Tag Archives: dressmaking

Weekend crafting, 11-12 January

I’m happy to say that I managed to do my hour each of sewing and spinning this weekend with no problems at all. Unfortunately, the sewing was finishing off last week’s Sekrit Project, so no pictures, but the spinning involved plying the Polwarth I’d been working on and it’s come out beautifully.


I think I got about 90m from my 100g of fibre, pre-washing, so that’s definitely going in the right direction! I love how the colours have come out.

In lieu of any actual pictures of the sewing, here’s some gratuituous yarn porn instead – all the different rainbow yarns and fibre that have arrived in my house in the last week.


(From the back, that’s KnitPicks Felici from Great British Yarns, fibre and mini skeins from the Yarn Yard, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock from Modern Knitting and merino sock yarn from Old Maiden Aunt in a rainbow colourway dyed up specially for the run-up to the Sochi Olympics.)

Next week I will start to think about dressmaking again. I am planning a party to celebrate my 40th birthday in May and it would be lovely to make a dress to wear to that. I have a copy of Simplicity 2444 and I think that would make a lovely party dress, if only I can manage to make it fit me.


This isn’t the outfit I was planning to wear today; I bought a couple of new tops yesterday (in Debenhams, which has lots of nice tops, so clearly I was just looking in the wrong shops – I do have a tendency to stick to the same two or three and forget that others are available, which is silly, especially as two of my current regulars are Fat Face and Monsoon and neither tends to have clothes that fit me) and was planning to wear one of those, but then I spotted the Lisette Market Blouse I made a couple of years ago and thought I’d wear that instead.


Long-term readers (or anyone who’s clicked on the link above) will remember that I made the blouse using the standard pattern size that matched my measurements, was horrendously disappointed by the fit, then managed to rescue it with the addition of the patterned bottom band and waist tie. Well, I say rescue, but given that I made it almost two years ago and I think I’ve worn it once before today, I clearly wasn’t actually that happy with it. Though really, it’s not that bad. It’s not a great fit, but it’s no worse than most of the other tops in my wardrobe. If I made another one I’d drop a size on the shoulders and add a full bust adjustment, but it’s wearable as it is. So maybe I’m not actually that far away from making wearable tops.

Now, if only the weather would cool down a bit so I could bear to sit in the same room as the iron and do some sewing! At the moment even knitting with non-wool yarn is a bit of a struggle…

Summery simplicity

Today’s outfit was exactly the kind of outfit I was thinking of when I wrote yesterday’s post. Smart enough for work but comfortable, colourful and fun at the same time.


Cardigan – Gap
Necklace – Accessorize
Top – M&S
Skirt – made by me
Shoes – Shuropody

What I could really do with making is wintery versions of the things I’m wearing here. The main reason my winter work wardrobe has become so dress-focused is that it’s been a real struggle to find tops that work with skirts and aren’t either very casual-looking or the kind of acrylic knits that build up a huge static charge and make my hair stand on end, and there haven’t been many skirts around either. Maybe I should be thinking about more plain tees in nice heavier-weight jersey and skirts in heavier fabrics to wear with them and not the vague project of making dresses when I’m not even really sure what style would work best for me.

Making and wearing

A couple of things I’ve read recently have made me think about the clothes I choose to wear for work, and how my plans to make more of my own clothes intersect with that. One of them was Dolly Clackett‘s Me-Made May roundup post, and especially her comment about how the challenge has made her realise that the way she sews fits with her body and her lifestyle; I can’t think of a better sewing ambition than to be able to say that myself. And the other was a post I read about dress codes, written by a man who commented that in his workplace, he felt that the dress code for women was less strict than the dress code for men as women could wear t-shirts while men had to wear shirts (although not ties).


Shrug – Lyttelton
Necklace – Fairtrade shop
Top – Monsoon
Skirt – made by me
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker

Unusually for me, I was wearing a skirt with a woven top for work today, rather than a jersey top or a dress. And it made me think about the post I’d read, and how fitted t-shirts really are a perfectly acceptable part of smart-casual workwear for women. Maybe that isn’t fair, when men are expected to wear shirts, but then again men’s workwear is much more straightforward; trousers, shirt, a tie and/or a jacket for smartness, and women’s clothing is much more complicated. Yes, t-shirts are OK, but not all t-shirts. And the same clothes can be smart and work-appropriate on one woman, too casual on another, and inappropriately sexy on a third, depending on body type. And actually, a smart jersey top or fitted t-shirt with a skirt is an outfit that works for me, whereas woven tops don’t. And although I’ve been thinking that that’s because of fitting issues and if I can only learn to adjust patterns to fit me properly it will open up a whole new world of clothing to me, it’s clearly not as simple as just adjusting for my bust size and maybe jersey tops are always going to fit me better. And while I really admire Dolly Clackett’s fabulous dresses, I’m older than her and a different size and shape and what works for her isn’t going to work for me; I have lots of dresses but my favourites are the jersey ones. So maybe I should concentrate on sewing the things I know work for me, and not experimenting with trying to create my own versions of clothes I would never buy in the shops?

