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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 Blouse’ from The Avid Seamstress.

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The latest release from The Avid Seamstress is another winner. I have previously enjoyed making her Shift Dress and Day Dress, and I knew from my experience with these that The Blouse was going to be a beauty to sew up. I was right.

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It is a simple classic design, and as you can see from the line drawings above is loose fitting, without darts, and features a pretty Mandarin collar, button placket, and elasticated 3/4 length sleeves.

I have been on the hunt for a great blouse pattern for a while. I have one or two that I have in mind to sew up over the next few months, but as soon as I saw this new release it jumped the queue big time and I hopped on and purchased the PDF so that I could make it straight away. I just could not wait.

My first version was made using this pretty blue patterned viscose from The Frugal Fabric Shop. Unfortunately I believe this has sold out now, but do head on over to check out Kate’s shop. I know at the moment she has some other fab viscose fabrics (at bargain prices) that would be equally as lovely as this.

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If you have never sewn an Avid Seamstress pattern before, then you are in for a treat. I would thoroughly recommend that you take your time to read through the instructions (rather than skip through them in a rush – as I often do with sewing patterns), as they are jam packed with helpful and clever tips to help you. I guarantee this will save you time in the long-run and give you a much more enjoyable sewing experience.

For example, I love that she advises you to overlock/finish your edges before you start. Also you are told exactly which edges do not need to be overlocked too. Brilliant. You are taken through how to block fuse one of your collar pieces to ensure a neat crisp collar, and maybe to cut the collar just before you need it if you are using fabric which is prone to fraying. All great tips.

I chose to make a size 2. I fall between a size 2 and 3 as far as my bust measurements go, and looking at the finished garment measurements I decided that the size 2 would be the fit I was going for. It’s perfect. Not too loose, not too tight.

The minute I finished my first version I was planning my next. I recently attended the #sewbrum sewing meetup in Birmingham and one of my fabric purchases there was this gorgeous green viscose with pink flowers. As soon as I clocked it, I knew what I was going to make with it.

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Taking your time will really pay off. The button plackets are interfaced and will lay nice and neat if you are accurate with your measurements. For this version I wanted to use self covered buttons for a change. They are quick and fun to make, and I tried to cover them with carefully picked pieces of fabric, so that when the blouse is buttoned up, they would match the placket that lays over the top of them.

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I particularly love the sleeves. Three quarter length sleeves are perfect for me, I made no adjustment on the length, but I did need to cut a shorter length of elastic than the guidelines suggested, so do measure your arm where the elastic is going to sit to make sure it is going to be the correct size for you.

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To ensure that the collars are evenly sewn, I followed the tip to lightly draw the seam allowance (1cm) on the curved edge before sewing. It’s all about making life easier for yourself, right? It is finished off with a neat line of edge stitching.

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I’m pretty sure I will be reaching for this classic pattern for years to come. I’m imagining it in a classic white cotton – I haven’t got a classic white shirt ….yet…. or perhaps in a stunning jewel coloured silk. Divine.

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I’d love to hear what your favourite classic shirt/blouse pattern is. Do share it with us all in the comments below.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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