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Simplicity 8554 Trench Coat

This garment has been a long time coming. I have actually had this pattern cut out for over a year and have now finally got around to stitching it together. I had planned to have this sewn up in time for Autumn 2018, but time ran away with me and as it really isn’t the best wardrobe choice for the very cold Winter months, I thought it would be a good project to save and make in the Spring. Turns out in the run up to Spring I completely forgot about it, and so here we are, Autumn 2019, and I’ve made it at last.

Simplicity 8554 is a great little pattern for an unlined trench coat, with various choice options for you including the jacket length, sleeve style, side slits, pockets and belt. I chose to make View B which is the mid-thigh/knee length version – shown in blue at the top left of the pattern envelope below.

 

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This jacket features side slits, which I really didn’t want, so I simply sewed these right up when sewing up the side seams. It has some really nice details including storm flaps either side at the front,  gently rounded collar and lapels, good pockets and a lovely belt tie with soft points at each end.

I don’t know exactly what the fabric composition is unfortunately. It was a bargain purchase from Milton Keynes market a couple of years ago, and is a beautiful deep navy blue colour with the perfect amount of weight and drape for a trench coat like this. The quality is outstanding and I’m really happy with it.  I’m afraid that a dark colour like this is sometimes tricky to photograph, particularly when inside.

 

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As mentioned, the jacket is unlined. To finish off the edges of the facings inside, I used a length of handmade floral bias tape that I had made some time ago with the remnants from a previous project.

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I also used my bias foot on the sewing machine to ensure neat and even stitching, and for the whole this worked great. Although, despite adjusting the foot to allow the needle to fall exactly where you want it to, you do need to keep you eye on what’s going on when you’re feeding it through – as it’s easy to allow the edge of the facing to ‘slip’ out of the bias if you’re not careful.

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Aside from sewing up the side slits, the only other adjustments that I made were to shorten the length of the jacket by 1″, and the sleeves by 2″.

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There is a small mistake on the pattern instructions. To achieve the belt width shown on the pattern envelope you need to use all 4 belt pieces that you will have already cut out. Step 27 of the instructions appears to ask you to sew just two pieces together and then fold them in half lengthwise which would in fact give you a belt which is half the width to that pictured.

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The pattern is described as an ‘easy to sew’ project according to the wording on the envelope, and I would agree to a certain extent. It was fairly straightforward to sew, but I feel that you might need a little sewing experience to give you some confidence. The collar went in neatly with no problems at all, and the jacket has no buttons or other fastenings – it simply wraps around and is kept in place with the belt.

As is often the case with ‘The Big 4’ sewing pattern companies, there is a generous amount of ease built in, and I would probably size down at least one size if I were to make this again.

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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Simplicity 8816 Cross Back Apron

Since the launch of my acrylic jewellery business, a great deal of my working day is spent at my craft bench making acrylic necklaces and brooches. I will be the first to hold my hand up and admit that I can be clumsy at times and pretty soon I realised that an apron was going to be a necessity.

In the previous few weeks I had seen a lot of cross back aprons and this was the sort of style that I wanted. (Although having said that I’m not ruling out the addition of a frilly retro number another time).

I really loved The Maria Apron by Maven Patterns, especially when the lovely Sarah blogged about it here. But in the end I could not resist the big old wrap around pockets that Simplicity 8816 had to offer.

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There are a few different options with this pattern, and I went for View A, (the orange version in the top right of the image above), which is the mid thigh length cross back version – although it’s almost knee length on me – I’m 5’2″.

I’m really happy with my choice of fabric. Some of you will probably recognise it – it’s the beige Lenda fabric from Ikea. At £5 per metre, and nice and wide, I think I only needed about 1 metre to make the medium size. Also – who doesn’t love cutting their own fabric! The fabric is a sturdy, medium weight, and ideal for protecting my clothes from a battering of glue and paint!

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It’s such a quick and easy pattern to make, perfect for a beginner. The pattern pieces that you need are simply the apron front, the pocket, the front band and the strap. Easy.

The instructions call for the addition of bias binding to finish the armhole edges of the apron. I have tons of home made bias which I cannot resist making if I have leftover fabric (especially ditsy floral fabrics), so I was over the moon to have the opportunity to use up some of it. I may have got a little carried away with it, as I also decided to use it to finish the side and bottom edges of the apron too…and the top of the pocket!

