I saw a dress on Crafster that had been made using a pattern site called Lekala that makes custom print-out patterns. This seemed too good to be true so I thought I should test it. I found this awesome military dress on the site, put in my measurements and printed it.
You have the option to pay $1 extra for seam allowances; as that was another 25% on the price I decided not to do that and that was not the correct decision: you already want to retrace the pattern once you've printed it and stuck it together adding seam allowances is a bit of a faff.
I was worried that the pattern wouldn't fit and while I was making it, it felt a little small; so I unpicked it and made the seams smaller only to have to put them all back in because it fit perfectly! I did have to take some of the seams in but only because I have a long waist and short body and I'd have to do that anyway. I'll certainly be using the site again so that I don't have to worry too much about editing pattern pieces!
The dress is made from 3m of navy linen garbedine mix so it's quite thick and sturdy. It has a large lapel, a side zip, belt and 10 pretend buttons on the front. I decided to choose some RAF gold buttons but they do stick out a little so using flatter buttons might be better next time.
I was given a fantastic Christmas present of an assortment of exciting thread and buttons so I used some of it to edge stitch the lapels in gold and make them look a little more snazzy.
The epilets are also quite snazzy...
It's held together by a bright gold zipper and an inside button. I've added a couple of inches to the dress and to the facing so that it can be walked in without flapping open.
Overall, a good experiment! The site, in this statistically significant sample of one, produces patterns of the size required. The dress itself is smart and fun.
I'm not a fan of swimming costumes but I really like the Edwardian swimming dresses. The only problem with them is that they are made of linen and so are quite heavy when wet and don't dry quickly. So I decided to make a swimming dress from board short material.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the material for sale in the UK so I bought four pairs of extra large board shorts and cut them up. I was hoping to get an Enchanted-style holey curtain shot but there wasn't any material left by the time I'd finished!
I used the top of linen dress and a pleated netball skirt to cut a basic pattern in tissue paper and then adjusted it on my mannequin. It turns out Miranda, the mannequin, has a much shorter body than me so I had to make a belt strip in the middle to join the two together.
Despite using all the material, the skirt was a little tight around the bottom... of the skirt and so wouldn't have been good for swimming as I wouldn't be able to kick. I cut open the pleats and inserted a strip of aqua lycra which would stretch with the kicks. I plan to make a matching bikini out of the lycra to wear under the dress.
Throughout the construction of the garment, I tried to keep it in theme with the boardshorts it came from: all the seams are top stitched with twin needles and the hem of the skirt and arm holes is a double hem. I put pockets on the sides to make it look more like a pair of swimming trunks but I also found that the trunks were pretty badly made and every time I unpicked a pocket, there was a giant hole made when the sewing machine had finished the stitches. I mostly managed to hide these holes in the new seams but there was one massive hole in the centre of the back so I stuck a pocket over the top. I'm going to call it theme-ing. I made the middle band more like the waist band of a pair of swimming shorts by unpicking the elastic from two truncks and making a double band at the back. It's sheared over the top of the elastic. I took out all of the darts in the top once I added the elastic and this will give a bit more space when swimming.
I was going to put in sleeves but I decided that would hinder the arm movements too much. I was also planning for the collar to be larger but I think that too could get in the way of turning your head to breathe.
All in all, I'm looking forward to hitting the beach this summer in my new outfit!
This is a pretty fancy famous frock, a black shift dress with side zip and sheer yoke.
This used the same fabric as the glasses dress.
2m of black suiting
1m of sheer black fabric
I was quite worried about sewing the sheer fabric again as it was going to be really visible and needed to be done perfectly.
It turned out fine though: I used a number 9 needle, matched the tension and sewed very slowly.
The pattern wasn't entirely clear which way around the top should be attached to the collar and I had to cut another out. the long edge is for the collar.
The side zip is a better fit for my square shoulders but a lapped zip is still in the nemesis category of zips. I hate zips. I hand sewed this one before machining it.
This is the first more fitting dress that I have made from the book and I found out that I'm a smaller size than previously thought- S. So I had to take in the side seems and redo the zip. I'll have to cut down the skirt pattern if I make the dress again.
Overall, I'm pleased with how it's turned out and it came together pretty quickly and easily.
Below is the original dress and the dress from the pattern book.
A friend held a Mexican Fiesta the other day so what better outfit to go for than a spicy chilli dress?
The diagonal chilli tail was made by drawing a spiral around a plate on top of the two sides of the other t-shirt. The spiral makes it longer at one end and drawing it around a circle will make it fall in a more crinkly way. I then gathered it and sewed it to the dress.
The dress is made from two red XXL men's T-shirts from Primark. I used the top band from the first T-shirt as the band for a strapless dress and then sewed the side seams to fit to the body. I turned the sleeves into the frilly shoulder sleeve and the strap on the other side.
The hat is made from a cereal box cone, some glue gun, left over t-shirt fabric and some green felt for the stalk. Ascot ready!
And to finish the outfit.... some chilli polymer clay earrings.
As we approach the revision season, during which sitting outside and using pages of notes to keep the Sun out of one's eyes is compulsory, what more does a budding fashionista want but an equation print dress?
This is another Famous Frocks pattern, the Ava Gardener variation, although it's now pretty far removed from the original! I saw this equation print fabric on Spoonflower and knew I had to make it into this nerdy little number.
The dress is a grey equation print cotton with black mid section and fully lined in black cotton. It has a halter neck top fastened with some black gossgrain ribbon and is backless.
It needed about 2m of each of the cotton fabrics, 1.5m of ribbon, a 16" black zip and some black thread. I added the lining by making the skirt in the black cotton as well as the pattern and then attaching it to the main skirt before it was gathered.
If you want to recreate this smart dress then you might want to experiment with the different types of fabrics available from Spoonflower. There's a lot of gathering in the skirt and this fabric is quite heavy so falls a little more stiffly than it should. At least it means there'll never be a Marilyn moment!
The hemline is hand sewn and the edges of the bodice are top stitched 6mm from the edge to keep it neat.
Overall, I think it's a fun summer frock and I LOVE the fabric. Sadly, I probably can't wear it at school with exam season coming up....
You rip what you sew!