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Following my great nipple epiphany a few weeks ago, I thought I’d have another go at doing a full bust adjustment on the Colette Sorbetto.

FBA 020613

Using the actual position of my nipples as the bust apex puts the adjustment point a lot further out from the centre front, which actually makes it seem like a much smaller adjustment; I increased the front width by an inch which added a good inch to the depth of the dart, but almost nothing to the length of the front, and the armhole kept its shape much better too. It’s definitely an improvement on last time, when the darts were far too long. I think it looks pretty good from the front now.

FBA 020613

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same for the other angles.

FBA 020613

I think I probably need to go up a size before I start adjusting; the back is definitely too narrow and there’s pulling across the upper chest as well, even though the size I started with this time is the one that should fit my high bust measurement and that’s what all the tutorials tell me to go for.

FBA 020613

I suspect the darts could do with being a little bit higher, too. But hey, it’s progress!


Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter suggests that the best way to figure out your body shape and fitting needs is to take a photo of yourself in fairly form-fitting clothes, draw horizontal lines at the shoulders, bust, waist (or narrowest part of the torso) and hips, and then compare their length. Azzy has been posting her pictures, and it struck me that the pictures I took of my Birgitte tee with jeans probably showed my figure off well enough, so I thought I’d have a go.

F2F shape

The shoulder line is a bit approximate, but it’s clear that despite wearing a GG-cup bra, from the fron my bust isn’t a lot wider than my shoulders. My waist is (a) very high and (b) not particularly small, both of which I knew, but the bottom half of my torso is actually quite a lot wider than the top, which comes as rather a surprise when I have always thought of my chest as being far and away my most prominent feature.

Amy also suggests looking at a side view, and handily I also have this deeply unflattering picture from the Birgitte photoshoot.

Birgitte - side view

Apart from showing that I should really have done a forward shoulder adjustment, I can see that my bust is far more prominent from the side (as, sadly is my stomach) and that I have a serious sway back (which probably doesn’t help with the appearance of my stomach, really).

In terms of translating this to clothing, well, I obviously need to add fabric across my front and take it away across my back, and my waist is high enough that the waistlines of most garments will be in the wrong place. And maybe I should give up on my dream of having a wardrobe full of lovely full-skirted Fifties-style frocks like Dolly Clackett‘s, which I suspect would only exacerbate my lack of waist and larger bottom half, and look for patterns with more gentle shaping that might suit my figure better.


Today’s cashmere cardi, wool dress and knee-high boots really felt more like an outfit for January than April, but it’s still freezing cold and was trying to snow earlier. I really don’t know what’s happened to spring this year.


Cardigan – charity shop
Dress – Boden
Tights – M&S
Boots – Duo

This dress is a much straighter shape than I’d normally go for, especially in a woven fabric, but somehow it works. I have been giving quite a bit of thought to what shapes of clothing actually work for me recently, partly in preparation for the pattern cutting course (if I’m going to end up with my ideal summer frock it will probably help if I start out with some idea of what that ideal actually is!) and partly because I recently bought Amy Herzog‘s new book, Knit to Flatter (I’m not normally a big fan of body-shape driven advice on what to wear, but I have had the disappointing experience of knitting myself things which really don’t suit me before now, and given how long it takes to knit a garment I’m not keen to repeat it, and Amy’s advice is less you-must-wear-this and more ‘these things will do x, and draw focus to y body part, and if you would rather the focus was on z body part try that instead’. And there are some very pretty cardigan patterns in the book, too). I know that I tend to gravitate towards fitted tops and full or A-line skirts, open cardigans or jackets rather than buttoned ones, and fit-and-flare dresses, but when I look at the pictures of me wearing this dress I wonder how much of that is just because that’s what I’ve always worn and felt comfortable in. When it comes down to it, I’m not sure I really have the faintest idea about why some things make me look better than others (or at least make me feel that I look better, which is not necessarily the same thing). And while I think that my perfect summer frock would have a fitted bodice, sleeves and a full skirt (something like Simplicity 2444 or the Sewaholic Cambie if it had proper sleeves), would that really suit me? Honestly, I have no idea. And sometimes I think life was easier before I started being interested in clothes…