Let’s treat this dress like a cautionary tale, the story of what happens when you use terrible fabric and rush the sewing. I should know better than this by now, right? You’d think so, but clearly I don’t. Blargh.
Plans went awry. My first mistake was in my fabric choice, as it so often is. This fabric came from the clearance section at Joann’s some time ago, and is of dubious quality. Coarse and stiff, with little to now give. It’s a rather wide fabric, I didn’t measure it, but definitely wider than anything I’ve worked with before. Here you can see that it’s a double sided border print, the same on both ends. The print is kinda wild, and I REALLY thought I’d done an okay job pattern matching. Folks, that’s clearly not the case 🙁
My second mistake was with the pattern. This is a vintage pattern I purchased here, on a vintage pattern buying spree. What can I say, I’m really into the 70’s look lately. The thing with vintage patterns, though, is that sometimes you have to grade them. It can be a little impossible to get the exact size you need. Well, I decided to cut this one late night, and guess what I forgot to do? That’s right, grade the pattern. I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late, so I had to add little “expansion triangles” at the side seams to make it fit. This pattern needs to fit just so, and the unforgiving fabric just wasn’t cooperating, so we have weird creasing at the underbust facing. WHATEVER MAN. I managed to finish the dress and learned some lessons. That’s good enough for me! Here’s to hoping for more success with my next project, another vintage Etsy find, Vogue 8181. Happy sewing 🙂
I am so excited to see your maxis already rolling in! You guys are killing it. For those of you who haven’t selected a pattern yet, no worries. I’ve got some great woven ideas for ya! If knits are more your thing, head on over to That’s Sew Amy for some inspiration. Enough chatter, let’s get to the patterns…
The Anna Dress from our lovely sponsor, By Hand London is an obvious choice. This pattern is mega popular with sewists of varying body types, so you know it would look great on you. Also, I would LOVE to see a sheer version of this. Seriously. Make one so I don’t have to 😉
My love for the SewaholicLonsdale is well documented (here and here), but I’ve never made a maxi length version! It’s on my list, perhaps it should be on yours too? The Saltspring , also from Sewaholic, is another great option!
Vogue has some great options this season as well. Pictured above is 9253, but I’d also love to see 9259 as a dress.
If vintage patterns are more your thing, maybe give Simplicity 7484 A try. I made it for last year’s sewalong and it’s one of my most worn garments! Several Etsy shops carry it, highly recommend!
Speaking of past maxis, McCall’s7119 is super cute and such an easy sew. I’d definitely recommend this one to a beginner.
If you were stumped before, I hope you’re feeling a bit more inspired now! If deciding on a fabric is holding you up, stay tuned, next week we’ll talk fabric. Don’t forget, the deadline isn’t until July 27th at noon, so you still have plenty of time to stitch up your garment. I have to say, I’m jealous of whoever wins the prize fromFinch Fabrics or By Hand London. I’ll be sharing your makes on Instagram and in the Facebook group throughout the sewalong, so make sure you check there! Happy sewing 🙂
Amy of That’s Sew Amy and I are super stoked to announce the return of maxi dress sewalong! We’ve got some great sponsors this year, and I can’t wait to reveal my fabric and pattern to you guys! SPEAKING OF SPONSORS THOUGH…
We are mega happy to announce LA Finch Fabrics as a sponsor this year! They’ve kindly offered a $50 gift card to one of drawing winners. How cool is that?? Free fabric is the best fabric, amirite?
The ever lovely ladies at By Hand London are also a sponsor this year. If you know me, you know how much I love their patterns. That’s why I’m thrilled to be able to give away a By Hand London pattern, of the winner’s choosing.
If you’d like to display a badge on your blog, use the above image or imbed using this link. Look for blog posts from Amy and I in the coming weeks, we’ll be posting fabric and pattern inspiration for ya! And of course, reveling our own selections, way stoked about that! Below are some rules and information, please do feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns!
What is considered a maxi dress? A dress that falls to the ankles.
Will there be a winner? At the end of the sewalong, I will draw two winners live on my Instagram. No contest or judging, just sheer luck!
