Gypsy dress and panel placement

 

ooobop soladida gypsy dress front

I am flexing those self-sabotage skills again. I have had notice of my daughters wedding for almost a year and with only a month away, have I begun making my mother of the bride dress? Don’t be daft. But I did make another Sew La Di Da French Gypsy dress. And I must say, I’m not even a little bit sorry!

ooobop soladida gypsy dress front

I totally blame that upstairs bit at Misan Fabrics, in the Goldhawk Road, where they have the most desirable remnants on sale, way cheaper than the fabrics they have downstairs. There was this 3.5m bolt of bright red panel fabric that was signalling from the top shelf. I didn’t have a clue what I’d do with it at that point. Cutting it up for headscarves was an option. But not a very exciting or fulfilling one. Maybe posh napkins or a gathered skirt? Seriously, I’m so uninspired sometimes. I spread it out on the table and looked to the assistant for a suggestion. A shrug of the shoulders translated that she wasn’t the least bit interested and was I going to buy it or not? The reason I was stalling was that the label said £10. I didn’t imagine for one minute that meant for the whole lot. So when the penny dropped, so did the idea that I could indeed make a gathered skirt but with a French Gypsy dress bodice attached to the top of it… for a tenner!


It’s great to revisit a recently-made sewing pattern: It’s already been traced; the fit is established – though I had to keep in mind that the fabric I used last time had a bit of stretch – plus having rehearsed it already, it’s a more confident sew and the process is therefore quicker.

ooobop soladida gypsy dress bodice

There was an issue of placement though. There were not going to be any happy accidents here, oh no! The skirt was dead easy to work out. I just used the width of the fabric for front and back and then halved the back for the seam allowance and zip. But I did think to make sure the panels aligned from the same point at the top/bottom… just before I cut, lol

The midriff – which I must have told you a hundred times before, is my favourite section of a dress – deserved a small floral border that came from the centre of the larger panel. I like how it kind of looks like a giant buckle from a distance. The little floral bits at the side were a bonus.

ooobop_soladida gypsy dress midriff

That same little patterned square worked for the sleeves just as well.

ooobop soladida gypsy dress sleeve

Back bodice pieces always give the most placement jip when there’s a zip to factor in. So annoying. Even more annoying when I’d already cut the back skirt pieces apart and could have made life easier for myself if I’d have thought it out properly and allowed for a side closure instead. But then I had a little brainwave and made sure that the placement didn’t need any matching up. I just needed to make sure the design was the same distance away from the zip on either side. Which it is. Kind of!

ooobop soladida gypsy dress back

The only section I’m not crazy about is the front gathered bust section. There wasn’t enough plain red and I didn’t want to repeat too much the ‘lacy’ edging of the panel section. I can live with it though!

I still had enough duchesse satin left over from the last time to make the black binding which is lucky because I love how it outlines the dress at the top.

My new dress had it’s first outing today and proved to be very picnic-worthy and received lots of lovely comments. It also attracted some attention on our little shoot in the neighbourhood earlier this evening. One passing stranger couldn’t resist joining in and worked it so well it would be rude not to include him. Thinking of you, Karen (didyoumakethat). I didn’t even have to tell him what it was for!

ooobop soladida gypsy dress guest

Thanks as always to the lovely Mr O for these lovely photos. x




Born to be a gypsy girl

gypsy girl top and skirt

I gave up Flamenco dancing when I was 7 months pregnant with son. My teacher told me that if there was an ounce of gypsy blood in me I would continue dancing right up until the baby was born. Clearly my o-neg wasn’t cutting it. Lord knows how any amount of footwork is achieved when one is the size of a whale!

Anyhoos, just 4 years of practice and 17 years later there is still undeniable evidence of gypsy in me. Even if I’m not a real one. The dancing, the music, the earrings, the roses . . . the dresses. I think I’m just going to have to grab that bull by the horns and start over again.

gypsy girl dancing

But before I drift back to when I had time on my hands, lets talk about this outfit. It’s not a dress. It’s a top and a skirt. Separates, like!

I literally snatched the fabric out of the hands of the shopkeeper when he showed me some precuts on the counter. Just how hard is it to find border print these days? I knew it was going to be a skirt already but I had enough to make a top and my lightbulb moment was realising I had the perfect pattern in Butterick B4685. I’ve made it a few times before and blogged one of them here. Another version even served to complete Dorothy’s World Book Day costume! But this is the first time I’ve included the flounce on version C. And this fabric was perfect for the job.

Butterick 4685 top

I do have an issue with the fabric though. Mostly I find the shop keepers in the Goldhawk Road honest about the content. At least where they are informed themselves. And some even do an on the spot burn test for me if I ask. But this one (who shall remain nameless) confidently told me it was linen lawn. I had no reason to disagree. After all I’ve never purchased linen lawn before. But it sounded good and most importantly, implied of natural fibre. It is lovely and soft and lightweight. Perfect for keeping gathering bulk to a min. But I got that suspicious sweet smelling odour that hit my nose when I ironed it and felt compelled to do a burn test myself.

gypsy skirt and top back view

Surprise, surprise. Not an ounce of natural fibre to write home about. Well maybe one fibre in a million. It did crumble a bit betwixt forefinger and thumb so not 100 per cent plastic. Gah!! I hate the dishonesty. I probably would have still bought it with a bit of a haggle attached. But why glam it up when its so easily sussed?