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I particularly like the pockets – they wrap all the way around the entire width of the apron, divided by three rows of vertical stitching, giving you a whopping FOUR massive pockets. Oh joy! Add a bit of bias to the top and your pocket dreams are right there!!

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There’s a little bit of topstitching on this one, which is a part of sewing that I really enjoy. Hence I had a great old time with this detail on the front band, straps and pockets.

 

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Shameless plug – but the button brooch is available from my shop x

The cross straps at the back give me just the right amount of coverage – I felt other styles of cross back aprons covered too much of the back which I didn’t need and felt might make me too warm when I was working. So this was just right. Putting it on initially was funny as I was putting my arms through the wrong bits – if you have ever put on a cross-back item of clothing you will know what I mean – but I’m used to it now.

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So this is definitely a good investment in my handmade wardrobe. I have been wearing it for the last few weeks and I wouldn’t be without it now.

Although I am using it for crafting purposes, it would be equally as suitable in the kitchen as an alternative to the butchers style apron don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be fun to colour block it? Imagine using different fabric for the pockets, band and straps!

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My #alittlelawnparty entry – a Simplicity 2586 pattern review.

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You know me – I love a good Instagram sewing challenge.

This challenge has been organised by Mel from  Handmade by Ditsy-Tulip  and Atia from The Bright Blooms . If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that, as an ambassador for this challenge, I have mentioned it a few times on my stories. But if you need more details then do head on over to Mel and Atia’s website where it is all explained.

To summarise, it is a friendly sewing challenge to celebrate the arrival of Spring. In a nutshell the idea is to have a bit of fun sewing a Spring themed garment and share your make on Instagram using the hashtag #alittlelawnparty . I think originally the idea was to make a garment using cotton lawn, but as this is not always easy to get hold of at a reasonable price in certain parts, so you may use any fabric of your choice as long as you are using it to make an outfit that is ‘Spring-like’.

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At first I thought deciding what to make would be really easy. For someone who absolutely loves floral fabrics and has a ton of dress patterns this should have been a breeze for me, but whilst I knew the fabric that I wanted to use, I struggled deciding which sewing pattern to pair with it. I also think that because the challenge runs over a two month period, I sat back a little and kind of left things a little later that I should have! Not to worry though, if you are still working on your project the closing date is not until the 15th of May 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get your entry in!

After posting a picture of what I thought was the perfect pattern for this challenge on my Instagram account, I swiftly changed my mind after I received several messages to say that the particular pattern that I was planning to use required a great deal of adjustments and changes. By this stage, I really hadn’t got the time to spend on a dress which required so much work and alterations, so the happy outcome was that I chose another pattern that I have had in my stash for absolutely ages- Simplicity 2586.

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I don’t know very much about this pattern, except that it does not seem to be available in the U.K. It is possibly an old out of stock pattern? – correct me if I’m wrong – and I think I bought mine from an Etsy seller a long time after ago (as they do seem to be available in the U.S) but watch our for hefty postal charges as most of these patterns seem to be from U.S sellers.

I am crazy about the blue belted version of the dress as shown on the front of the pattern envelope, and thought that this could make a pretty Spring dress. I had bought this adorable crepe from Sew Me Sunshine fairly recently and decided that this combination was the dress I wanted! It’s a blush pink crepe with the classic crinkled texture and is scattered with light blue flowers. So so beautiful. I have linked the fabric for you and at the time of writing this it is still in stock at £3.50 per half metre.

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The dress has turned out really well, although the next time I make it I will make a couple of little changes. Whilst I LOVE the crepe and chose it as I wanted a really drapey fabric, it is quite slippery to work with (as you would expect with crepe) and in certain areas like the narrow neckband it was a little fiddly. I may have said some naughty words whilst sewing this part. On the subject of the neckline, I felt this came out quite low and wide. Still very wearable but I think I will adjust it a little next time. Finally the sleeves. They are slightly wide, but I can live with that. The sleeve cuffs though – they are massive! I would definitely need to make these much smaller for future makes as they are huge! This will teach me for not making a toile up. ( I always make toiles of patterns that I haven’t made before – I can’t imagine why I didn’t this time)!  Tut Tut!

