V8667 dress

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.Β 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!


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!

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49 Responses to V8667 dress

  1. Liara says:

    I have this pattern and made muslin #1. Then I didn’t know what to do for all of the changes I need to make. Yours looks absolutely gorgeous on you, the color, the collar, everything!!

  2. Portia says:

    Amazing job Karen. You must be thrilled!! I totally agree about college courses being well worth the money too. If ever I struggle with something during the week, I take it into my next class and Amy (my tutor) totally explains it.
    Well done though, this is gorgeous!!

  3. Lauren says:

    Superb, it looks very expensive! All your toil (see what I did there?) really paid off!

  4. Jane says:

    Karen it’s absolutely beautiful and well worth all the hard work and extra attention to detail. The colour looks beautiful on you and it fits perfectly – fantastic job. LOVE the vintage pattern and fabric – I think the dress is a great shape for your figure, go for it! x
    P.S. Sniggered at your comment about gravity taking its toll!

  5. Shivani says:

    Excellent job Karen – you must be SO pleased with the dress. It looks amazing – great colour on you!

  6. Across the Pond says:

    Cool, and thanks for the commentary. I wish I could find a reasonably priced, long-term course that concentrated on fitting and making up where I live in the U.S. For whatever it’s worth, on my monitor, the color looks lavender, not magenta.

    Good luck with your next term.

  7. Eugenia says:

    Great job! (I have also made this pattern – twice!) I love your version, the colour is so fabulous, the fit is perfect and it looks beautifully made!

  8. Roobeedoo says:

    Whoah! What a fantastic colour – it really suits you! And yes, what a collar! This is a “whole other level” of dress-making and I am reminded yet again of why I don’t make “dresses”. I have patience for many things, but those fitting issues are beyond me. Great tip re beeswax! Ooh and your dress-for-a-wedding looks like what I thought I would make last year and didn’t, so I will watch that with interest!
    Well done, girl!

  9. Debbie says:

    Fabulous dress! I think this has just jumped up my queue of dresses to make.

    Shortly I shall have to visit Walthamstow too. It must be a great place to shop for fabric if you consider Dalston Mill “meh”.

  10. Steph says:

    Wow! Well worth the time and effort I think – the dress is fantastic!

  11. Jane says:

    Your dress is absolutely beautiful and fits perfectly. I can’t wait to see how you get on with the vintage dress. I think I will be on the lookout for a sewing/fitting course locally!

  12. Rachel says:

    That is stunning. I wish that I could have taken a real sewing class when I was learning to sew. It is great to learn it correctly the first time. I look forward to more things from you. You look fabulous in that purple color.

  13. Stevie says:

    That is a most fabulous dress Karen. I pretty much just drooled over my keyboard the collar is beautiful and the colour…
    Very well done!

  14. Angela says:

    It is gorgeous!! Very lovely!

  15. Wow, that is lovely. Well done you!

  16. adelaide b says:

    The collar does make it, although I think the fit makes it even better. It’s always surprising how much better anything will look if it is properly fit. Which is rare in a world of ready-to-wear. (Which by it’s nature can only fit a few folks who match their fit standards.) And the color is just lovely.

  17. Wow, that dress is glorious, and you look stunning in it!
    And what a great colour to usher in the summer πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the lovely post, it’s really good to find out what you’ve learned. Beeswaxing and ironing thread, I’ll remember that.

  18. Jessi says:

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I love your fabric.

  19. Carly says:

    GORGEOUS. What a lovely colour too, and it looks so professionally done. Well done!

    As for your next project – I have to say my heart beat a bit faster at the sight of that fabric – I may have to purchase that where’s it from?


  20. Steffie says:

    Oh my god, it’s lovely! The color, that collar. You’ve done a marvy fitting job as well. Sounds like the class was well worth your time.

  21. Amy says:

    Ah so lovely! It looks fabulous, enjoy wearing it to your work event and seeing eveyone’s faces when they find out that you made it. The Butterick in that rose fabric would look awesome for a vintage weddding, awesome!

  22. rachel says:

    That is amazing sewing Karen – it looks incredibly professional. I love the colour, the style, the fit – you’ve done such a brilliant job. And the little bow belt looks perfect. I did a fit class a while ago, but it was 4 hours in one day, and I certainly didn’t get the amazing results you have.

