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McCalls M7969

I feel like McCalls M7969 needs no introduction. Every now and again a pattern comes along that the whole sewing community goes crazy for, and this dress is one of them. It’s that dress with those sleeves. Keep on reading for an explanation on why I made it without those sleeves! Sacre Bleu!

You know me – I love a good pattern bandwagon to jump onto, but last year with the pandemic and all, I didn’t have as much money to spend on patterns and fabric. Also the pattern was out of stock in my size everywhere ( and I think it is still hard to get hold of), so even if I had the money I probably wouldn’t have been able to find it!

The time came around this year when I couldn’t wait any longer, FOMO had got the better of me and one of my kind followers let me know that the pattern was in stock at Ahakhan. I didn’t even know that Abakhan sold patterns! Of course I charged over to their website, and it was indeed available at that time. Before I knew it, it was in my basket and on it’s way to me. Phew.

So many beautiful variations with this pattern.

The style of the dress is supposed to be ‘very loose fitting’ according to the pattern envelope description, but I didn’t want it to feel too relaxed as this look can sometimes overwhelm me as I’m only 5’2″. My size put me in the ‘Medium’ size range for this pattern, but I wondered if the ‘Small’ might give me the fit that I was going for. My measurements are 34-29-38. The dress comes with sleeve, ruffle and length variations so it has something for everyone. Unfortunately this pattern doesn’t cover all sizes in a single pattern. You choose either the size XS – MED or the L – XXL. This is frustrating if you find yourself in the MED -L size range as you have to make a decision on which size pattern to go for.

To check the fit before cutting into my ‘good’ fabric I made a toile in the small size out of an old sheet. This was important not only to check the fit, but also to see how the fabulous massive sleeve would look on my frame. I cut one of the large puffy sleeves (view A sleeve) and one of the narrower sleeves (view B and C), to see which I liked better.

The big sleeve just felt too big for my frame, also it made me look very wide across the shoulders from the back. When I attached the slimmer, shorter sleeve to the other arm it felt much more comfortable and I liked how it looked when I roughly gathered it up with a gathering thread. Rather than gathering it into a cuff as I normally would I added some clear elastic to the inside which creates a nice little ruffle edge. Also TBH if I had made the big sleeves I would be forever catching them in door handles. You know what I mean all you statement sleeve lovers out there 😉

Take a shot each time I say sleeve! 😉

The sleeve is a raglan style and gathers really beautifully at the shoulder so that it fits into the bias tape neckline edge. It really is a beautiful feature of the dress.

After machine stitching the bias neckband tape in place around the neck edge, I hand stitched it on the inside, as recommended in the instructions. You could use the ‘stitch in the ditch’ method with your machine if you’re not a fan of hand sewing. After making my toile I decided NOT to interface the bias neckline tape again. Maybe my medium weight interfacing was just too heavy, but I was certainly glad I left it out for my second version as it was much easier to fold and my neckband edge has still held it’s shape beautifully. I added a couple of stitches on the wrong side of the dress where the crossover meets just to make sure it stays in place where I want it to.

Have you even been to a National Trust property if you haven’t had your pic taken in one of their wonderful doorways?

The dress length on my toile was just a smidge too short for me, so before cutting out this dress again I added 1.5″ to the skirt length. Not much but it makes all the difference to me and my wrinkly old knees.

Sadly pockets aren’t included in this pattern so I simply added my own using a pocket pattern piece from another pattern.

My fawn gingham fabric is also from Abakhan. I wrongly assumed that this was a cotton gingham when I bought it, but it has some polyester content in it. Silly me for not checking carefully enough. Never mind, not quite exactly what I had in mind, but not the end of the world.

I am blown away by just how much I love how this dress turned out. Sometimes those raised waist dresses can be a little unflattering for those of us with a bit of a bigger bust, but I really like where the waist seam sits on me – especially at the back for some reason. I also adore the subtle shape of the neckline at the back – that beautiful curved dip is adorable

The fawn/cream gingham print looks wonderful with gold coloured jewellery, so I accessorised this dress with the gold button necklace from my shop.

Thanks to my husband Mick for patiently taking these pictures on our 24th wedding anniversary trip to Coughton Court this week.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy @sew_dainty x

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Fibre Mood Dolly.