Who can participate? Everyone and everyone! You can submit your photos of your dress by using the hashtag #maxsewalong2017 on Instagram, by posting photos to the Facebook group, or you can e-mail me directly. Whatever you feel most comfortable with! If you do a blog post for your maxi, please let Amy or I know, we love to see your makes! If you share your maxi on social media, please use the hashtag #maxisewalong2017 so I can see it! Your account will also need to be public, for the same reason. I can’t enter you in the drawing if I can’t see your submission 🙂
Time frame: The sewalong will run from July 1st to July 27th (my birthday), be sure to send in your picture by noon on July 27, 2017 (EST)!
Why? For the fun of it! I love seeing all your makes, so much inspiration!
Rules: Dress must be for you. It has to be made within the time frame above. You can use any pattern you wish or draft your own. Adding embellishments to a current maxi dress will not count. The dress can be as formal or casual as you want. You have to submit pictures of your finished dress. I know taking pictures of your self can be uncomfortable, so you definitely don’t have to be wearing the dress in the photos – but it makes it more fun!
Social Media: Use hashtag #maxisewalong2017 on social media to see what everyone else is up to. Post inspiration and progress photos for everyone to see.
I’m deeming this the summer of the wrap dress. I love how comfortable they are to wear, and how easy they are to make. They’re super flattering, and can expand a bit if I go too hard with the snacks, which I absolutely will do. They can be fabric hogs, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Orsola isn’t such a fabric hog, she comes in around 4 1/2 yards I think, including lining. Not too shabby!
I was super stoked when I got the email about this pattern! The back is just the perfect little bit of sexy. Originally, I’d planned to make this with a sari I’d ordered of Ebay. HOWEVER, that thing was straight up hot garbage. The fabric felt like that Halloween costume fabric, if you know what I mean, and upon washing, the fabric dye bled everywhere. Straight to the garbage with that! Bless Amazon and this lovely Cotton + Steel fabric! In two days, I had a gorgeous rayon, though I kinda wish I’d gone for the dark blue. The only trouble was that I’d stupidly ordered three yards. There was NO fabric for the lining! Last minute shopper that I am, I had zero time to make it to the only store in my city to carry this fabric. Soooo I ended up at Joann, and boy was that a mistake. Somehow, they had no solid black rayon challis, weird, right? I ended up with a polyester crepe, much to my disappointment. Oh well, moving on…
Orsola sews up fairly easily, though you should be prepared for quite a few darts! I’ve never minded darts, but if you do, prepare yourself, because it has about 18. Orsola also features a fully lined bodice, and a skirt facing. I’ve never sewn a skirt facing before, and I was skeptical. I loathe facings, they’re floppy and annoying and should be avoided at all costs. That said, I actually like this one. It adds a bit of weight to the hem, and it seems to help it lay prettily. I opted for the tulip skirt version, which is really not much of a change for the straight skirt. I also failed to understitch the bodice lining, which was DUMB. DUMB DUMB DUMB. Bad self.
I had some picture taking woes with this one, but luckily my friend Michelle and her lovely wife stepped up and shot them for me, some of the photos feature their absolutely adorable daughter, Tiger Lily, so don’t be confused by the child. She was so fun! Afterward, we had a bit of a watergun fight, my eyeliner was a bit worse for the wear lol! Photo dump below, I hope you enjoy Orsola, I’m looking forward to making many more. Happy sewing 🙂
Holy hiatus, it’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything with you guys. I’m so sorry! Between looking for a house and actually moving, things got a little crazy there for a bit. In my defense, I’d actually had this done for a bit, but (obviously) wanted to wait for the pattern release to talk about it. The pattern is The Poppy Dress and Top from By Hand London, and I’m super stoked to talk about it, let’s get into it.
Poppy is a knit pattern, very much of the “secret pajamas” type. I’ve dressed it up for work and dressed it down to walk the dogs, it really is very versatile in that way. I made both the t-shirt (with the short sleeve option) and the midi version, but there is also a maxi version I’m dying to try out. The pattern features really lovely box pleats on the sleeves, and fish eye darts for waist shaping. As a tester, I omitted the fish eye darts on my versions.
