The Joan Wiggle Dress (Charm Patterns Patreon) Sweetheart Neck: All Sewn Up

After the success of the slash neck version of this dress, I decided what the heck, lets try out some crushed velvet and crack on. It was, after all, nearly my 15th wedding anniversary and I needed something special to wear on my date out with my wonderful other half.

First off, the fabric I bought was perfect but did have some glitter issues (read: gets absolutely everywhere – especially when pre-washing and cutting), but it was just so perfect and sparkly that I thought it was an opportunity not to be missed.

I hadn’t ever sewn anything in stretch velvet before so that was a bit of a learning curve and there were a few new things I learnt when I was making this version of the dress:

  • Stretch lining the bodice: something I hadn’t done before. I have lined  things, yes, but not with stretch lining. I am super glad that I did as I can now be safe in the knowledge that the neck won’t stretch put of shape over time and the added security of the elastic in the neckline keeps it the dress sitting nicely on my shoulders, rather then slipping off. The tutorial video Gertie provided was absolutely perfect for me learning this. (Anyone else a visual learner? This is one of the many reasons I love the Charm Patterns Patreon).
  • Velvet is so effing slippery: l ditched the pins as much as I could and changed to clips after a very frustrating time trying to get my notches lined up.
  • I did learn from my mistake with the sizing from last time though and I made the necessary adjustment to the pattern prior to cutting my fabric, although I did still have to take a further bit off the hips due to the additional stretch in the fabric.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to wear it out as our son wasn’t well, so we didn’t make it out for our anniversary date after all (don’t worry we scoffed a lovely takeaway) but I did get some pics.

I am so pleased with how it turned out, and our night out has been rearranged so I’ll be in it soon enough but for now it’s in my wardrobe in a cover (did I mentioned the glitter getting everywhere?), and it hasn’t put me off sewing with velvet…in fact next up on my sewing table is something I am planning to match with stretch leopard print velvet…

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The Joan Wiggle Dress (Charm Patterns Patreon) Slash Neck: All Sewn Up

I was over the moon when I first saw what Gertie had created for us for January’s Patreon release. If you have read my blog previously (over the years that Mad Men seasons were still being released -gah – way, way back in time) then you will know

a. how much I love Joan and

b. how obsessed with Mad Men I was (and to a certain extent still am).

The pattern came with two necklines, one the classic Joan office wear with a slash neck based on her iconic silhouette of the wiggle dress that hugs every curve, and the second a daring sweetheart neckline for those who dare to bare a little more.

Now, I have promised myself that as my sewing room/office is now all done and I am finally moved in that I will sew one garment a month at the minimum (more on that in a later blog) so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump right in. So off I went and purchased some pretty on the nose fabric for the slash neck top, because I really loved the way that cutting on the stripes made the chevron pattern on the bodice of the dress.

It didn’t take me long to cut and sew the top although the chevrons did need a little bit of unpicking (hello seam ripper, my old friend) after my first attempt, but holding my breath seemed to somehow magically work for the second attempt and I had some fantastic matching I was very happy with.

The top of the dress was incredibly high on my neck, so there was a certain amount of fiddling about to make sure that it sat in the right place. There was mention of this in both the video and the printed instructions so I was prepared.

The skirt was way too curvy on my hips, something I really should have measured for properly when I cut my pieces, I did feel like I should have graded between sizes but I just ignored the little voice. Thankfully I tried the skirt part on before I attached it to the bodice so I adjusted, took the skirt in, made the curve less prominent and re-sewed the skirt to ensure a better fit.

What I didn’t consider and what I feel like I should have done (can you tell who has had their sewing machine packed away for a year due to renovation?) was the weight of the skirt fabric which was heavier than the weight of the bodice fabric. Thankfully it wasn’t so much that there was additional drag or pull on it when it was all finished, but it’s definitely something I’ll think about in the future. Every sew is a learning possibility.

I was super excited to get it on and feel my inner Joanie – did I mentioned I’ve had a replica of her pen necklace for a good few years now? Nope, well, here it is and me in all its glory.