It’s that time again – Fibre Mood 15 Magazine is out today, and I was lucky enough to take a peek at the patterns a few weeks ago and choose one to make and share with you *

As usual there is a great choice of patterns in the magazine – dresses, tops, trousers and skirts, but as always I was drawn towards the dresses and I eventually opted to make Dolly.

Dolly is a simple loose fitting A-line dress with elbow length puffed raglan sleeves (gathered at the cuff), and a gathered neckline with a statement bow to finish it off. The finished dress length is always your choice of course (as a dressmaker) and I cut this version the exact length of the pattern piece without alteration which you can see hits me just above the knee. I’m 5’2″ for reference. I think maybe I will lengthen the dress next time I make it by a couple of inches.

It also has pockets 🙂

As mentioned Dolly has a loose cut. My measurements put me into the ‘Small’ size band, but looking at the pattern measurements compared to mine, I decided to size down and cut a size XS as this would still give me plenty of room without the risk of swamping me. I’m so pleased that I did this as I feel the fit is just what I was after. My measurements are 34-29-38 btw.

Ever since I made my black Cassie dress last year I knew I wanted more black Summer dresses in my wardrobe. Something casual that I could pair with trainers or sandals and maybe a straw hat and bag. After ruling out anything in my stash, I came across this pretty cotton lawn swiss dot from Plush Addict. It’s fairly sheer, so I will wear it with a slip.

The dress was nice and quick to cut out and fairly easy to sew. Fibre Mood rate this as a 2/5 in terms of difficulty. The only part that I had to fiddle around with to get it right was the v-neck facing. I always feel nervous about snipping into a v-neck facing before turning it through as you really have to snip right up to the stitching to enable it to lay flat, and I never do it close enough first time. After a second teeny snip I turned it through again and a nice steamy press meant the v-neck lay flat without any puckers (well, maybe a teeny tiny one that nobody will notice on the black fabric, but that’s between you and me only)!

This pattern is sewn with a 1 cm seam allowance.

I like the length of the sleeves and that they are gathered into a sweet narrow cuff band. The opening of the cuff band was just right, and means that the sleeves don’t pull the whole dress up when reaching up for things!

I chose to style this dress with my latest necklace design – the Thimble Necklace, Veja trainers, old straw hat and an old bag from Matalan.

I love the width of the neck bow. I’m not sure that I like the placement of it though. It is attached to the neck opening just below where the neckline bias tape ends. I’m not sure I’m that keen of that placement as it sits below the neckline by approx 1 cm, rather than being a seamless extension of the neckline. Maybe next time I might raise the height of the neck ties. We’ll see.

The gathered neckline continues all the way around the back too.

Last but not least, I really wanted a straw had with black ribbon to complete this look. As I didn’t have one I decided to alter my trusty straw hat with brown ribbon by adding a length of black grosgrain ribbon over the top of the brown ribbon. This is held in place with a few stitches and can easily be removed when I want the original colour back! See the before and after below!

Same hat, different ribbon colour

I’m absolutely delighted with the Dolly. It fits the bill with the vibe that I was going for, and think it would be amazing in a chambray, gingham or seersucker too don’t you think?

* Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted my choice of the Dolly pattern by Fibre Mood to sew and share. As always my review is honest and all opinions are entirely my own. This post contains some affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click through and purchase something that I have linked to.  I only accept the free pattern from Fibre Mood when there is a design that I truly love. Thank you x

Thanks for dropping by. Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to keep up with everything that I am up to! x

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The Barra Button Back Top from Greyfriars and Grace.

Today’s blog post is a little bit different and one that I hope a few of you will find quite interesting.

Greyfriars and Grace are a ‘new to me’ pattern company founded by a lovely lady called Fiona, which designs and sells sewing patterns with an environmental focus. Most patterns have the option to use existing garments or textiles therefore combining sewing and recycling unwanted clothing and textiles. Such a smart idea as I’m sure that most of us have some idea of the dangerous impact that fast fashion is having on the planet.

Fiona has very kindly sent me this pattern to try with no obligation to post or share. But I am doing so today as I thought that you might like to know about this unique idea. I think it’s pretty cool, and hope you will too.

The pattern that I chose to take a look at is the Barra Button Back Top.

Image from Greyfriars and Grace.

