Redemption of the Dressmaking Kind

After making a dress for one of my daughters where the pattern matched everywhere but on the back and my suggestion that she walk backwards all the time fell on deaf ears, I got a bit dispirited.  Even though some of you kindly assured me it must have been the fabric that was at fault and how it didn’t matter because hardly any ready to wear stuff is pattern matched I still lost the will to ‘dressmake’ – (made up verb).

I even got proof through the mail when I ordered a cheap and cheeful (though organic!) dress in an online sale and the first thing I spotted was the back seam wasn’t matched.  What’ s more – the side seams don’t match either so that made me feel a bit better because mine do.

These are the colour and design of the tiles I want when I have my family bathroom re-done – if the builder ever comes back to me with a quote that is. :/

But I digress.

To get back on that horse I thought I’d make something nice and simple which would be bound to turn out right.  I used some very nice quality spotty jersey that I bought on my jaunt to Walthamstow Market when I was in the U.K. recently and, although I had not yet made up this particular pattern, I know that Tilly and the Buttons patterns can usually be relied upon and I’ve made up several of her knit patterns before so I was confident.

Et voila!  This is the ‘Agnes’ pattern minus the fancy sleeves and neckline.

The creases on the right shoulder are due to the tortuous way I’m standing and the others due to the fact that I had denim shorts on and all the thick seams on them are showing through the lovely jersey.  I knew they would but I couldn’t be bothered to change.  What can I say?

A great pattern with variations in sleeve length and also a ruched sleeve option and lightly ruched front at the neckline.  I might well make the version with the ruching at the neckline for Mlle. Tialys the Younger but, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t this type of sleeve used to called a ‘leg of mutton’ sleeve.

I am definitely not Tilly’s target audience but I won’t be taking the risk of having ageist insults flung at me due to a reckless sleeve decision.  My ruched sleeve days are long behind me and I’m trying to avoid the mutton ones.

As promised in my last post, here is a stunning shot of my roots that I didn’t realise needed doing quite so badly until I saw this photo.  Hairdresser visit now accomplished.

Minerva Crafts were having a sale with New Look patterns at half price and I spotted a couple of lengths of fabric I fancied so, newly confident, I filled my trolley.

This is New Look 6393 and I bought it because I like the simple shape for summer but with the princess seams giving it a lovely fit and drape.

Before you say anything, I made absolutely no attempt at all to match the pattern because it is a big, splashy one and I would have needed quite a bit more fabric to accomplish a match on all those princess seams.  So even though this lovely cotton with a slight stretch was also in the same sale at just £3.99 a metre I only ordered 2m and let it do its own thing, pattern -wise..  My head is missing because my daughter wouldn’t get out of bed to take the photo so I had to set up the tripod and I couldn’t work out how to convert the tripod to support the camera in portrait mode.

Then she got out of bed but I was cross by then – can you tell? – and had to force a smile.

The dress is constructed with neck facing and interfacing and bias binding around the arms.  I don’t like facing much – it just annoys me – so I decided to go ‘maverick’ and line the bodice with the same fabric which was a stretch as I only had 2m of it to start with.  Anyway, usually when I go ‘off piste’ disaster ensues but I was grimly determined and all went well until I wondered how I was going to turn it the right way with the seams ending up on the inside.  I found quite a few tutorials on how to do this when the back is in two pieces – where there is going to be a central zip – but this has front and back central pieces cut on the fold.  I panicked just a little bit.  Then I found this tutorial from Blithe Stitches which I just couldn’t envisage working at first but I just went with it and, like magic, you pull a sausage fabric through the fabric bun and there you have a beautifully constructed lined bodice.  You’ll have to look at the tutorial to appreciate the food references.

It isn’t a totally perfect fit – though almost.  The back gapes a little at the top, one of the shoulder straps could be tighter and the armholes could be a little less deep (although they’re not so bad when I’m not doing my pair of scissors impression) and the waistline needs to go up as at 5’2″ and a bit, I’m a short arse (I had to take 5 inches off the length.)

I think I need to cut one size smaller at the back neck and shoulders and shorten the waist by an inch at least.  Somebody more accomplished than me will tell me if that’s what’s required.

Got to protect that hair colour.

By and large though, I’m happy with it and think I’ve redeemed myself enough to get my dressmaking confidence back again.  I even faced my nemesis ‘The Zip’ and inserted one correctly in the side seam on the second attempt.

   You may notice that, by some miracle of coincidence – I’ve already told you I took no notice of the pattern at all – the back centre bodice and skirt panels almost do match.  The mysteries of pattern matching continue to confuse and confound.







