Oh it has been a long time! I’ve had the craziest few months and my blog just moved further and further down my priorities list- but now that changes!!
My life has changed quite a lot this year. I finished my degree, graduating with a first in July. At the same time I turned 21. My beautiful big sister got married and I also was fortunate to be offered a place to study for my masters in knitted textiles at the Royal College of Art in London, (#1 art school in the world!) starting this September. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest, and I am only now, after a few weeks holiday, managing to get my head around everything.
Because of all of this, sewing has taken a backseat. I’ve also been knitting a lot in order to improve my skills before term starts! I’ll post more of my knitting adventures soon after I’ve finished my current sweater, which I have affectionately named ‘cable hell’.
I have a ‘to-sew’ list as long as my arm, however my summer was dominated by making two of this year’s most special dresses. One for my graduation and one to wear to my sister’s wedding. Graduation came first, so this dress helped iron out any faults before I made the dress for the wedding. I decided almost a year ago, when my sister announced her engagement, that I wanted to use the Sew Over It Betty Dress pattern to make my dress (and also my graduation dress). However I also wanted to use Liberty and because of the cost, I decided to switch out the Betty’s circle skirt and replace with my go-to gathered skirt, from the By Hand London Kim Dress. I could easily get the whole dress out of 2m of Liberty Tana Lawn this way.
Although I love the Betty pattern and the design, and I really enjoyed wearing these dresses, I hope this post will explain the problems I had making them, and although I am happy with the fix I managed, any advice on altering it would be great!
My Graduation dress took a long while to make. I started with a calico toile, then made a version from a cheap IKEA bedspread before attempting the Liberty version. I am a 32″ chest and 27″ waist so I cut an 8 on top grading to a 10 at the waist. However when sewn up I found that there was a crazy excess of fabric over the bust which I just could not get rid off. There was no way of pinching out so I ended up taking in side seams, moving darts up and changing the waist darts to make them really angular to pinch some fabric from under the bust. This helped a little but I still had more than 2″ excess fabric that just sat on the bust with no way to move it. I fiddled with the pattern more, however due to timescale I ended up sewing my Liberty version hoping for the best. I hoped that by adding the skirt and lining, it would pull down and move some of the fabric. I was wrong but I had no choice as the day was looming.
Overall I am pleased with the dress, it served it’s purpose and looked nice on the day however the baggy bust was just annoying. It’s currently in my to-fix pile as the pretty Liberty is too good to waste, however I just cannot wear it as it is.
The Liberty was the saving grace of this dress. It’s Wonderment Tana Lawn (not sure which colour way) and it is now out of stock on the Liberty website, although probably available from other places. It was designed for the anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and I fell in love right away, and was certain that it had to be my graduation fabric.
My dress for the wedding was a little different. After the disappointment of the Graduation dress, I had a re-think. I attempted a SBA on the Betty bodice, however I had to take so much out that the darts actually inverted so I had to give up. My next experiment was to trace my own self-drafted bodice block, then lay the Betty bodice over and copy the neckline. That was all I copied and I just made appropriate adjustments to my bodice block (side seams/armholes). I still used the back pieces of the Betty bodice, as they always fitted nicely, however the front had to be drastically changed. I also wanted to change my dress a little to make it different to the Graduation dress. This meant that I made a v-neck by lovering the CF by about 4″ and drawing a line up to the start of the original shoulder. Although in the pictures it looks as though it gapes, I think that is caused by my posture as the dress is fine when I am standing straight. I fully lined the bodice and skirt to add volume on both dresses, and this made it move beautifully. Although this dress is not perfect, I am really happy with it and it was perfect for the day.
The Liberty lawn for this dress might be my favourite. It is called Victoria Virginia A and was just so beautiful to sew and wear. It is currently out of stock on the Liberty website however I hope it comes back in stock soon!
These dresses were a bit of an indulgence so are not really in keeping with my ‘student sewing’ budget, however I will be returning to bargain sewing (and a bit of knitting) soon once I am officially a post-grad student – scary stuff! Thank you all for putting up with my sewing/blogging drought – I’ve got lots up my sleeve for the next few months!