Friday, 13 December 2013

A Red Washi Dress

Su Sews So So Red Washi Dress 2

Yeay - a newly finished project to share on the blog, finally! 

As I suggested in a previous blog post I have been thinking about making the Washi Dress by Made By Rae as it seemed to be a flattering yet relaxed dress which is just what I have been looking for (see why in this post). 

This is quite a simple pattern with a fitted, empire line bodice, a pleated skirt, inseam pockets and a shirred back. The shirred back is great as it means you don't have to worry about sewing closures (such as a zip or buttons) so it's a good project for beginners or for those looking for a quick sewing fix! The Empire line has the potential to make a dress look like its Maternity Wear, but on this occasion I think it's slim fitting enough to hide your muffin-top without people wondering if you may have an announcement to make!

The pattern also comes with a cute option to cut a key-hole neckline, which on this occasion I decided to go for. A little bit tricky, but I thought since my dress was going to be a solid colour it would add a nice detail. Speaking of which, the dress is made out of a burnt red linen-cotton blend that I have had in my stash FOR AGES! The truth is that I bought it on-line with the plans of making a shirt dress out of it. But when it arrived it was heavier and had a different drape to what I had imagined and so it got put aside until i could think of what to use it for. It's so nice to finally put it to good use, plus I still have some left over which I think might be enough for a skirt.

Su Sews So So Red Washi Dress 1

I didn't make a muslin for this, partly because I couldn't be bothered to be honest and partly because there's not a lot to fit, and the shirred back would provide some ease. Turns out that my bust darts are too high, as is the empire line. But it's not anything major, and if you don't sew you don't notice it!

The cotton-linen fabric is actually really perfect for this dress, although it does crease a lot, as linen tends to do. But that doesn't really bother me very much. It's a great dress for layering up in Autumn/Winter, as I've done in the above photos with a polo neck, jeggings and boots, but I think it will also lend it's self well to Spring/Summer too.

Su Sews So So Red Washi Dress 3

I think this is turning into one of my favourite makes as I have worn it repeatedly and it has been through the wash several times already. I'm lucky that I don't have a very formal dress code in work which means this has been in high rotation and I am keen to make more!

I am the Queen of Cardi's when it comes to Autumn/Winter work attire, mainly because our work heating is so unpredictable, so I actually tend to wear this layered with a cardi rather than with a polo neck underneath (unless it's really cold!). So here are a few renditions:

Su Sews So So Red Washi with cardis

Oh, I also mentioned in a previous post that I was going to start recording how much each project cost me, so here's the low down:

Washi Dress Pattern - £10
Red Fabric (I probably used about 2m from the 3m that I had) - £6
Thread - £0.70
Shirring Elastic (I had some in my stash but found some in red!) - £1
Interfacing  - £0 (had some in my stash, and I used so little it would be very hard to work out the value used!)
Bias Binding for arm holes - £1

Total: £18.70

In summary - BARGAIN!  Totally worth it as I have been wearing it non-stop!

So, are you tempted to try out the Washi Dress for yourself? Or perhaps you have already made it? I would highly recommend it!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

DIY I Do : Decor, Quotes and Fun for our Guests

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Here's a fun Wedding detail that Robin and I put together for our guests. We all know that the wait between ceremony and dinner can be quite long for the guests so I thought it would be sweet to frame love, marriage, friendship quotes and scatter them around the venue. The guests could then come upon them (or hunt them out if they wished!) and try and guess who said each quote. Answers were written on the backs. 

We had great fun searching for appropriate quotes and gathered up a collection of both romantic and funny (about 20 in total I think). I knew Robin wouldn't be too keen on the overly soppy quotes so I had to keep it balanced…I even managed to include a quote from Star Wars! The frames were all sourced from car boot sales and then painted white, which made this a very frugal Wedding decoration/game (always a bonus!).

RS wedding 181Audrey Hepburn

RS wedding 465Winnie The Pooh

RS wedding 450Bob Marley - read the full quote here

I also thought it would be fun to create a hashtag for our Wedding so that friends and family could share their photos of the day on Instagram. So I made a couple of little signs for it: 

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However…my top tip is to check that your venue either has WIFI or is within signal range. Our lovely country Manor House was in the middle of nowhere so no one could get the internet!! Whoops!!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Would you? Could you?

I wasn’t going to post today (3 posts in 3 days from me…what’s going on?!), but I have just seen this on Design Sponge and I HAD to share it would you guys!