I am so super pleased with how this fantastic dress has turned out. A million thanks to the Charm Patterns crew and to Gertie for such a wonderful pattern to start the year with. I’ve been a subscriber since the Charm Patterns Patreon first started and I have to say this is hands down my a favourite pattern release. It’s always a special one at the beginning of the year and we get a little extra bang for our buck, and what a gloriously special pattern it is. What I love about it the most is the versatility, I will be wearing it to the office on my return in a couple of weeks and I can equally imagine wearing it out to a dinner date with friends.

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McCalls 6569: Anniversary Evening Dress (The Finished Dress)

If you’ve read my previous blog you’ll see how my muslin turned out.

With just a week to go I set out to sew up my dress in the lovely gold satin I’d brought back from Vegas a couple of years ago. I read prior to this that you should try and store your satin rolled rather than folded due to the crease factor. I did this but to be honest it still creased a fair amount.

I spent a whole night cutting out and marking up the pattern pieces (including the adjusted pieces – see my other blog). My, my, what a pain in the arse. It turns out satin is the most slippery material known to man (slight exaggeration, but it did feel like that at the time).

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The following day I sewed the bodice together which went very well but then it was time for the lining. I should say at this point I have never lined anything in my life but as I was sewing with satin I thought it would probably be a good idea just to bit the bullet and do it. IMG_20170127_212641_438

I decided this before I read the pattern instructions, but it turned out that there were instructions in with the pattern to line the dress. My Brain: “What does this even mean though?!”

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I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to sew the lining in, which way it went round to ensure the seams couldn’t be seen. I have to say – vintage instructions are not a dyslexic’s  friend the best of times and this was no exception. After lots of umming and ahhhing and tearing my hair out I finally figured it out and it did actually look pretty good. IMAG2530

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I spent a long night sewing the lining to the skirt pieces following this, and here was where I made one of my major mistakes. I have no idea how I marked the fabric up wrong but somehow I managed to.

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When it came to the later stage of sewing it together it meant that I had a row of stitching down the back of the skirt next to the centre seam which I then had to unpick. Unfortunately, as I was sewing in satin it did mark the fabric so my dress is not so perfect, but we make mistakes to learn from them don’t we? More on that point later! IMAG2573

With a day to go to my anniversary (and after a lengthy trip to the dentist for two fillings) I spent a full day sewing the skirt pieces together (while keeping an eye on the clock so I could be sure I wouldn’t be late picking up Ash from nursery and hoping that some semblance of feeling would return to my ridiculously numb face).

I attached the skirt to the bodice with relative ease and inserted the zip. Mistake number two: I was silly enough to not check that the fabric was taught when I basted the zip in, meaning that when I went to sew it I, again, had a big chuck of stitches to unpick which left a rather messy side zip insertion.

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Thankfully it’s a side zip so really no one’s going to see it unless the come up really close to have a look . I finished sewing the lining pieces together at the waist and was quite impressed with how it looked inside out.

At this point I thought I should just leave the hemming to my anniversary and cut my losses before I cried.

So the day of my 10th wedding anniversary (last Friday) I sewed right up to the last minute but I did finally finish my dress with a couple of hours to spare, and I did get all dressed up and we did go out for the first time on our own in seven months. And here I am in my dress!

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So what did I learn?

  • I learnt that sewing to a deadline when you have a young baby may not be the right amount of pressure to put on yourself when you’ve just gone back full time to work!
  • I learnt that even with nearly a year off sewing anything I’m still quite competent and I still know what I’m doing.
  • I learnt that lining something may be a pain in the arse but it’s really worth it and that there’s nothing to be scared about when it comes to what I would have previously considered tricky fabric.
  • Mostly I learnt that there’s nothing wrong with mistakes and everything can;t be perfect all of the time. I wish I didn’t have the little hole marks where I’ve unpicked the stitching but it will always be a reminder of the first time I sewed with something other than what I previously considered ‘safe’ fabrics and I certainly wont be making the same mistakes again. We’ve got to get some things wrong to learn a lesson, right?

Overall I am extremely happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

So roll on 2017….I still have some glitter speckled pink satin from Vegas in my stash…watch this space!

McCalls 6569: Anniversary Evening Dress (The Muslin)

This year I made a decision, a decision not be to scared by fabric. For a couple of years now I’ve had some gold satin I brought back from Vegas in my stash and I’ve been so scared to use it having never worked with anything like that. This year it’s my tenth (?!) wedding anniversary and I thought it would make the loveliest dress for our celebratory meal out.