I’m not too cross because I’m very happy with the outcome. I’m just cross with the bull****!

gypsy girl in the orchard

So the skirt is just a self-drafted gathered rectangle on a waistband with an invisible zip in the side. Unlined and therefore so quick to run up. Though I did hand-sew the hem because it pleases me!

gypsy skirt and top

Dan took these photos in and around the grounds of Fulham Palace, London. Such a beautiful and understated palace which is openly used as a museum and wedding venue and picnic grounds! The gardens are so immaculately kept. And the perfume from the wisteria was gorgeous!

gypsy style with wisteria

gypsy girl by outhouse

And as has become the norm, we had some more interest from the local residents. Clearly cleaning up from the picnics!

squirrel with a sandwich

And once again outposing me on the log shot! I’m sure Mr O does this on purpose. It had bugs and cobwebs and everything on it. Eeeewwww! Can I just say out loud. I hate sitting on logs!!

gypsy girl on a log

I love this outfit, not only because it brings out my inner gypsy, not even just because I made it  (well that as well!) but because its a style that never goes away. I’m as happy wearing this kind of dress now as I was in the 90s and the 80s and I’m pretty sure there’s photographic evidence of me wearing a dress very similar in the 70s! Or maybe I’m just plain old fashioned. Who knows. Who cares. I’ll make more anyway!!

For the love of lawn

Red rose print cotton lawn dress

What have you ByHandLondon girls done to me? How am I ever going to make another dress that doesn’t involve an Elisalex bodice?

red rose cotton lawn dress

To be fair, it was the fabric that led the dress time. A three metre bolt of cellophaned gorgeousness that has patiently lain in wait for about 18 months at the bottom of Fabric Mountain. It is a rose printed cotton lawn. So silky soft and so very light, in need of a failsafe design. I haven’t seen this print anywhere since and I wasn’t about to bugger it up in a moment of madness. So, having made some fine fitting adjustments to the Elisalex-with-FBA-test-garment, I was able to go straight to and cut.

red rose cotton lawn dress detail

I toyed with a sleeveless version but having seen a few with sleeves and knowing that I wouldn’t suffer the consequences of plastic under pits, I had to give it a go.

I knew the bodice would be an even better fit than the last one as this fabric has a magical elasticity about it. Not a strand of spandex to be had. Just to do with the fineness and high yarn-count of the weave I think. It really is such a luxurious material. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to use any.

red rose cotton lawn dress over shoulder

I used the whole 60″ width of the fabric to create the gathered skirt but it looks and feels half as poomfy as the vintage rose version. Just because it is lighter. Further confirmation that at some point I must make a full on layered petticoat. I say ‘make’, because I know I will find it impossible to go buy one, even though I am wincing at all that endless, time-consuming, middle-stare-inducing gathering involved!

red rose lawn dress in the park

The sleeves were easy enough to set in. Well if you inset them the right way round that is! I was wondering why, when I tried it on, the sleeves insisted on twisting round. I thought at first that the FBA had reduced the armscye somwhat, but oh no. Just a tired, dippy moment last night.

Note to self (and to anyone else who has ever made the same mistake): 
2 notches on a pattern piece indicate the back; 1 notch indicates the front

I had the moment of clarity, as I often do, standing in my blurry morning haze, under the shower head. A Eureka moment, kind of. So, following this one, I ran downstairs in a towel to check the notches on the sleeve. A bit tricky when you’ve clipped all the seams (doh!) but sure enought, that’s exactly what I’d done.

red rose lawn dress

You’d be forgiven for thinking that that was the end of my dippiness. But oh no no no. Having unpicked them and swapped them over, I then proceeded to pin the hem edge of one of the sleeves to the armhole. Can’t believe I openly admitted that. But better out than in, I say!

red rose lawn dress profile

Quite a bit of hand stitching re bodice lining to armscye and waist seams and hand hemming. Only because I feel like I’m cutting corners if I do otherwise. But I have temporarily machined the sleeve hems just because at that point, Mr O was politely tapping his foot with a camera round his neck.

Best not upset the photographer, hey?!

red rose lawn dress on the kerb

Speed sewing for summer!

vintage rose dress

I am so loving this heat. You won’t ever hear a moan from me, however hot it gets. I’ve had my fair share of cold to last me a lifetime. My pace has slowed, my skin is glowing, my nails… I’ve actually got some. Bring on that Vit D, baby!!

My only gripe – well it’s not even a gripe, really – is that I don’t have nearly enough summer dresses. It’s only ever been necessary to make 1 or 2 with such poor rubbish excuses for summers that we have.

I had a lovely Email from a very dear friend last week, asking if I’d like to take care of his aunt’s sewing patterns and best of all his aunt’s beautiful sewing box. A no-brainer of course. The patterns, the box and it’s surprise contents are so deserved of their own post but what I do have to show you for now is the dress I ran up in haste this weekend for our lunch date with Nigel.

I cut it out on the Thursday night, sewed it together on the Friday night (legged it down to the market on Saturday morning to get a zip) inserted said zip and hemmed it up before our lunchtime jaunt to a lovely converted cricket pavillion pub for lunch.

vintage rose dress

In order for that kind of magic to happen I had to use a tried and tested bodice. And that of course is all credit to the lovely Elisalex pattern, brilliantly crafted by ByHand London. I replaced the skirt with a gathered rectangle using the full width of the 45″ fabric, and making good use of the selvedges to minimise neatening of so many raw edges!

I’ve had the fabric in Stash Mountain for so long, it felt like the dress was for free too, which is always a bargain!

Of course there were corners to be cut, namely a machined hem and I dodged hand stitching the bodice lining to the skirt seam. Don’t judge, just yet! This will most definitely be rectified as the complete sewing snob inside of me cannot stand to see that stitching. It’s just not right!

vintage rose dress detail

I’ve got another in the pipeline too, using some lighter weight cotton in a red rose print. Only this time I’m going to take the sound advice of BHL’s FBA instructions and give the girls an extra inch!

Is anybody else speed sewing for summer?

When I got back home I had a good old rummage in that lovely old sewing box. It was hours before I came up for air!

sorting vintage buttons