This pattern enables you to make this button back top in two ways – one is to cut it out of fabric in the regular way – you can add the button band from an existing shirt as the closure to save you having to add all those buttons/buttonholes yourself, and you can use the cuffs for sweet little sleeves and add a hem ruffle if you wish!

The second option is to make it (as I did) simply by using an old shirt. Nothing else needed – just a reel of thread!

(Cropped wide leg trousers are the Tilly and the Buttons Safiya trousers from Tilly’s ‘Make it Simple’ book).

For those of you reading that live in the UK and are loving The Great British Sewing Bee on the TV, it’s a bit like the ‘transformation challenge’ where you are given an old shirt and have to cut it and make it into something else in a ridiculously short amount of time. Well, these patterns are like that, but WITH a pattern!! (and you can take your time to sew it too)! Ha! Sadly without the presence of Patrick Grant peering over your shoulder though. *sighs*

The shirt that I used was from the local charity shop and was a man’s 18″ collar shirt originally from Next, which I bought for £3.

The pattern includes colour photographs, illustrations and written instructions, and they were very clear to follow. In no time at all I had cut my top out using the pattern pieces (just two pattern pieces – shirt front and shirt back). I am very much a visual learner and the images contained in the instructions helped me understand where to place the pattern pieces with no problems at all.

The back of the old shirt had a couple of vertical darts to give it some shape, which I unpicked and pressed out flat before cutting out to ensure that I had the maximum fabric possible and that there were no unsightly darts running up and down what would effectively be the front of my new top.

The only pattern marking that I needed to trace off was the bust dart which I was interested to see were positioned pointing down from the armholes rather than the usual position from the side seams below the arms.

The sleeves are used to make the bias tape which finishes off the neckline and armholes. There are instructions to show you how to do this, so don’t worry if you’re not sure. You could also use shop bought bias for a pop of contrast if you prefer. I made plenty of tape by using the sleeve fabric and still have some leftover to put in my stash for another project in the future.

The Barra Button Back Top was ever so easy to sew up, and nice and quick to make too. I had very little left over of the original shirt – just the collar and some tiny pieces of fabric. I have saved a couple of buttons from the top of the original shirt which was not needed, and also some buttons from each cuff to use another time on another project. The rest of the leftovers will be added to my box of scrap fabrics which I might use as filling for a pouffe that I hope to get around to making at some point.

The pattern size range is XS – XXXL which is a UK size 8 – 20 ( US 4 – 16). I made a size small (UK 10). My measurements are 34-29-38 and I am 5’2″ in height. I have tucked the front into my trousers for most of these shots as it is a little longer than I expected it to be. Next time I make it I shall shorten the length a little so that it ends up as an almost cropped length and hits the same point on my body as it does in the model in the pattern image who I am guessing must be much much taller than I am!

Untucked!

Pink acrylic button necklace is available from my shop x

The only teeny addition that I had to make was to add a buttonhole right at the top of the button band. As you might be able to see from an earlier image in this blog (the picture with the orange scissors)! the neckline was cut right at the point of where a button and hole was positioned. In order to sew the bias tape around the neckline I had to remove the button, sew the tape into place, and afterwards simply sew a new button hole and re-sew the button in it’s new position. No bother, or you could add a little press stud, popper, hook and eye, velcro etc if you don’t fancy sewing a buttonhole.

Oh and here is the before and after!

I do hope that you might find a chance to take a look over the Greyfriars and Grace website, and find that you are as inspired by their environmental options as I have been.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The Tula/Hemlock combo – a lounge set of dreams.

Despite the arrival of Spring, it’s still Baltic here in the UK, so I am certainly not ready to give up cosy loungewear yet.

What I did want however was to make a more stylish set than what I currently reach for when it’s the end of the day and I just want to throw on the comfies. You don’t even want to know what my current loungewear looks like – I’ll give you an idea – it’s oversized fleecy pyjamas that are several years old and several sizes too big for me too. Not a great look but I must admit that when I throw those ridiculous pyjamas on, wash my face and pop on some face oil, it’s like magic. Aaaand breathe….

Instagram has fed me images of pastel coloured cashmere loungewear sets for far too long, and now was the time to do something about it. Whilst cashmere is not in my budget, I took a chance on this marl pink melange from eBay, and I was not disappointed. I like the subtle dark shade of pink, it washes beautifully and was easy to sew with.

