It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will
Now that’s what you call magenta!
Back in January, I started work on the V8667 in my intermediate clothes making class at Morley College. Today, I have a finished dress!
There’s only one thing you really need to know about this dress: the collar makes it. Over the course of measuring, making the toile, the adjustments and cutting into fabric – my fellow students and I agreed that the magenta wool had a wow factor. But none of us commented on the dress, not until the very last lesson when the collar was attached.
I’ll be honest. On my penultimate lesson working on this dress, I felt underwhelmed. I worried that it wasn’t going to flatter my figure and that the expensive wool was just going to look a bit bleurgh. I hadn’t reckoned on what a difference the final bits of work would make. Don’t judge a dress’s fit until the lining is fully inserted and the zip in place. Seriously, don’t.
Finally I attached the collar and placed the dress on a dummy. Within minutes my classmates crowded round. ‘That collar makes the dress,’ commented one of our group. He wasn’t wrong; it really does.
I signed up for this course because I felt that my home sewing had taken me as far as I could go; that I needed help. So what did I learn?
Take full body measurements.
No, not just your waist, hips and boobs. Everything. Our first lesson saw Nancy and I measuring each other and I found out for the first time in my life what the back of my neck to my waist measurement was. Ever wondered why that bodice bunches up at your hips? It’s probably because you didn’t measure this part of your body.
Adjust your pattern pieces.
Masking tape isn’t just for home improvement, it can be a sewing buddy, too. Having taken accurate body measurements, I could then adjust the pattern pieces before a single piece of fabric had been cut into. Masking tape is better than sellotape because if it goes on wrong you can peel it away again.
Have a sewing tutor on hand to help you adjust your toile.
Not so easy this one, if you’re working alone at home! My course was worth the money just to have our teacher and her expertise help me adjust the toile. I had no idea that I needed to add an extra centimetre on the top of my shoulders or that I could pinch out excess fabric around my back neckline. This dress also marks a first ever fully successful adjustment for my narrow upper chest. (I recently tried to explain what a narrow upper chest is to a non-sewing friend. ‘It’s when gravity takes its toll,’ I said, rolling my eyes.)
The bravery to use an overlocker
Well, as long as someone else threaded it, I could use an overlocker. I love what they do but not what they are ie terrifying!
How wool behaves
I hadn’t registered this before, but my tutor explained that wool can grow with handling during the course of a make. Rather than immediately start adjusting seams, it’s a good idea to take your outfit to a dry cleaner’s for a professional steam and get your outfit back in shape.
Don’t just beeswax your thread, iron it too.
For those of you who don’t know, beeswax is a life saver when you’re hand stitching. (I bought mine from MacCulloch & Wallis.) The wax saves you gnashing your teeth over a million knots. All the online advice for using beeswax goes thus: run your thread through the beeswax then iron your thread to seal the wax into it. I’d always run my thread through beeswax, but I’d never bothered with the ironing part – until it came to the six hours of handsewing that the lining and hemming of this dress demanded:
Using the heat of your iron to seal the wax into the thread REALLY makes a difference. The thread becomes stronger and even more immune to knots. Don’t skip this step. I did for a long time and I hate myself for it!
There’s a reason dressmakers add bias trim to the waist of a dress lining.
I had millimetres of fabric to work with when it came to sewing together the bottom of the bodice lining and the top of the skirt lining. One two hour session of hand sewing had to be ripped back when I realised I’d made the fabric of the main shell pucker up by pulling my lining too tight. I was tearing my hair out, until I remembered from last summer Sewaholic’s gorgeous sharing of the inside of her Picnic Dress. Yes! That’s what I’ll do! I thought. Who knew that I’d been learning whilst salivating over Sewaholic’s pretty make? This thunderbolt moment really saved my sanity.
Some of these things I learned in class; some I learned as I worked at home. I’m going to blog in more detail about what can be gained from a class like this and I’ll be providing some tutorials. But, for now, let’s enjoy the dress, shall we? I don’t mind saying, it’s a corker. I’m thrilled. And I have a dress to wear to my work event next week!
What next? Well, I’ve signed up for a second term. A friend is getting married this summer and there’s a vintage theme to the wedding. I feel a Butterick B5605 coming on:
Possibly made with this:
Let me know if you have opinions or experiences (good or bad) with this pattern. I need you guys!
THE V8667 DETAILS
Magenta wool from Stone Fabrics
Magenta lining from Saeed Fabrics
Bias tape from MacCulloch & Wallis
Bow belt from ASOS
Thank you to my lovely tutor, Gillian, and to Morley College. See you next term!