Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Dress That I Made - The Making Of

Thank you for all you lovely comments on my last post I was so excited when I logged on and saw all those comments. It's great to get comments and it's so reassuring that I'm not just blogging to myself! (although not that that normally stops me talking to my self!)

So as promised here's the whole process of dressmaking.

1. The Concept.
I knew I wanted to rock the 50's look. I took lots of inspiration from the following amazing website:

All photos above from 

I would love to be able to rock the look in photos 1 and 2 above, but I know my shape and I just wouldn't be able to pull it off! So I opted for the shape of dress 3 with a pinch of dress 1!

2. Now I Know What I Want - How do I get it?
Well having set my heart on a dress the next thing is how do I get it? After an extensive websearch I came to the conclusion that I was not going to get exactly what I wanted easily or within budget (plus the pinup-girl dresses are mostly sold out!). So the only option left was to have a go at making it! Hobson's choice style decision made!

3. The Fabric
Well it had to be Leopard print didn't it? I trawled e-bay until I found exactly the right print and fabric. I didn't want one that was too yellow or a print that was too large etc. etc... (fussy I know!) I also thought it would be useful to have a fabric with a stretch just in case my sizing wasn't perfect! I decided on a one-way stretch bengaline fabric. I bought 6 meters but could have got away with 4 I reckon. 

4. The Pattern.
The first thing was to decide on a pattern. There are lots of good patterns out there but I find that most just don't quite hit the mark. So I decided to take a dress in my wardrobe and make a pattern from it! I chose a dress that I bought from new look a couple of years ago now. It has roughly the right cut for what I wanted - more of a 50's Marylin than a grease style swing dress.  Plus it fits really well - so in theory I didn't need to worry about putting loads of effort into making a dress from a pattern that might not fit!

Next I made a schematic of the dress and analysed the pieces (sorry cant help it I'm a scientist!)

Once I had all the bits straight in my head I pinned each panel down onto card (A2 bits bought from Hobbycraft) and pricked through with a pin to create the outline (or corners for the straight bits)

I added a 1/2 inch seam allowance to each piece, and cut around the pattern pieces.

5. Cutting
Next I took some pins, some good dressmaking scissors and some inspiration in the form of 27 dresses! I pinned the pieces on the fabric taking care to line up the one-way stretch of the fabric in a horizontal direction (I was much more likely to need some in-and-out stretch rather than up and down!) After the pieces were pinned I carefully cut them out. This is a really important step and requires time and attention, the quality of the finished dress will rely on a precise cutting job.

6. Sewing
Next I sewed the pieces together, starting with the skirt, then the bust and back of torso, (I left the back vertical seam for now) Next I sewed the skirt and torso to the waistband. I decided that I could get away without a zip, so I sewed the back seam from top to bottom. Finally I added a hem to the bottom of the dress and the top too.

7. Shopping
All I needed now was some accessories to bling up the look. So off to the shops to find the perfect shoes, belt, purse, makeup etc. etc....

8. The Finished Look
Looking at this photo, the bag is slightly the wrong shade of red, I did buy a smaller purse but I couldn't fit all my bits in it! Next time I wear this I will make sure to take a lovely boyfriend with big pockets!
From the post: The Dress That I Made

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