One of my favourite things about sewing is being able to sew things in styles I already know I like without looking in stores forever to find something. This dress was copied off a similar shift dress I already own.  My checked ‘schoolgirl’ dress is one of my favourite winter dresses as really like the shape. I also love denim dresses and wanted to do something with this denim I had. Hence, It made sense to me to  copy the dress I owned instead of buy a pattern or a new dress. This wasn’t too hard as the dress I copied is actually a children’s size dress, so it’s made simply with little shaping. 

To do this I traced the main pattern pieces of the dress directly onto this fabric from Spotlight. (This fabric is super useful for tracing double sided patterns, making toiles and copying clothes so is a good fabric to always have a stash of. I usually buy a few metres of it when Spotlight has a sale so I’m always well stocked!) It’s a little tricky to trace the sleeves but possible if you flip them up so that you can follow the curve of the seam allowance when tracing and then cut the pattern piece you traced on the fold. 

After tracing I added seam allowance as it’s a little easier when the dress isn’t in the way and I can lay the fabric completely flat. My little ‘sewing hack’ for this is to use a ~2cm wide strip of paper with the desired seam allowance marked and place this along the no seam allowance pattern pieces at intervals and mark. Then just connect the dots and cut out. This just speeds up the process a little more than if a ruler was used. I then cut my pattern pieces from the fabric. 

I followed a standard dress construction method finishing the seams using a zig zag stitch, hemming the sleeves and bottom of the dress and using bias binding to finish the neckline. I added a keyhole opening at the back as I didn’t want to insert a zipper. The button is one I bought in Japan a few years ago and has a deer on it. The shop I got it from was a super cute florist that also sold buttons. It’s nice to remember it when I wear this dress.  I also decided to add some patch pockets on the front to add some interest as the dress is quite simple on it’s own. As always, when I’m sewing something I haven’t done before, I referred back to  ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes for instructions to do this. I could not speak highly enough of this book. She uses patch pockets in the Margot Pj Pants that I adapted to use for this dress. 

Being able to make new clothes using existing RTW items is a really useful skill to know and makes it easy to make clothes you know are in your style and fit well without a whole load of guesswork, especially for simpler items like this dress. I know I’ll be making lots of copies of my existing clothes in the future. 

Fabric- about 2 meters of a heavy weight denim from Spotlight

Pattern- Traced off a RTW dress I own

This was my first, and also as yet only, big 4 pattern I’ve ever made. I always get put off by the sometime questionable styling choices on the packages and daunted by the sheer amount of patterns they offer. This pattern I saw in a Frankie magazine and it was made up in a similarly bright cotton for a Spotlight advertisement.  If I had  not seen the dress presented this way I doubt I would have chosen this pattern even though I do have a few dresses in a similar shape in my wardrobe. 

I made this dress 2 years ago when my  grandma bought me sewing lessons for Christmas. Without the help of someone really experienced I likely could not have completed this. If you live in south east Melbourne I would highly recommend Sue from Sew Good with Sue who was really lovely and helped me learn so much about sewing through her skills and attention to detail. This made the dress a great learning experience as it has button holes, zippers, lining, pleats, pockets, interfacing and back and bust darts, none of which I had done before this dress. Now I’m super glad I picked this dress to make as I learnt so so much.

Overall I’m super happy with this dress as it’s a little more formal than the rest of my handmade wardrobe and I love the pleated skirt and pockets. This dress a little shorter than I would have liked (a mistake I’ve made often) as I think the pleated skirt might sit a little better had it been longer. 

I think I’ll continue to mostly use patterns from indie designers  because it’s always much easier to work out what the finished garment will look like due to the styling of the clothing, plenty of different makes on social media and the detailed instructions that make the entire process so much easier. Also, as I normally buy PDF patterns as it’s sometimes cheaper for me to buy this way. That said this dress did work out really well so maybe I’ll give another pattern from one of the Big 4 a go.

Pattern- Simplicity 2215

Fabric- printed cotton from Spotlight.

This is the first Papercut pattern I’d made and I  learnt a few new techniques in making this dress.   I would highly recommend this dress for sewers who are just starting because there is nothing too tricky in it like zips, bias hemming  or darts (elements that I always try to avoid or leave last in a project). It uses the burrito method to attach the facing, which although seems a little daunting at first, is super easy. I’ve added this technique into many other projects since as it makes the insides look very clean with minimal effort.

