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!
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.
What’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!