Sunday, 19 June 2016

Heather: Mum's Simplicity Garden Party Dress

Back in May Bridie and I headed up to Manchester for The Big Simplicity Blog Meet. At the event Simplicity launched their sewing challenge for 2016, which consists of 4 patterns and 5 sewing categories. You can read about them here. I selected the dress pattern and headed over to Fabric Corner to select my fabrics.

Simplicity 1458. Image courtesy of Simplicity
I opted for version B and I was looking for a fabric that was eye catching but relatively easy to work with. The pattern suggests light to medium weight woven fabrics but when I spotted this green paisley-printed, embroidered stretch mesh I knew it was the right thing. (I know, I know, that fabric is neither easy to work with, nor a light to medium-weight woven... but this is supposed to be a challenge, right?!) I found a remnant of green cotton hiding at the back of a shelf and also picked up a fantastic bright green concealed zip.

I headed home, excited by my upcoming make. And then my Mum turned up. Now, I should say that my Mum is an extremely capable sewer and was the first person to pop me in front of a sewing machine and encourage me to have a go (not to mention indulging my incessant stealing of pop socks to make jersey-dresses for Barbie... more on that another day maybe), which means that I couldn't say no when she spotted the fabric and this happened...

So, that's how my green mesh dress became Mum's Garden Party Dress.

Next step was choosing the pattern pieces. This pattern is part of the 'Amazing Fit' range which includes separate front pattern pieces for cup sizes B-DD, and individual back pattern pieces for slim, regular and curvy fit. Even though I've sewn for Mum before I took a new set of measurements and made just a couple one alteration to the pattern, shortening the back length by 1/2". At this point I also altered the sleeve by adding 3 inches at the shoulder seam at the sleeve hem to create a more fluted sleeve.

I made up my toile using the green cotton that would ultimately for the inner layer of the garment. The pattern gives facing pieces fro the neck and armhole which were omitted. If you're reasonably confident on the fit, using a lining is a great way of fitting a garment without needing to make a full toile in muslin. The cotton is also pretty forgiving if it requires unpicking. As expected, at the first fitting I only needed to make slight alterations to the fit, adding a small amount of extra wearing ease at the waist and widening the neckline slightly, as I had decided to move the zipper channel under the arm.

Now for the stretch mesh. I am lucky to be in possession of a rather lovely Janome 8002DX overlocker which was an absolute essential for this fabric. Having transferred all of the alterations from the toile I quickly whipped up the outer layer using the overlocker only, trimming the seam allowances on the machine. The small embroidered flowers on the fabric did present a challenge but a slow speed and perseverance paid off.

I assembled the remainder of the garment treating the cotton layer as the lining, resulting in the exposed seams being enclosed between the mesh and the lawn. I was concerned this would show through to the outer garment but this wasn't the case. I inserted the sleeves and added an invisible zip, finally finishing the hem and sleeve hem with a rolled hem stitch on the overlocker. 

The finished garment went down a storm! Mum and I spent a rather amusing afternoon in her garden trying to get some pictures of the dress 'in use'. Mum's not a fan of being in front of the camera so I told her she could have one garden prop to make her feel more comfortable. I was thinking a watering can, but she went for a branch!

The fabric used in this post was kindly provided by Fabric Corner Lincoln, based at The Craftea Sewing Bee Shop, 22-24 Melville Street Lincoln, and at Lincoln's Historic Central Market.

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