The trouser pattern that I picked is The Tula Pants from Papercut Patterns. This is a new release from Papercut and as soon as I saw it I jumped right on it – which is unusual for me as I almost always wait for a sale to come around before I purchase any pattern! For some time I had been searching for the discontinued Amina Pants from Papercut as I had seen so many lovely versions, however this pattern seems to be their replacement, so it’s all ended well.

Line drawings from Papercut Patterns x

The great thing about this pattern is that you can make it in either woven or knit fabric, there is a wide or tapered leg choice, and there are shorts too!

Elasticated waists all round – hooray! Pockets, yes please! and a faux fly and ankle cuffs if you like too, yee ha!

This pattern is available in a size range of 1-8 (UK 6-20). My measurements at the moment are 34-29-38, and I made a straight size 4 (UK 12).

I thought that they would be a super quick pattern to sew, but actually there is more to them than I had considered. The pockets and faux fly are not quick (but not difficult either). The pocket construction is enjoyable and I like how it looks. I chose to stitch a couple of rows through the waistband elastic (optional) as this keeps it neat and in place and I liked the buttonholes that are sewn into the waistband so that you can quickly slip through a length of cord/fabric to create a faux drawstring tie. So many lovely details.

I would like to mention that these are the full leg length with no pattern alterations. I chose not to cuff the ankles, but was surprised that they were not longer (not that I needed them longer), as I am only 5’2″ and I always have to shorten trousers. Bear that in mind if you have beautiful long legs unlike me! I imagine that I will usually wear these rolled up a little, kind of 7/8th length.

I already have some grey sweatshirt fabric lined up to make another pair, more like joggers, sweatpants, trakkies .. whatever you call them, with a cuffed ankle probably. I also would like to sew a wide leg version in linen for the Summer so watch out!

For the top I chose the Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee. I’ve linked it here on the Grainline website where it is available for $5.00, but it is also available as a free pattern if you are signed up the the Grainline newsletter 😉

This pattern is available is sizes 0-30.

Image from the Grainline Studio Blog.

This pattern is an old favourite and has been around for quite a while but was updated a couple of years ago to give the maker some more style and size choices. I made the mid length version with full length sleeves, but you can also mix and match between short or long sleeves and the lengths are also available in a cropped or tunic length if this is your preference.

I made a size 6.

The pattern is a drapey dropped shoulder tee/tunic and is the sort of top that I reach for all the time. It’s suitable for a beginner, and you can whip one up in no time at all. The instructions are clear and helpful and it’s just the style that I was looking for to complete my lounge set.

The dark grey acrylic scissors necklace is available in my shop x

I wonder if I should leave it how it is or grab my Happy Fabric vinyl and add a design to the front? We’ll see.

Hope you like this set, it’s a little different to what I normally sew, but I’m glad that the photos for this blog are now taken so that I can relax and actually wear it!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

Follow me over on Instagram @sew_dainty

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A classic Little Black Dress

Something that my handmade wardrobe is seriously lacking is a classic LBD.

Despite my usual preference of dresses with florals, bows, ties and ruffles, this time I wanted to make more of an elegant simple style with no frills.

I also wanted a dress that was quick to make and didn’t use much fabric.

The Pattydoo Marie seemed to fit the bill perfectly, and as I had only made this dress once before it was perhaps about time that I gave it another go.

The Pattydoo Marie dress is a very simple sleeveless dress pattern with a round neck, and princess seams at the front and back which form the most adorable pleats just below your waist. I wrote a blog about the first version that I made here back in August 2018, and whilst I loved lots about it, I didn’t enjoy the fact that it was sleeveless and disliked my fabric choice.

The Marie Dress from Pattydoo. Line drawing is from the Pattydoo website.

For this version I added short sleeves from another Pattydoo dress that I have (The Chloe dress), and this worked out perfectly. I feel much more comfortable in a garment with sleeves these days.

I also cut the hemline straight again, as I don’t think a shaped hem suits me.

So this is where things might get a teeny bit confusing. Stay with me. Pattydoo are a German pattern company, and unfortunately I don’t speak a word of German. When you visit their website you can click on an English version, but this only has a handful of patterns available on it, (and they are not ones that I want). This is not a problem though because most of the German patterns all have the most excellent sew-along videos which are easy to follow visually despite being spoken in German. The sew-along for the Marie dress is here.

