Sabrina, checked and tested!

Remember Sabrina Duncan? She was my favourite Charlie’s Angel. She was the leader, the rebellious one. Not the one who spent any amount of time on her flicks. Nor ever to be heard complaining about a broken fingernail and her martial arts skills were unrivalled and unhampered by flares. So cool.

What’s that got to do with the price of fish you may well ask… Well this is my Sabrina dress. This is By Hand London’s latest lady and my new go to dress. Not named in honour of my Sabrina as far as I know but in a roundabout way she led the slightly unorthodox approach to this dress.

Sabrina dress in kensington

When I was asked if I’d like to pattern-test this one it was a no-brainer. Not only was the dress named after one of my childhood heroines, it had princess seams that presented a perfect project to utilise some of that inspiration that I sucked from the JPG exhibition. A clash of the Tartans!

Not anywhere near as edgy as JPG himself but I love it all the same.
A great chance to kick start the Autumn wardrobe too.

Minerva kindly supplied the fabric and I knew exactly where I was heading to search for the cloth in question. I’d been trawling recently and had seen these two tartans together. Blackwatch and Royal Stewart – such a great contrast that had to work.

Incidentally this is a poly viscose blend. Apparent from the prewash that future laundering of this dress would be a breeze; Hardly creases; A joy to iron. In fact if hung up to dry properly you could almost get away with not ironing at all.

bhl sabrina dress kensington station

I have a few nitpicky personal fitting issues to sort, namely a sway back adjustment and since studying the photos, I think there is some excess in the upper bust. Even though I made a muslin – I was never going to cut right into that fabulous fabric without testing the waters first!– I didn’t pay proper attention to a perfect fit. Plus its quite tricky when you are up late on your own and don’t have eyes in the back of your head. So with that aside, I made this dress straight from the packet. from one size, no adjustments.

It does fray, this fabric, especially when over handled. But given how the seams are pressed sideways, trimmed and overlocked seams were defo the way forward.

You may well ask why I would want to take on the added pressure of pattern-testing. After all, its not like I’ve got any spare time on my hands. Kids and all the outside school activities that get involved in, full time plus overtime self employedness, and contrary to the belief of my kids I don’t employ fairies to cook clean and bottle-wash and of course my night time activities are sewing! It’s not like it’s paid and its not like I’m given any lead time. And so I have even asked myself the same question. But in writing up this post the ‘why” suddenly presented itself to me in a duh sort of way.

sabrina dress stained glass

I have a list longer than both arms of projects I want to sew. Dresses, jackets, suits and hats. Mostly all of them are inspired by a ready-made pattern that have a ready-made image on the front or in the mag. It’s quite difficult to think outside the box when you are presented with something that fundamentally works already. But when you are given a computer generated line drawing or better still a rough fashion sketch of a dress that isn’t even invented yet, that’s more than enough to shake up all those creative juices and set my brain on fire with ideas, mostly above my station I might add. Leather, feathers, fur, gold lame. It doesn’t matter that most of these aren’t realised. They will be in time. It matters that I’m focussing on the textile rather than the design. That bit has already been done for me in this case by the By Hand London Ladies. So I can concentrate on what fabric will work best which will have greater structure, beautiful drape or sharp enough edges to carry it off properly. It excites me. That is all.

bhl sabrina dress phonebox

I don’t think I pushed the boat out too far with this dress but its a start on my journey of discovery. When I presented my Photoshopped image to Vicki at Minerva she was really excited to see the end result and said she’d never seen those two fabrics put together before.

I’d like to try some leather in place of the Blackwatch in the future but even a pvc might be as good. I think Ms Duncan is calling for some added tomboy!

The dress itself is such a flattering and simple shape. Nicely fitted to the waist and charmingly flared to just above the knee. Its also a great base for incorporating a collar, changing a neckline adding some bodice detail.

sabrina dress tube stn

It sews up real quick. Just be careful around the bust shape and watch out for puckers. That happened on my muslin.

It’s unlined. Just has a bodice facing which is all you need really for a medium weight woven. Doesn’t stick to my tights either!

The hem should be kept small to avoid gathering the excess in the flare and I would say that was the trickiest bit.

I kid you not its had more wears than any dress in my wardrobe and it’s the newest!

The above shots were taken in and around South Kensington and at the Victoria and Albert museum. That’s my favourite London hangout too by the way!

sabrina dress, victoria and albert museum

We were child- and fancy-free and popped in to see the Horst exhibition. Perfect inspiration for some glamourous dresses and stunningly lit fashion photography. Just Google Horst photographs for an eyeful of awesomness!

sabrina dress at the victoria and albert museum

Photography Daniel James Photographic
Shoes Lola Ramona
Handbag: FARA Ealing

32 thoughts on “Sabrina, checked and tested!

  1. This is fabulous! I initially thought the black watch was a solid black, but the tartan adds even more interest to what is already a stunning dress! Please do the leather panelled version, it will be epic! Also, your Mr is a photography god… I love that each sewing project ends in further artistic collaboration!

  2. Great dress on you and lovely pics as always!
    I agree, for me it’s the seduction of the line drawing. I find live drawings are like being given a blank slate, an irresistible one!

    1. Thank you Lizzy. I’ve got enough people telling me what to do in real life so its such a delight to get a free brief every now and then… as you probably know too! x

  3. The “clash of the tartans” turns out to be a harmonious pattern mix and one I would love to emulate in time. I think the fit is pretty good, but as always, I feel that fabrics behave differently to toiles. I like the flare and the princess seams which are exactly where they should be. And lovely backdrop – one of my favourites too. Have you tried Oriental Kitchen nearby? Highly recommended.

    1. Thank you so much. And yes you are absolutely right about toiles behaving differently in a different fabric. I used a fabric that was relatively the same weight but it did have a bit more give in it so what I am seeing now was pretty damned invisible on the toile. Will defo check out the Oriental Kitchen. Love a good recommendation 🙂

  4. Love it! Great pairing of tartans, it’s very kick-ass and very you. 🙂

    Also, loving your photo shoot!

    Nice thoughts on pattern testing and the freedom of being presented with a blank slate. Never thought about it that way before….

  5. Gorgeous Janene! You look fab and have put a totally different, edgy spin on a pretty basic dress. Oh, you’re so cool lady!
    My favourite Angel was Jill (Farrah Fawcett) purely because she was so pretty – I could never see further than blonde hair as a child! I did like Sabrina’s pageboy hairstyle though. X

  6. Very cool dress. I was also a little besotted by Farrah Fawcett! Also there is a very stylish lady in a tartan cape in the background of one of your images. She looks how I look in my imagaination!!

  7. I love the clash of the tartans. May have to buy some of the blackwatch it looks fab. The way you’ve styled it with those spat shaped boot is fab. Well done a good make and very inspirational.

    1. Thank you Louise. I just remembered my eldest daughter had a bridesmaid dress in Black watch tartan when she was little. With a started white collar. Such gorgeousness!

  8. So wonderfully British. I love love love the use of two different tartans. I don’t know that I would have been that brave, but it really worked out! Cute dress.

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