Grace has shared the most fabulous makeover by Cori Kindred who has covered a retro typewriter in fabric (click the photo for more). As soon as I saw it my heart skipped a beat (come on, we all love fabric don’t we?!) and I thought… could I do that to my sewing machine??!!!

It sounds like quite a tricky, fiddly task, but just imagine swathing your sewing machine in your most favourite fabric…my only problem would be having to choose which fabric to use!

So what about you, could you be tempted?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Trend Spotting : The Dropped Waist

I think we would all agree that at some point along the journey of sewing your own clothes you start to experience a sense of freedom and power against the RTW world – you realise that you don’t have to be tied down by current trends and fashion. You can choose whatever style, fabric and colour you like (if you can find it in the fabric shop that is, that’s another story!)! Although that is true, I still see current trends and fashions creeping into the sewing world. To be honest it would be hard for it not to, fashion tends to recycle itself. I can remember countless outfits when I was growing up that my Mum would pass comment on to say she wore it when it was first in fashion!

Anyway, all this is to say that over the last few years I have seen the twinkle of a trend and thought to myself, “oh I recon that’s going to be big” (either in the RTW world or the sewing blog world) – but I’ve never bothered to blog about it. Some examples of this are scalloped edges, peplums, coloured lace dresses, peter-pan collars…the list goes on. So  instead of just letting them pass by, I thought I would share my thoughts on the blog.

Todays trend may not necessarily be my favourite trend ever, but I’ve been seeing it pop up a lot and I have a feeling we may be seeing a fair bit more of it next year, both in the shops and perhaps on sewing blogs: The Dropped Waist. My guess is this trend is probably being inspired by the recent Downton Abbey Flapper style (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time Downton has influenced fashion), or maybe it’s a development from the peplum, which evolved into the hem flounce and is now a dropped waist? Perhaps a little bit of both.

It can be a hard look to carry off but can be done beautifully. Simple and chic it can be dressed up or dressed down:



Or horrendously:


Sorry VB, that’s just wrong.

But asides from the Fashion World, I’ve spotted the dropped waist on a number of commercial sewing patterns as well:


And more excitingly (because we all know we love and want to support them), the independent designers have been giving their own spin on this trend too:



So what to you think? Do you like this style? Are you tempted to whip up a drop waisted dress?

Personally, although I think it would actually fit in quite well with my search for forgiving patterns, I don’t know if I’m ready to jump on this wagon just yet…


*Click images for links

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Very Seasonal Cape

Su Sews SoSo Red Cape 2

Well this post is long overdue. I actually made this cape last year but never managed to get any decent shots of it at the time, and it seemed wrong to blog about it in Summer, so I've been keeping it for more Wintery weather.

This is a fun little wool cape, made from New Look pattern 6916, which unfortunately seems to be out of print now, but the envelope looks like this:


It's a very easy make which requires very little fitting (obviously), but it took my some time to complete due to my inability to choose a suitable lining. When I initially bought the red wool (which once I had laid eyes on I couldn't let go off - I just love the shade of this red!) I decided I wanted to have a fun, playful lining and ended up buying a bright turquoise Chinese brocade. The woman in the shop was giving me a bit of an odd look while cutting it for me, but I just thought her 'old' and not quirky enough to appreciate just how fabulous this was going to end up. It wasn't until I had the the red and blue pinned and ready to sew together did I realise that I was making myself a Superman cape!!! Um….no. There is quirky, and then there is just wrong.

Su Sews SoSo Red Cape 1

So the beautiful red wool languished at the bottom of my unfinished pile while I searched and searched for the right lining. After much thought and deliberation I decided that a tartan would be the perfect lining and ended up buying some online. Unfortunately once it arrived, it was rather heavy and, to be honest, a bit too much like a picnic rug. So again the red wool waited. (By the way - said picnic rug should hopefully be appear on the blog soon in another post!).

Su Sews So So Cape Collage 2

Finally I found the PERFECT lining, and on sale in my local fabric shop too! A lovely black, white and grey tartan with a little line of the perfect shade of red running through it. It was destiny! I didn't have enough fabric to even attempt to match the tartan, and to be honest even if I did I think it would have been near impossible anyway. I had hopped that the cape would be reversible and I would get a nice tartan cape out of this, but the tartan fabric has a bit of strange wrinkle to it due to a metallic thread that runs through it, so it doesn't really work for the outer layer. Never mind!

