A dress inspired by one too small

The Inspiration

I bought this 1930’s inspired dress in a charity shop in Bristol about 3 years ago. It was about £5. Having no knowledge of luxury fabrics I presumed that it was a foreign label, especially due to the size; labelled as ‘1’.

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Turns out, Suzannah is quite an expensive designer/dress boutique, the fabric is Italian silk and the size 1 is because she only made size 1 and size 2; about a 10 and a 12. I have to admit I looked at the dress totally differently then- it turned from a surprisingly nice one to a cherished treasure. I bought it before I knew any of this though!

I only wore it twice; I was very much on the edge of fitting into it even then. Now the zip won’t do up. Don’t worry I’m not just letting it rot in my wardrobe- it’s a good incentive for me to lose some weight which I’m currently enjoying doing (nothing fancy, just moving more, eating less/healthier and drinking a lot less!). To tide me over until then I decided to copy it into a new, although much less summery dress.

Actually I needed something to wear to my dear Grandad’s funeral in September. Since I bought the original when I was staying with him, one of the two times I wore it included his 85th birthday and he absolutely loved it, saying how lovely I looked (it’s just the right level of conservative for him and fitted and vintage for me), it seemed fitting to make something similar. Plus I needed to sew as it was a hard time and that’s all I could really manage. img_5492

The Fabric

It’s a really soft sort of crepe from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham. I think it’s navy but when I bought it I think I thought it was black. To be honest the lighting in that place isn’t always the best. I had planned to make something a bit more casual with it- a long, a line t-shirt or something. However when the need arose I was glad to have something in my stash to use. Once I’d constructed it I realised it was a little too funerally and actually wanted to add some colour- hence the green buttons which I think work really nicely and make it more wearable in general.

The Construction

I barely remember making it because of all this. I do remember that it went surprisingly smoothly. I don’t think I had to do any unpicking to get it to this stage. I used techniques similar to those explained in Rosie Martin’s DIY Couture (a book I owe alot of my sewing handmade wardrobe to- I bought it very soon after making my first garment and it enabled me to make clothes without patterns and take that on to work out how to make almost anything. Plus it has a lot of basic techniques, explained well). I traced around half of the bodice onto pattern paper to get the basic shape and went from there- adding in my measurements as well and of course extending the right front piece. I then did the same with the skirt. I haven’t ever put a zip in the side of a dress so I decided to stick to what I know and do a concealed zip in the back. I added about two inches for the little pleats (which I love!).

The Fit

The only issue with the dress is that the shoulders are in the wrong place. I think the neckline is a little wide and/or the shoulders are too wide. I will unpick it and reset the sleeves but this is how I wore it to my Grandad’s funeral and honestly it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s one of those things that I may not ever get round to.

I adore the general fit and think it suits my figure quite well. A lot of the issues would be fixed with improving the sleeve placement.

The Conclusion

Looking at it now I wish I had fixed the sleeves before doing this post! I will keep you updated as I improve the sleeve situation and be sure to post another picture when I do!

But I will also be using my self-drafted pattern again for another dress.


The Broken Boiler Suit

This make is what it says on the tin; my boiler broke and my landlord didn’t fix it for two weeks. It was during the coldest two weeks in 2016 just at the end of November. I had this thick, almost sweatshirt like jersey in my stash and couldn’t resist making myself some #secretpyjamas!

img_5514The Fabric

Bought from Mr Fabrics in Lewisham for £3 a metre, about three weeks prior to making with sweatshirts in mind. In fact, I thought I might do a few (different) colour block sweatshirts which I still think would be nice and I have enough to use it on some sleeves. It’s very warm, very cosy and is basically like wearing an all-in-one tracksuit. Well, I imagine this is what that would feel like- pretty sure I’ve never worn an all-in-one tracksuit!jumpsuit-1

The Construction

I sewed this up in about 2 hours- I was very cold!! I used a pair of high-wasted jeans and a t-shirt to get the shape and just drew it straight onto the fabric. I didn’t have an overlocker at the time (I got one for Christmas though, yay!) so I just used a walking foot and a stretch stitch. Thanks to the knit fabric there was no need for hemming or finishing the seams.img_5516