I’ve been holding out for a sleeve add-on pack for the Marie dress but here’s the thing that I’ve just noticed on the Pattydoo site – they now make an Eliza Dress. This looks exactly like the Marie, but with sleeves! So it looks to me like instead of creating an add-on sleeve pattern for the Marie, they have just released pretty much the same pattern but with sleeve variations, and called it a different name. The pattern comes with 3 sleeve lengths. The only difference that I can see is that the Eliza has a straight hemline, whereas the Marie’s hemline is shaped. I can’t find a sew-along video for the Eliza dress, but I would just use the one for the Marie dress linked above and insert the sleeves before sewing up the side/underarm seams.

This is the Eliza Dress. Line drawings from the Pattydoo website.

By the way, did I mention that Pattydoo PDF’s are only 2.99 Euros!!

I used a black scuba (I can’t remember where from) for my dress, which of course holds the pleats at the waist beautifully. I think this dress would look pretty in a french terry or a ponte too, if scuba is not your vibe.

The dress front and back pattern pieces are quite an unusual shape, I don’t think that I have another dress that has a pattern shaped like this!

The neckline is just a simple ‘turn over and sew down’ although you could draft a neckline facing easily enough if that is your preferred method. I used a twin needle to finish the neckline, sleeves and hem.

Seaglass necklace from @lilypad_jewellery

As expected, black is the most difficult colour to photograph. I have done my best to show you the details where possible, but I’m pretty sure that now that I know that I can add sleeves to it, I will want to make more – in colours that will photograph more easily!

The back of the dress has the same princess lines as the front, which gives you the most lovely dress shape all the way around, and gives you a kind of tulip shape.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but there are no fastenings to this dress – it’s a good ol’ pull on and off over the head situation! Win win.

One last look at those pleats before I go …

What is your ‘go-to’ classic timeless dress pattern?

Take care, I’ll be back soon

Kathy x

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The Roscoe Blouse from True Bias

I was so lucky to receive this stunning Liberty fabric from Minerva recently and decided to use it to make a really pretty Roscoe Blouse from True Bias.

The fabric was an absolute dream to sew with, the quality is outstanding as you would expect from Liberty, and it pairs really beautifully with the Roscoe pattern.

I received this fabric from Minerva in exchange for a review/blog post on their site, so if you would like to read more about this fabric or pattern, then do head on over to my page at Minerva here.

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Fibre Mood Elodie

Issue 12 of the latest Fibre Mood magazine is out today, and I was lucky enough to take a peek at the patterns that it contains a few weeks ago, and choose one to share with you on launch day today *

It wasn’t an easy choice, there are lots to choose from, I think that there are twelve, including three children’s patterns.

In the end I opted for The Elodie Dress, which looks deceptively simple, but actually features some lovely details when you look a little closer.

The basic dress is a simple round necked bodice with a centre back zip and an a-line skirt. Add to that the long puffed sleeves with statement cuffs, optional ruffle at the hem of the skirt and waist casing with tie belt and you really have something special.

The pattern calls for the fabric to have ‘fluid drape’, so I chose this floral viscose from Sewisfaction. I was drawn to it because of it’s olive coloured base, and I adore how it is absolutely covered with pink and blue flowers.

I chose to make a size 10. Looking at the size chart, it puts me in a size 12 bust, and 10 hips and waist. Then checking the finished garment sizes with ease, went for a straight size 10 as it looked like this would be spot on. The finished fit of the dress feels good. My measurements are 36-29-38.

Before cutting out, I had a good look at the pattern design to check if I might need to make any changes to the paper pattern before I cut into my gorgeous fabric.

I knew that the length of the dress would be too long for me. So that I could get a rough idea of the length I pinned the front bodice, waist casing, skirt and ruffle together and held it up to me in a full length mirror to see how long it looked. This only gives me a rough idea of course, but it told me that I definitely needed to take some length from the skirt. (the bodice length looked roughly ok). So before cutting out I shortened the length of the skirt pattern piece by 10cm. (I’m 5’2″ for reference).

The bodice of the dress is very simple. It has a high round neckline which is finished with bias binding. I had enough fabric left over to make my own bias tape from the dress fabric. An 8″/20cm invisible zipper sits at the centre back neckline and the bodice is fairly loose and relaxed meaning that no bust darts are required.