Su Sews So So Red Cape Collage 1

The cape is actually designed with a mandarin collar (see picture on left above), but I had a detachable faux fur collar in my wardrobe and when I put the two together it was a match made in Christmas heaven!!  For the closure, I sewed on two twine frogs  & wooden toggles.

Su Sews SoSo Red Cape 3

The cape, as most capes go, probably isn't the most convenient piece out outwear I own (where do you put your arms and how do you carry your handbag???), but with the collar on it's good fun and perfect for getting into the spirit of the season with a trip to the Christmas Market:

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

DIY I Do : A Sign for the Ceremony


RS wedding 037

Oh dear, I realise that we are now coming up to 5 months after the wedding, but things have been a bit hectic around here (and I lost the use of the letter 't' on my keyboard - don't ask! lol), but I still have a few more DIY I Do posts that I really want to document before I move on. The biggies are out of the way though, so most of these posts will be short and sweet - feel free to pass if it's not your thing, I realise they won't be very 'sewing' orientated.

So, for this post I just wanted to share a sign that I made for the ceremony. Since I have a very small family and Robin has a very large family I was a bit concerned that the ceremony would be a bit one-sided…literary! Then I happened to see a sign on Pinterest that would pretty much solve the problem. It read: "As two families are becoming one, we asked that you choose a seat and not a side". I thought it was perfect. We really wanted to have a relaxed and informal day, and this sign would also get us out of the issue of not wanting any ushers.

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I scoured car boots sales and eventually came upon a large framed 'painting' in a gaudy gold frame. It looks pretty rubbish, and was missing it's glass so I managed to get it for 50p! At home I took out the print, which was on a wooden board and spray painted the frame white and gave it a rubdown to get that 'shabby chic' effect. Next I painted over the painting (don't worry, it wasn't an old master, it was a print reproduction) with navy blue paint from a sample pot (bargain!).

The next part was the tricky part. How to get the writing looking less shabby and more chic! I used the font (which is called Sail by the way) that we had used in all of our wedding stationery and printed out the words across several sheets of A4. I then roughly cut around each word/line and decided on their positions. Then you use a soft pencil and shade the back of the letters, put them carefully into position and use a sharp pencil to go over every line. This leaves a very slight imprint onto the blue and allows you to follow it when painting. I used a medium thickness white paint pen to do the job. It was really relaxing and I loved doing it.

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I have to say, we were both really happy with how the sign turned out! And since the frame turned out so nice we have plans to reuse it in our home, perhaps painting inside with chalkboard paint?

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 (oh yes - mustn't forget obligatory cat pic!)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thoughts on the cost of sewing your own clothes

cost of sewing Su Sews So So

The general consensus around these bloggy parts is that sewing your own clothes isn’t cheap. For example, you can’t just take into consideration the cost for the pattern and the fabric, there’s all  the notions the project uses as well (thread/zips/buttons/interfacing etc). Plus the start-up for this hobby can be quite pricey – even your basic sewing machine doesn’t come that cheap. I’ve also learnt the hard way that buying cheap means paying in the long run – I recommend never buying cheap fabric shears or cheap thread, the money you save is just not worth the heartache!

I’ve always been aware that my hobby was a bit of a money pit (shhh…let’s keep that between you and me, my husband needn’t know!), but do you know, I have never sat down and actually worked out how much each of my projects has actually cost me.

Until the other week that is, when I decided I would do just that for my Autumn sewing plans (photo above). I was busy making plans for things I would like to make, but they all involved buying new patterns and new fabric, so I was concerned how much my ideas were actually going to set me back. To be honest, my initial reaction wasn’t good, probably because I added everything up and got a big stinking figure. But anything is going to sound expensive if you add a whole pile of things together. Looking at each garment cost individually it’s not actually that bad – a dress for £29.45 sounds fair to me. OK I could get something cheaper in some of the shops from the high street, but I would guess (hope?!) that the quality wouldn’t be as good, plus I wouldn’t have a say in the fit, fabric type or colour.

Of course there’s the argument that you need to factor in my time spent on making the clothes and an hourly wage – but if I did that then I would definitely be shocked at the cost! I’m happy to work for ‘free’ with the reward of something pretty at the end of it!

