Peony dress – progress so far

I’ve made a start on my Peony dress. I am trying not to get too excited about it as my sewing ambitions don’t quite match my skill (yet-although I’m working on it!).

I suspect that this dress may take me a while (while I go wrong and then have to redo things) so I have chosen a very pretty fabric that I won’t mind looking at for a while. I like the fact that it works both ways up so I didn’t have to fiddle about too much when cutting out the pattern pieces.

I really like the butterflys and the little plants

I managed to make a mistake before I’d even started and cut the pattern pieces out on the right side rather than the wrong side. However I’m hoping it won’t make too much difference so I’m ignoring it and carrying on.

The last time I had a go at a Colette pattern the waist was far too big but the hips were a good fit. To try to get around this I’ve cut a smaller size for the top which should fit (if the measurements on the packet are to be believed). I have my fingers crossed that it won’t ruin the line of the dress…….

Now that I’ve started sewing it the waist is looking very small. Maybe I was having a very thin day when I was measuring…. It does fit but I’m a bit worried that it might make my bottom half look huge because it goes in so much. I suspect I might have to take the waist darts out a little on the front. I’m thinking that I’ll need to tack the skirt to the bodice and try it on to know properly.

I’ve tacked the sleeves in but I haven’t got them quite right yet. I think I need to take them out again and then redo the gathers closer in and then have another go. I haven’t helped myself with my mistake in the cutting out as the notches are in the wrong place. I’m determined to make it work though….

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Dress from Prima pattern

My dress (and a bunny in the background)

About a year and a half ago I started making this dress. My mum had given me a free pattern from Prima and I had some pretty fabric lying around so I thought I’d give it a go.

I started off quite enthusiastically but before I could even cut out the pattern pieces I noticed a problem. The full pattern wasn’t included and the body of the dress needed additional length. After quite a bit of faffing around trying to get the line right I gave in and called in the help of a more experienced sewer who showed me how to use newspaper to complete the pattern. I cut out the pattern pieces and did the tucks quite quickly but then I came to the darts….for some reason I was really scared of darts and despite getting instructions and reassurance from various people I just couldn’t bring myself to get started. I should point out that at this point my sewing machine hadn’t been fixed and was temperamental to say the least. It took forever to get the tension right and even then it was pretty hit and miss with actually working. The bobbin winder also wasn’t very happy….. To get the sewing machine to actually stitch was such a pain in the arse that I had to really really want to sew other wise it just wasn’t worth the hassle!

The dress sat about in my sewing box for months and months. Occasionally I’d spot it and feel a bit guilty about not doing anything about it but then I hid it under some clutter and forget about it again. Finally, when I had my sewing machine fixed and got my sewing mojo back, I got around to digging out the pieces, giving them a good iron, and getting started again.

Embarrassingly, after all the fuss I made the darts, they were really simple and only took me one try! I did have to consult my massive 70s sewing book but it was all pretty self explanatory. After I’d got those sorted out the rest of the dress came together quickly. It was just like making a very long top.

the black tights I'm wearing here really don't go......

Now that I’ve finished the dress I’m really not sure about it. I like the pattern of the fabric and the colour but there’s something about the fit and the way it hangs that I’m not quite sure about. I’m not sure that cotton was the best fabric to use. I think it would have been better in something with more movement.  When you wear it without a belt it looks a little bit sack like. However when you put a belt with it the cotton drapes in a weird way and looks a bit unflattering.

it looks very odd with a belt

The other thing I’m not sure about are the sleeves. These were my first effort at gathering a sleeve and I don’t think I’ve gathered them quite enough. They are still a bit big and make me think of kimonos.  On the plus side they are both the same size which is what most worried me when I was making them.

I’m not quite ready to wear this out in public yet so it’s going to go into the wardrobe and hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll be a bit more keen on it.

My Sorbetto

You can just about make out the top in the gloom....

Now that my sewing machine is working again I wanted to make a new top. I had some lilac and white stripped fabric hanging around so I thought I’d have a go at Sorbetto.

I’d never done darts or worked with bias binding before so I thought it would be good practise. I thought that it would be really hard and take ages but actually it was fairly easy and only took a couple of hours. I think cutting out the bits of the pattern and sticking them together was the most time consuming part.

I didn’t check the size of the pattern as I was printing so it turned out a little bit smaller than it should have done. It would have been a bit tricky to check the measurements on the test square while trying to print it out at work on the sly. It’s come out okay for size. I didn’t quite have enough fabric for a hem so I used bias binding instead. I quite like the finished hem so I think I might do that for hems in the future.

I’m really pleased with the finished top. You can’t see very well from the photo above as it was quite dark and a bit cold so I forgot to take my cardy off for the picture. I wore the top to work and think it counts as a success as no-one asked me if I’d made it (I always take that as a hint that it looks a bit rough around the edges).

I like it so much that I’m planning to make another one. There’s a pattern on-line for little sleeves which I’d like to try. I’m quite excited about it!

Not sure why I didn't move the bag off my wardrobe before I took this picture....