As I mentioned in my last post, I can’t get enough of stripes and am a firm believer that you can never have to many breton tops. Following this ethos, I decided to make my own dress using some black and white jersey fabric and Christine Hayne’s Lottie pattern.
Why have I never sewn with jersey before?! The last fabric I sewed with was a crepe-y viscose which frayed into a million pieces if you so much as thought about touching it, but this couldn’t have been more different or easy. The fabric has just a little stretch, but I wasn’t aware of that at all as I put the garment together, and not having to edge the seams made meant I was able to power through this dress in just two evenings – a new record for me! The only slight downside was that it took a little more effort to press than other fabrics I’ve used, but that’s a small price to pay for not using the zig-zag stitch once.
After much searching among Vogue, Burda and Simplicity patterns for a simple, no-frills dress, I came across Christine Hayne’s range of patterns at Kirstie’s Homemade Fair earlier this year. All the patterns were exactly what I’ve been looking for since I started dressmaking – simple modern shapes that I can actually see myself wearing. I opted for the Lottie pattern, which contains instructions for three garments: a shift dress, a basic shell top and a tie-waisted maxi. For this dress, I opted for the shift-style.
The instructions were so easy to follow, although I did somehow manage to skip a few steps when sewing the sleeves in, resulting in a lot of unpicking. The instruction booklet also shows you all the possible variations (sleeves, length, pockets), which will be really useful for future makes.
This is the first ‘modern’ sewing pattern I’ve used, and I have to say I don’t think I’ll go back to the old style any time soon. I’ve often thought that dressmaking seems like an exclusive club, with its technical jargon and hard-to-follow instructions, but this pattern was totally accessible and made me feel like I knew what I was doing all the way through. Whether it was the easy instructions or just the simplicity of the garment I was making, this dress was a breeze and a joy to make and has convinced me that this new style of pattern is totally worth the slightly higher cost.
With a grand total of 5 sewing hours (including measuring and cutting the pieces), the process couldn’t have been much simpler. Inserting the sleeves was a breeze as you join the front and back pieces separately, and then sew the shoulder seam. I did struggle with the neckline, as I was slightly confused by the instructions for inserting the binding. I’ve ended up with a small stand-up neckline, but a second reading of the instructions made it clear that this should have been folded to the inside of the neckline and sewn in place. As the neckline is quite wide (and as I’m a fan of a high-neck), I’ve decided to keep it in its half-finished state.
I also deviated from the pattern by not adding pockets. I think they would make this dress look a bit more casual, so for this version (I’m already planning Lottie 2.0) I’m going to leave them out.
The finished item
I’m wearing this dress as I type, so I think that shows how pleased I am with how it’s turned out ! (I’ve also had quite a few compliments, which is a bonus!) I possibly could have made it one size smaller, but I actually quite like the oversized feel. I do also find the neckline quite wide, so next time I’ll try to alter this. I’ll definitely be making the dress again – I’m thinking plain coloured jerseys (there’s no turning back now) with contrast sleeves. And quite probably a few variations for my housemate, who has already been eyeing this dress up!