Wednesday, January 23, 2013

summer wardrobe : dress H

 Not so very long ago, before the holidays, I decided I would make myself a smallish kind of summer wardrobe. As an alternative to buying some items to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe. I was a little skeptical, not just in my ability, but also the time and motivation involved in making just a few garments.

But, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to add some wearable, pretty outfits to my summer wardrobe. Enough, in fact, to wear something handmade every day I was away on holidays.

Way back four years ago when I had just begun sewing, my goal was to one day be able to make clothes for myself. I enjoy fashion, but only if it suits me, and I have quite definite ideas about what I like and what I am drawn to. The prints I like are not easy to find in the shops, and many cuts are questionable. I found that what I really liked was out of my budget, with natural fibres becoming far more expensive in recent years.

I thought I would share with you a piece each week from my Summer wardrobe, both the successes and the failures. I still have so much more to learn, but I am certainly having fun along the way.

So first off the biggest failure of all. Let's get the negative out of the way first. Besides, it is the only one I have the complete pictures for right now.

I began with Dress H from the Japanese sewing book Stylish Dress Book. I wanted something loose, cool and comfortable for days at home and in the garden, while still being presentable enough to pick up the kids from school. Perhaps I had romantic country visions of dresses and gumboots.

Though this Japanese book is translated, there were many pattern lines to contend with as well as adding seam and hem allowances. Take your time though, and you will get there. I trace all my patterns with cheap greaseproof paper, often joining pieces together with sticky tape.

I had sizing issues from the start. My fault though as I had heard that the patterns were very generous, so I cut it out in an 8. I'm not quite sure what I was thinking. Well, the bottom fit with room to spare, but the neckline did not. With not enough fabric left in the print I was using (an op shopped rayon) I cut into some cotton voile I had (this time in the 12). There was a strange diagonal slant to the print and it probably was not the best choice for a straight neckline.

But it sewed up fairly quickly and soon was ready for another try on. But the gaping neckline meant I had to take it in further, which in hindsight I may have taken in too far, and then the shoulders kept slipping off.

It was comfortable, if a little tight up top. Though it did get the "maternity dress" label from the hubby. Something I had tried to counteract with a shorter hemline.

But sadly this tale does not end well. A game of handball with the kids resulted in a huge tear in one of the sleeves. The type of tear that does not mend well. So I had to concede that it was not meant to be. I'm not really sure what went wrong with this dress. Would I attempt it again? Probably not, although I would like to try other patterns in this book. But I will put it down as a learning experience. After a failure there is hope of success.

Have you been sewing these holidays? Do you have plans to start sewing or are you in the middle of a project?


  1. I recently attempted a blouse from a pattern I found online and truly it looked like a semi-tailored sack, I wish I could rescue it as the fabric I used is so darling but alas it was not meant to be!

    I actually really like the length of your dress on you - you chose such gorgeous patterns too! It's a miniature heartbreak when it doesn't translate from what you saw in your mind isn't it? Easily cured with a little more making and a good cuppa though! :-)

    Jem xXx

    P.S I think you'd rock wellies and dresses together very well!

  2. I'm inlove with the idea of dresses and gumboots too. I gave this book to a friend as a gift and she loves it. I'm a beginner, and hope one day to be able to sew up pretty dresses. xo

  3. Aw, that IS a sad end to the tale of this dress. It looked cute, but like you said, mustn't have been meant to be.

    I'm still finishing up a dress that was supposed to be my Christmas dress! But, life (and a death in the family) got in the way. So now it will be my...January dress, I guess!

    I can't wait to see what else you created. In my head I have this vision of the future where almost all my wardrobe is homemade...its a long way off in the future at this point though!

  4. Dresses and gumboots does sound rather cute (better than my shorts and gumboots and I have the tan line to prove it's my everyday attire).
    I think the dress is/was very sweet. Sewing like most things is a matter of practice makes perfect I suppose.

  5. I just stumbled by your lovely space and I am sorry for the dress not coming out the way you planned. Your vision is so lovely though. I have the book, but have yet to make any of the patterns. Maybe next week I'll begin... blessings to your day,

  6. What a shame it didn't stand up to the hand ball game it looks so lovely on you. not at all maternity in my opinion. I've had a similar experience with a tunic style top. The pattern had various sizes and i cut the 10 on the bottom and a 12 on the bodice. Oh well. I do like making my own clothes but get disappointed when they fail and then I'm reluctant to have another go. So good on you for persevering.

  7. Yay for you treating it as a learning experience. I would have chucked a giant tanty and hurled it in the bin!! It really does look lovely though...shame it was not meant to be. I'm super keen to make some things too but find the fabric selection around rather uninspiring and those I adore are too pricey. Spoonflower has some divine prints so I may head down that route. Can't wait to see your successes :) x

  8. Tania I have had so many failures but eventually hit sucess...and in the end I treat them all as learning experiences too. I'm self taught utterly and completely. My knowledge of fabrics and pattern adjustments are all learnt from trial and error. I really liked the dress you made, shame it ripped!! I've been planning on making a few basics...more maxi skirts which I find I love wearing, a few slip dresses and even just adding a strip of more expensive fabric in a plain cheaper fabric as a contract in a piece. I think the art of making it yourself so worth while. thanks for sharing xx

  9. Oh, I can totally relate to the other comments about the failures. I've had enough of them (curse the big 4 pattern companies and their fit issues!!) It is hard sometimes to pick up the pieces and try to make something of the lesson, if not of the fabric. Your dress turned out great for the photos! It looks totally adorable and not at all maternity. Pity it got torn, but I can't wait to see your successes!