The Fit

It certainly is incredibly relaxed. I probably didn’t really mean for it to be quite so but I was in a hurry to get it sewn up so I could wear this fabric on my whole body! Clearly I stretched out the neckline but I quite like it anyway. The only altering I did was to taper the legs a bit more as they were made from a straight leg pair of jeans. In hindsight an elasticated waist would prevent it from slipping out of place in the day; I do have to keep adjusting it so that it sits right. To be honest I mainly wear it on days when I’m in the flat for the most part. Though when I have worn it out it has had a lot of compliments and I find it easy to style in any way I want- it’s surprisingly easy to dress up!jumpsuit2

The Conclusion

I need to make more jumpsuits! Although I have to admit I had forgotten about the loo issue- particularly whilst the boiler was broken, it was pretty traumatic having to get naked every time!

Oh and in case you’re interested, my adorable necklace is from Designosaur and Hello DoDo.

Overlocker Practice- Sew Over It Cowl Neck Dress

The first completed item on my #2017makenine !!

The Inspiration

Couldn’t say exactly where/when I got the idea that I wanted a cowl neck dress in my wardrobe but I have been thinking I need it for quite a while. When I got my overlocker for christmas I decided to add it to my #2017makenine list as I know Sew Over It also use this pattern for their “Intro to Overlocking” class- which I very nearly signed up for when I was struggling at first with my overlocker. When the PDF Club came about and offered a free pattern I decided this was the one. In hindsight I wish I chose another but onto that in a minute…


The Fabric

Again, good old Mr Fabrics in Lewisham saves me from trudging over to Goldhawk Road for my insanely cheap fabric fix. It was £3.50 a metre. It’s kind of a vintagey dusty blue teal with red and pink flowers on it; a lightweight jersey, of course. I like it and obviously it worked well for the pattern. cowlneck4

The Construction

It was ridiculously easy and took me less than two hours including cutting out time. Sew Over It, as always, hold your hand throughout. However, I have to admit that I didn’t follow the instructions very much- I read through them before I started and just went for it. I was also being lazy so I only really overlocked- didn’t use the regular machine until it was hemming time!! In hindsight I wish I didn’t cut that corner in the sleeves but as I’m not completely sold on the dress anyway I’m not too bothered that they’re not perfect.cowlneck3

The Fit

I took the waist in a bit as I wanted it to be a bit more bodycon- I have a size 8/10 waist and a size 14/16 hip measurement so this is nothing new. I just did this by eye- I didn’t grade the pattern before. I do think the dress suits me, and shows off my figure. Even kind of makes me look slimmer than I actually am! It’s a shame that despite that I don’t think I’ll wear it much.

cowlneck2The Conclusion

It’s a fab pattern and great dress, it suits me and it was easy. It’s insanely comfortable and the fabric is pretty and soft. And it cost me about £7. BUT… It’s just not me. I styled it as much as I can and I am wearing it today. However, it just doesn’t feel like it represents my style. It would be a great addition to anyone else’s wardrobe and if I ever grow up and get a proper job, maybe it’ll still be in my wardrobe. It was great overlocker practice and also a good thing to make to remind myself not to get carried away with a pattern that suits someone else and someone else’s style.

I don’t really know how to describe my style to explain what I mean but this dress just doesn’t feel right. I think that in general a jersey dress probably isn’t very me. I have a sweater-dress I love, but that’s different. I’ll try to blog about that soon.

One way that I could improve it would be to lengthen it to mid-calf. I hate my knees anyway but I also think that would give the pattern a bit more interest. I would also like a bigger cowl neck. Perhaps it’s just a little too safe/cute for me and the fabric, whilst lovely, didn’t help that. It’s a shame because it’s a wonderfully fast make and I know it looks good. I just don’t feel like me in it. It’s a good lesson to learn anyway- I only want to spend time on makes that I feel confident will represent my style. I may need to look at my #2017makenine again…

An Understated Wedding- Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress

Two of my friends got married and didn’t want to make a huge fuss of it. Camberwell registry office, followed by brunch, followed by the pub. It was gorgeous and very cute. Naturally the wedding party was relatively small and the dress code was kind of just ‘make an effort, if you want to’.
alex3I had the perfect fabric in my stash; a green crepe with peach and orange flowers, and the perfect pattern; the Alex Shirt Dres from Sew Over It’s My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break E-book.

