Tag Archive | belcarra dress

The All-Nighter Dress

OK, it wasn’t technically an “all-nighter”, but it was definitely a night-made dress. As I mentioned in my last post, I made this at the last possible opportunity on Wednesday night last week, just before swanning up to Haverfordwest to see my Dad getting wed, and I did the finishing on the night before the ceremony. Thinking about it, this pattern of last-minuteness is a reflection of most of my Sewing For Weddings experiences. I finished the hemming on my own wedding dress the night before the ceremony. When I was matron of honour for my next-one-down sister, and we made all her four bridesmaid dresses, my skirt in the bridesmaid fabric didn’t get hemmed until the morning of the wedding when we realised that each of us thought the other one was doing it, and it had to be wundawebbed. So it seemed kind of fitting that this dress should turn out to be another last-minuter.

I fully intended to photograph the makings, originally, but given the lateness of the make and the speed I had to work at, that just didn’t happen.

The dress was made from a gorgeous stretch sateen, given to me by the lovely Stevie of Beebee’s Handmade Dress. I couldn’t believe how perfectly me those colours were. It’s a gorgeous mix of lilac, pink, teal, navy and cream. I’m not sure whether it’s dud lighting that’s making it look so blue in the photos, or whether that’s an accurate rendition of the overall net effect.

I was using my trusty Belcarra pattern, and hacking it by adding a skirt. I only had about 2.5 metres so I didn’t have so much fabric to make a full skirt for it, so I put in two box pleats, front & back, and made the sides slightly A-line. I was using my experience on the Dress Of Many Colours, to inform this make. I shortened the length of the blouse a little, so that I had a drop waist, but wasn’t dropping it too far. I took a lot more care over the hemming of the skirt, because I wanted it to be right. The skirt is my standard length. but I was measuring it from my natural waistline, so I had to mark my natural waistline on the bodice first, and then measure down from that mark. I think it came out ok.

It seemed churlish to insist on getting nice photos of me & my dress at Dad & Hazel’s wedding, particularly as it was a very small wedding, and any “all about meeeeeeee” would have stood out a mile. So I wore the dress to work today, to get some pictures, in the glamorous confines of my office.

'Scuse the mess... There's never enough storage space in our office.

‘Scuse the mess… There’s never enough storage space in our office. And I appear to be colour-co-ordinated with our files.

I used some bought bias binding for the neckline, rather than using a self binding, like I have with all my other Belcarra makes. I didn’t want to waste fabric, because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough for the skirt, and the bias strip in the pattern is a bit of a fabric hog, and I didn’t have time to faff about piecing a strip together from the scraps. As chance would have it, I had some leftover bias in a perfect lilac satin from when I made the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! Skirt. Working within a limited colour palette really does pay dividends!

I was a bit worried that it would be a bit too cold for short sleeves, but actually it was perfect- although there was a spot of rain (and frankly, if you visit Wales without expecting a spot of rain, you’re deluding yourself), it was sunny and mild, lovely for short sleeves.

I have ganked this photo from sister’s Facebook account, showing my lovely sisters and my lovely Dad.

(Also my lovely shoes)

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Procrastination is the Thief of Time

It’s my dad’s wedding tomorrow morning, and I’m driving up to Wales in the next hour or so (technically, I’m driving to Hertford, then my sister who lives in Hertford will be driving us both to Wales along with her two daughters, but the point is, I knew weeks ago, that today was my sewing deadline for making my dress for the wedding.

Guess when I started it… Go on guess…

Last night at around 10pm.

I’ve got no excuses, I’m just really good at procrastination.

I made myself go to bed at 4am, and I finished the bulk of it this morning. But I’ve got the final hand finishing still to do, and that’s going to be a job for tonight, after the family get together. It should be perfectly manageable. However, I may stop off for some wundaweb, en route!

Hemming

Hemming. Also, aren’t those colours fab?!

Summer Sundress Sewalong Success!

Awww, isn’t it sweet- baby’s first pattern hack!

In my usual car-park place

In my usual car-park place, yesterday. The Dress Of Many Colours. The photo is rather “enhanced” to combat overexposure. But yes it *is* that brightly coloured.

The Summer Sundress Sewalong, hosted by Heather, came to an end on Saturday. I’d signed up for it back in June, and kept thinking “Oh I’ve got bags of time…”, until I realised that the deadline was only a week away, and Summer is disappearing fast, and I had various evening commitments this week. I had to get a wiggle on.