Gold mirror acrylic button necklace from my shop here x

The sleeves. Take a moment to appreciate. They are magnificent don’t you think? Nicely gathered at the front, top and back ensures they have volume to say the least, but somehow they’re not ‘over the top’ which was what I was worried about. They feel like they should be on this dress, and it would be a shame if they weren’t.

On the original pattern the sleeves finish with an exaggerated long open cuff finished with a button and rouleau loop. Whilst some would say that this is the main feature of this pattern, I just knew that I could not get on with a long open cuff, it would drive me crazy, so I just made a simple adjustment to the cuff pattern piece and cut out a basic rectangle (which needed 2 x buttons and rouleau loops per cuff), and I felt that this would be a more practical cuff for my everyday life.

I did hit a few problems here. Whilst I used the length of the original cuff pattern to ensure I had the same length cuff as the original, once they were sewed on I found that the cuff openings weren’t big enough to allow the sleeve to slide up my arms when I raised my hands above my head. I couldn’t lift my arms up! So I had to unpick these cuffs and make them longer in length (an extra 4.5cm in my case), giving them a wider opening when finished so that they gave me unrestricted movement when I raised my arms. It’s safe to say that my arms are not restricted now in any way! The depth of my cuff pattern piece was 8cm by the way.

Although they blend into the background, I self covered my buttons, which looks so pretty. Admittedly they are rather camouflaged so maybe a contrast button might have been a better ( and simpler) choice!

Camouflaged buttons!

The pattern doesn’t come with pockets in the skirt, so I added simple in-seam pockets to my version.

I like how the waist casing is made and attached to the bodice pieces and the skirt pieces. It’s clever how this is used as a casing for elastic and a faux tie is attached through the buttonholes in the casing where the elastic has been threaded through, to make it look like the tie belt is gathering the waist. Clever. Gotta love an elasticated dress right?

When the dress was finished I think I hit the jackpot in terms of getting the length just right. I certainly would have been sorry if I had shortened the skirt pieces by any more – phew!

* Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted my choice of the Elodie pattern by Fibre Mood to sew and share. As always my review is honest and all opinions are entirely my own. This post contains some affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click through and purchase something that I have linked to. Thank you.

I’ve ended up with a fantastic dress despite a few hiccups with the cuff sizing! It certainly took me longer to sew that I originally thought it would, so is not a quick make, but the style is very ‘me’ and I have no doubts that I will be returning to sew this pattern again and again.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon, Kathy x

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A Burda Style pintuck pleated smock dress.

Well this dress was a long time coming. It’s dress number 106 from Burda Style magazine issue December 2019!

I first noticed this when the lovely Jay Jay from The Camden Stitch mentioned it in one of her Christmas Vlogs last year – this one in fact! She flicked through it whilst having a coffee at St Pancras Station and when she paused to look at this dress I instantly decided that I needed that issue of the magazine too.

It’s been years since I bought a Burda magazine, and turns out they’re really good value. This was £5.99 for 221 patterns apparently! Not quite sure how work out 221 patterns, they must be including each size of each pattern I reckon, but there certainly are quite a few. In fact now that I have made this one I might get around to making another pattern that I also really liked in the same magazine..

Don’t worry if you don’t have the magazine, but still like this dress. I’ve got your back. It’s available as a individual pattern purchase here. You are welcome! Ha!

Line drawing from Burdastyle.com

The dress is a smock style pleated dress. I have called it a pintuck dress, not sure if this is exactly right as I imagine pintucks to be really tiny, and these are fairly wide. But hey ho, whatever you call it it’s pretty cute right?

Alongside the pleats/pintucks it has a fantastic tie at the back of the neck – you know how I am a sucker for a tie back! It also has an unusual flounce insert at the bottom of the back of the dress, which I actually left out because I wasn’t that keen on it. Simple long sleeves complete the look.

The sample in the book was made up in a viscose which is probably my absolute fave fabric to sew with, so I used a pretty mustard floral viscose from my stash that I bought from Like Sew Amazing during the Summer. Sadly this particular fabric looks like it might be sold out now, but there are plenty of other beautiful alternatives over in her lovely shop.

