Simple Sew – The Skater Dress

I love making 1950’s style dresses – basically anything with a flared A line skirt will do!  I have tried various patterns over the years to see what fits best and which is the better style that I am looking for.  I normally stick to my Butterick B4443 easy sew pattern, which has seen me make countless dresses from.  This is all well and good for summer dresses,  however I have never really made a winter dress before so thought I would give it a go.

imageI do like the skater style dresses so had a look on the web at what was available.  I noticed the Simple Sew patterns had a lovely dress which looked good and importantly, looked easy to make.  I couldn’t really find many reviews of this dress. Having curves, I always check out the Curvy Sewing Collective, who do excellent reviews and advice.  However this dress didn’t feature there so I thought I would give it a go anyway. I also liked the idea that Simple Sew was a British company, instead of the usual USA sewing pattern providers.

When the pattern arrived, it was on one huge piece of tracing paper, not like the couple of sheets you usually get.  The paper was a crisp white which made it easy to trace/cut around.

I have had my fingers burnt often, with not doing a “mock up”.  I have cut the pattern out according to my measurements and have cut my lovely fabric only to find once I’ve made it, that the thing just doesn’t fit.  No more!  I always make a mock up now.  I trace over the sewing pattern and use some cheap material to test it out.  By doing this, I can alter fitting and hems etc to fit my measurements.  It is a long winded way of doing it but it’s so much better than spoiling your original lovely fabric.

Anyway, onto my mock up – my original material was a grey background of white outlined cats which I though would be more appropriate in the winter.  I am a regular size 8 in most clothes but went for a size 10 in this pattern to try to accommodate bigger boobs!

After tracing and cutting out I then went onto the instructions.  These I have to say are pretty vague, they miss lots of steps off and are very minimal.  I have never quite seen instructions so like this.  After finding no reviews online, I went onto the Simple Sew website where they do have pattern tutuorials.  This was better and the tutorial did admit that the instructions did miss out some steps.image

However once I had pieced what I was supposed to do together, it was all very straightforward.

There are not too many pieces in this design, front and back bodice, front and back skirt, sleeves x 2 and collar interfacing. I only needed to buy a 16inch zip and obviously matching thread.

I started by transferring  darts on the front and back bodice as per the pattern and sewing these, once this is complete, you sew the shoulders only of the back and front bodice together.  This seems strange to me, as on all other patterns you sew the sides too.  Next is the interfacing – I  always get this mixed up when ironing on interfacing – I can never remember if its the shiny side you iron or the other one and invariably I get it wrong!  Once you have successfully cut out and ironed the interfacing to the collar, you sew the 3 sections together and then sew onto the neckline.image

Next the sleeves.  I always found these hard, which explains why I’ve so many sleeveless dresses in my wardrobe!  Actually these are quite each.  Run a basting stich across the top of the sleeve to fit into the armhole and gather from both ends.  Don’t garther too much, jut a few gathers as the sleee has to fit in the sleevehole.  Once it’s pinned in and adjusted, then sew.

Now for the skirt.  Attach the front skirt to the front bodice and vice versa to the back skirt and bodice.  Simple.  Next the zip.  I dislike putting in zips intensely, however my experience of zips has been changed by watching the Professor Pincushion video tuturoals on YouTube.  Your will never look back, believe me! Once you have insterted your zip, sew from the end of the zip to the bottom of the centre hem. Once you have sewin in your zip you need to sew from the edge of the sleeve right down the side of the body all the way to the bottom hem.  The instructions usefully didn’t mention any of this.

imageFInally to finish, sew a neat hem at the edges of the sleeves and a hem for the bottom of the skirt.

Voila.  A skater dress. Thanks to Simple Sew.

I have to say this is one of the best fitting dresses I have made, I loved the mock up so much I’ve kept that for next summer!  It fits in all the right places, especially if you are not a stick insect and really looks good.  I can’t wait to wear it!

 

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Sewing for curvy people? Not always successful!

Bettine_sewing_pattern_cover_mediumI started dress making when my son went to school and I was at a loose end.  I had always been creative, making curtains, cushions etc. but I decided I wanted to have a go at making my own clothes.  I enrolled on a sewing class and have never looked back.

Not everything has been successful, there has been quite a lot of learning on the job.  I now know that its best to make a “mock up” of something you fancy trying, rather than wasting precious fabric.  However, I haven’t made any clothes for a few months now (summer hols etc) and I completely forgot my “mock up” rule!

I purchased the Bettine dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons.  I’ve made a couple of Tilly’s things before which have always turned out well.  However, not so this pattern.  I am a size 10 but curvy which fitted in with size 2 of the pattern.  I was going ahead really well and the dress was mostly made, when I suddenly thought, I’d better try this on to see if it fits.  I couldn’t even get the dress over my head!  I had picked a cotton gingham material and there was no give in it at all.  I altered the seams, but still nothing.  So frustrating.  I measured the dress compared to the final measurements as given in the pattern and they were correct, but not for my size!  I simply can’t do anything with it at all and my lovely gingham dress is looking at me, all forlorn!

I googled reviews of the pattern and quite a few did say that it was only made for those women who weren’t curvy or busty.  Wish I had read this before and saved my time and my fabric!

One of the reviews pointed me to a website tailored especially for those women like me, the Curvy Sewing Collective.: http://curvysewingcollective.com/

They are a group of women with ideas and advice on sewing and patterns for curvy women.  Their review page is quite good and gives pictures of how they have altered patterns to suit different figures.  Following on from this, I’m now going to give the Dahlia dress pattern from a Colette a go!  Remembering to do a “mock up” first!