For both the dress and shirt, I used this super soft, very cozy Merino jersey in Marsala graciously provided by The Fabric Store. Easily the most expensive fabric I’ve ever sewn, I can honestly say it’s worth it. Though it is a very lightweight knit, it sews beautifully and I didn’t have the usual struggles with it getting sucked into my machine. It seems to hold it’s shape, as well, without bagging out or “growing” as the day goes on. So nice!
Poppy is fairly easy to sew, but in full honesty, I struggled with the neckline. I’ve never sewn a neckband in knit, and just could not get it to lay flat! Talking to other sewists, it really seems like this is just my in experience. The current version is much better than my first attempts, but still not great. This pattern also marked my first attempt at using the double needle on my machine. I know that seems odd, but I’ve truly been terrified of it! I completely convinced myself I was going to do irreparable damage to my machine, somehow. Folks, I am an idiot. Using a double needle is super easy and gives a nice little bit of stretch to the hem. WHY HAVE I BEEN FINISHING KNITS WITH A SINGLE NEEDLE!?! Dumb dumb dumb.
I kinda wish I’d sewn the fish eye darts, they’re what attracted me to the pattern in the first place. Maybe I’ll attempt to add them, but even without them, I seriously get comments on this every time I wear it. That’s high praise for a dress I’ve gotten drunk and slept in more than once! I hope you consider the Poppy, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon, maybe without a two month gap. Happy sewing 🙂
Every year at the beginning of spring, I break out my summer dresses and wonder why I haven’t made more from each pattern. Such was the case when I wore my Octopus dress a few weeks ago. The pattern is Sewaholic Lonsdale and my oh my is it amazing. My previous version was in an AMAZING lawn from Cotton & Steel, I’m obsessed with it. The fabric is so soft and feels wonderful, the pattern is super flattering and comfortable. I forgo the strapless bra about half the time with this one, ladies you KNOW that’s an achievement.
So obviously I knew I wanted more of these in my closet. This year I’m all about light, easy summer dresses, see Instagram for further evidence of this growing problem! The problem with wanting an army of lovely summer dresses is that you have to find lovely summer dress fabric. I’ve currently put a halt on my fabric buying, my stash is out of control, so I had to rely on what I have. Thanking my past self, I found this lovely lemon fabric deep in the hoard. It’s the last bit of yardage that remained at my local Joann’s, sadly it’s discontinued. Trust me when I say sadly, I legitamately mourned this fabric. It’s a lovely sateen, much lighter than other sateens. I sewed up a strapless dress in it last summer, and it’s still one of my favorite makes.
The pattern is fairly simple to construct, the instructions are clear and well written. There is a sew along that comes in handy during the trickier parts, like the upper front bodice sections. Tasia, wherever you are, you are brilliant. I always find her patterns so easy to follow and sew alongs so helpful! Anyway, I digress…
For this pattern, I cut a size 10. Though Sewaholic patterns are drafted for a pear shape and I’m an hourglass, this dress isn’t fitted through the hips so I didn’t fuss with alterations there. I do find the skirt to be much too long for me, so I did a very lazy alteration there. I cut the skirt length to the smallest size, and did a 1 1/2 inch hem. Also, this pattern is a serious fabric hog, calling for 4 1/2 yards. I didn’t have that, so I cut on a single layer to save fabric. I still came up a little short on fabric though, so the straps are a few inches shorter than drafted.
I am so stoked to have another Lonsdale in my closet! I hated to use up the last of my beloved lemon fabric, but I think it was worth it. What about you, are you in summer sewing mode yet?
Do you remember a few years back, when Girl Charlee had a huge Black Friday sale? Well, I bought a ton of shit. Most of which I still have, because I don’t typically sew knits. Why I bought so many, I’ll never be able to rationalize. ANYWAY. One of those fabrics was this Red Glasgow print that you see above.