Before I even start we need to address the reason why a lot of people are hesitant to use patterns from the Burda magazine. It’s the tracing. The magazine comes with one pattern sheet containing the all the pattern markings for every pattern in the book. It’s completely crazy. Take your time to read through what you need and where to look for them and don’t do what I did which is start to trace out late afternoon when the light is starting to go. Big mistake. To make it a little easier for myself I used a Frixion highlighter pen to draw over the lines that I needed to trace off before placing the tracing paper on top. This makes it much easier to follow the correct line when tracing and not be distracted by the others. Seam and hem allowances are not included in these magazine patterns by the way, so don’t forget to add these in before cutting out.

I made up the size 40 (with no adjustments), and my measurements are 36-29-38

The pattern was super easy to sew up actually. The main thing that I was concerned about was keeping the pleats nice and neat when I was sewing them as I thought the viscose might be too soft. Turns out they were no problem at all, they pressed nicely when I pinned them in place and stayed put when I sewed them in. Winner winner. I’m very surprised with how nicely they turned out (I was not expecting that)! It’s a shame the pattern on the fabric makes them really difficult to see from a distance. This would be a super dress using a chambray or lightweight linen so that you could really work on showing off those tucks.!

Silver button acrylic necklace available from my shop here

I also love love LOVE the tie at the back of the neckline. Sadly once again this kinda disappears into the pattern of the fabric but I hope you can get the idea. The ties are really long which is super cute I think.

Finally as I mentioned before, the dress has a flounce that is added to the bottom of the dress back. I didn’t particularly like this so when I cut the pattern out, so I just made the front and back dress pieces the same length and ignored the flounce piece.

I must be honest, the back view is not very flattering. I mean, I guess a smock is never going to be. I’ll add a pic here. Hmmm I did wonder if it would look better a little shorter. We’ll see. I can always go back to that. Or maybe I could add a belt?

The finished result has really pleased me, I wasn’t expecting to love it as I do. I was wearing a navy cardigan with it before we took the pics and that looked really nice – I should have taken some pics of it as that is definitely how I would wear it at the moment. With thick coloured tights and shoe boots or trainers. It’s a yes from me!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The Lotta Dress from Tilly and the Buttons.

If you are looking for a swishy dress sewing pattern, then you have certainly come to the right place.

The Lotta Dress from Tilly and the Buttons is one of the easiest dresses that I have ever sewn. Whilst this makes it an enjoyable sewing project for any ability, it is one of the most perfect patterns to introduce dressmaking to a total beginner.

The loose fitting bodice (no darts), elasticated waist and grown-on sleeves make it an absolute doddle to sew, and your choice of swishy skirt length and sleeves mean that you can have your perfect dress sewn up in no time at all.

Image from Tilly and the Buttons

Optional large patch pockets are a cute feature and what’s pretty amazing about this pattern is that it is suitable for woven fabrics or stretchy jersey!

The two versions that I am showing you here are both made with viscose fabric that I purchased from Minerva. I made the bracelet length sleeved midi-length dress in a dark navy and white irregular spot, and the knee length short sleeved version in a red, blue and gold floral.

A huge bonus of this style dress is that it is so easy to fit. I made both of these dresses quite a while back now as these were my pattern tester samples for Tilly and the Buttons. Since then I have lost a little weight and probably come down a good couple of sizes, but the dresses still fit and feel great.

Apart from being no fuss to sew, the grown-on sleeves give you that lovely dropped shoulder feature when you add the sleeves on to them. I love that. My sleeves are admittedly a little long – their intention is to be bracelet length – but of course the length can be whatever you choose.

I like the idea of having elasticated sleeve wrists, and might add these to a future Lotta.

The neckline is finished with a neat facing in the woven version. Adding, understitching and pressing a neckband facing is one of my favourite parts of sewing a woven dress.

I love how the thin elastic at the waist is comfortable to wear and also cinches you in. It also means that you can slip this dress on and off over your head without the need for any fastenings and (more importantly) eat lots of cake without feeling uncomfortable! Ha!

As mentioned before, my red and blue floral version is knee-length and has the short sleeves. The only other difference is that I added in-seam pockets to this version as that was my preference. (Forgot to take close up pics of this – oops). As always, I just used any pocket pattern and added them in the usual way when sewing up the side seams of the dress.

