Ooobop! party dress

party dress back view

I have been designing this dress in my head for quite some time. I design a lot of things in my head –in the shower, on the bus, when I’m meant to be doing something else and when I’m nodding off to sleep – it’s a busy old head!

Anyhows, an invitation to the gorgeous Rhonda’s 30th bitthday party was a great prompt to put some of these ideas into action. I met Rhonda’s mum, Tina many moons ago when we moved next door to her and she soon became more than a neighbour. More confidante, great friend and the most wonderful childminder to my son. So this party was really a family affair and I needed a dress.

party dress full skirt

I’ve got real issues with buying clothes from high street shops nowadays. I haven’t bought anything new (save underwear and shoes, of course!) in over a year and get much more satisfaction in making something myself or striking lucky in charity shops. I did think about making it a conscious decision when I started this blog but I know how flaky I can be and I didn’t think I could stick to that rule. Turns out I didn’t have to make it a rule. It happened quite naturally. I much prefer dreaming of what I want and making it or ‘rescuing’ from charity shops rather than settling for what’s out there. And now I really feel like I’ve moved on.

party dress twirl

This is my first dreamt of, self-designed and handmade dress. And I am chuffed to bits. The bodice pattern is slightly modified from Burda Style’s Wedding Special, issue March 2011. It has a v-back, a high neckline and is perfectly fitted with waist and bust darts. Below is the bridesmaid dress as featured in the magazine.

burda bridesmaid dress

The skirt section is self-drafted. It is a circle skirt with the inner circumference double the waist. The fabric is either silk or cotton, a silky cotton… or maybe a cotton silk! I did a burn test and it burnt to dust so its definitely void of any synthetic fibres! I had enough of it to self-line the bodice and it feels lovely against my skin and was cool enough under the flashing lights on the dance floor!

party dress front

I made the sash from a 3 metre, double layer length of chiffon, tapered at the ends and top-stitched.

party dress sash detail

The rose print allowed for some interesting placement on the back. Quite happy about that!

party dress back

The dress is worn over an organza petticoat, again, self-drafted, which although not complicated, was more of a test of my patience than the dress. I will blog the petticoat separately given that I haven’t taken any photos of it yet.

Unsurprisingly I didn’t get chance to hem the skirt by hand. And in a way, I’m quite glad I didn’t spend the time – can’t imagine how long it would take – I went for a machined baby hem instead.  First I ran a line of stitching, a seam width, along the hemline. I used this as a pressing guide and it pressed up beautifully. I then tucked in the raw edge to the fold and machined again, using my quarter inch foot which made it really easy to keep a small and consistent hem. I was careful not to stretch the fabric as I went round so it didn’t pucker. I pressed it again… this fabric really is a pleasure to iron!

The most amazing thing about this dress is that it cost £3.50! £3 on the fabric – an incredibly lucky find in a charity shop – and 50p on the invisible zip. The sash cost much the same!

The fabric was a little slippery and needed lots of pins to hold in place. This is my first dress in a silky fabric and I anticipated it being troublesome. That said, I really worked fast on this dress. Mostly because I had a party to go to and I suppose because there was no expense at stake… apart from my time! It irons beautifully and hangs so effortlessly so I can forgive the grief it gave!

It took one evening to draft the skirt pattern, cut the fabric and assemble/line the bodice; a couple of hours to sew the skirt on to the bodice (I am really not a fan of gathering!!) and putting in the zip. I hand finished the inside lining, hemmed the skirt and made the sash the morning of the party.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I love the fabric and Im happy that a special stash piece got used for an appropriate project. It was just waiting for the right moment!

Thank you to Mr Ooobop! for the ‘action photos’ and lots of lovely birthday wishes to Rhonda x

Peggy Pickles Pillowcase Post…

What a great post on Peggy Pickle’s blog this morning. Lots of lovely images showing the children of Great Mercy school and orphanage, western Kenya, wearing their pillowcase dresses. Alison did such a fab job organising this and a lot of fun was had in the making and embellishing of them. I have so enjoyed following her progress and seeing what a difference it makes.

I really wasn’t expecting to see any of the few that I made among the hundreds that were made and shipped but to my surprise, peeking out from the back row, 2nd in from the left, I do believe that’s one that I embellished at the Pillowcase Embellishment party.

pink pillowcase dress

pink bows

Dead chuffed to see it in situ and so very glad to have played my tiny part in this fabulous project. Well done Peggy Pickles. You are a star!

B4320 Dorothy dress for World Book Day

B4320 dorothy dress
B4320 Dorothy dress

World Book Day was last Friday but as luck would have it, Little Miss Ooobop’s school had to delay the fun by a week which gave me 10 days to get my act together. She had already decided upon Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and I was quite relieved to be honest! The aim was not to overcomplicate issues this time! Well that was the thought.

Butterick B4320 comes with a hundred miles of tissue pattern for each of the 5 very different costumes. It was bulging at the seams when factory folded so you can imagine me trying to stuff it all back in after I’d wrestled with it on the living room floor. Needless to say, the Dorothy pieces have been separated out into their own envelope for easy retrieval… if there is a next time!

B4320_Butterick_childrens_costumes
B4320_Butterick_childrens_costumes

Though pretty easy to follow, this pinafore dress is incredibly well thought-out and is not throwaway costume stuff. The waistband is cut on the bias which gives a good, comfortable fit as are the straps and the top band of the bib. Each of those pieces are interfaced and faced and the inside facings are hand-stitched for a really neat finish inside. The back of the skirt has a zip in the back centre seam. Its been a while since I sewed anything but an invisible one but I quite like sewing in the ‘visible’ ones too! The straps cross over at the back and button on the inside though to be honest the buttons would have been a nice feature on the back too. This was a first time using the buttonhole stitch on the Brother machine and it sewed like a dream.  The two white buttons on the front waist band are for decorative purposes only but I think they are really cute!

The only tricky thing about making this was when I ironed the fusible interfacing to the waistband. The iron was too hot, on steam setting and I managed to stretch it out two inches bigger than it was supposed to be! Easily recified though. (Rather than cut another one…) I just put the waistband facing on top and trimmed the excess!

The fabric was a timely find in a charity shop. I had seen it the week before, thinking it would make a lovely blouse. Its 100% cotton. but held back with stash mountain in mind. So when LMO brought up the subject of Dorothy I made it my first point of call the next day and the fact that it was still there was amazing! £2 for a proper Dorothy pinafore dress is pretty good going methinks, even though its not proper gingham but ‘mum’s the word’!

You may have noticed I didn’t go the whole hog and make the underdress too. I was up ’til midnight on the pinafore… I wasn’t about to do another shift for the underdress… I’ve got a jacket to finish, don’t you know?! And so, did you recognise the little top underneath? It’s actually my peasant top I made last April 2011. I just pulled up the elastic round the neck and ‘hey presto’, it fits a 7 year old…kind of! I’ve just knotted the elastic so if I ever get it back I can still get wear out of it this summer. ‘Refashioned me-mades’ … oh how I have moved on!

Big thank yous to the lovely Little Miss Ooobop! who makes a fabulous model and to the gorgeous Mr Ooobop! for his amazing photography skills.