I love this dress as it has pockets and hangs well. The only problem I do have with this pattern is that it’s very short, so  I haven’t got as much wear from this dress as I thought it would. Next time I make this pattern, which I’m sure will be as I loved making it and really do like the pattern, I will make sure to add a few inches to the hem to make it a little bit more wearable.

However, apart from the length, the style is a perfect wardrobe addition because depending on the fabric it can be worn dressed up with heels as I have in the photos or just to the beach with sandals as a bather coverup, as it’s nice and floaty.

This dress has become an unexpected favorite in my wardrobe. I never had a very clear idea of what this dress was to be when I started it and the dress constantly evolved over the sewing process. I had two meters left of a blue and white striped rayon from another project and wanted to make a flowy dress that would be easy to wear. I did a bit of Pinterest searching for inspiration and ended up with this blend of a few dresses I saw. This dress is made of  three rectangles so is a great simple design that made with rayon (which has a fair amount of drape) allowed for a little bit of my dodgy underarm stitching to be covered up.

  1. Cut three rectangles of fabric. One that is twice the height of the sleeve x length from end of each sleeve (I just used the entire width of the fabric and hemmed later). Cut two rectangles the width of body rectangles x length of skirt. Remember to include seam and hemming allowances in measurements. 
  2. Cut neck hole in bodice rectangle by folding it in half twice to find the middle point then opening it up and tracing an oval around this point. My neckhole has an 8cm radius and was 13cm deep at the front and 3cm deep and the back.
  3. Measure to find the desired width of the body and sew from either end of the body piece to create sleeves, I sewed 33cm in for mine. 
  4. Gather the top length of the skirt pieces to the width of the body.
  5. Sew the skirts together along the side seams.
  6. Attach skirt to bodice. At the point where the skirt and top meet under the arms there is a large bulk of fabric due to three seams meeting so it is helpful to cut down these seams and maybe hand sew a bit at the point just to make it look a little bit cleaner. You could also sew a little higher as indicated in the dotted line on the diagram and trim seam allowance to further eliminate this bulk if it makes the sleeves hang badly. 
  7. Cut a V shaped slit in the middle back of the neck hole 10cm long.  Sew the long stripes of fabric right sides in lengthways to create 2 long tubes. Turn inside out and sew to the tops of the neck hole V slit on either side.
  8. Finish nec khole (I used bias binding) and hem armholes and skirt.

This dress ended up super flowy and exactly what I needed in my summer wardrobe. Although it took me 5 days of procrastination to finally finish the seams and hem I am very glad I got it done with plenty of summer left so I can wear it often!

Pattern- Self Drafted

Fabric – Spotlight

It’s summer and with no school there is plenty of time for sewing. This is a quick, easy and inexpensive dress  to make that is perfect for the holidays.  

 

My inspiration for this dress was threefold – gingham, nostalgia and mum! I’ve loved all the gingham I’ve been seeing round this summer and really wanted to make something gingham for my own wardrobe. On my last day of high school Mum showed me this photo of my first day of kindergarten and I thought the dress I was wearing was sweet. Finally, I also really liked this khaki dress my mum has worn during the summer which had a similar shape however slightly more grown up than what I wore when I was 3 years old.

 

I self drafted this dress which was a little bit daunting and took a little bit of trial and error. I had multiple attempts at shaping the top of the dress as I cut it too wide initially. However I suppose its better to have it too large than too small.

It’s a basic two piece garment, one front and one back piece which were cut identically. I then cut about 10cm off the top of the back dress piece in order to have the back sit a little lower than the front of the dress and added vents to the side seams for ease of movement.

I created bust darts unscientifically by measuring them out while I wore the dress. I would not advocate for this method and would be a little more careful next time maybe tracing the darts of an existing pattern I know works for me. The darts were not exactly right initially and I took a few attempts and a few days of procrastination avoiding doing them!

I really like the buttons that hold the straps on and they allow me to get into the dress as I didn’t include a zip. However, in hindsight, I should have put buttonholes on the dress and buttons on the straps so that the end of the straps would not be seen, making it a little cleaner. Now I know for next time as I am sure I’ll end up making another dress like this.

This dress is really easy to wear, very breathable and allows for movement and has become on of my favorite outfits that I’ve sewn.

 

FABRIC:      Premium cotton gingham from Spotlight.  2 metres. https://www.spotlightstores.com/by-the-metre/premium-cotton-gingham/p/BP80281690

PATTERN:  Self drafted