  23. Alessa says:

    Wow, the dress turned out awesome. I can see why the collar makes such a difference. πŸ™‚ I love the pattern you picked for your next semester. Open back, yay! πŸ™‚ The rose fabric is lovely, too!

  24. Adrienne says:

    Wow. Your dress is seriously STUN-NING. And I can’t believe how good your lining looks! Can you imagine buying a dress like this in the store? Hundreds of Β£!

  25. Marie says:

    Truly gorgeous, what a stunning job you’ve done. Thanks so much for sharing your lessons learned, they’re really helpful!

  26. alizwa says:

    Hi Karen, the dress is amazing, sooo impressed.
    On a different note, I just bought an overlocker from Chapman’s. It is soooo easy (cant believe I am saying that about an overlocker). The model and make I bought today is amazing and so easy to set up. Chapmans give you a full tutorial as well and I am truly in love….

  27. melissa says:

    Gorgeous!! This is a showstopping dress but wear it with pride!

  28. That’s definitely one classy dress, luvin’ the collar ‘n’ colour – superb πŸ™‚

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  30. seeks says:

    Awesome! I have plans for making a similar dress, as I also fell in love with that collar. I will likely be referencing your lessons learned throughout the process too. Thanks for the post!

  31. Esz says:

    Gorgeous dress!

    And the fabric for that new pattern looks perfect. It’s going to be so pretty!

  32. Scruffy badger says:

    Karen it is stunning! How amazing it must be to own a custom fit and I’d even say tailored dress – and you made it yourself!!! You must be so proud of your endeavours. I have this pattern too but am lowering my expectations on what I make with it! Brilliant that you are continuing. We can all benefit from more top tips. X

  33. Bold Sewist says:

    Fabulous dress! The colour is gorgeous – and it’s so beautifully made! The inside is stunning too – shame you can’t wear it inside out! LOVE the collar.
    Now I’m really looking forward to seeing your vintage dress – I’ve been ogling that fabric too for a while!

  34. Tilly says:

    It’s gorgeous, well done! Thanks for the tips – especially the one about waxing and ironing thread for hand sewing. I’ll have to try to remember than one next time I blind stitch a hem – soooo annoying when the thread gets in a knot. Glad you found the course so valuable – it’d be great to hear more. Looking forward to seeing your next dress too – you’ll look beautiful in it!

  35. Hi Karen,

    This course sounds amazing! It has taken you from a sewer to a proper seamstress! I did a beginners course but that’s it, and I am really keen to do a pattern cutting course to sort out my measurements. Kudos on the handstitching as well. I avoid hand sewing as much as possible!

  36. Adrienne says:

    Also, about the narrow upper chest being “a result of gravity” I don’t agree entirely. It’s not only a matter of bust, it’s also a matter of back width. It seems like a lot of patterns are made for people with a V-shape and broader shoulders and back… which is why we are happy for Sewaholic patterns (at least I am)!

  37. Erika says:

    Stunning dress! The fit, the fabric, the colour, the gorgeous collar, all lovely!

    I’m so happy for you that the class was so good. The dress plans for the summer dress looks great, have fun sewing! =)

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  39. Elizabeth says:

    I’m late to the party, but just wanted to add my two bits: GOR-GEOUS!!!! Love that color on you. Beautiful dress.

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  45. Fiona says:

    Hi there, I am in the process of making this dress and have hit upon a problem that makes me want to cry … sob, sob. When attaching the collar, I thought I had to bring it over the ends of the zipper tape which protude above the neckline, in order to cover them. But when I then folded the collar over and started to pin it down, I realised that a) too much stiff tape needed to be folded in and prevented the collar from lying flat and straight and b) the stopper of the zip was now inside the collar preventing me from closing the zipper properly. So in desparation, I just cut the ends of the tape to make it fit better, but then – you guessed it, the zipper pull pulled right off. I now need to unpick the zipper and start again with a new zipper – but I don’t know how I will tackle the same problem next time round. How did you deal with the collar next to the zipper? Was your collar a bit shorter, thus not covering the zipper tapes? But in that case how did you finish the zipper off nicely? Was it a it longer, thus overlapping the tapes a bit – but then how do you get round my problem of having to fold in too much fabric?
    Fiona, in desperation.

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