I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front just recently. That’s because everything has been so busy; work, social life, family and sewing. Here’s an update on what I have been sewing lately.
My friend Lesley had been watching and commenting on my blog posts as I started to sew again after a 20+ year hiatus. She got in touch and asked if I would make her a dress. I am very comfortable experimenting for me or my family, but how would I get on making something for someone else? Lesley then told me that she had a piece of fabric in her wardrobe that she would like me to use. She was given it 30 years ago and it is a piece of raw silk from India. Oh, and she wanted to wear the dress for her best friend’s wedding! No pressure then!!
Lesley came over one evening to show me the fabric. She had just over two metres and she wanted a simple style long dress. We sat browsing suitable patterns on line and this is what we selected. New Look 6699. It’s a mix and match pattern, where you are able to select different bodice and skirt combinations for your desired look. We selected G, J and L. Similar to the white dress at the top – just without the sash and corsage. I needed to elongate the pattern as Lesley wanted full length.
I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but with the 30 year-old silk in mind, with no way of replacing it if I made a mistake, I decided to make a practice dress, or a toile to give it it’s technical name! Often a toile is made from a piece of cheap calico just to get the fit right and to allow any alterations to be made to the pattern before making the actual dress. In this case, I felt that if I was going to the trouble of making a toile, it may as well be one Lesley could wear too. She was really happy for me to go ahead with the toile and gave me carte blanche to select the fabric for her.
I had already analysed Lesley and her colouring is bright and light and she has signs of both cool and warmth in her colouring. She has a dramatic personality and a semi-straight body shape – which means that she has waist shaping and nice slim legs. Medium to large patterns suit Lesley, but with her dramatic personality I chose this fabulous piece of cotton with some spandex for stretch. The colour of the tulips are perfect for Lesley as they have the cool pink and the warm yellowy-orange too. This is a similar weight fabric to the silk and should give me a good idea of how it will perform when made up too. I went along to Harlequin Fabrics in Leamington Spa to select this. They are always so helpful in there. They have a wide range of fabric to choose from and it is displayed really well so that it is easy to see what they have. I also bought the lining fabric and zips for both dresses.
I thought the pattern might be tricky to work with as there are so many bodice/skirt combinations, but it was actually very well laid out and easy to follow. I went through it initially with my highlighter pen, marking the sections that were relevant to the options we had chosen. I was keen to make up the bodice and get Lesley over to try it on. I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that she has a rather full bust, so I wondered whether the size I selected was going to fit correctly. So I made up and lined the bodice for her to try on first of all. It fitted perfectly and the only thing I had to alter were the straps – I had left these open so I could check them on Lesley and then make them the correct length. She is perfectly in proportion, with her torso and legs being the same length – she was thrilled when she found this out and it is actually quite rare! It’s the reason ready to wear does not often fit well as they are generally made for standard proportions and of course most of us are not!
The dress is a fairly simple construction, with just three main pieces – a bodice, a midriff section and the skirt. I quickly made up the rest of the dress, lining it and adding the zip in the centre back. Lesley then came back to try it on. We made a couple of alterations to slim the waist (on the midriff section) as Lesley had been loosing weight ready for the wedding! Here she is modelling the dress with the fascinator she planned to wear for the wedding. She loved this dress so much, she considered wearing this one instead!! Good job I didn’t make it in calico after all!!
As you can see, it’s a perfect fit and Lesley was delighted with the dress I’m pleased to say! The sheath dress is a great stye for her. It fits her body shape really well and being a long dress it is both elongating and slimming. The broader straps are a good choice too – keep everything in the correct scale to suit Lesley.
Here are a few more views of the dress – it looks so much better on Lesley though! So the first of my ‘Lyndy-Lou’ designs is complete! I thoroughly enjoyed making this dress for Lesley and it was great to see her as she popped over to try it on during the process! I’ll blog about the silk dress next weekend.