I picked McCalls 6569 for the pattern; a gorgeous sixties evening dress with a matching jacket. I’m not so sure I’ll have time to make the jacket but the dress looked simple enough with my time constraints.
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The first thing I did was post in the We Sew Retro Sew & Tell facebook group to ask for tips, it’s one thing I LOVE about the sewing community, you have a wealth of experience and advice online in a group like that and people are only willing to help and wish you luck. So armed with my new found advice I bit the bullet and cracked on. As you may have noticed I don’t often make muslins of my clothes but as I was working with an unforgiving fabric I thought I probably should get it right the first time, as a seam ripper might not be the best friend it previously had been to me. I measured up, perfect in the bust but 2 inches bigger on the waist and 4 on the hips (not live I’ve had a baby in the last year or anything….). It was going to need a little adjustment.

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I used the pivot method for the hip adjustment and added extra at the waist thinking I could figure out adjusting the darts as I went.

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New pattern pieces made, I cut and marked everything out in calico, ready to sew my mock up. Well this is where everything went quiet for a week as my little one ended up being ill, so it’s meant that every night for the last week I’ve been furiously sewing to get everything completed after his bed time.

The muslin went together bit by bit and I was overall quite happy with how it turned out…. apart from ordering an open ended zip (I blame the lack of sleep) and I forwent the hemming as that can be done on the real thing later.

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The only other thing (that I am slightly concerned about) is lining the dress. There are instructions but having never lined anything before I’m hoping that it’s easy enough and wont take up too much time as I’ll probability be sewing right up until the last minute with this.

So here it is muslin complete and on to the real thing – wish me luck!

Ministry of Craft: Overlocking for Beginners Course

First off Happy New Year! It’s been an eventful 2016 and the reason I haven’t been able to update my blog much in the last six months is currently snoozing in his cot upstairs.

Our lovely little boy has been keeping me very busy since his arrival in June and as much as I thought I would have time to do a little bit of sewing and crafting I have done nothing, apart from the course I’ll be taking about today.

The good news is he’s now sleeping through the night which means I’m waaaay less tired and I’m itching to get back to making something. So I should be back sewing soon!

Anyhoo, getting back to it….

In June I bought an overlocker thanks to the generosity of my husband, family and inlaws which all chipped in in cash and vouchers. I only managed to get it out of the box and have a look and put it back again as I was about a week overdue at that point and had more important things to do, like bounce about on a birthing ball and try not to eat my own weight in ice cream.
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I did, however, sign up to the Ministry of Craft’s Overlocking for Beginners course in Manchester in September. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs you’ll know that I’ve done a couple of courses with MoC now and I really can’t recommend them enough.  If you’re someone like me who needs to be shown something for it to make sense then you’ll find them invaluable. September came around quite quickly and off I went to their city centre base to learn what I was doing. IMG_20160903_114040
The course was two and a half hours in length and gave an overview of overlockers including threading which I ended up doing twice after forgetting to put the foot down the first time and had to start from scratch (good practice though!).

We were told a few handy tips the most useful of which is to keep a record and a swatch every time you use your overlocker so you have it for future reference if you go back and use similar fabric again. That way you’re not starting from scratch.

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We were shown (and practiced) seams, edge finishes and rolled hems, which I was particularly interested in as I still have some gorgeous vintage pink chiffon I brought back from Vegas a couple of years ago that I’ve been too scared to do anything with.

As always the course tutor was fantastic, no question too silly, and she put us all at ease and made certain that everyone’s questions were answered and everyone had the time for a little one to one which she checked that they were on track.

I haven’t been near my overlocker since but I know from the help sheets and notes I have written I won’t have any problem when I do. So a huge thanks to Ministry of Craft for an informative morning and their help.

I would definitely recommend this course for anyone new to the world of overlockers or for those who need a quick brush up if theirs has been sat unused for a year or so.

All Sewn Up: Butterick B6031 – Patterns By Gertie: The Pants

You might remember that nearly two years (how?!) after I’d sewn the slip ago I said next up would be the pants, then I promptly got distracted and never got around to finishing them.

