Sussex Seamstress

Picture from the Sussex Seamstress website

Well, eventually, I get a little of my sewjo back – only a little as I feel somewhat ‘lost’ on my direction at the moment, so, rather than stressing about things I thought I would just go with the flow.

This dress is right where the flow took me. A loose fitting, summer dress with the added benefit of a You Tube tutorial! a fine combo for a pattern review…

Before you start

The pattern is available from Sussex Seamstress in two sizes, 8-22 and 20-30 in both PDF and paper format with the paper pattern being a little more expensive.

For some reason I tend to get PDF pattern formats. I don’t know why as cost wise there is little in it if you are getting the pattern printed elsewhere. If you are able to print at home then the cost saving is significant.

To have my patterns printed I have tended to go to the Avid Seamstress and have always received a good service. This time I decided to try The Fold Line. The service, was comparative to the Avid Seamstress as too was the cost. The Fold Line does, however, send a handy pattern envelope with your print. Ultimately however, both are small UK businesses worthy of supporting .

The Fold Line pattern storage envelope.

A final thing to mention about the Sussex Seamstress is that nearly all the patterns have a linked You Tube tutorial which can be viewed before you buy. This is a helpful addition to the purchase as you can see before parting with your cash if you think your skill set allows you to make the pattern, and then while making the garment, you have something visual to refer back to. The pattern also comes with written instructions.

The Fabric

Fabric options are linen, cotton, chambray and double gauze. You will need about 3.2 meters at 150cm wide (60 inches).

Depending on the pattern of the fabric you may need a little more or less and you could maybe go down to 55 inches with a little jiggling and making the skirt less full.

I am 5 foot 5 and the skirt hem fell to my ankles. If you are a little shorter or wanted a shorter skirt skirt in general you could get away with fewer meters.

This fabric was from Lilac and Rose on Etsy The service was really good with the fabric arriving quickly and it was exactly as described.

The cotton was light and breezy enough for a summer dress but could also be used for curtains.

There is in fact a blue and white print which I am very tempted with!

Making the dress

As it says on the pattern information, this is beginner level sewing. Maybe not quite beginner as you need some knowledge of sewing a neckline and gathering, but, other than this it’s a days project at most.

Instructions and the You Tube video were perfectly ample, however there are some tips that I would add.

Preparation

I like to make sure all the ‘bits’ are done before I sew mostly because I am lazy and once I start to sew I don’t like all the fiddly bits and getting up then sitting back down too often. Before I start to sew I prepare all my pieces by:

  1. Overlocking all raw edges required: on this dress: the arm holes; shoulder seams; skirt side seams; skirt hem and outer edges of the neck facing (once interfacing has been applied);
  2. Pressing the hem on the skirt and arm seams (the arms I pressed 1cm, then another 1 cm only because I hate folding at 1/2 cm – it is so fiddly). The reason I do this is, by the time I get to sewing the hems, I am generally tired so to have the fabric already pressed makes hemming a quick final job, also, arms can be tight to press if you are using a larger iron, and, the pressed marks give me an additional marker to line up to;
  3. Marking and sewing any darts; and
  4. Marking notches. For this project I marked: a single notch for the centre front top at the neck and waist, then a double notch at the centre back top for the neck and waist. For the skirt I made a single notch at centre front and a double at centre back and finally the neck facing, a single notch on the raw centre front and a double at the raw centre back.

Preparing the darts

The neck facing

The pattern, and the You Tube video mention nothing about staystitching on the neckline. This is small step but can make the world of difference to your finished garment. As anything, it is your choice but I am going to pass you over to Meg at Seamwork to explain why it is maybe a good idea. The gamble is yours to make!

After this, the instructions are fairly clear. Match up your notches if you have prepared the fabric as above and make sure that you match the seams on the stitch line not the raw edge.

Gathering

This is a bit of a nemesis for me. Gathers are random and unpredictable and yet you are told to get them as ‘even as possible’. I like neat, perfection and order. The two don’t go together very well.

Sussex Seamstress suggests sewing two lines of long machine stitch, one inside the seam line and one on the seamline, all the while making sure that the ends of the stitched rows have ample excess thread to allow you to pull the bobbin thread into a gather.

You can also gather using three rows of stitching.

I found I had success with the following method:

The finished garment

Verdict

When I finished the dress I had my reservations. I am a shop size 22 and so made size 26. For my hips this would have been too small but was a good size for my bust.

I thought that the top might be a little tight and in fact the arms could be a little looser (I do have ample bingo wings however). That said I have worn it all day in 25-30 degree Celsius heat and I have been so comfortable and cool.

If you are worried about the bodice fitting well, you can always make a toile.

My overall opinion is that this is a really versatile and comfortable dress. It’s ideal for warm summer days if you use a light weight cotton, or using a slightly heavier fabric with drape it could be worn through the winter and paired with some boots, jacket and / or jumper underneath.

And now for the scary bit …

Any one any good with the old photo shop to take a few stones off my thyroid lard arse?!

Happy Sewing everyone!

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