inching forwards – altering the fit

Today has been an interesting reminder in the importance of a well drafted pattern and the difference some time spent on fitting adjustments can make. But maybe some illustrations of the above will help explain what I am going on about….

I haven’t adjusted the neckline yet, as I wanted to check the effect of a minor alteration to the arm scythe would have. The bodice bottom has been shortened and shaped. The bottom side seams have been taken in slightly at the front bodice. The “tallest” dart has been reduced by 1cm, I think it still needs another cm.


still some wrinkling at the back



this bodice got altered the most, 3cm higher! its also more shaped too

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the back is looking pretty good


Neck(line) and neck(line)

It’s rained for a good part of the weekend. Amongst the necessary evils that must interrupt the pleasures of a long awaited weekend (its been a very busy week) some dressmaking was on the cards. Given both of the simplicity patterns (1803 & 2444) came with more ease than usual, and my experience with making my last dress, I decided to invest some more time, rather than my usual sew and fit approach.

The 1803 dress had the most ease and lots of people said it was too big when they made it in their usual size. So I went down a size at the waist. The other dress was made in my usual sizing. Here’s what they both look like so far! I’ve not made two dresses at the same time before so this is a new experience.

Some immediate thoughts. First, thank goodness I’m planning to line both of the dresses. Its not in the instructions but I think the fabric will hang much more smoothly for it. The amount of ease seams ok, I don’t think I would want to size down much more. I think the dart ending for 2444 needs to be lowed slightly.

Anyway, here’s what they look like so far…..1803

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and 2444

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with excess ease did I shift (this dress)

Ah yes, you may remember a while ago I was wrestling within the confines of a rather spacious dress. Billed as a shift dress by Simplicity, my first version resembled a wine bottle in terms of shaping and fit. Not a good look! the quilt project took over my entire sewing life, and pretty much swept everything else (literally dragged the thing across the floor everywhere) in to the corner.

Having finished the quilt it was time to lavish some TLC (and some major narrowing) on the waistline in order to actually indicate I have one. I have not spent 8 months exercising to make it look in one fell swoop like I have done absolutely nothing at all. Two waist darts later, and some careful pinching out at the side seams, we still have the shift dress shape, but one which is, dare I say, much more becoming.

The finish line was further delayed by having to undertake a fair amount of hand sewing (how an earth did I end up doing more of that voluntarily?) in order to hem the scalloped edge and finish off the armholes with bias binding. A must given my lack of facing as I had opted for a full lining. Given how the dress feels, with plenty of structure and a nice drape, its been worth the effort.

You are lucky to be seeing photos today, courtesy of my next door neighbour, as the resident photographer (literally so, as she is my housemate) is currently away.

Fear not, my sewing machine will not remain idle for long. The chair from which I write is currently surrounded by the tissue paper pieces of not one, but two, new dress projects. The fabric from China won the battle for domination amongst the stash and I intend to make Simplicity 1803 and 2444. I’ll be using the paisley type fabric. More to follow soon!

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back to square one


I’ve had a break from it all. Work, phone calls, the quilt. All swapped for a lovely week in France spent eating amazing food and walking in beautiful countryside. The idea was, after some very hectic months of late, to renew my energy levels and regain some zest. As the edges of me, if you will pardon the pun, were looking a little ragged at the seams.

Suffice to say it must have helped as on my first day back after returning I found myself up nice and early cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen and even did some hoovering. On a day off for me to actively choose this ahead of anything else is rather unusual to say the least! I have also found the motivation to give one last push at the quilt. You’ll be both pleased and relieved to hear IT IS DONE. Yes, there will be no more posts about quilts for a good while. I have well and truly got it out of my system for the moment.

Looking at the end result, it’s not perfect. There are areas where the tension during the quilting process didn’t quite work. I have no walking foot and for my poor Bernina it would be a rather costly process to get one. Who knows, something I may purchase in future but not right now. I now know why even experienced quilters don’t normally make quilts of this size. It is physically demanding to handle that much fabric. I also know why they don’t use home decoration fabric. It makes it even heavier!

On the plus side, I defy anyone to feel cold underneath this thing, or for it to fall off your bed. I doubt you would feel a draft either. In that respect I think I have made something more suited to chilly victorian bedrooms then the modern day equivalents. There is one final finishing touch to admire (or should I say shake your head over). Not content with the machine quilting, I decided it would be nice (feel free to substitute this word with other less favourable descriptives regarding my thinking) to hand quilt all the blue contrasting squares. Because I didn’t want white to go over them, the thought of moving all that fabric through the machine after changing to blue thread did not appeal, and it would make the squares stand out more.

Twenty squares later I have discovered I am not good at working out a straight line by eye and my hand quilting skills aren’t all that great. But hey, I did some hand quilting! the lady who avoids hand sewing when ever I can. What ever has got in to me?

I now need to finish off my terracotta orange shift dress which has been sadly languishing on a chair making distressed neglected noises at me whenever I have walked past. Then to decide what to sew next. Any thoughts? should I break in to the China fabric stash maybe?


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