Something pretty from Pudleston
For my next project for White Tree Fabrics, I decided to make something for a friend, which in turn challenges me! I have never made a dress from pattern before so this project was going to be a first for me on so many levels.
My friend, Charli, sent over her measurements and her ideal choice of fabrics and patterns. I set the mannequin to her size and away I go…I used the following for the challenge:
I picked a Vogue V8766, in which you can make up to six styles of dress. I decided to try and recreate the floaty one in the main picture.
Step one was cutting out the various pieces of fabric (both lace and satin) to fit. This is a first for me using both fabric types, both were relatively easy to cut, although be careful of the satin as it snags, and frays very easily.
To prepare myself for the construction of the garment I re-watched the Great British Sewing Bee episode with lace, and also referred to a few reference books on the best way to work it.
Working on the bodice I inserted the darts into both the front and back pieces of both types of fabric. Sewing the fronts and the backs together (leaving the back open for the zip insertion). Working on the lace bodice I inserted the pleated sleeves. Then added the skirt pieces to the bottom of the bodice. Note, there is a lot of fabric to deal with through the machine due to the cut.
Here is when I went a bit off pattern, as the length suggested for the skirt would have come between knee and ankle – not always a flattering angle for ladies. So I cut the skirt 6 inches shorter than suggested. One of the ways that I tried to keep the hem the same shape was to cut a piece of string the length of what I was aiming for, holding it at the join to the bodice and cutting as I turn the mannequin.
Leaving the back completely open I decided to try and neaten up the insides of the dress, the lace dress due to the fact that all seams can be seen, and the satin because of how much it frayed! This took me in total about 5 hours to hand sew and neaten up the edges. I could have machine sewn it if they were less delicate fabrics.
To cover the arm holes of the satin (underskirt) the pattern suggested hemming them, but this just puckered the shape of the arm, so I made some bias binding and attached this to the arms as they still can be visibly seen through the lace dress.
I waited for a fitting with my friend, Charli, before I even attempted inserting the zip (which in my head was going to be a hard task). I pinned the places where the fabric met, and then set about inserting the zip.
First I sewed the bottom of the dress (individually the lace and satin separately) up to the desired length of where the zip ends.
I basted the satin and the lace together to the desired fit so they didn’t slip around, and then I basted the zip on either sides of the opening, turning the basted fabrics over so the neaten edge lay exactly where the line of the zip was, repeated on both sides. I decided to sew the zip in by hand, using very fine backstitching, again, if this had gone through the machine I think it would have ruined ‘the look’.
I inserted a hook and eye in the top neckline. And tidied up the inside of the zip. Then I hemmed the neckline, the pattern suggested using bias binding, but I felt that this would ruin the lace look, so I decided to do a roll hem, catching both fabrics and doing invisible stitches, this has made the neckline slightly bulky but I think the look is much better.
Finally all was left to do is hem the satin skirt, now, looks can be deceiving and this took me over 4 hours to do as there is more fabric than you think!
Overall, I took my time over things and hand sewed when I had too which meant that the sew wasn’t necessarily difficult, just time consuming. I have loved making this and using new skills, and hopefully it will provide a pretty present for my pretty friend Charli.
- The lace fabric was fine to work with, It didn’t fray and doesn’t need hemming.
- The construction of the dress was quite straight forward, so much so I didn’t use the pattern instructions that much.
- For lace pattern matching this lace is perfect, as it has a big bold pattern.
- I feel that the colours work well together, with the white satin shining through the green lace.
- The pattern, again, was very vague. As I said above the best way to make the construction is to use common sense.
- There were minimal instructions for inserting a zip, so have a practice before hand.
- You need a lot of patience to work with satin, as soon as you cut it, it frays.