Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Vintage Tea Dress

The Great British Sewing Bee has sparked somewhat of a sewing frenzy and I have to admit that even though I was disappointed not to make it onto the show after the auditions- I have been completely absorbed in the buzz around the contestants and the projects featured on the programme. I loved following Lauren's adventure and her blog is definitely one to check out. She has just opened up her own haberdashery and sewing studio in Birmingham (which I am well 'jel' about!) and she is offering some amazing classes alongside Tilly (aka Tilly and the buttons) and Stuart.

When I received my latest 'Sew' magazine I was delighted that there was an insert containing projects from the show! I absolutely loved the look of the Vintage Tea Dress and the instructions looked remarkably straight forward so I gave it a go...

Insert from Sew Magazine

Straight forward instructions!
Although I have quite a few years of sewing under my belt, one thing which I have always struggled with is lining. I can't work out why it befuddles me so much- I completely understand the necessity for it but whenever I try to use it, it always lets me down. My usual dilemma lies in the difference between lining each pattern piece (makes perfect sense to me!) as opposed to making the garment in the fashion fabric then also making it in the lining fabric and joining the two together. For this particular dress, the instructions didn't make provision for lining so I had to wing it so to speak.

Fabric & Lining

I loved the spotty fabric modelled in the instructions so I settled on a similar fabric in a vibrant blue colour. As the fabric was quite transparent I purchased some baby blue lining at the same time and decided to face up to my fears! The pattern is a printable one from Quadrille Publishing and is easily stuck together with sticky tape and a bit of folding. I was really attracted to the simplicity of the pattern as there were very few pieces to contend with. Front piece, back piece, sleeve piece and facings and that is your lot. Now, I probably love facings as much if not more than I hate lining, if that makes sense, so I was keen to keep the facings if possible. I read in Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing (Gertie is a New York sewing guru as far as I am concerned), that there are two choices with lining dresses. 1. Apply lining directly to outer edges of the neck and side seams and do away with facings, or 2. Use facings and apply lining to bottom of the facings. As a result of my love of facings I went with option 2.

Working with flimsy fabrics

Just a note on working with the flimsier types of is hard! When watching the Sewing Bee I didn't really pay too much attention when the contestants were expressing their woes towards working with flyaway fabrics...however upon pinning and cutting my blue spotty fabric I used many a swear word as my fabric started slipping and sliding under the pattern pieces. It is way more tricky than I originally envisaged and required a great deal of perseverance indeed. This added to the difficulties with the lining as I am conscious that the lining ought to be in a lighter weight fabric than the fashion fabric in order that they drape perfectly. This is another concept I struggle with. I often end up with cutting the lining and fashion fabric exactly the same size but then find myself in a right pickle when it comes to the lining accommodating the body shape. Either or both of my fabrics end up tight or baggy and generally ill fitting. This poses a problem! 

(If any of you have any tips to share they would be very welcome at this point! )

Buttons sewn onto shoulder seam line

The Result | A dress fit for tea...

Overall, despite my lining difficulties I am quite pleased with the finished dress. I have a good track record for making items and then confining them to the ottoman as I never believe they are good enough to wear. I think this time I will make an exception!

I added some buttons to the shoulder seam to jazz it up a little, together with a striking pink belt to break up the waistline.

Tea anyone?!

Next time I will be making embellished collars, courtesy of Simplicity Patterns...

Em x