In fact, I pretty much forgot about them until I recently had a bit of a clear out and found them pre-cut with the pattern in my sewing stash. IMAG0646_1So, with a bit of time to spare on Saturday morning I thought I’d give them a bash.

IMAG0647_1They took about an hour in total to sew, which I didn’t think was too bad for a little morning sewing project and it was all very straight forward.

IMAG0648_1The only thing that irked me somewhat was that I’d bought the kit from Gertie’s Etsy way back when but there wasn’t enough stretch lace to go round the leg holes (is that even a technical term?).

I did have a big bag of bits of lace and elastic my Nana had given me a few years ago so I did manage to find some, unfortunately it isn’t matching but it looks okay.

IMAG0651_1The pants came out really well.

IMAG0652_1I am just now trying to figure out how my bum is going to fit in them, having any kind of small clothing item fit you in the future when your preggo tummy resembles an ever expanding planet is a hard thing to come to term with(!).

 

Simplicity 4827: All Sewn Up – 60s Maternity Top & Skirt

Luckily for me I got gifted a lot of vintage maternity sewing patterns when I told friends our news, unluckily I have been too tired in an evening or too busy with the impending arrival to spend time sewing. I have, however, had the last week off work to do some nice things and generally just have a break from my busy job (who knew growing a human inside you would make you so tired?!).

I finally got round to making the skirt and top view from Simplicity 4872, which looks to me late 50s/early 60s. I know vintage maternity patterns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but after extensive research online I really couldn’t find that much that had been made up for me to look at. So if you’re considering making vintage maternity clothes this may be the post for you.

Before I start I would like to say that I wear tight maternity clothes as well as not so tight ones, so when I considered this pattern I was drawn to the skirt and top – knowing that stretch fabrics weren’t commonly used back in the day I knew it would be a bit of a boat load of fabric situation, especially the skirt as it wasn’t the old style with the cut out bump part which seems to be more commonly in use in the 40s/50s.

Getting slightly annoyed with the fact that a lot of modern maternity clothes are black I went with some lovely colourful Robert Kauffman raindrop maternal for the top, and some orange cotton for the skirt.

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The Top

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I should really say at this point that I have never used a pattern with hole punches marking different parts of the pattern (i.e. darts etc) – is there a name for this sort of pattern? Truth is, I’ve always been a little put off and scared by them. It seems a little bit silly now I have used one, as there’s no difference really once you follow the instructions!

With that in mind I had everything cut out (I shortened the pockets a little as I was short of fabric) and marked everything up double checking that I  marked the pattern pieces correctly.

The top was relatively easy to put together apart from when it came to the pleat extension parts at the side.

As usual with vintage patterns they do expect that you know a lot of what you’re doing as everyone was making their own clothes back in the day.

I couldn’t tell if it was my dyslexia or not but it made little sense to me. I eventually did work it out and pinned and pressed.

Once I started putting the facings in though I soon hit a problem. Neck facing, no problem; armhole facings bit more of an issue.
IMAG0511Turns out my pleats weren’t right, but I was loathe going back and messing about with them again so I made the best of it and added an extra crease, hoping it would work out when I did the final press.
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IMG_20160331_195200I added some vintage style buttons I had from an old issue of Mollie Makes magazine and voila, my top was complete.
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The Skirt

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The skirt went together quite well. I was unsure of it to begin with and some of the instructions took me a while to figure out (dyslexia strikes again) – I think it’s because of the markings, how to differentiate which dots mean what is a little tricky on these sort of patterns if you haven’t used them before. Point and case in the photo below!
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It was only when I started stitching the back waistband (front is elasticated) that I realised exactly how much material there was.

The Completed Outfit

To say it makes me look huge is an understatement, but here it is in all its glory.

Needless to say we had a good old laugh when we were taking the photos and in the end I gave up even trying to make it look good.

The truth is, the skirt has to have a lot of material because it’s cotton but it does have the unfortunate effect of making me look about twice the size.

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Alas, all was not lost. I actually quite like the top, even if I would rather never wear the skirt.

