When I wasn’t spending June being photographed with strangers, or making wedding bunting, I was hard at work on this dress. I won’t mention how many times I got up at 5.30am to squeeze this in, as it will only make you feel tired. Bad planning on my part -trips to Cornwall and Paris don’t help when it comes to deadlines. But here we are – a dress!
You’ve already seen the two toiles here and here. Once I began work on the dress itself, my sewing tutor advised another couple of tweaks to the shoulders, then there was nothing else for it but to sew, sew, sew. I was helped along the way by a couple of brilliant online tutorials.
Gertie helped me insert the horsehair braiding to make the hem stand in a beautiful, smooth, full, arc. Her tutorial is here. Here’s a detail of inserting the braiding:
I’ll let you into a secret. Horsehair braiding is easy to insert and really fun to work with. Don’t be scared of it, peeps! But make sure you order a sizeable amount. I ordered three metres and it was just enough. I love the finish it gives to the hem of a circle skirt and will use it again and again.
Casey’s tutorial here helped me make my own self fabric belt:
Here’s another little secret I’ll share with you: these are easy to make, too. My top tip? Ensure that the width of the belt clasp is large enough to accommodate the width of your belt backing. REPEAT – ensure the belt will actually go through the clasp before starting on the make. REPEAT AGAIN – BEFORE starting on the make. I didn’t. Ahem. I got away with it by the skin of my teeth. (And at least I could be confident the belt wasn’t going to work its way loose during wearing!)
I have another top tip that I’m going to share for free, no charge, just because. Please don’t get sunburnt in Cornwall a few weeks before wearing a dress with an interesting back detail:
Check out that tan line round my neck!
Some people are born with class, some become class, and some have class bestowed upon them. None of these apply to me. This would never happen to Gertie or Casey! If you make this dress and choose this back detail, I would advise adding some interfacing to the button hole area. I didn’t (the pattern didn’t tell me to) and it’s certainly not the best button hole I’ve ever made.
Hem length. Hem length, hem length, hem length… I went for the tea length as debated with lots of interesting comments and at great length on Gertie’s blog post here. I think this length lends an authentic feel. It looks longer in the photos than in real life. But I just can’t decide – would it have been better if I’d taken a couple of inches off? I have another wedding to go to in August, so feel free to share your opinion. If I find the energy and motivation I may adjust. IF. MAY.
Finally, we come to the best top tip I can share. Make sure your dress doesn’t match the table runners. I have seen variations on this rose print cotton in Shepherd’s Bush, Yorkshire, Paris and on Ebay. It’s everywhere! Originally I’d wanted to buy a version of the print that had more white space. Indeed, Eugenia and I pored over the fabric for several minutes on the Goldhawk Road Fabric Fandango. Remember, Eugenia? But the shop didn’t have enough of the fabric I wanted, so I was forced to go for a more dense print. Forced to. Heavens above, the god of sewing must have been looking down on me that day! If I’d gone with my first choice, I’d have matched this wedding detail:
A Narrow Escape!
I’d have squirmed with embarrassment if my dress had matched the table setting. I’m sure some of you remember my original concerns about looking too chintz!
What else do I need to tell you? I ordered a cotton petticoat from The House of Olivier. (It would be a travesty to wear this dress without a petticoat.) My cotton one is absolutely gorgeous and will see lots of wear beneath other skirts. Because it’s cotton it feels like perfectly reasonable day wear and will be used by myself much more than an organza or net petticoat. (Which makes me feel less guilty about how much money I spent on a petticoat.) However, there is a significant disparity between the hem of the petticoat and the hem of my dress. A person doesn’t notice this stood in front of a mirror at home, but you will notice it walking around a wedding. I’d advise trying to ensure that the two hems roughly match in length.
I think I’ve covered everything. Let me know if you have any questions. This is a fabulously flattering dress. I find it difficult to believe that my little chubby body is made to look so presentable just because of a very good fit. But remember, it did take two toiles to achieve this fabulous fit so don’t rush into cutting your fashion fabric on the Butterick B5605.
Oh wow, no! I totally haven’t covered everything. Kimono sleeves? You want my honest opinion? They’re a ruddy nightmare! I’ve taken construction photos and have a separate blog post planned on how to insert, but I’m telling you now – it ain’t easy. Totally worth it on this occasion, though. I hope you agree!
Queensbury Rules, old sport?
I’ve saved the best for last. At the wedding, there was a village fete theme with games on the grass – and this superb mock picture frame made by my friend, Neil, pictured with me above. Neil is waaaayyyy ahead of the pack. He discovered ‘making things’ years before it became fashionable. Every time I see him he seems to have fashioned something brilliant out of a piece of MDF and a couple of bent nails. You should have witnessed the Ghostbusters costume he made for a fancy dress party years ago! The man has more creativity in his little finger than most of us.
He made this picture frame following this tutorial. More online free tutorial goodness! Neil was even more clever and made his so that it could be folded up and packed away.
Our day in the Oxfordshire countryside was lovely and I found a dress pattern that taught me new things. Double score! Now, I just need a lie down…