I knew I would love it and it would work with this fabric because I had already made an Alex Shirt- twice actually because I made one for my mum for Christmas too. However, I was being lazy and rather than return to the pattern (I appeared to have lost the lengthened pieces) I just extended it myself. In hind sight, definitely a bit too much. At least for every day wear.


I also left the sides unsewn at the bottom to create slits. I don’t know if this is in the original pattern! It definitely needed it at this length- otherwise it really would have felt too much like a victorian night dress… which is what it looks like without a belt!

I did make a tie belt as well but I prefer this length with this chunky belt I’ve had for years. I used to wear it on my hips with jeans! I’m on the last hole at the waist now!


All in all I love this dress; the fabric is gorgeous and I already loved the pattern. Honestly, this E-Book may be the most used sewing book I’ve got!

I’m planning another Alex shirt and Alex shirt dress in the near future (already have the fabric!). I will reprint the pattern to get the intended length however!

#2017makenine and Sewing Resolutions

  1. The Sewaholic Cypress Cape
    I already have all the materials to make this. I was very lucky to receive it for Christmas from my partner’s Mum. I’m not sure how waterproof it will actually be in the end but you know I’m gonna be reporting back whatever happens. This one is already started as I write this.
  2. The Sew Over It Cowl Neck Dress
    I think this will be a good wardrobe staple for my work wardrobe and good practice for using my new overlocker (another christmas present, this time from my partner himself- so lucky!)
  3. The Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress
    In the summer particularly I spent the entire time cursing myself for having a completely inappropriate wardrobe. In fact I generally only have clothes for ‘mild’ weather. Too hot or too cold and I’m buggered. I vowed to make some super comfy dresses for holidays and London scorchers. Which are absolutely unbearable.
  4. That Velvet Wrap Dress
    When Chinelo Bally made this dress on The Great British Sewing Bee I desperately wanted one. I love how she added applique on the show as well. I don’t know if I’ll look this good in it but I really want to try it anyway and I’m looking forward to learning more about her Freehand technique. I personally work a lot without patterns as it is and always looking to find new ways to be able to design something completel unique to me!
  5. The By Hand London Elisalex Dress
    This pattern recently had a reboot and OMG the new photos make it look insanely gorgeous. I have realised I don’t have enough pretty dresses in my wardrobe to pull out when needed (all the time because I definitely have that sort of life…). I want to get a nice brocade or something similar to make a real stunner of a dress for this.
  6. The Madalynne x Simplicity 8228 Bra Making Kit
    Like all good sewists, now that my wardrobe has most definitely started to tilt towards being predominantly handmade, I’m finding my ready-to-wear underwear drawer to be very uninspiring. This looks like a good kit to help me make the plunge towards lingerie making. I already have a few pairs of french knickers ala Annika Victoria.
  7. The Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas
    This is one of the few Tilly patterns I haven’t yet made and I need a lovely pair of summery pyjamas for summer holidays (of which I plan on having at least one. Not sure how yet, but I am determined as you can tell by this list!).
  8. The Decades of Style Empire Waist Trousers
    I generally love making trousers- thanks to going to a Sew Over It class I now know how I need to alter patterns before I even start. These look like they’ll be quite flattering.
  9. The Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees
    I love my dungarees- they’re definitely my most worn ready made garment. But I hate that they’re not handmade. So I better make some soon!

Sewing Resolutions

  1. Start a blog! (check!) And maybe a vlog.
  2. Buy less patterns (re-use what you have!)
  3. Learn overlocking
  4. Use up the stash, buy less fabric
  5. Buy more fabric. Oh.
  6. Make less sheer clothes- they’re fine when you can wear something underneath but when you only want to wear a single layer.

I think that’s enough but I have a feeling that I’ve forgotten a few.