So I went and put a pair of my skinny mat jeans on and it looked quite good. In fact, I will be wearing it without a doubt.
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What do you think? I’d love to hear people’s views on this, or if you’ve made any vintage maternity clothes? Let me know and thanks for reading.

 

Simplicity 1360: All Sewn Up – 70s Inspired Gold Maternity Gown

For my first sew of the year I decided on adapting this new maternity pattern to make a vintage style outfit.

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That’s correct, if you don’t follow me on Instagram then you might not have seen that I’m preggo, up le duff, got a bun in the oven etc.

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I am not going to go all modern, I have picked up a few vintage patterns and my friends have loaned me some so there will be vintage maternity wear being made at some point but I thought it would be quite interesting to see how they compared against modern ones to make up.

Thinking along the lines of “if I lengthen this dress and make it glitzy it could totally look 70s disco-a-go-go” I opted for buying in a boatload of gold lame, without really thinking of the consequences.

Namely that lame is a bitch to sew.

While I was waiting for it to arrive I finally managed to clear out my lovely little sewing space in our dining room and started to read through the instructions (I also put a load of my spare vintage patterns on ebay if you fancy a look).

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Which made no sense. How confusing is this? (or at least how confusing does my dyslexic brain want it to be).

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I put my faith in the pattern and hoped when I cut the pieces out it would make more sense.

When the lame arrived I fell in LOVE, It is sooooo beautiful and undeterred I set about lengthening the pattern and cutting the extension pieces out (excuse the slippers).

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I ran a few pieces through the machine to see what the fabric was like to sew. This did not go well. Now, I have always been told to use a zig zag stitch for stretch fabrics (I don’t own an overlocker) but this didn’t work.

After a stressful and annoying night I managed to get the front of the dress completed but only after a lot of turning the air blue and wondering why in the hell it wouldn’t sew like it was meant to.

Truth is, I’m still not sure – is it because the weight of the fabric is too heavy, so it’s not your typical stretch? (If anyone does know please tell me!).

The front knot part actually was pretty easy after I had the pieces in front of me – funny, it’s never the thing that you think is going to cause trouble that does, is it?

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I sewed up the two back pieces and put the neck facing in and by this point I had opted to go for a straight stitch as it appeared to be working much better than zig zag and wasn’t making me want to cry. Damn the consequences.

What was the worst that couple happen? I could spend hours unpicking it when it didn’t hang or stretch properly? (yes….yes that is what could happen).

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The sleeves, I decided, would be sewn in the cheat’s way as the fabric was so tricky.

Rather than sew them up then set them in, I sewed them into the arm holes without the sleeve seam sewn up, then sewed the seam of the sleeve at the same time as the side seams of the dress (try saying that quickly!).

I have to say, when they were in, it looked pretty good.

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I tried it on. It looked good, it actually stretched the way it was meant to (thank the sewing Gods) so I could fit it over my ever expanding bosom and tum.

Now all I had to do was hem the sleeves and the dress, which turned out to be not that challenging, With the aid of clips (and pegs) I managed to get the length more or less right the first time. I only needed to adjust it slightly and once sewn up I was ready to go.

So here I am in all my shiny gold disco glory, pretty happy with how it’s turned out, even if I do look like a preggo space babe from the future.

Gold Maternity Dress
Gold Maternity Dress
Gold Maternity Dress

Simplicity 4579: All Sewn Up – 50s Fringed Skirt

Simplicity 4579

My Step Mum found this pattern for me and I instantly fell in love with it especially the fringe trimmed version of the skirt, who doesn’t like a bit of fringing after all? So when the fine folks at Zazzle.co.uk got in touch with me so see if I would collaborate on a couple of posts it was instantly clear that this pattern would be perfect.

If you haven’t heard of Zazzle.co.uk they’re a fantastic creative customisation website with a whole host of different products but obviously, for me, it’s all about the crafting. I can’t even begin to tell you how wide ranging their fabric options are as it would take a whole post up in itself and I’d never get around to showing you my skirt but I will give you a quick overview.

You can pick from various categories from colour, pattern to theme. I obviously went for retro of course, but there are lots of others to choose from. In those categories you can pick the type of fabric, as its summer here I went for a cotton obviously (and I am glad I did due to the heatwave we’ve had) and then there’s the fun bit of customising the pattern too.