I opted to hack the Belcarra blouse pattern, because I’d thought all along it would be a doddle to add a skirt to it, because I’ve already done the adjustments to it and I didn’t have time to do anything that would need faffing about with (I was on a deadline here), and because I really like the pattern- it’s got enough coverage that I can wear this to work, if I want, and it’s got enough looseness to make it comfortable in hot weather.

Rather more photogenically, at Waverley Abbey

Rather more photogenically, at Waverley Abbey, today, at a picnic with my dance students

I made the Belcarra as per the pattern, except that I left the cuffs off and bound the armholes instead. I wanted to make the sleeves that tiny bit shorter- it is a sundress, after all. Although, when I was cutting the pattern, I totally forgot that was what I’d planned and cut the cuffs out anyway! I also cut the neckline binding while the fabric was folded so I had two pieces of that, when I only needed one. As it turns out, my spare neckline binding piece was *exactly* the right size for two armhole binding pieces. That’s a useful piece of knowledge for future Belcarras.

The big alteration though, was to add the skirt. I lopped off about 8cm from the bottom of the blouse (I didn’t realise how long it is when it’s just a blouse!). I wanted the dress to be drop-waisted, because I’m old-fashioned enough to like drop waists, and I think they are more wearable in hot weather. I wanted to go with pleats rather than gathers, because it felt like that would suit the style of the top half. I wanted fullness, so I used three widths of fabric, as I had a plentiful supply (Thanks Anne!). I may possibly have gone slightly overboard with the fullness, but that’s ok for a sundress, right? That allowed me to do generous inverted box pleats, and I kept them soft and big. I have to say, sorting out the pleats and making sure they would fit the waist of the blouse was definitely the most mentally challenging part of this make! They’re far from perfect, but I’m happy with how they’ve worked out.

The skirt is quite big!

The skirt is quite big!

I french seamed this dress throughout, because that seemed like the right thing to do- this fabric likes to fray, so everything is now safely enclosed.

While all the machine sewing was done in white cotton thread, I opted for invisible thread to hand sew the bias binding down on the neckline & armholes, despite knowing it’s a complete pain to work with, because I didn’t want any stitching to show amongst all that riot of colour. And despite telling myself to do the hemming by machine, I couldn’t bring myself to let that happen, and I’ve done it by hand- there is flippin’ miles of this hem! All with the invisible thread.

I got the hemming finished yesterday, in time to get a photo done in time for the Sewalong deadline while there was still some light, and I wore the dress today to a picnic I was hosting for my dance students, at Waverley Abbey. It wasn’t as summery as we’d have liked, in fact it started off very rainy and grey, but thankfully the weather cleared and all was nice. I was able to make the Gentleman Friend take a few more photogenic photos of the dress. And after the picnic, we went to watch the cricket on Tilford Green.

What I love about this dress? It is perfectly summery – loose and comfortable, pretty and girly. Somehow it’s got a retro vibe- not just the drop waist being rather 1920s-ish, I think I may have been subconsciously channelling the fashions of the 70s with this one! I feel like one of the Flake girls.

I will admit to having had some initial trepidation about the colours. This is a whole lot more yellow/peach/orange than I’m used to wearing, and it’s right up there next to my face!  But this fabric was a gift- I wanted to use it and do it justice. I won’t be wearing this in the wintertime, when I’m all pasty-faced and sallow skinned, but I think it works ok for me in the summer when I’ve got a bit of a tan. And if Anne thinks I can get away with these colours, then who am I to argue? And there are more than enough of my “regular” palette colours in this dress for me to accessorise/co-ordinate with.

I’d like to use this hack again. Is it possible to have a TNT hack? I’ve already got ideas for alternative skirt variation, and I’m wondering what stash fabric I’ve got that would work with it.

Queen of the Last Minute

I have two days before the deadline hits! But I have at least *started* the sundress tonight. I’m using the massively floral fabric that the lovely Anne of Pretty Grievances sent me in the Spring Sewing Swap:

Flowers for the Summer!

Flowers for the Summer!

I’ve put the top together, and sewn the skirt panels together. I’m going for a pleated skirt, and my last job tonight will be to get the pleats sorted out. That will leave me with the final work on Saturday (I’m taking this to the wire!), namely, to get the neckline & sleeves bound, the skirt attached to the top and the whole thing hemmed (this will *not* be by hand!). The idea is to get the dress finished on Saturday and to wear it on Sunday, because I’m hosting a picnic for my dance students.