Tuesday, 9 July 2013


I have done a fair bit of dressmaking in the past.  Mum used to make our clothes when I was little, and I picked it up when I was a teenager.  I made trousers and jackets, and a few dresses.  I can’t remember now whether we used to bother with fitting properly!  I think back in the 1970s it wasn’t such an issue!!  Later on, I went to dressmaking classes at the local adult education, and made a couple of dresses that I ended up not really wearing.  Wrong fit, wrong colour, wrong style!  I went again when Lucy was little and made her a few little dresses, some we liked, some we didn’t!

Having my new sewing machine has made me want to have another go.  I went to a ‘vintage sewing class’ as a taster at a lovely little shop in Hove called Mazalino Designs.  We handsewed a vintage ‘pinny’ from a pillowcase, embellishing with frills.  The class included afternoon tea and cake, and was great fun!  They were advertising a 4 week dressmaking class, and there was a discount if you signed up there and then.  Well of course I couldn’t resist!

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So for the last 4 Mondays I have been going over to Hove for my class.  Maryamm, the tutor, started off right at the beginning and we went through the basics.  We made a toile (a practise version of the dress) from simple calico so we could learn how to put the dress together.  I had not made a toile before, so will definitely try it with my next dress.  We made 2 bodices one the outside, one the lining, learning how to do the curved princess seam, and how to sew the two bodices together. Maryamm also showed us how to insert a concealed zip, something I’ve not done before.  I enjoyed the classes very much and have revised dressmaking techniques and gained confidence and to make a dress by myself now.

But when I started to look at dress patterns in the pattern books, how was I going to make sure the dress style is right for me, and the fit and fabric are right?  My answer to this dilemma was to go shopping to try on as many different style dresses as possible to see what style I liked the best.  I really liked the waisted style of the toile we made, but trying them on made me realise that it wasn’t really MY style.  I liked an empire line better, like this pattern I chose:

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I bought some cheap fabric to make up my toile.  Watch this space!  I will report back how I get on.  I am hopeful that this pattern will suit me as it cost over £8, so I will have to make more than 1 dress from it!

Meanwhile, I will probably make this one for my niece’s baby first:

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I’ve got some lovely pink patterned fabric which I’ve teamed up with this plain pink from my new neighbour!  We have a new fabric shop just open about 5 minutes walk away from me.  How exciting!  Here’s the website: www.eclecticmaker.co.uk  It’s a lovely shop, and the owner has lots of very colourful funky fabrics in stock!

Have you dabbled in dressmaking?  What have been your successes?


Sian said...

Yes, I do love to do some dressmaking when I get the chance and I'm envious of your lovely local shops. I wish we had something like that! The last thing I made I really liked was, funny, a Halloween costume for TSO: a very tightly fitted black linen dress. I was pleased with how fitted I managed to make it.

Looking forward to seeing your dress now

Karen said...

I love the pattern you chose, and am looking forward to seeing the final product. I was a seamstress for many years. I made lots of my clothes, clothes (even a three-piece suit) for my husband, and many clothes for my children. It's been years since I used my sewing machine for anything other than crafts. I discovered it was much more costly to make a dress than to find one on sale, so I just couldn't justify the cost or the time.

Maria Ontiveros said...

Wow! Good for you! I'm not a seamstress at all, but I admire people who are.

Nancy Fletcher said...

Thanks for showing your projects, Linda. I'm excited for you.

My mom was a great seamstress, and taught me. My first item of clothing was when I was 11, a robe for myself in lavender printed cotton. I made most of my clothes, and my children's clothes till I discovered that most clothing was cheaper to buy readymade than to make myself. And of course much faster.

Since then I've mainly sewn things that we couldn't buy, such as costumes for stage plays or E's pioneer handcart experience.

Have a great time sewing. The little baby pattern looks fun!

alexa said...

Your making of the toile dress as a model is a great idea, and I would love to be able to put in a zip competently, let alone a concealed one. Your empire line dress looks very flattering and looking forward to seeing it made up!