Cute as a Button!

I’ve been regularly sewing for a couple of years now, and have finally got to the point where I feel the standard of my finished products are good enough to wear! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got plenty of room for improvement, but I was quite pleased with this dress I finished recently!WIN_20150818_174256

This is a tried and tested pattern that I’ve used several times before, so I always know the fit is going to be good, and I’ve certainly learnt from past mistakes with things such as facing, and inserting the zip. It’s actually a mix of two patterns – the top is from a 50s style dress (New Look pattern 6223), whereas the bottom is a mini skirt pattern from The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric book. Luckily, the waistband size on both parts wasn’t too far off, and the darts in the back even match up!

I decided to add some cute buttons to the waistband to add a bit of detail (and also to disguise a tiny pleat I had to put in to make the seams of the top and bottom half match up), but I’m pretty happy with the finished product.

WIN_20150818_173951What’s even better is that the total cost of this was well under five pounds. I picked the fabric up in a remnant shop for £2 and still have enough left over for something else (possibly a scatter cushion or two?). The buttons were from a craft set I already had, but can be picked up for a few pence in a haberdashery. The only other things I needed were a zip and some bias binding for the arms and neck.

Yes, it may take a bit more time and effort to do-it-yourself rather than buying from the high street, but patterns like this are fairly simple once you get the hang of it, and you’ll have a unique dress at the end (no chance of turning up at the pub in the same outfit as your friend)!

Here’s my top tips for dressmaking:

  • Choose a fabric you like, but also that you can see yourself wearing (I’ve often got these two things confused and made a skirt out of something that should clearly only be used for a tablecloth).
  • Don’t be afraid to find a pattern you know and stick with it; I’ve got a couple of dresses in this style now, and several others with the same top half, but a pleated or pencil skirt bottom half in varying lengths.
  • If, like me, you find facing for the arm holes and neckline tricky, and reluctant to sit flat, use bias binding instead. It’s far less hassle and produces a tidy result every time.
  • Have patience. Take the time to overlock or zig-zag inside seams to stop fraying – you don’t want all your hard work going to waste in that first machine wash.
  • Try it on! Especially before taking up the hem. I’ve accidentally chopped off too much fabric more than once, and there’s no going back!

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