And back to the dressmaking...

Firstly, thank you so much for the bath mat enthusiasm - if you're interested in making your own then do take a look in the comments section as Kerry gives a rather wonderful tip about some latex backing that also gives a non-slip effect. I said in my last post that I've been dressmaking this week. I'm wondering whether making a 'muslin' is the correct term for a trial run when the garment is made of a stretch perhaps toile is a better word, but this is just one of the many toiles that I've run up this week, and I actually decided to hem and bind this one as I think it's probably wearable (or at least I hope it is, as I've been wearing it today).

You might remember the liberty fabric from this post, well, I've been determined not to cut into it until I have the perfect jersey dress pattern. I started the week by drafting patterns myself and I think there might be a few toiles in amongst my experiments that might be made wearable there too (all in plain black or navy knit), however, when I was looking through my favourites on Flickr one night I was reminded of Mame's beautiful dress and then found that she'd also made this one which I think that I love even more. The pattern for Mame's dress came from the Built by Wendy Sew U Home Stretch book...a book which was already on my shelf. At that point I abandoned all the patterns that I'd been drafting myself and broke into the Built by Wendy pattern envelope at the back of the book.

Using this book, as opposed to just reading it, was such a revelation. I have to admit that I hadn't originally been impressed by it - it seemed too basic and simplistic and wasn't quite what I'd hoped for, which is why I hadn't mentioned it on my blog before now. However, I was so, so, thoroughly wrong about this book: it is wonderful. I think I'd completely missed the point of the book. The patterns are simple, but they're created this way deliberately so that you can change which bits you use to produce several different dress designs - the individual pieces almost work as pattern blocks to be built upon. They are also perfectly cut. While the next time I make this dress I will substantially alter the skirt element of the dress, I have never had a top half of a dress fit me quite so perfectly - I love it. My measurements are smaller than the sizes given for the extra small option, but I think the patterns are either meant to fit very tightly or run a little small, as while the top half fits perfectly, I would say that the skirt portion could do with a little more room in there as I'd prefer less clingyness across the stomach and bottom areas which need a little more concealment for me to feel entirely comfortable. Life is less fun when you have to remember to keep your stomach muscles held taut.

I am also in love with Wendy's design at the shoulders, which calls for extreme gathering to create the puffed sleeves effect - it prohibits easy cardigan wearing, but the end result is that the dress feels special and unlike something I might find at the shops. Wendy, you completely rock.

These are the variations I'd like to try next with this pattern if I manage to find the time and material to make it three more times:
  1. Make a gathered skirt section that skims the stomach more for those days when one wakes to the feeling that one may have unexpectedly acquired a small watermelon in one's tummy.
  2. Create a dropped waist and a self-fabric thick wrap belt that ties at the side for ultimate problem area concealment
  3. Make the main body of the dress from one whole piece of material, rather than sewing together a bodice and skirt portion and make the bottom half a little more A-line.
The BBW knit dress could just run and run...
Wishing you a lovely weekend,

Ps. Sorry for the slightly gloomy and dark photos - they were taken at 7am by Mr Teacakes in between his spoonfuls of cornflakes.


  1. Ooh, well this is exciting because I too have the Sew U Home Stretch book, and I too was a little underwhelmed by it.

    And also I have only read it and not actually made anything from it. So I shall have to sort that out as soon as possible. I do like patterns that you can fiddle about with to get just the right fit. Heather Ross's clothes patterns in Weekend Sewing are just like that I find.

    Love the contrast binding round the neck of your dress. Leaves the whole thing pleasingly simple yet with a touch of drama!

    N x

  2. OH this dress is simple and chic! I really like the sleeves:)
    Now I am looking at the book on Amazon... want!!

  3. It looks great Florence, can't wait to see your final dress in THE fabric!

  4. Ooh, I bought some BBW patterns a while ago but haven't yet plucked up the will to tackle the measurements/adjustments issue and actually make something... Your recommendation might be just the thing to spur me on - thanks!

  5. Very lovely Florence and as ever I love your choice of binding. Have a lovely weekend x

  6. That dress is so lovely, especially the shoulders - I'm definitely going to check that book out! :)

  7. Florence, you have a habit of distracting me from what you are doing. I am sure that you have far too many lovely clothes!!!! I have been promising myself to make a skirt for the past month or so, but have so much other stuff to do...

  8. Oh how marvellous - and to think you were afraid of knits. I only ever made a simple t-shirt from the book in an effort to conquer fear of the overlocker but I think it does a brilliant job of leading you to water.

  9. The dress looks lovely, florence. I am getting my overlocker in the end of this month and am now wondering whether I should get the BBW book as well. I love the binding around the neckline.Really looking forward to seeing the "real" dress!

  10. I think it's your fab figure as much as the dress, Florence!! If I had your figure I would definitely stick to the pattern being fitted around the tummy and hips. The style is so demure that it's the contrast with the very fitted silhouette that makes it look amazing, in my opinion.

  11. I'm so pleased to know that you'd felt the same, Nancy. That must be so irritating to be the author of a very practical based book and have all these people dismissing it, mustn't it...I must try and force myself to do projects from them before making judgements.

    Ophelia & Lucy - thank you so much - definitely worth the investment, but this one does only cover knits - I can't remember whether I pointed this out in my actual post - so all the patterns come with a 1/4" seam allowance included as they're assuming you'll be using an overlocker, which is really handy.

    Nina Y - thank you for so clearly identifying are infact the only Nina...but in my head the names Nina and Amy had somehow become merged...that must be because they both have an A in them, that rarely used letter that when it occurs makes things seem strangely similar....oh dear. Am sure there are some wires in my brain that don't connect up properly.

    Pukka Pinnies - my wardrobe isn't quite full yet so there's room for a few more & I'm all for some midnight dressmaking if the daytime hours don't present themselves!

    Mama Elf - hurrah! How exciting. I think it's a good book to buy because of the patterns having an overlocker-sized seam built into them of 1/4" - I've never used an envelope pattern for something intended to be made from stretch fabrics, so don't know whether this is standard, but it came as a happy surprise to me, even though it of course makes perfect sense.

    Anonymous - that's very kind...however, I think the reason that I'd rather there was a little more material is due to the fact that Big Knickers had to be worn with this dress to avoid looking too lumpy and bumpy! I'd rather create dresses that work with all potential knicker options, however, I'm delighted that they temporarily assisted in giving the illusion of a fabulous figure! Thank you.

    Thank you so much for all your lovely comments...unfortunately the real dress may take a little longer to come as I've been temporarily distracted by another project...of the male dressmaking (or should that be tailoring?) variety.



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Florence x