  10. What a shame about the tear as the dress looks so lovely on you.
    How rewarding to have enough home made clothes to wear each day you were away.
    I sure know a lot about failures with sewing. I don't think I have sewn anything that hasn'thad to be un-picked. It is all part of the fun.

  11. I didn't have any plans to start sewing [I am all fingers and thumbs when I try to sew, but I am a knitter] but my younger daughter has plans to take Textiles for one of her GCSE [we're in the UK] courses, so I suspect we will be getting the sewing machine out and having a go! I was inspired to buy a pattern you recommended last year, but more on the basis of getting someone to make it up for me than me doing it myself, but perhaps she will be able to do it for me when she gets started on her course!
    Love your blog, and visit often, so thanks for sharing your thoughts with us all xx

  12. I am new to your blog and just love it. I really love your style of clothes and am inspired to make some of my own clothes. I love the style of clothes often found in Witchery and Country Road, albeit the price tag. Your blog is very inspirational.

    x Nadia

  13. I am so looking forward to this series! I finally made myself a very, very simple dress. I extended a shirt pattern. It has no darts, basically looks like a sack and is exactly what I wanted. I worry that it looks a bit nighty-ish but it was just a trial fabric (vintage sheet with some rusty marks to boot). Your journey gives me hope that I will also be able to try more complicated things. I love the look of this dress you made and didn't think it looked maternity-ish at all in the photo of your gorgeous self, a shame it didn't work out in the end. Such is life.

  14. Well done on your success! I love the dress - pity about the rip. can't wait to see your successes if this is a failure to you!

  15. I think you did a great job. Gosh I wish I could sew clothes. I made a peg bag today and I thought that was big achievement!! You really are very inspirational!

  16. I LOVE the dress and it looks beautiful on you.

    I have just started my sewing journey (I got a my first sewing machine for XMAS) and if you look 2 posts ago you will see my first very poor attempts at making things for the kids. It can only get better. But it's so fun and I would love to be able to make myself a dress like this. I love your white wardrobe too :-)

    Mel x

  17. Gorgeous dress! I love your fabric combination. It makes a great short dress. Would look great over jeans and with a long sleeve T underneath for cooler days. A shame about the tear!
    I have twice made dress G out of this book (the pinafore dress). One in pale green linen and one in blue hemp/cotton. I love them! So comfy, and great for layering in cool weather. Also very fast to sew! (Though I'd avoid using soft shifty linen again. It moves about too much and it's hard to get the seams straight. No doubt I should have googled the tricks for sewing it up...)
    Your blog is lovely Tania. So glad I stumbled upon it! Look forward to seeing the rest of the wardrobe reveals.
    fiona x

  18. That's a cute dress, I love dresses and gumboots too. I've just started my first dress, it's a 50's style dress in gorgeous fabric so I really hope it turns out well. I'm finding pattern sizing tricky, shop.sizing is so different!

  19. I'm so sorry to hear about your disaster. The dress actually looked great.

    I am hoping to start sewing some items for myself this year. I have been warned about those japanese patterns. As I am completely clueless, I will be staying away from them for now. I am looking for easy peasy. I don't know how to read a pattern, but I know plenty of people who do. I've ended up with about 5 meters of chocolate brown cotton I bought on sale a few years ago, I think that I will be using it to try some of my patterns first.

    I'm looking forward to reading about your summer wardrobe sewing adventures:)

  20. Sewing can be very rewarding and also very frustrating, can't it! I thought the dress looked lovely on you, but I don't think your dog was quite so taken with it - what caused the weird look on its face?

    I've been back into sewing recently, and had my sewing machine serviced for the first time in about 30 years! It did make a difference.

    Since then, I've dabbled with making soft toys for family, and clothes for myself (I don't feel so concerned about making adjustments as I go when it's just for me). But most recently I made a pair of shorts for my husband, using his favourite pair as a pattern. He wasn't that sure about it, but he has said he will wear the result.

    I'll keep sewing - it's lovely to create something yourself, don't you think?

  21. Ooh that's cute. I've made a couple of dresses from this book and they are a bit sack-like. Comfy though!. I'm just putting the finihsing touches to my belladone dress from Deer and Doe patterns. It's been challenging but lots of fun to sew. Will blog it once it is hemmed (planning on doing that in front of the tennis tonight)

  22. Perserverace and persistance always pays off Tania :)

    Glad to hear that you have chalked this one up to experience and that you didn't let it put you off.
    When I first started using patterns, my nana gave me a heap of Burda magazines that had patterns over lapping each takes time but is well worth the effort of copying them correctly.

    I've ever so slowly been adding more handmade items to my wardrobe too since starting dearmolly. I think it gave me the confidence I was lacking and while there have been a few misses there have been many successes too.


  23. You have made so many lovely clothes already Tania, you are a total inspiration. I love your fabric combination, shame this one did not work out as planned. I too have very selective taste with fabric and probably will only get clothes I really like by doing it myself, one day, one day. mel x


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