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That being said, the dress is beautiful I think, and it is super cute. It has pockets for a start. Gotta love them.  I also really like the ruffles around the bottom of the hem and the fabric belt,  and with some small adjustments this could very well end up being a favourite pattern of mine. Easy to slip on and off over the head, I like that there are no zips, buttons or elastic on this dress. Nice and straightforward as far as construction is concerned. I do love Simplicity patterns.

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A huge thank you to Mel and Atia for organising such a fun challenge. Do head on over to their websites linked earlier on in this post for all the details. There are some great prizes to be won at the end of the challenge too, which is always a bonus! We are very lucky in the sewing community to have such generous businesses that always provide such wonderful gifts for these sewing challenges.

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More Spring inspiration can be found by searching the hashtag #alittlelawnparty over on Instagram. I for one am ready and waiting for warmer weather to arrive so that I can actually wear my dress!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Floral Simplicity New Look 6449

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I was very fortunate recently to have been sent a couple of sewing patterns from Simplicity New Look and am sharing with you today my thoughts on the first one.

One of the things that swayed me to choose this pattern was the fact that there are options to make knit or woven dresses, and 4 different dress styles too – with mix and match possibilities.

Whilst I love the woven shirt dress with the tie belt ( and will definitely be making one of these too), my eye was drawn to version A, which is the knit dress with short sleeves and patch pocket. I really liked the floral fabric that they had used in their image, and knew that I had a similar fabric in my stash. It’s a knit fabric that I picked up last year at a sewing meetup (#sewbrum), from the rag market in Birmingham. For this reason, I don’t have the exact fabric content details, but it has the perfect amount of stretch needed when I tested it against the handy stretch guide on the pattern envelope.

I think that the bold pink, blue and green floral detail on the black background is super cute, and these colours make it very wearable with thick black tights whilst the weather is still chilly.

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I have lost count of the amount of Simplicity New Look patterns that I have sewn up over the years, so it was no surprise to me how straightforward the pattern instructions were. It is rated as an ‘easy’ sewing pattern and I would agree. For those unfamiliar, the pattern pieces are printed on lightweight tissue paper, and the simple step by step written instructions are accompanied by black and white drawings.

The version that I decided to make has a little patch pocket on the chest and I chose to pattern match this as best as I could. It worked pretty well I think,  as I think it is almost impossible to spot from a distance (in the image above), although I do think that pattern matching is not essential, and you could totally make a feature of the pocket by ignoring all the pattern matching rules!

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Another feature of this dress is the deep cuff band, which is rolled back to finish the short sleeve. I think this gives it a more casual feel and makes a change from the usual sleeve finish which is simply turned under and stitched into place. To make sure they wouldn’t roll undone, I decided to stitch a couple of bar tacks on each cuff. To do this I dropped the feed dogs on my machine and set the stitch to a wide zig zag. This gives a neat and secure bar tack stitch which I sewed on the underarm and top of each sleeve.

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The neck band on the dress fitted perfectly, and required no adjustment. It lays nice and flat and I finished it with a row of twin needle stitching. I also used the twin needle to give the hem of the dress a lovely neat finish.

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I had a great time making this dress. Quick to cut out, simple to assemble and the result is a dress that will take me through Spring and beyond. I plan to make a t-shirt dress with it this summer as I think it would be cute made from a striped jersey.

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Thank you again to Simplicity New Look for sending the pattern to me, I am pleased with the outcome and look forward to making more versions for a long time to come.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My Snuggly Simplicity 8089

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Just a quick one today to let you know that it’s my turn again to share with you what I have made for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, and this month it’s something a little different for me – a jumper!

Do head on over here to read my full review and take a look at lots more pics!

Hope you enjoy it,

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity 8342 Summer Sewing Challenge Entry.

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I was really pleased when I heard that Simplicity New Look were holding another sewing challenge. To celebrate 90 years of creative sewing they launched a competition for all to create and share an item of clothing from a choice of 5 patterns.

I  loved pattern 8383 the most, but as this pattern was for newcomers I was unable to choose it. This left the decision between the Vintage Make and the Dressmaker patterns (as I did not want the Childrenswear or Menswear pattern), and in the end I opted for the Vintage Make pattern as I preferred the jersey top on this and decided that I could hack it into a dress with the addition of a contrasting jersey skirt.