The Gable Dress sews up just as quickly. It does feature an edited bodice, so you will want to buy the expansion pack, and not just add a skirt. It’s only $3.50, honestly it’s worth it. As per the usual, I kind of disregarded the instructions again. Having sewn the top before, and fresh of my first clear elastic gathering on the Moneta, I wasn’t too worried.
Despite the pattern being super easy, I really put this one off. That’s partly because life is hectic, but mostly because of this fabric. I was nervous about a plaid for something with a gathered skirt, knowing it wouldn’t line up. Such a bummer! Also my machine just really hated this fabric. No amount of fiddling with the stitches fixed that. Eventually, I just gave up and accepted it for what it was.
I must confess, I wish the bodice and sleeves were a bit more snug. I’m not saying that’s a fault with the pattern, just that I like tight fitting clothing. Other than that, I really don’t have any complaints. It’s a great, simple dress that is just perfect for work. Going completely against everything I am, I like the high neckline. Eventually, I will get my chest done and have to cover that up during the day. Between this and the Moneta, my work wardrobe is becoming more knit dress than pencil skirts. Photo dump below, happy sewing 🙂
For someone who’s not very good at using it, I am obsessed with Instagram. I am constantly stalking Doctor Who pages and envying the sewing skills of other sewcialists. During my cyber stalking, I’ve come across many a Moneta, each of them adorable, but I am not much of a knit sewist. Then Elle of Sew Positvitiy posted about the Moneta Party she helped start, and suddenly, I needed a Moneta.
I have a very hard time finding knits locally. I basically have Joann’s, and their knit selection always leaves me wanting. There are a few small local boutique-type fabric stores, but quite a few are exclusively quilting, or the hours are just impossible for me. So to the interwebs I went. I ended up on the Craftsy site, where they were having a fantastic clearance sale. I picked out this fun bird print that I used for my Moneta, plus two other knits, all at a steal.
Colette offered a 20% discount, and I used a random black swim fabric from the stash for the bodice lining and collar. I probably have $30 invested in this dress, including the reusable pattern. Making things even better, I probably only have three hours of work in this dress. I pieced it together in little bursts of sewing activity, max of an hour, most 30 minutes or so. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Moneta really is as easy as everyone says. My main frustrations were all fabric related. Cutting this slippery, drapey fabric on my glass kitchen table was no picnic. Also this fabric presses like shit, and by that I mean it pretty much doesn’t. When it came to stitching the bodice and lining together at the armholes, I ended up using wonder clips instead of relying on pressing. Just clipped it together, then flipped it, adjusted the clips, and stitched. I know that doesn’t make sense if you don’t have the pattern, but hopefully if you do, you can picture it.
The only thing I didn’t really love about the pattern was attaching the collar. The neckline seams aren’t really all tucked inside, just hidden under the collar. I have no idea how I expected it to be done, really, so it’s not much of a gripe. I also loathe sewing with clear elastic, but you can’t deny the benefits of it, so I’ll keep that to myself. I realize I didn’t get any decent photos of the collar, my bad. I really REALLY need to take a photography class or something. Overall, though, this was a fun sew and a really comfortable, flattering garment. Big thanks to the lovely Triple Stitchers for the motivation, and for giving me a new hashtag to stalk! Happy sewing 🙂
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My apologies for that, January is not my favorite month. Now that we’re through with apologies, the dress. The pattern is the Flora Dress from By Hand London. I’ve made it before, and you can see some pretty terrible photos of that dress here. We all know I have a love affair with this pattern company, and also cleavage, so it was only a matter of time before I made this again.
For this version, I opted to use this stretch velvet I found at Joann. Velvet seems very on trend lately (have I ever been on trend?), and I’ve recently started a love affair with stretch wovens. Since making my Christmas party dress in stretch satin, I feel like I’ve entered a whole new world. No zippers!! Satin and velvet are both difficult fabrics (MORE ON THAT SHIT LATER), so I jumped on the chance to avoid trying to install a zipper.
