Tuesday 6th November

Well helloooooooo!  Remember me?  I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d forgotten as its been 3 weeks!  It’s been a bit manic at work recently and lots going on with family and friends, but I have some time now, so I’ll update you all.

You may remember that I was working on the 50’s vintage dress, well I finished that and started on a 60’s vintage dress – so where were we?

Ah yes, I’d sewn the main skirt together and pinned it – well, I then pinned the 2 skirt pieces to the bodice and stitched them together – leaving the side for the zip open of course.

The seam allowances were pressed and then basted together and pressed open to allow for zip insertion.  (Although I’m using an invisible zip, I followed the pattern and this is a standard sip insertion.)  The zip was pinned to the seam, aligned over the basted edges and basted in place.  It was then stitched on the right side over the basting stitches.

Unfortunately at this point I broke my needle :


I had been using a fine needle for the fine fabrics, but I was now adding in a zipper tape which needed a stronger needle.

Once the zip was inserted all the basting stitches were removed and the zipped checked to ensure it didn’t catch.


I’m not entirely happy with the zip insertion as there is a little bit of gaping, but this is under the arm and not very noticeable – especially as this dress is not actually for anyone.  I may go back and re-insert it at a later date.


The waist seam was then trimmed and stitched with bias binding.  In fact I bound the raw edges around the armholes as well – ensuring they were clipped and the tape wasn’t pulled too tight.

I then finished off the raw edges on the skirts leading up to the zip.  As I couldn’t create a proper french seam, I created a faux french seam.  I pressed the seam open and then pressed both raw edges to the middle, folded together and pressed and then stitched along the two folded edges.


It’s a bit easier to see on the photo above than to explain.  I did this because all my other seams are french seams and it would have looked odd if I’d made a different seam – this looks the same if you don’t look too closely.

Both skirts were hemmed (the Georgette is a little long in places, but it’s not noticeable when the dress is on – it’s something that I may come back to and correct at a later date); and the sleeves and bodice finished with some lovely pearl buttons.

The cuffs are not supposed to be stitched, but I know some ladies on the FB group had had an issue with them not staying crisp and in place, so I tacked them together and added the button detailing.

I’m pretty happy with the overall result and I was very surprised that the pattern was a lot easier than I thought;  when I make this again there are a couple of things I’d do differently (zip etc), but other than that, I enjoyed this.



Next project is a 60’s retro dress – again from the Butterick line and I wasn’t sure which fabric I should use.  The fabric that I’d planned to use would suit a 50’s style dress better, so I’m keeping that one back for another day.

Leaf print

I had only intended to buy 1 fabric, either the stripe or a nice large floral print like on the pattern.  Well, I found the stripe first and it wasn’t expensive (less than £3 pm) so I decided I would get that, but still looked for the pattern and then found the beautiful tulips which I just couldn’t leave, so I got that one as well!  (I’ve since been back to get more of the tulip to make myself a nice shirt…..!)


This pattern only has 7 pieces, so I thought it would be easy!  Wrong!  It’s the first pattern that I’ve used where I’ve HAD to cut fabric from the full width, rather than having it folded – this caused me a couple of issues as I very nearly cut two pieces both face up rather than 1 up and 1 down… however, I did sort it in the end!

First thing you do is create the facing, which is fine – except it’s a bit of a funny shape – this should have set of alarm bells…

Once you’ve stitched the 3 pieces together you then have to turn up 5mm (1/4″) on the outside edge, press, pin and topstitch – well, I probably don’t need to tell you that the curves made this a very tricky piece of sewing, but I finally managed it and it looked lovely.

Next bit was to sew the 3 main bits of the bodice together at the shoulders – no problem, and then add the facing………. that’s tricky but not impossible, but then you have to under-stitch the facing to the seam allowance, clip, press and turn the right way, then press again…….

I won’t tell you how much I cursed…….!…….., but it finally went together


The facing needs to be tacked to the shoulder seams at this point ready to be stitched later (once I’ve finished the raw edges – which I think I’m going to do with Flat Fell seams – like a shirt).

This dress pattern is peculiar in that you do not insert an arm – it’s already part of the front and back bodice pieces; however, before stitching up the side seams, you need to sew your cross-over pieces.  These are very easy as they are basically large triangles with the tips cut off and need to be hemmed (small rolled hem) all the way around apart from the large edge.  The large edges are then inserted into the side seams and the entire side seam and under-arm sewn in one.

Don’t forget to clip into the curves or your arms won’t hang properly.  Above you can see the bodice pinned to my mannequin.  It has been suggested to me that this would make a lovely top on it’s own and I don’t disagree.  I think if you lengthened the bodice pieces slightly, and hemmed them, and inserted a short zip in the neckline at the back, stitching up the rest of the back, you would have a lovely top.  You could even make it in jersey and omit the zip.

The only thing I had to be careful about here was getting my ‘ties’ the right way up when cutting and putting them into the right side.  My fabric has a 1 sided print so this was relatively easy.

The skirt is completely square cut and comes in 3 pieces – 1 across the front and two side pieces which join at the back where the zip finishes.  I stitched my pieces together, press the seams towards the back of the skirt and flat-felled these seams to finish them.  This might seem a little odd for a skirt, but this is quite light material and there is a LOT of gathering to do so the seams will disappear into the fullness of the skirt.

The top of the skirt is approximately 2.5m long and needs to be gathered into about 1m to match the bodice.  There are line up points and it is important that these are observed, otherwise the skirt might end up being lop-sided.


Top tips when gathering:

  • Pick your longest stitch length (some suggest highest tension too, but I prefer to gather manually) and stitch at 1cm and 2cm in from the seam edge (if using a 1.5cm seam allowance)
  • Pull the bobbin threads to gather your material – if you tie the needle threads together it will help keep them out of the way.
  • Once you have gathered the material sufficiently, tie off your bobbin threads too to prevent the gathering coming loose
  • Space the gathers evenly and pin to your bodice
  • Before stitching – PRESS, press and press again!  (This flattens the gathers which helps them pass under the presser foot without moving too much)
  • RE-PIN – your gathers can now be held more firmly in the right place by re-pinning the skirt to the bodice.
  • Stitch (some people/patterns suggest basting, but if you’ve pressed and pinned, I don’t find it necessary) at your seam allowance (1.5cm) which is right in the middle of your two previously stitched lines.

As you can see, the skirt is nicely gathered, it’s nice and even and hangs well.

Next step is to insert the zipper.  Now, the pattern suggests a way of inserting the zipper that I’m not keen on – basically you sew to one side, then you re-press the seam allowance on the other side, so that it will cover the zip teeth and stitch the tape to this.

This leaves a bit of ‘buckled’ fabric at the base of the zip – nah!  So, I’m going to insert an invisible zipper.  I’m not going to go into details here, there are plenty of tutorials around, and I might even write one myself – some day.

Unfortunately, despite being very careful (so I thought) I must have managed to clip my zipper teeth with the needle or caught a thread so when I tried to do my zip up, it broke.


I had to very carefully unpick the entire thing – and now I need a new zip!  Ah well, until next time.

🙂 x



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