Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



Thanks to you all for comments on the lace placement across the bodice. I’m really impressed that there’s so much interest in this dress. There were some technical difficulties with some of the options that I hadn’t previously thought of:

1. Limited resources – not enough lace for scallop straps and new problems developed at the outside edge.

2. Aesthetics – hanging scallops looked good from the bottom but the top was ragged and untidy

3. Fit issues – flat lace being formed onto a 3D bust!

I choose white cotton for the bodice underling ’cause I thought it would be a bit more robust than organza and I may be able to get away without a bra.

So, small scissors, needle and thread and I appliqued a hundred bits of lace by hand and eye. And ended up with this –


Too bra like. So more appliques were appliqued. And the final result is this. Almost a mirror image of the hemline which is the style I liked the best and reminds me the most of one of my inspiration dresses – L’Wren Scott’s (that’s the cream and black one BTW).



Now onto to straps and a little couture tip for making sure the seams are always hidden.

Cut your straps as per the pattern. Select the bottom pair and trim off a wee bit so that they are smaller than the top.


I used dress fabric for the top (obviously) but used white cotton for the underneath. It will be nicer to wear against the skin and is slightly more ‘gripping’ that satin. I also sewed in a couple of inches of knicker elastic over the shoulders to ensure the straps don’t slip off.

Sew the elastic to the bottom straps.


Now right sides together and matching raw edges, sew the straps along the long sides. You’ll need to pull the elastic bit when you sew this section.


When finished, the strap will bubble on one side – that’s exactly what you want for when you turn and press, the larger strap will flatten out and cover the smaller underneath strap. No more precision pressing needed to keep those seams on the edge.


You can just see the edges of the dress fabric neatly keeping the underneath strap underneath.



I don’t really need straps as I inserted boning in the cups, centre front and sides but I’m over 50 and there’s a limit on flesh exposure. They also do provide a little bit of extra security as I haven’t boned anything before and I’m not convinced.


The ripple you see in this pic is the elastic but when sewn and worn this will stretch flat.







The hand sewing continued with all the seam allowances catch stitched to the organza underling. And the inside of the dress is beautifully messy.


The great news is that I got the invisible zip inserted without a hitch – I don’t mind admitting that I was dreading it – and by pure serendipity, got a bit of lace matching too.


There’s one small problem and that is that the zip sticks a little when passing over the lace motifs. I’ve trimmed all I can from the inside to reduce bulk – so any other ideas for smooth gliding will be gratefully welcomed.

That’s about it. Lining was sewn in and the dress hemmed. So here’s the finished thing.


Doris’s bust is a few inches larger than mine and a different shape completely but she came free so she wears my clothes once in while. I can’t get the zip up and the straps are too short on her but, honestly, are perfect on me.

Just for anyone who’s curious – I’m thinking of going for red accessories – unexpected and definitely not mother-of-the-bride, which I thought this outfit might veer into. VW lippy shoes (in fact the whole outfit is based around these shoes), a red hat (if I can get one), a red bag which has yet to be made but Rhonda recently showcased a very suitable candidate indeed.



I’m off the coast for a few days so I’ll catch up when I come back.



Bodice and Lace

I killed dead things yesterday – that means I was very busy. And, I just heard that I’m Pattern Review’s featured member! Don’t really know what that means but it’s nice anyway.

I know all those couture sewing techniques are fiddly and thread tracing and lace placement and toile fitting takes loads of time but actually, once all that is completed, actually sewing the dress took hardly any time at all. Well, the skirt bit of it anyway.


I had to rip out the front left hand panel and make a new one. Even though I can’t match the lace motifs across the seams, I can do better than this….


I have sewn the lace in as part of the dress, ie it is caught in the seams but is floating over the panels, just like an underlining but on the top. I was going to to sew each motif to the satin but that was actually a pointless activity. I sorta like how there are little ripples of satin underneath – it shows that the lace is still an overlay.

Now to the hem. Most lace overlay dresses have the lace the same length or longer than the skirt but I really like the lace being shorter by about 2″ – it’s more unusual (and I think easier to hem).

I had already traced out on each skirt panel where the scalloped edge would finish and cut the lace panels to fall short of this so that there wouldn’t be a proliferation of lacy things around my knees. I cut the scalloped edge and prayed that the measurements were right – this is not a cheap lace.

I separated the scallop


Pinned and tacked this onto the hem. Sewed around the leaves and flowers by hand to secure it.

Then cut away (very, very carefully) the excess net, and the little bits of motifs that lay underneath to clean it up a bit. I had to attach the scallop edge this way to keep it whole, as I knew those stalagmites would get cut off and lost in the seams if I cut the skirt panels to the edge of the lace.


I know it’s a little ‘busy’ in places where the scallops run close to a motif – but heck, I’m an amateur and that’s what you get! And if any of you wedding dress experts make a comment  – ******! The scalloped edge now hangs free of the dress, adding to the overlay effect. I had to hang the skirt on Doris as I sewed to make sure everything was lying smooth. By the way, I haven’t sewn the left hand seam yet.

One of the nice problems about sewing your own clothes is the choices you have – sometimes too many – I need a decision about the bodice, so over to you for favourite lace placement on the bodice……..


Upside down scallop with stalagmites to mirror the hemline


Scallop straps extending over the bodice


Just the lace motifs like the rest of the dress with satin straps


Half cup scallops on bodice only


Upside down scallops hanging loose over the bust

So I’ll get cracking on attaching the bodice to the skirt.


Oh and another choice – same length opera coat or short cropped jacket? Or maybe both, because –  I can!






Sewing Again

I am glad to report that all the marking is completed and instead of my sewing table looking like this


it now looks like this.


That’s better.

Thank you all so very much for your constructive feedback, encouraging and motivating comments on the green linen dress. I’m sorry I didn’t reply to each one but you know I’ve been busy. And for the curious: I mark A-Level Psychology exams – the debates and science module. If I have to read one more discursive essay on Psychodynamic theory I think I’ll go a little neurotic myself. Because of your interest in the dress, it will be finished but not before I do this.

We are overjoyed at being invited to an unexpected family wedding – it’s a long story (isn’t it always when families are involved?) but suffice to say, everyone is best friends again and what better way to celebrate?


The wedding is in Castle Leslie. Those of you (like me) who are unaware of this ancestral home just let me say Paul McCartney and Heather Mills – but let’s hope that’s not an omen!


So, it’s going to be a fancy affair.  I need an outfit suitable to the surroundings.



After much internet and soul searching, couture books brought out and rifled through, Susan Khaljie’s couture dress class purchased and watched – I’m ready to cut out and sew!

I have lace, satin backed crepe, organza underlining, lining, boning, invisible zip, thread and a pattern. I’m doing slow and couture techniques.

Georgia By Hand London, won the contest.

Here’s some of the inspiration that got me started – yes, that is a Pinterest board! And so far, this is where I am……


Attempting to match the lace motifs – It’s impossible!


Tread marking for seams and hem and marker for the scalloped lace edge to be hand sewn to.


Organza underling


Three back panels pinned on Doris – see, can’t match that lace over six skirt panels

Lots to do, so I’m off to do it.