Cotton Lawn · Dresses · Dressmaking Makes · evening · lace · Liberty · Simple Sew

Grace Dress – Simple Sew

I was invited to an old school friends wedding reception this month, and I wanted to wear something pretty but not too formal. The Grace dress sprang to mind straight away.  I got the pattern free with a copy of Love Sewing magazine and loved the lace overlay version of it. 

I also wanted to use up the fabric that I have been hoarding away in my stash. Luckily I bought some black lace back during my holiday to the Somerset last summer from Fabric Land, Bristol. The fabric was around £4.99 a meter. I bought 2 meters of it and never had any idea what I could make with it! As it was my first time working with lace, I wanted to use a pattern which I had made before and had a simple construction. 

The pattern itself has a gathered skirt, lined bodice, and a waistband. I first made the dress last summer out of a cotton liberty print poplin, where I fully lined the whole dress. 

 

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My original Grace Dress in Liberty cotton poplin

Although the dress fits quite well, it gapes a bit around the shoulders and armhole. Therefore with the lace version, I decided to attempt to do a full bust adjustment (FBA), which I had never done before! I used a variety of books and websites to help with my FBA, and I think the fit turned out perfect, however, I don’t know if it was more luck than skill!

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With the liberty print dress, I cut out a size 12, based on my full bust measurement. However with the lace dress I cut out a size 10 (based on my high bust measurement) and graded back out to a size 12 at the waist, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to breathe! I think the lace dress has a much better fit around the waist and bodice, and I feel like it looks a lot more flattering, especially for evening occasions.

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 The lining of the dress is a mixture of some scrap black fabric for the bodice and some cream peachskin fabric for the skirt. I bought both fabrics from The fabric Room. The black fabric is called “Flippa”, it was £3 pm, the black is now out of stock, however, you can get other colours here.  The cream fabric is a gorgeous and drapey peachskin which can be found here, and best of all it is only £2 pm! I highly recommend the Fabric Room for great plain fabrics, however, the catch is you have to order a minimum of 3 meters. 

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As the lace had a fair amount of stretch to it, I struggled at times to match up the lining bodice and skirt. However, once everything was in place I just topstitched the top and bottom part of the bodice in place. This also helped me at a later stage when I was inserting the invisible zip.

Unfortunately, when It came to inserting the zip I did come across a few problems! The first time inserting the zip (perfectly I hasten to add!), the waist was just a tad too big and it looked a bit frumpy and odd. So I painstakingly unpicked it! I then quickly found out that unpicking lace is the root of all evil and probably the reason I will not work with lace for quite some time! Once I had unpicked it, I then reinserted the zip to then find out it didn’t sit right, this is where a few tears were shed! With the third insertion of the zip and a lot of pins on the floor and thread everywhere, I then noticed the zip was a little wonky at the waist. For my own sanity, I left it and just ignored the fact that I have a wonky zip. If I can’t see it, it’s not there right? In hindsight, I may go back to it in a few months time and reinsert it, although I really don’t know if the material is up for it… 

 

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I deliberated for ages wondering if I should show you the HUGE mess at the back, however, I want to document my mistakes as well as my achievements!

You will also notice that the back is a lot deeper than the pattern, I decided to lower the back to give it more of an evening look. I love the neckline and back of the dress. Just a shame about the train wreck of the zip! We live and learn!

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Overall I am pretty happy with the dress. I love how it fits my body much more than the liberty print dress and I adore the little lace detail at the bottom. Although there were a few hiccups along the way and the elephant in the room is that horrid zip! I really enjoyed wearing it and felt great given the time constraints that I had. 

I am sure you can all agree that sewing brings many joys in life, but when one thing goes wrong, it can be one of the hardest and most frustrating things to fix!

Happy Sewing!

Katherine x 

 

 

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Charlotte Dress – Sew Over It

My sister is going to a wedding in May and asked me to make her a dress for the occasion. She complains that RTW clothes don’t fit her properly – so she wanted a dress that fits the bill. After trawling through many patterns, we finally decided on the Charlotte Dress by Sew Over It (which is ironically my sisters name!). The dress is a PDF only pattern, which I am not a huge fan off, as they take such a long time to tape together. I also wanted to try another  Sew Over It pattern as I was quite disappointed with the 1940’s Tea Dress pattern (which  I will post about soon).

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According to the website, the Charlotte Dress is aimed at intermediate sewists. It has a number of features including kimono sleeves, lapels, pleats and facings.

The pattern calls for a medium weight woven fabric with plenty of drape and recommends crepe or viscose linen. My sister wanted a more structured dress which held the pleats well and therefore we opted for a cotton poplin. The material I used for the dress was a blue leaf pattern cotton poplin. I brought the fabric from a stall at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in London, it was £6 pm. You can get the same fabric in different colours from here (at £7.99 pm). I brought and used 4 metres.

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The pattern is not lined. It has facings for the front and back and a self lined waistband. As the fabric was slightly sheer, I wanted to fully line the dress. This also gave it some much-needed weight. I used the same fabric to line the bodice and some white sheeting from John Lewis to line the skirt.

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Inisde of the dress – front view

I was a little disappointed that I ran out of material to line the skirt, however I actually quite like the contrast between the pattern and plain white fabric for the lining.

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Inside of the dress – back view

I ended up grading down the pattern by two sizes. This is because my sister wanted to have a much tighter fit on the dress – especially at the waist. As the waist does not have much ease, we decided to omit the tie waist. This ended up creating a much sleeker silhouette. However, If I was to make it in a softer fabric such as crepe I would definitely add a tie to the waist.

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Sorry for the poor lighting! This shows off how nicely fitted the waist is

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Best parts of the dress

  • The instructions were very good and well laid out.
  • The fact I didn’t have to insert any sleeves!
  • How easy it was to change the facing to a fully lined dress
  • The neckline is extremely flattering for larger busts
  • It has pockets!
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As my sister did not want to wear a slip under the dress, I top stitched the neckline closed

Challenges

  • I had to reduce the shoulder seams by an inch and reduce the back neckline by an inch.
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pockets!

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Other than that I had no other challenges. The dress was a simple cut and the neckline design makes it a very flattering dress. My sister is really pleased with it and she will look amazing at the wedding 🙂

Katherine x