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  1. #1 by katechiconi on July 6, 2017 - 16:28

    Great top, even greater dress, don’t know what you were worried about. I don’t think the frock police were lurking outside the gate or anything… Very pretty fabric for the dress, beautifully summery.

    • #2 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 16:40

      The Frock Police couldn’t get near the gate due to all the Quilt Police blocking their way 😉

      • #3 by katechiconi on July 6, 2017 - 21:43

        Tee hee! I think on the whole, the QP are preferable… I’d never look at a frock and pick holes in it, but I’ve been guilty of minor QP activity myself when something’s *blatantly* off or wobbly. Mea culpa…

  2. #4 by nanacathy2 on July 6, 2017 - 16:31

    Fabulous frock Mrs T, I think you look gorgeous and not cross at all. Well done on the zip. Next week I must start that skirt and face the ZIP too.

    • #5 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 16:41

      Thank you. I’ll bet you will find zips a breeze. The trouble is, I try to avoid them so I don’t get used to doing them – it’s a vicious sewing circle.

  3. #6 by Carole Mayne on July 6, 2017 - 16:33

    SOOOoooo Stylish! It looks fabulous on you! Perfect for viewing the Tour de France from the finish line in Paris! (well that’s what I’d imagine, as we’re glued to the scenery on tv throughout the race.) (-: Carole

    • #7 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 16:46

      Thank you very much. Funny you should mention the TDF as it generally goes right through our town. We usually contrive to be on holiday and then end up having to watch it on bar/restaurant screens so we can’t avoid it. Can you tell I’m not a fan 😉

  4. #8 by claire93 on July 6, 2017 - 16:36

    brilliant top and even more brilliant dress! I love the fabric you used for the dress. Colours really suit you, and it’s a very flattering style too.
    I wouldn’t worry about the back neck gaping slightly . . . I mean how often do you walk around with both hands on your head, holding on your hat?
    You are totally redeemed, I’d say.

    • #9 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 16:48

      Thanks Claire. I’d say it depends on how windy it is as to how often I have to hang to to my hat – but then I’d probably need to hold down the swirly skirt too – decisions, decisions!

  5. #10 by Kathy D on July 6, 2017 - 16:57

    Very nice and summery! I have never figured out why designers put zips on the side. They are awkward to zip. I remember when i was – well a lot of years ago – when all skirts and most dresses had them, didn’t matter is they were ready to wear or from a pattern. I think you are too hard on yourself with not matching the print on your daughters dress – you are very talented!

  6. #11 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 17:03

    How kind of you (and a little generous) to say so. Do you think the side zips don’t go all the way to the top of the seam in case the pull catches the skin under your arm? Ouch! It does make inserting the zip a bit more of a faff I found. I must admit I do struggle to do a back zip up all the way to the top if I’m on my own in the house so, in that sense, a side zip is easier I suppose. Swings and roundabouts…..

    • #12 by Kathy D on July 6, 2017 - 17:21

      Into the way-back machine – in the 50’s they had a gizmo (like a back scratcher sort of) that you would attach to the tab to assist in the zipping.

      • #13 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 17:24

        Ooh! Something else to look for in the vintage shops 🙂

  7. #14 by Ann on July 6, 2017 - 17:41

    All look nice and summery and that’s an especially lovely neckline on the last dress. Don’t give roots a second thought… I stumbled upon wig reviews that are all over YouTube these days and surprise, surprise, many COME WITH roots – like they are suddenly desirable!

    • #15 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 18:13

      Thank you, I believe it is ‘view D’ aka the ‘sweetheart’ neckline.
      Desirable roots?! That should save us all some money at the hairdressers.

  8. #16 by craftycreeky on July 6, 2017 - 18:51

    I think they all look great, I think we are way too hard on ourselves trying to make everything perfect, standard RTW is rarely perfect! Love the dress, looks nice and cool. I always hand-stitch zips in as I find it easier and quicker.

    • #17 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 21:06

      I might try that with the next lapped zip I do – at least it’s easier to put right if something goes wrong.

  9. #18 by magpiesue on July 6, 2017 - 19:50

    Let me just say your dress turned out better than it would have in my hands. I think it looks great, cool and summery and absolutely comfortable. Who’s going to notice whether the pattern in your prints match when you’re dazzling them with your sparkling conversation? I’m short too – one reason I gave up making my own clothes as soon as Petite sizing came into being. But you look tall in your photo shoots!

    • #19 by tialys on July 6, 2017 - 21:10

      It’s funny because people often think I’m tall – it used to be because I always wore high heels but that lifestyle is just a memory – I don’t know why it is now.

  10. #20 by Janice Marriott on July 6, 2017 - 22:38

    My goodness, you are prolific these days.Both on the sewing machine and the blog. Well done!

