You might agree with me when I say that shopping online for fabric has its disadvantages. Yes it’s cheap (sometimes), yes it’s convenient, and yes you get a MASSIVE choice of fabulous fabrics. Still, I struggle to choose fabrics for dressmaking. The thing is, I want to touch the fabric; I want to hang it from my hand; I want to see it.
Hence I like to look elsewhere for my dressmaking fabrics. [In case you’re wondering why I don’t just go to a fabric shop – there isn’t one very close to me!]
I rummage through charity shops and car boot sales. The boot sale isn’t very reliable but I did recently score a very nice metre-and-a-bit of black cotton for 25p!! More on that in a later post…
It’s not very often that I come across dressmaking fabrics in their whole form, though. I find that to get a nice dressmaking fabric, I have to think outside the box slightly.
If you’ve read some of my older posts you may know I quite like upcycling fabrics and clothing. Last week I showed you my girls’ dress made from an old duvet cover, and you may have seen some of my garment refashions too.
Well, here’s something new (to me; I’m quite aware I’m not the only one to do this!)
I spotted this large maxi dress at my local car boot sale a few weeks ago – I love wearing blue, and I thought the starry print was cute. It has an excellent drape; it’s really nice and soft. I snapped it up for £1. The thing is, it’s totally not my style. Oh, and it’s four sizes to big for me.
Of course, I didn’t see it as a dress. It’s fabric!
At first I thought it was a shame that it had a tie around the waist, but it didn’t turn out to be a problem.
I chopped down the side seams, creating two large-ish pieces. I also salvaged the tie and straps (although of course I have no idea what I’ll use them for!)
I then had a think about what I could turn it into. As I said, the fabric drapes beautifully; it’s soft and slinky. Suddenly I decided on a blouse. I was looking for a pattern, then I remembered the Simple Sew Lottie Blouse. Perfect; I’ve made one before so I know it’s doable, and there’s the option to make a sleeveless one, which I thought would be ideal. Even though the dress was fairly large, there still wasn’t that much fabric once you take into account all the pieces that are needed to construct a garment, including seam allowances. So, a sleeveless Lottie Blouse it was to be!
You may have seen this photo on my Sunday Sevens round up a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t wait to get started cutting out so started in the daytime. Always a silly move. Someone likes to clamber all over my nicely laid out fabric and pieces, pointing at the pins and saying “pretty, pretty!”
Well, this was a challenge. The fabric is 100% viscose. I usually play it very safe with cotton or polycotton. Viscose is a whole new world to me. Surprisingly, I got on OK cutting the fabric. The pieces were accurate enough! That is, until I got to the bias binding. My God, it was stretchy. It was stretchy not on the bias!
I sewed the bias binding to the neckline and it was a mess. I forgot to take a photo in all my disappointment! But trust me, it wasn’t good. The ends of the main fabric were still managing to poke out the bias binding. So it was basically falling off. The fabric frays a lot. So I pulled it off and started again. But this time I made the bias binding an inch wider than the pattern piece. I wasn’t looking forward to cutting and ironing the strip again, but needs must.
So this time, the binding was chunkier so held onto the edge a lot better. Phew.
The next problem that I had to contend with was the fact that I lost some of the edge in the process. So the neckline was rather big and low. It totally gaped. And I don’t do gaping low necklines. So I had to improvise a bit. [I know that the bow does cover it – but still. It was low!]
As it happens, I’m really pleased with what I did to pull the neckline up; I think it makes rather a nice feature. I grabbed a bit of elastic and simply threaded it through the neckline, pulling it together. I trimmed the ends and sewed a few stitches to keep it in place.
Next I had to stitch on more bias binding around the armholes – but it went surprisingly well. I’m glad I switched to the slightly wider tape. It was a lot easier to handle – and I don’t think it looks bad thicker.
Then the next task was the collar that has funny instructions. You need a relatively long strip of fabric for the collar/necktie, but thankfully I was able to piece it together with three pieces – and the join line is hidden in the knot.
I made up my own way of doing it this time, so that there was no raw edge showing. It’s so much better! As you can see below, the collar does ride up sometimes because the fabric is so lightweight and slippery. So I’m glad that there’s no raw edge to poke out! 🙂
If you’re wondering how I did it… I followed the directions to the point where you press the necktie before topstitching the whole thing. Instead of topstitching, I just took the gap that was left for turning, and (with the seam allowances pressed inwards) I pinned and stitched it onto the top of the blouse, enclosing the raw edge – starting and ending at the points where my bias binding around the neckline start/finish.
Lastly came the hemming stage. I was surprised at how well I handled it. It turned out really straight and even and cute… even though the photo below totally shows the opposite… it’s just how it’s fallen!!
So there we have it! An old maxi dress transformed into a cute little top that WILL be worn! It’s so comfortable and lightweight. Shame the weather’s going to turn soon, but it’ll be good under a cardi too! 🙂