So this is the story of the dress I made at the recent Sewing Weekender. It’s the same pattern that I used for the sort-of art smock ages ago in chambray and I’ve worn loads.
I’d dithered for a while about what project to cut out and take with me and in the end I settled on making a short-sleeved version of the shift dress. We’re going on holiday to Italy very soon and I fancied making something that was cool and comfy and good for sightseeing-Italian churches are very fussy about shoulders and legs being covered plus I don’t want frazzled shoulders.
The fabric is from Ditto in Brighton which you’ll know is one of my favourite fabric shops, and it’s a good job it’s a bit of a trip to get to otherwise I’d spend all my money in there on a regular basis! Gill is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about fabrics, she’s so helpful and has a wonderful selection in a not-very-big space. Highly recommended, and Brighton is great day out to boot! (they do mail order to but that isn’t as much fun)
Anyway, I digress. The fabric is (I think) a fine linen-or possibly cotton, I can’t remember, with a hint of metallic in it. This actually only shows when the sun catches it so there’s no danger of looking like a dodgy seventies pop star! The other thing that Gill told me about is that, once washed, it stays creased even after ironing. These days I prewash everything before cutting out so I soon discovered that it does indeed stay crumpled after washing.
The neckline on the first version had a fake button on the back neck and rather than do this again I decided to use the rather splendid silver zip which I bought during the same visit at the Brighton Sewing Centre which is just a few minutes walk from Ditto. Because of it’s silveryness I was going to used it as an exposed zip to show it off. To add to this sparkliness I rather fancied a metallic thread for the top stitching, in the end I settled on gold Gutermann metallic-effect thread.
Finally, I wanted to make bias binding to finish off the neck, sleeves and hem like the other version but I couldn’t decide which fabrics to use-scraps or fat quarters would be big enough so I took 3 different ones, two polka dots and a pretty floral.
So anyway, I took everything with me to Cambridge and set about putting it together. The making up was straightforward like before (except for all the chitchat and trotting back and forth to the overlockers, the stash swap table, the tea and biscuits, comparing makes etc etc) I put my bias dilemma to a vote among some of my fellow sewers (thank you Grace, Sue and Louise) and the floral came out top. I’ve learnt a very natty technique for making a continuous strip of bias binding using a square of fabric thanks to a blog post by Wendy Ward from October 2015. I urge you to take a look, if you make a lot of bias binding it will change your life!
The metallic thread proved to be a bit of a trial to thread through the eye of the needle but the effect once it had was really pretty without being too much. Initially I was just going to put the zip on the outside of the dress (not in the seam but showing if you see what I mean) but that didn’t seem quite tidy enough. Grace Whowell (of Beyond Measure) and a Saturday sewing prefect, told me how she’d seen exposed zips that had been finished around the edges with braid which set me thinking; maybe I could incorporate that idea by using my own binding instead? I had a go at pinning the binding around the zip as a trial and it didn’t look bad at all!
Happy with this I stitched it on invisibly-in the ditch-which seems to be the popular name these days, I know it as ‘sink’ stitching, because the stitches sink into the seam line and should become invisible.
One of my favourite details on the dress is the pockets
The one thing I’m not keen on (and I might still change if I can ever be bothered) is that, after I sewed the binding onto the neck, sleeves and hem, I overlocked the edges for speed and then stitched the edges down rather than turning them under. For me that’s a bit sloppy and I did it for speed because I wanted to finish the dress on the day. That said, it doesn’t affect how the dress looks from the outside at all, it just bothers me.
So that is my Sewing Weekender dress. I’m really happy with it and I’ll look forward to wearing it in Italy. I’ll probably layer it up with a long-sleeved tee and tights in winter. Funnily enough, the crumpliness doesn’t seem to get any worse in wear, only after washing. I’ve already given it an outing to Whipsnade Zoo last weekend (and was shamelessly photobombed by my own family-Kate Moss doesn’t have this trouble!)
Until next time,
Love Sue x