Sunday, September 5

Sewing project!

So the other day I attempted a new sewing project. I'm very new to "proper" sewing - I've had a sewing machine for years but nothing much came of it apart from lots of jammed thread and about one half decent skirt. However, earlier this year I got sent a link to this DIY couture pattern for a pleated skirt. Now I really can't recommend this pattern enough - in terms of instructions, it's easy to understand without being patronising, and results in a quality of tailoring that's hard to find in plus size shops.

More importantly, what I loved about the instruction book was that, unlike sewing patterned which are strictly sized and hard to adapt, it was size-less. You work out your own measurements, so it's a guide that really can be used by anyone with access to a sewing machine. You can pick up some fabric from a market (my local has stalls that I've gotten fabric for £1 a metre before) or buy some curtains or a duvet from a charity shop or car boot and make something which is truly lasting and well fitting from them. It's revolutionary!

The skirt I made can be seen here on my flickr stream. I had some old 60s curtains, bagged for a reasonable £2 from a charity shop, and decided to dust them off for a more public viewing.

DIY couture have a whole bunch of books available for a reasonable price, including books for capes, kaftans, dresses, jumpsuits and trousers, and when I next have pennies, I'll definitely be buying one.

Anyway, since discovering that pattern, I've made another skirt from an old tartan wool skirt bagged for £2 from a charity shop. Since both were successes I decided to spend some pennies on a proper pattern and try to make a dress. I found vintage vogue pattern V8615, from Vogue's easy range, in my local haberdashery shop, which looks like this:

The pattern only went up to a vintage 24 (which equates to about a modern UK 20), but because of my smaller boobs and the full skirt, I thought it would be possible to work with even though I'm about 5" bigger than the waist and hip measurements. I didn't enlarge the pattern, but I did work with smaller seam allowances to leave me with more fabric left. This was a bit of a haphazard approach, but I'm definitely not experienced enough to be redrafting it entirely!

The pattern consisted of 6 separate parts which were cut twice each. I decided to forego the sleeves and the pockets, as I felt the fabric I had was more suited to a sleeveless style (and the pockets were a bit unneccesary). The pattern also called for lining, but I scrapped that too. Oh, and the zip, because when I got to the point where I needed to insert one, I realised that it was easy enough to pull it over my head without needing to zip.

So here is the result:

The fabric was a pair of curtains from a charity shop, which I paid £4 for. It's a heavy duty cotton, so comfortable and sturdy. I paid about £8 for the pattern, so in total paid £12 for what is pretty much the perfect summer dress for me.

The bodice was made of four pieces from two different pieces of the pattern, and involved two darts on the front and two on the back. It was my first time working with darts, and it was challenging but ultimately definitely worthwhile, as it looks like the 50s sundress of my dreams! The skirt is a classic circle skirt, with four panels and a fitted waist. Whilst it was definitely a step up from anything I'd made before, this was definitely a lot easier than anticipated, and I'd recommend it for anyone with some basic or average sewing skills.

Yesterday evening, I dressed it up to go to see Inception at the cinema.

I've been loving the reappearance of ankle socks this year, and scored some cream and gold sparkly polka dot socks from Primark the other day, so it seemed like a good night to try it out!

Dress, handmade - cost about £12 to make including pattern
Tan belt, my old stock, £free
Ankle socks - £1 per pair, Primark
Nude brogues - £12, Primark


  1. That dress is *awesome*! You're super!

  2. Holy hell, that dress is fantastic! You look stunning.

  3. Oh my gosh, you're awesome! The dress is fab and so is the skirt. Now I'm planning to make myself the skirt as well :) Thanks!

  4. Thank you all! Also, Meg, I'm so glad someone else is trying it, you won't regret it :)

  5. I just found your blog via bicyclette. Beautiful dress. Nice job!

  6. you've done a fantastic job!

  7. i have this pattern too and i haven't broken it out yet but it looks so cute here on you i just might have to make it my spring goal! :) I found your blog from a friend who shared your bicycling post in google reader. You are super cute!