The only tough thing I found about the process was narrowing down my fabric choices as there are so many.

Anyhoo, they are fab and you should check them out.

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To start the skirt is a 28 waist and 38 hip. Due to the lovely weather we’re having here in the UK, recently not being in the best of sorts and my love of dairy I am now sporting 40 inch hips. So I had to adjust the pattern.

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I started by tracing the pattern onto some Swedish sewing paper and marking it up, then I made the hip adjustment by cutting out a perpendicular section from the hip line to the hem line and fitting and extra half an inch in.

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Simplicity 4579

I sewed up the darts and joined the sides and all went swimmingly. I put the zip in as instructed, even though it’s not the normal way I’d do the zip but it worked out okay if not a little fiddly. You don’t get anything from not trying though, right? Even if that something you do get is a little frustrated.

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Then it was on to the hem and the decision of what I should do about the fringing. For all intents and purposes the instructions said to leave a length of fabric under the fringing but after trying out all options I decided not to do this. It just looked a bit odd.

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So I took the skirt up a little extra and removed the split. Then I started sewing the fringing in. I have a little experience of sewing in fringing due to my previous burlesque dancing ways but I had only ever done it by hand. I did use the sewing machine this time and took a steady pace with it. No problems, no seam ripping, just a very happy me by the end of it.

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All that was left was hemming to do which, as usual, went without a hitch. So ladies and jellyspoons  here is my finished, sewn up skirt. What do you think? I;m super happy with how it turned out and it’ll look great for a work as well as a Sunday mooching round the vintage shops.

Simplicity

Simplicity

Disclosure: Fabric supplied by Zazzle.co.uk but all thoughts on their services are honest and my own.

Simplicity 7702: All Sewn Up – 60s Shift Dress

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

My first sew of 2015. A few weeks ago I put a blog up for advice, after I scored some gorgeous vintage style fabric from John Lewis in the sale, asking what your opinions were on the pattern to pick.

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In the end the simplicity won out. I wanted to try something different, something with a sixties silhouette different from the more tailored sews I’d done previously. The fabric seemed more suited to that. I decided to sew up a toile with some left over cotton that I had as I am a 34 in the bust but I have junk in my trunk, way more than is allowed for on the pattern.

I am so, so glad that I decided to do this because the toile was far too tight on the hips and it was throwing everything off shape wise. So I got out the Swedish tracing paper, made some adjustments and came up with a much more pleasing and better fitting toile.

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

I used this to cut the fabric and with gritted teeth marked it all out to ensure that I matched the pattern at the back of the dress, which turned out very well even if I do say so myself, first time almost perfect, I decided to leave it at that. It was only a tiny bit out of sync and I wasn’t about to tempt fate by taking the zip out again and seeing it all back in only for it to not match at all.

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

This is the first time that I’ve ever sewn up a pattern putting the zip in the back before sewing the sides in. Easier x one million. I don’t even know why I haven’t considered doing it before. I think I’m just a stickler for the instructions. I must do what they say. I might remedy that in the future.

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

I tried the bodice on and had a bit of a worry when the centre back wasn’t lying flat against my skin, until I realised I was wearing the shoulders a little high and they should have been sat a little further down.

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

I then had the sleeve quandary. Knowing how much I dread setting in sleeves I considered the flat method for a while BUT I decided just to knuckle down and get on with it in the end and sewed the side seams before setting in the sleeves traditionally.

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

They went in like a dream. I pinned and pinned and I ensured I sewed in slowly and carefully easing them in as I went and sewing from inside the sleeve side rather than the bodice side if that makes sense. After a good old pressing they looked great.

simplicty 7702 www.staceystitch.com

I took three inches off the bottom for the hem allowance rather than the two and three quarter as specified on the pattern, and voila I was done.

So here I am in my new dress.

Simplicity 7702Simplicity 7702

Simplicity 7702

There are a couple of things to consider:

I have started going running. A lot. Which means my hips are now smaller than they were, hopefully I don’t look like I’m wearing a tent.

I love that it’s not fitted because I feel free! I love wearing more structured garments but there is something so gloriously comfortable about this shift dress while still looking super smart.

What do you think? Have you made anything similar? I;d love to see your version – link me up!