New Look 6145 Checked Shift Dress

As part of the Simplicity challenge, this pattern attracted me to it because of the lovely sleeves in option A. Its a simple idea, but not often included in patterns. Sleeves with pleats which form part of the shape. Wonderful.

To complete this challenge I decided to stick with the design from the pattern, option A, the knee length shift with the short pleated sleeves. However, I much prefer lined dresses, especially when the body is made from wool or a wool-mix as it really helps it glide over the body. I therefore decided to fully line the body of the dress. The body of the dress was made from a checked woolmix, black with turquoise checks, with the sleeves in a matching turquoise crepe.

The goal was to make a one off original work dress which could help me remain memorable during networking meetings. Fast forwarding to the completed dress, the objective was reached, I made the dress, and wore it for a long day’s meeting to London. The below photo was taken after 12 hours on the go! It was an early start, so I wanted an outfit that could cope with the early start, long journey and still look good. This pattern, and dress, stood up to the challenge.

Dress in London

So, back to the design and making process.

The first modification to the printed pattern was to carry out an FBA.

This was done by using the slash and spread method. As the dress didn’t have waist darts, I then slightly shaped the dress at the waist on the side seam. The pattern is quite a loose fitting shift dress, so even with the adjusted waist I kept the loose fitting style.

To confirm that the modifications had been made correctly I decided to make the lining for the dress body first (this meant it could act as a muslin if modifications were required). The muslin showed that the bust darts weren’t quite in the correct place, so I marked the new position onto the pattern pieces. They were only minor modifications, so the lining was left as it was.

Next was the challenge of cutting out the main body of the dress. Given the checked fabric for the body I wanted to make sure that the shoulder seams matched, as well as the side seams. For the back seam I opted to match the shoulders then ensure that the cross checks matched. The zip and seam are therefore not exactly pattern matched (but match on the horizontal). They are however even, so the check is only slightly narrower for that block.

It’s really important when working with a check to make sure the crossing lines are matched across the seam. I find it really helpful to use the lines of the check to pin the seams, pinning on every line. This is particularly difficult when inserting the zip. To help line things up, I added pins sticking out from each of the lines of the check (after sewing the zip onto one side. This meant I could then line up on the other side of the zip and pin carefully.

 

The inserted zip and be seen below. Notice that the upper edge doesn’t look 100% even. This is because these are the raw edges, and they will be evened out when the lining is inserted. This has been caused by minor pattern matching when cutting out the fabric, which has been corrected when carefully matching the plaid when inserting the zip.

Inserted concealed zip with raw edges on the upper seam
Inserted concealed zip with raw edges on the upper seam

In keeping with the pleats on the sleeves, I decided to sew the darts externally.

Once the body of the dress was completed, the sleeves were cut from a matching turquoise crepe fabric.

To add a little more unique features to the dress, one my machine’s decorative stiches was used for the heam. This was sewn using a contrast thread (black) so that the stitching was distinctive on the lower edge of the sleeves.

Sleeve detail
Sleeve details, pleats and decorative stitching

 

Once the dress was fully made I inserted the lining (made earlier as a muslin). First sewing the neckline, and understitching it, then sewing it by hand at the sleeves. This was done by ironing in the seam of the lining, then slip stitching to the body of the dress. This results in a clean seam line on the inside of the dress.

The final stage was to hand sew the heam of the main dress. Having over-locked the fabric I folded up the seam, ironing and pinning it in place. Then the heam was handstiched using a criss cross stitch, making sure that a double stich/knot was added every few inches. This helps prevent the whole heam falling down if you catch your heam in the future when wearing it.

In keeping with the one off original dress, I’ve paired it here with some designer earings that a local designer made. The earings were designed using inspiration from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, are made from the most incredibly light acrylic making them easy to wear. She makes a fantastic range of unique statement pieces of jewellery such as the necklaces below, to look at the full range check our her website: www.kategormandesign.co.uk

barbed coil necklaces
Unique barbed coils necklaces: photo courtesy of Kate Gorman

Overall, I was pleased with the final dress and its received a number of compliments when I’ve worn it to work.

The only challenge with it, is ironing the sleeves without a crease line. I love those pleats, but they are not the easiest to iron. To make things easier I made a fabric stuffed ironing sleeve.

sleeve roll
Sleeve roll

This was made using a rectangle of curtain fabric which was sewed into a tube, with darts to make one end nicely rounded. It was then stuffed with fabric scraps. A great addition to help press or iron seams.

In addition to the meeting in London, I’ve also worn the dress recently to a meeting at the other end of the country in Stirling. Simply love knowing that no-one else will turn up wearing the same outfit.

 

V8886 Dress with colour blocking

Last year I said I’d make this pattern again – and I’ve finally got round to it! This time I made it in a light wool mix crepe, and used colour blocking to brighten up a work dress.

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Having made the pattern before I was happy with the shape and fit. This time I lined the dress body, although left the sleeves unlined.

This was the first time I’ve used a wool crepe. It won’t be the last. I found it a little tricky to work with as the fabric stretches and moves. That said. The effect is that it can stretch on the body, making it lovely and comfy.

Having just finished this dress, I smiled when I opened this month’s Sew Today magazine, (whilst wearing my winter top version). This pattern featured twice in the magazine. I think it’s a great base pattern for princess seamed tops/dresses which you can then adapt to suit your creativity. Below you can see two varieties that I’ve made.

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