    • #21 by tialys on July 7, 2017 - 08:11

      It’s just how things work out Jan. I’m not one for routine so don’t blog on certain days or anything – it’s just whenever I’ve got something to show or something to say but there’ll be a little gap now as I’ll be off the grid for a short time so that’ll give you all a break 🙂

  11. #22 by Born To Organize on July 7, 2017 - 00:01

    I’m so happy to hear that you have your dress-making mojo back. I love both the shirt and the dress as well as the lovely model/seamstress wearing them. Those are beautiful prints. I wish I had your shapely legs to pull off sorts like that, but I am a fan of dresses. and wear my shirts with Capri pants so all is not lost. Well done!

    • #23 by tialys on July 7, 2017 - 08:20

      Thank you Alys. Those are my around the house and garden shorts – or holiday/vacation shorts – I wouldn’t wear them out and about in town (bearing in mind my mutton comments) but that day was so hot that, even though I knew the clingy top would look better over smoother lines of clothing, I couldn’t muster up the energy to go and change. I’ll swear some people apply full make up, do their hair and employ a professional photographer to come round before they have their photos done for their blogs – in fact I know some that definitely do – but I am not one of them 😉

      • #24 by Born To Organize on July 10, 2017 - 03:13

        I think you’re adorable and if I had your legs, I wouldn’t be bothered by shorts one bit. I have what’s known in my family as the “Milner legs”: full calves that tend to make me self-conscious. That said, I do wear summer dresses and at this age, I know longer give it too much thought or worry. As for pro-pics on the blog, that’s not me either.

  12. #25 by anne54 on July 7, 2017 - 05:14

    I was admiring the model too! Very Vogue, I thought. The clothes are wonderful.My attempts at sewing clothes turn out looking very home made, not like yours. I agree with you about the sleeves ~ a look for someone younger, and even then I wouldn’t be a great fan. Enjoy all your new clothes!

  13. #27 by CurlsnSkirls on July 7, 2017 - 12:58

    Gorgeous work & definitely keep the knit top, sleeves & all! Hope you’ve an enjoyable time off the grid. 😉

    • #28 by tialys on July 7, 2017 - 14:18

      Thank you, I will try my very hardest 😉 – I hope you’ve enjoyed your time ‘off the grid’ too.

  14. #29 by Emma on July 8, 2017 - 01:20

    Those are some super lovely clothes! Very happy and summery ☀️

  15. #31 by KerryCan on July 8, 2017 - 12:42

    Wow–what a comeback! Both the top and the dress are wonderful–I’m always crazy-impressed when someone can sew clothing. And it’s fun to see you the photos–I like having a face to go with your “voice.”

    • #32 by tialys on July 16, 2017 - 09:13

      Thanks Kerry – unlike everybody we’ve just seen on holiday taking endless selfies, I detest having my photo taken so I only put them on the blog if they pass my strict censorship criteria 😉

  16. #33 by PendleStitches on July 8, 2017 - 21:03

    Lovely, lovely dress and tee. And I’m still bemused about the roots situation.

  17. #35 by sew2pro on July 10, 2017 - 21:45

    A fabulous dress, which suits you, and a great fabric with perfect splashes of colour. I agree that next time it could be a bit shorter to fit the waist at its narrowest (I often have to do this adjustment too). If you felt so inclined, or wanted to use less fabric, you could raise the hem too a little bit to show off those legs but all in all a raging success.

    Ready to take on a plaid Zinnia now?

    • #36 by tialys on July 16, 2017 - 09:08

      I’ve marked the pattern so that I remember to do those adjustments next time. The dress pattern is very long – I had to shorten the hem by 5 inches as it was but I’ll shorten it at the proper lines next time. I think it’s supposed to be midi length – but being short I always feel that sort of length swamps me and makes me look frumpy so I usually aim for hitting just at knee level.

  18. #37 by sewchet on July 12, 2017 - 12:00

    Lovely makes that fit really well and, yes, leg o’ mutton sleeves were all the rage in the Eighties (some might say they should stay there….).

  19. #39 by Kim on July 14, 2017 - 19:19

    A lovely dress and t. Don’t worry about the shorts – get out and flaunt them woman, you look great 😃

    • #40 by tialys on July 16, 2017 - 09:05

      Thanks Kim – just got back from holiday and flaunt them I did!

  20. #41 by Thimberlina on October 2, 2017 - 23:47

    Your dress looks fab! I really am impressed by how you’ve gotten back into dressmaking, this looks perfect for a casual day dress or for evenings too, and a steal at £3.99 a metre!

    • #42 by tialys on October 3, 2017 - 08:14

      Thanks – I went outside my comfort zone with that fabric but it does work quite well with that dress I think.

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