Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Red December


More on reflection of the colour of my bank balance than just the colour of the dresses I’ve made this Christmas…….one for New Year’s Eve and one for Christmas Day

MaterialLady was offering a prize.. ..she had previously chosen a random number sometime in the past and and the person whose comment matches this number wins! You don’t even know if your are entering a giveaway or not. I didn’t know what it was/ didn’t know if it was worth it/didn’t know if I wanted it…in actual fact, didn’t even know I was in the competition, until one of my comments on her sewing blog hit the magic number! I think I might adopt this technique in 2014. But to cut a long story short…. Kim came though with flying colours – in fact so flying , she hit the outer edges of the atmosphere!

1.5m of Linton tweed! Fabulous! Just one teeny tiny problem – it’s only 100cm wide.

Now what to make with this little bonus fabric? Could I squeeze another French jacket from this perhaps; a pencil skirt and use the leftovers as trim for a coordinating jacket? You just have to use ever last scrap of a fabric like this – nothing, absolutely nothing goes to waste. I’ve been on the fence about sleeveless wool/tweed dresses. I made one last year but mainly because I had enough navy boucle left over from a Chanel jacket and it was only to be worn with the jacket – but to wear a tweed dress on its own?

So I did some research……

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Our dear friend and continuous source of inspiration and awe, Sarah from Goodbye Valentino, surpassed all the above with her understated, yet elegant and stylish boucle tweed dress – sleeveless and with sparkles – perfect!

So, I needed a plain dress pattern to let the fabric do all the talking – no pleats or tucks or gathers –  I used McCalls M2401, which I’ve made many times before therefore I was confident about shape and fit and length.

M2401The fabric arrived on Saturday 21st December – could I make a new dress for Christmas Day? A hectic schedule was planned for the coming days: Christmas Eve – no sewing, cooking, preparations, last minute shopping and church: no sewing on Sunday 22nd  afternoon, evening or night – carol service and dinner at my parents’: no sewing on 23rd afternoon – collecting meat from butchers and cooking. If I made a dress it would have to be squeezed in between things and events.

It was cut out early on Sunday morning and the machines were threaded ready to go. But as Kim, The material Lady herself, recently wrote – last minute sewing has its drawbacks – no zip, no lining, no time to go out and buy any either. I had to make do with what was in the house or else I was wearing last year’s dress!

I found an 8″ invisible red skirt zip in my notions box. Can you get a fitted shift dress on over your head with an 8″ zip? And the answer is YES, if the said dress is made from high quality boucle tweed that gives a little as you inch it down over shoulders, bust and hips but springs back into shape once in position. Due to the looseness of the weave I used iron-on interfacing along the seam allowances to hold things stable while I sewed. The pattern has a 22″ zip on the centre back seam but mine went to the left hand side seam instead.


And there you have it.. from the left hand side a truly invisible, invisible zip. And yes, I had to match the horizontal stripes!


No lining meant finishing the seam allowances, just overlocked all the raw edges.


Because the fabric was only 1m wide, I had to squeeze this pattern on. Not enough was left over for the facings, so they were cut from a bright pink cotton that I think was used to line a flowery jacket last summer. This actually worked very well as the cotton is very tightly woven and acted not only for a facing but also as an interfacing. Round the neckline and arm holes and was understitched by hand to keep it on the inside.


And now to the length. You know I like my skirts and dresses at or just below knee and no matter how I placed the pattern pieces or folded the fabric I was still short 4″. Daunted, but inspired by Oscar’s black and white dress above, I used a strip cut on the cross grain as an extra trim around the hemline. Frayed the edge and machined stitched in place – saved hand sewing the hem too.


With all lengths Linton tweed there comes specific instructions that you MUST use hand sewing at some stage in the construction of any garment. To meet this requirements I hand sewed the two front pockets in place and all the trims.


By sheer good luck the dress was finished in time to wear on Christmas DayDSC00687 DSC00689 DSC00690 – all thanks to Kim, Sarah and Oscar!

And you know what? I’ve just looked at last year’s Christmas dress and you’d never believe it – it’s the SAME pattern!

Now, can I get that bank balance back to black?

42 thoughts on “Red December

  1. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Love the tweed and it fits you so well.

  2. Great to see that tweed put to such good use. Well done Ruth!

  3. Fabulous dress Ruth, and so clever of you to make this work with so little fabric, notions and time. Very well done.

  4. I’m very flattered by your kind words Ruth – thank you so much!
    What a perfect holiday dress you made for yourself and now I’m inspired to make just one more 🙂

  5. Absolutely gorgeous ~ both you in it and the dress. You are always a great motivator to us all.

  6. Your dress is beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. Gorgeous! I have one of these on my to sew list, not in a Linton Tweed, but your beautiful dress has inspired me to move it up the list.

  8. Your research paid off. That is a very special dress. Gorgeous

  9. Really impressive to sew something that quickly without compromising the quality. Love the fabric, it cries to be used beyond Christmas!

  10. The dress is adorable, Ruth. And I admire your resourcefulness.

  11. Ruth, you are amazing! You make resourcefulness look very glamorous:)

  12. That’s 2 stunner in a row! Pfew! We are humbled.

  13. Beautiful! Interesting that Linton asks that you handsew some part of the garment. You look lovely in your Christmas sheath.

  14. Looks great. You must be a bundle of energy – how you managed to make this in time for Christmas???

  15. Just wanted to add. I have also made up this pattern. I think it is a really great pattern. It lends itself to so many variations as you have shown on your two versions. I would recommend it.

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  17. Love your dress,you did a great job on it, the fit is perfect. You have inspired me to try it!

  18. I never would have thought to make a sheath dress of a Linton tweed. It is fabulous, and you always look wonderful in the color red.

  19. OMG, you are a magician! What a gorgeous dress and doubly so from such a small piece of fabric.

  20. In addition to how you rock the sheath dress and this color, my favorite element is the selvedge hem. Before reading the story of it’s inception, I assumed it was the design element that inspired the dress.

  21. Pingback: Dior-esque “17 | corecouture

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