I’m currently working on a jersey version of this pattern which I hope to finish and share with you on Instagram next week. Now that the weather is turning colder I imagine that a jersey Lotta dress will come in very useful.

For more inspiration on this dress search the tag #sewinglotta

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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I Am Patterns Perle ruffle dress

One small benefit of being on lockdown and on a reduced income in our household like many others, is using this time to work through my fabric stash. I can’t really justify spending on fabric at the moment when I have a few pieces at home already.

Whilst rummaging through it last week, I found this lovely soft linen. I’ve had it so long I cannot remember where I bought it from, but I really wanted to use it to make a dress, especially as linen is so comfortable to wear during this warm spell that we are having at the moment.

The pattern that immediately sprung to mind was the I Am Patterns Perle. Isn’t it a pretty pattern? It’s one that I’ve had for a little while now, and luckily I had *just* enough fabric for it. How satisfying to have exactly the right amount of fabric with zero leftover!

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It’s a simple classic wrap dress with a belt tie and ruffles around the neckline/dress front edge and cuffs. I absolutely love this design.

It really is very simple to sew, and if you like gathering then this is a dream! I don’t, but I absolutely LOVE ruffles, so it’s a necessary evil! The most time consuming part of making the dress by far, is evenly gathering the ruffle piece that runs around the neckline and down the front edge of the dress. This strip is about 3.5 metres long (before gathering) and so I sectioned up the dress and the strip and gathered it up in sections to make sure they would be as even as possible. It was totally worth all the effort!

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I finished the edges of the ruffle pieces by using the rolled hem setting on my overlocker. Perhaps not the best thread colour match, maybe a tad too pale, but at times like these you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got, yes? The neat finish of the finished edge was just what I wanted, and I quite enjoyed using my over locker for something different than I usually use it for. For this finish I needed to lower the blade and use 3 threads rather than the usual 4.

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So that’s all well and good, but as this is the first time that I had sewn this pattern I needed to make a few adjustments for me which I will use the next time I make it. Take a deep breath – there are a few ..

Firstly, the sleeves were a little too wide at the cuff for my liking. Luckily I pinned these and tried on before sewing so I was able to taper the sleeve seam from the underarm to the cuff. Nothing major there. I might make them a little shorter next time too.

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I just love this dainty cuff.

The main problem that I found after sewing was the position of the belt ties. This is probably something to do with the fact that I am only 5’2″ but they were WAY too low for me. I understand that the design of the dress wants you to tie the dress with a ‘tucked’ look, but let me show you how low the position was on me ..

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The position of the waist ties needed to be raised by about 6 or 7 inches. Now ideally I would have shortened the pattern at some point above the position of the waist ties before cutting out, but as this was effectively my ‘toile’ it was too late. So to make it fit I had to take drastic measures. I cut off  both the belts and saved the longer belt piece to make a separate loose belt. I sewed up the small openings in the side seams where the original belt would have been threaded through and attached slim ribbons inside that tied the dress from the inside securely before the final wrap and belt. These stop the inside front of the dress from dropping down below the outside cross over, Does that make sense – you know the sort of ribbons you often find inside your dressing gown.

By raising the position of the ‘waistline’ it has meant that the ‘skirt’ section of the dress is very much longer now. Again factor in my height, but I kind of like this length anyway. This of course would have been easy to shorten if I had wanted to.

Whilst not ideal, it fixed the problem, and like I say, I will make adjustments to the pattern piece before cutting next time. The only small thing now is the edge of the front wrap ruffle on the ‘skirt’ where the belt was originally attached is slightly shaped, rather than hanging precisely vertically,  but this is barely noticeable and doesn’t bother me. You might be able to see that slightly shaped ruffle edge on the above mirror photo.

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To stop the v-neck from gaping, I sewed a short length of stitching along the row of existing stitching to keep this neatly in place. I can still pop this on over my head.  You could also use a press stud or something similar.

Necklace layering accessories are the gold mirror acrylic scissors from my shop  and gold roman coin necklace from Missoma.

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Last but not least, the finishing touch for any Lockdown sewing project, are these stunning ‘made in self-isewlation’ labels from the lovely Sally at Modista Sewing  who is selling these cuties with all profits donated to the National Emergencies Trust. She has already raised over £1000!

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I look forward to making more of these beautiful dresses in the future (when I can face all that gathering again)!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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