Sunday, 18 December 2011

A dress is made, and Ru turns 22

Happy birthday to me!

The hedonistic pose is rarely flattering.

Yesterday, I turned 22 and celebrated with excellent friends and an excellent pub- The Laughing Gravy on Blackfriars Road in Southwark. The staff were friendly and wonderful and make all their drinks with care. Just look at this customised cappuccino!

So that was my birthday, and now I am officially in my early 20s. Oh dear.

In other news- I made a dress! I am actually pretty proud of myself, after years of making ugly and nigh unwearable clothes, I put together a lovely dress that looks good on, suits me, has a high level of finish and will hopefully last me a while. My current favourite dress, an excellent buy from Oxfam Reworked in Reading, is starting to look a little tatty, so I'm hoping my homemade one can take it's place.

Not the best picture, but it gives you a rough idea of how it looks on (I took this before I hemmed it, so the finished length is a little shorter). The cotton is comfortable and hangs well, and the dress looks great over a petticoat, although I do wish it was a little more flared.

The bodice is completely lined, and I made the built in sash/belt from the same material. The base material is a cotton printed with Ukiyo-e style portraits of Japanese ladies, with kanji in the background. Not being able to read kanji, I have no idea what it says (probably something like "this person has terrible taste".

The pattern I used was New Look 6910, view A with the plain sash (there's an option to add a bow or rose).

If you do a quick search for that pattern you can see the hundreds of other women who've chosen to make it too! It's pretty popular, although a few other ladies on pattern review sites noticed the problem that I had- there's too much space in the shoulders. If I hadn't been alone in the house when I was sewing (or if I had an accurate dressmaker's dummy) then I would have altered the bodice to fit better. As it stands, around the shoulders and back is a little loose on me, but I may get round to changing that in the future.

-Main fabric was £14 a metre (a big expense when I bought it 4 years ago!) and I used 1.6m of it so that's £22.40
-Lining was £2.50 a metre and I used 1 metre of it
-55 cm zip from John Lewis was £5.50! I am going to start buying my zips online instead, because that's ridiculous.
-Thread was £1.50 for 100m I think.
-Pattern was £5.89 from Jaycotts, but they were doing a 10% off offer so it was actually £5.30. Shipping was £2 I think.
Total: £39.20
Time spent- I think it took about 5 hours (including cutting out the pattern), and I work at a fairly relaxed pace.

I think that's pretty reasonable, as similar dresses sell for anything from £25 to £50 in high street shops like Next or New Look. And of course, the thread and the pattern will carry on over to other projects, and when I am done with the dress I will recycle it into something else.

My favourite thing about this project was that I have finally started to harness the real power of my sewing machine. I've been straight stitching and sewing button-holes for a while, but until I made this dress I had no idea it could overlock or sew a blind hem. The overlocking looks professional and will come in handy if I start working with jersey or making t-shirts. Blind hemming means I don't have to faff around sewing hems by hand- the machine does it very well with a neat and professional finish.

I can finally make pretty things :)


  1. Happy birthday! (did those squiggly mirrors come from Ikea?)

  2. Thanks! And yes, a lot of the stuff in my parent's house is from Ikea. The mirrors are a bit of the pain, sometimes they make you look very very fat- if your reflection carries over two of them!