut – and the drawstring casing reuses the fabric’s charming rainbow-striped selvedge.

I’ve been hoarding this beautiful fabric for quite a while, maybe three years? It’s a beautifully fluid and drapey viscose from the French website Bennytex. It doesn’t seem top quality unfortunately; I had some fibres pull and snag as I was sewing, particularly around the buttonholes despite interfacing them. But so pretty and twirly!

A dress I made from some other Bennytex fabric (the origami cats one here) sadly didn’t fare well in the wash either, so I’m intending to launder this as little and as gently as possible. The print is so fun and it feels beautifully soft and comfy to wear, so I hope it lasts a long time and get plenty of wear this spring and beyond.

Midi Inari

After the Coat project saga, I really wanted a nice palate cleanser, and this dress fitted the bill perfectly!

I’ve been Pinning lots of midi dresses lately as they seem like just the thing to wear on these in-betweeny not-quite-spring-yet sort of days. It’s a super simple hack of Named’s Inari dress. I added 30cm of length at the hem (in fact I just taped a piece of portrait-wise A4 paper to the bottom, heh) and ended up taking a deep hem, so it’s around 20cm longer than the Inari as patterned.


I fine-tune the fit of the Inari each time I make it and for this knit fabric I ended up taking one-inch seam allowances to bring it in a bit. It’s still loose through the middle and tighter at the hip and hem. I made the side split proportionally longer too.

The awesommmeeee fabric is from Maud’s Fabric Finds, one of my favourite places to shop because most of the fabrics are organic and the customer service is so great. (Maud found out this fabric was narrower than expected after my order, so she added another 70cm for free.) This print seems to be sold out but here are some similar ones. It’s between an interlock and sweatshirting weight so quite thick with lots of stretch and recovery. And pyjama-comfortable, needless to say. I think this’ll be on regular rotation until Autumn.