The Flora dress has a lined bodice, and I really debated on what to use. I didn’t want to use the velvet because boob sweat is a thing, but I still needed something with stretch. In the end, I opted for the previously mentioned stretch black satin. Folks, that was a fucking stupid choice. Imagine, if you will, sewing shifty velvet to slippery satin. I shouted. I drank wine. All to no avail. In the end, I had to concede that my sewing skills were just not really up to the task, and accepted some garment flaws. I REALLY wanted to finish this garment, you guys, so I refused to be defeated. Now, you may be thinking to yourself “But Ashley, it’s not finished! You haven’t even hemmed it!” You’d be right. I was a good sewist and let it hang over night, with every intention to hem it the next day after work. But…I just wasn’t up to it. You see, velvet needs to be hemmed by hand, and we all know hand sewing isn’t my favorite. I will mostly likely even out and hem Flora this weekend, I swear.
For construction, I just did everything from memory, I didn’t look at the instructions at all. I assembled the bodice and lining, except for the side seams, and then attached them along the neckline and armholes. I then pulled the fabric through and stitched the side seams in one long seam. Easy peasy. I cut a US 10, which is my usual size in BHL. Normally I shorten the straps, but here I didn’t, I think they’re ok. When it came to basting the front bodice pieces together, I totally ignored the pattern markings. I slipped the bodice on, and just went with what I was comfortable with. Kind of just overlapped them and pinned it in place.
For the skirt, I sewed the pleats and attached the pieces as normal, except for the zipper situation. When it came time to attach the skirt to the bodice, I broke my walking foot 😭 I’ve gotta stop buying cheap shitty ones off Amazon. As a consequence, the side seams and pleats don’t really line up. WHATEVER MAN. I also struggled with finishing the waist seam, because velvet+lining+darts+pleats=mega bulky seams. I tried to trim the bulk as well as I could and hand turned the wheel through the rough bits.
Speaking of bulk, I think all those folded and wrapped layers make the waist area look bulkier than it should. If I was a smart girl, I would have slashed the darts open and trimmed the bulk then. I did not do that, because derp. I’m super self conscious about my waist size anyway, so this added bulk was really bumming me out. To combat that, I put a corset on underneath my dress. Not only did it help my waistline, it also made my boobs look extra fantastic. Overall, I don’t hate the results. It’s not the best made garment, but for something to get my out of my sewing funk, it’s not so bad. It’s good to have my sewjo back!! Happy sewing 🙂
Sometimes, I wonder what life is like for people who don’t do every single thing at the absolute last minute. For about three weeks, I knew I wanted to make a sequin and satin dress for my work Christmas party. Naturally, I started it two days before the party, even though I have no experience sewing sequins. Super smart, right? It’s truly a miracle that this dress is even mostly finished.
I wanted to use a fairly simple pattern for this, I really wanted the fabrics to be the focus. The lovely ladies at By Hand London were kind enough to gift me with their Charlie dress pattern, and it just seemed perfect. I opted to make variation 2, with the 3/4 circle skirt. I also left the bodice band off, I can never get those to lay right on me. Since I was using satin, I decided to line the bodice for some structure. I shortened the straps a bit (which I normally do), and hacked about three inches of the skirt length. Easy peasy!
Now, the fabric. For the main fabric I used this stretch satin, and I am SO glad I did. Why? Because it had just enough stretch that I didn’t have to put the side zip in!! Really, really wasn’t looking forward to sewing a zipper into that sequined skirt. Very stoked. For the sequined fabric and the straps, I’m afraid I have no fabric links for you. Both were gifted to me by my dear friend Danielle, and I have no idea when or where she got them. Sorry!! I can tell you I’m wearing this petticoat here, and it’s fantastic. Just the right amount of body.
For the most part, I followed the pattern instructions. Charlie is a very straight forward pattern, I can’t imagine how to muck it up. For the straps, I assembled them as directed, and then tacked the rose trim down every two roses. I have no idea if this is the correct way, folks. I also realize I have no decent pictures of them, my bad! To attach them to the bodice, I just sandwiched them between lining and bodice, right sides together, stitched and pressed. For the skirt overlay, I basted the sequin fabric to the satin, wrong side to right side. Then I just sewed them as one. Hopefully at least some of that made sense? That’s really all I have to say on it, it’s truly very simple. I have a few more photos below, happy sewing!