I have some jersey fabrics in my sewing stash, but for this project I needed two pieces that would work together, so a little shopping trip into Leicester was required (shame …not)! and the result was this pretty Autumnal berry coloured super soft jersey for the top and a matching berry floral design on a dark background for the skirt. These little gems were from Stuart’s Fabrics on Leicester Market, he has some great jersey fabric at the moment.

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The pattern is a great one to have. There are 2 versions of the tie front top – either a halter neck or tiny cap sleeves. Also included is a ruffled wiggle skirt and cropped pedal pushers. I stuck to the tie front top and knew that I wanted to hack it into a dress as that way I would get more wear out of it.

The construction of the top is straightforward, as usual with Simplicity, and it took very little time to cut out and sew up. There were no surprises and nothing complicated. I cut a straight size 12 and the only alteration I made was to shorten the length of the shoulder straps by about 3.5 cm as they felt a little too long as they were.

In order to make it into a dress though,  I now needed to take off about 11 or 12 cm from the length of the body. A bit drastic, but this means that the waist seam of the dress sits on my natural waist. By the way, I loved the length of it as a top, and had I been leaving it as a top it would have been the perfect length – not too short and not too long!

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The skirt was easy to add. A simple full or half circle skirt is fun, and gathers was also something I considered.  But in the end I simply chose a skirt from a  dress pattern that I have already made and used that! I simply stitched it to the top, made a casing for some elastic from the seam allowance, popped in the elastic to give a very subtle gather, and it was done!

I love a dress without fastenings that you can throw over your head and you’re good to go. Hooray for jersey knits!

Although all the detail in the design is focussed on the front of the top, the back is pretty to look at too. A small amount of gathering across the back allows for a comfortable fit and makes sure it stays in place!

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Thank you to Simplicity New Look for the pattern, and congratulations on your 90th celebrations. It’s been fun trying to decide how to be creative with this pattern, and lots more inspiration can be found on social media using the hashtag #SimplicityTurns90

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity 1108 Kimono Sewing Pattern Review.

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Some lovely sunny weather here in the U.K lately has really put me in the mood for Summer. I feel that a kimono is a really useful part of my Summer wardrobe, I own several and have made a couple ( if you are interested to see my review of another Simplicity kimono please click here).

However, as we all know the British weather can be unpredictable. So when I spotted this Simplicity 1108 kimono pattern which was the free gift in this months Sew magazine, I decided that I wanted to make it up in a cosy tropical jersey fabric. I am then covered (literally) if the temperature drops, but the tropical print still gives out the Summer vibe.

 

The fabric I chose is a really cheap jersey from the ‘£1 a metre’ stall at Leicester market. You can really pick up some bargains from this stall, but it is not there every day, I think I was there on a Thursday and happened to catch him that day. I only wanted 2 or 3 metres but he ‘threw in the rest’ and I probably ended up with 5 metres of it for £3. What a bargain! Beware – as a result you will be seeing lots more makes with this fabric!

Just a note here to mention that I used ballpoint pins on this project, and the ballpoint needle and twin needle on my sewing machine. It is important to use these when working with jersey as the rounded tips of the pins and needles glide through the fabric rather than cutting through it.

The pattern has several different options – short, medium or long length, and with or without the trim/band. I decided to go for view B, which on the pattern cover is the image on the bottom right corner.

Cutting out was straightforward as it is basically 2 x front pieces, 2 x back pieces and the pieces to make the band. Take your time when constructing the band and the band facing. It is easy to make an error here if you are not careful. Use the pattern notches to make sure your pieces are correctly placed together.

If I were making this in a regular silky fabric like a crepe, I would certainly take the time to use French Seams. As I was using a jersey fabric I decided that this would have been too bulky and chose to use the overlocker, this still gives a neat finish on the inside that I can live with. It also made it super quick to make up! – until you get to the band…

The band, when constructed, is basically a curved piece of fabric which attaches to the entire opening of the kimono. When attached, the seam allowances are clipped and the band facing is then attached to this. The seam allowances of the band facing then need clipping.  All this snipping took me SUCH a long time, but it is worth it as the facing will lay nice and flat if you clip it thoroughly.

