Posted in Thoughts and Ideas

Dressmaking got me quaking…

Meet Judy.

Here she is, sporting my wonderful Topshop leather jacket (as worn by Amy Pond, scored on Vinted for about £80 less than its original price), and the only item of clothing I’ve ever made from scratch. It’s a simple, bright pink cotton tunic from the first Great British Sewing Bee book.

(Sidenote: I absolutely adore the Great British Sewing Bee; it’s one of my favourite programmes and has inspired me no end!)

As you can see, it’s pretty boring and shapeless, and I never wear it because it’s too big (it’s Judy’s favourite top though). But it’s correctly constructed, and the seams and hems function as seams and hems. So, mixed feelings about the only dressmaking from scratch I’ve ever done.

But since I’m no longer buying new clothes (as of last week – read this), I thought I would use my year-long project to have another stab at dressmaking. I’m hoping to create a few items from scratch (mainly dresses. I love dresses), provided I have some time to spare – I do still have a degree to fit in, after all.

The first dress I’m planning to try is this tea dress, another project from the Great British Sewing Bee book:


It’s marked 2/5 for difficulty, the same rating as Judy’s tunic, so I should be able to tackle it without too many problems. No separate bodice and skirt pieces, no lining, no zips or button bands – the set-in sleeves are the only thing making me a little nervous. But there’s no reason why I shouldn’t attempt my first sleeve now!

I think I’ll make this dress out of a red floral, if I can find a nice one, because I’ve wanted a red floral dress for a while now. I will probably stick to cotton for the time being – it’s the easiest to work with! The dress should be good with sandals in summer, but also with tights and boots for the harsh British cold.

I picked this up for £2 in a haberdashery sale back in my old town:

It’s a Simplicity 1610 dress pattern, with options for either a princess-seamed bodice, with or without sleeves, or a halterneck bodice, with a skirt in two lengths. There’s also an optional cummerbund waist piece. It looks a lot more difficult than the Sewing Bee tea dress, so maybe it’s one to work up to. And maybe, unlike the example shown on the cover, I won’t make it in brown.

So those are the two dress patterns I already have, but I also want to buy a couple more, including the Bettine dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons:

This dress is labelled ‘for beginners’, and doesn’t have any nasty bits like darts, set-in sleeves or zips, so hopefully I can whip one up before I start back at uni again in October. I love the version in chambray – it just looks so simple and relaxed – but I also love this version by Lauren of Guthrie & Ghani, with contrast floral cuffs and tabs. It looks like a pretty versatile dress, as it could be worn as is, or with leggings and a long-sleeved top underneath for colder days.

Also on the wish list is the Betty dress from Sew Over It:

Betty Dress Sewing Pattern

I’m a little bit in love with Sew Over It, and I’m a little bit in love with 50s style dresses, so this pattern is perfect for me! The construction seems a little bit out of reach for my abilities at the moment, but I should be able to attempt this after I’ve made one or two other things.

I’m also hoping (if I have enough money!) to get down to one of Sew Over It’s dressmaking classes, perhaps this ultimate blouse one, perhaps over the Christmas holidays. It would be helpful, I think, in helping me gain confidence and speed with dressmaking.

I also have lots of refashion projects in the pipeline, using several things I’ve bought in various charity shops and vintage fairs over the past few weeks, so watch this space!



Hello! I'm Hannah and I'm a Classics undergrad at Cambridge. I spend most of the time which I should be spending on my degree crocheting and sewing instead.

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