Interfacing is required for the band pieces, and this was the first time that I had used a knit interfacing. I had no problems with it, it was iron-on and did the job great!

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A cute feature on this pattern is a small gathered section just at the back of the neck.

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I decided to use the ‘cord’ method of gathering on this project – this is where you place a cord along the length you want to gather, then simply zig zag over the top taking care not to catch the cord with the zig zag stitches. Simply pull the cord to easily gather your fabric. I have seen this done using dental floss as the cord – I had some thick cotton cord in my sewing basket and used that – it worked great and allowed quite a chunky fabric to gather easily and smoothly. I will definitely be using this technique again!

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This shows the gathers at the back of the neck before and after they are pulled. Note the zig zag stitches ‘straddle’ the cord.

I’m pretty pleased with how the kimono came out. I feel that the shorter version may have suited me better as I think this is a little long for me, but hey ho! never mind – I will still enjoy wearing it on those cooler Summer days and it will just keep me extra warm!

Just for reference – I am 5’2″

I should also mention that it does sew up a little on the large side. I understand from other reviews that this is how it is supposed to be, but you may want to take this into consideration when choosing your size.

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It’s a great pattern, with a size range from XXS-XXL.

Sew magazine issue 99, July 2017, (which is still current at the time of posting this), has helpful hints and tips on fabric choices, tools, sizing advice etc.

‘ Yours truly’ also gets a mention in the magazine on page 37 where they announce the results of the Dressmaker of the Year competition. I won first place in the ‘ready to wear’ category, and will be writing a blog post on this soon.

I hope this review has been helpful, have you made a kimono recently? Have you used jersey? Do let me know how you got on as I love to read your comments.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity 1318 Kimono Jacket

Hi everyone,

Last month I wrote my first guest blog post for Minerva Crafts, and whilst I shared the pictures and links on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, I realised that I neglected to pop the details over here on my own blog!

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The fabric is of course from Minerva, and if you would like to read my thoughts on this perfect Spring kimono jacket then you can head on over to read all about it here.

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity New Look 6262 Pattern Review – My Christmas Dress.

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Forget Christmas jumpers, I’m a dress girl through and through.

I have had this Simplicity New Look pattern since July, and just haven’t got around to using it. It came free with the July issue of Sew Style and Home and the style is right up my street. As usual there are a few variations that you can mix up to make your ideal dress. I chose to make the boat neck version as opposed to the v-neck style. I also wanted short sleeves rather than sleeveless or cap sleeves.

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The construction is pretty straightforward, suitable for an advanced beginner I would say. Anyone who is confident with zip insertion, gathers and darts will be fine with this pattern, although these steps are all explained very well on the instruction sheet, as always from Simplicity New Look patterns.

The fabric was an eBay purchase, and once again slightly disappointing. When will I learn to resist a cheap fabric on the internet! It is a poly cotton and was a bit of a bargain, however the quality is not the best, but Hey Ho! you get what you pay for and I reckon I will only wear this dress a couple of times a year given it’s Christmas feel so it doesn’t really matter that much. It  has the cutest reindeer and snowflake design and the green background colour is just that of a perfect Christmas tree. So festive! I wanted to break up the colour a little though so decided to insert some berry red piping at the waistline and sleeves and I absolutely adore how it turned out. I will definitely be popping in some piping on more dresses in the future – a great little detail!

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Take your time with piping, your patience will pay off!

Overall I am very pleased with how the dress came out, it’s very comfortable and I will certainly make it again. I would love to make it up it a pretty ditsy floral fabric (Liberty style). Next time I would probably shorten the bodice as the waist is a little low for my body length, easy enough to shorten using the shorten/lengthen markings on the bodice pattern. Also the skirt was slightly too ‘poofy’ for my liking so I slimmed it down a little along the side seams. Oh and as I’m only 5’2″ I shortened the length about 3″. All these things are just my personal preference, I love this pattern and look forward to making up many more versions next Summer.

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I would love to hear your opinions especially if you have also made this dress pattern.

I can’t wait to wear it on Christmas day. Sending you all best wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas, and I look forward to a busy 2017 with lots more pattern reviews and tutorials.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x