And they are only good value if I actually MAKE them!! I don’t even want to think about the number of patterns and amount of fabric in my stash all waiting to be used up. That’s when things start to get expensive. I see lots of bloggers talking about shopping their stash and going on a fabric diet, which is what I planned to do…only I didn’t really have any suitable ‘Autumnal’ fabric in my stash. There’s always an excuse isn’t there?! I suppose every hobby has it’s costs though doesn’t it?

I think I will try and keep a tally of how much each project costs from now on though, and will list this when I blog about new makes.

I’ll tell you one thing, it’s hard to stop buying new patterns and fabric, when there are so many wonderful and inspirational sewing blogs out there, tempting me with their latest creations!!!

How about you? Do you keep a close eye on your costs? Do you work out how much each project ends up costs? And do you go on fabric diets (or maybe fabric binges?!!)?

Friday, 25 October 2013

Sewing with a different attitude

Although I have been back from my honeymoon now for about 3 months, I haven’t actually had much on the blog to show for it. My friends and family suggested that after the immense amount of sewing and crafting that I put into the wedding I should take a well deserved break. So they were a bit surprised to hear that I have already got back to the sewing machine – hey, I was away on honeymoon for 3 weeks, surely that was enough of a break? You guys know what I mean, right?!!

Floral Skirt Collage Su Sews So SoOne thing that has changed though, is my attitude to sewing. Over the last 12 months I have been sewing with a very distinct deadline and (in my usual style) crammed an awful lot into the last month or so before the wedding. It stressed me out a lot and I started to loose the enjoyment that I used to get from sewing. So I have been trying to tell myself to just relax and remember what it’s like to slow down and take pleasure in each step – after all, it is my hobby!

The first thing I started working on when I got home was a version of Gertie’s Pencil Skirt, from her book Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, made up in the gorgeous floral cotton sateen (see above). I have been taking my time and paying attention to all the details, and really enjoying it. When I first started making it one of my colleagues in work asked if I was sewing anything, so I described the skirt to them. A week later they asked again, and initially I felt a bit embarrassed that I was going to have to admit that I hadn’t really made much progress on the skirt since they last asked – but then I realised that I have no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed that it has taken me a couple of months to make a simple pencil skirt* – who cares?! I know that, if I had to, I could whip up a simple pencil skirt in an afternoon. But I’m making it for me, taking my time to make it perfect and there is no deadline, so there is no need to get stressed about it. When it’s done, it’s done, and I’ll be happy that I have a new skirt, but until then, I’m happy I have a little project to work on! Currently it is waiting for me to blind-hem the floral fabric, and hem the lining (with some lovely lace). I’ll get around to it eventually!

Washi red

Because I have always hated hemming, I might have got a little bit distracted and started another project! I am also currently making a Washi Dress out of a heavy burnt red linen which I’m hoping will be a good layering piece during the Autumn/Winter, and be a much needed addition to my everyday wardrobe since I currently can’t fit into half of my clothes (no lie people!). Again, I’m taking my time and just fitting in a wee bit of sewing whenever my life lets me, and I’m not stressing about getting it done asap.

Another thing that has often made me feel under pressure to finish projects is the blog. There are so many fantastic sewing blogs out there these days, and some sewists are able to churn out project after project so quickly! Because of that there is always that little feeling that if you aren’t keeping up, you will get left behind. But along with this new attitude to sewing I have also adopted a much healthier attitude towards my blog. My blog is here to document my sewing, rather than having to sew to fill-up my blog – and if there are readers out that who enjoy it then that’s all the better!

So, how about you – do you ever find yourself stressing over a project, perhaps with a deadline, and loosing the enjoyment from your hobby? Or do you ever feel the pressures of having to create content for your blog (for those of you who’s blog is not their job…that’s a different matter! lol)?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

DIY I Do : 10 tips for doing your own Wedding make-up

Now I know that this isn't sewing or crafting related, but it is essentially a DIY so I thought I'd add it to my DIY I Do series.

I don't wear a lot of make-up in day-to-day life so I was a bit nervous about getting my make-up done professionally for my wedding and ending up looking nothing like myself. A couple of years a go I was a bridesmaid for a friend and she brought in a make-up artist to do all of us. I ended up looking nothing like myself and feeling very uncomfortable, and in fact, my husband made me promise to not get my make-up done anything like that for our actual wedding as he said he hated it!

But I did get a couple of make-up trials done for my wedding when I was still deciding what to do about the whole make-up thing, and each time, even though I tried my best to explain that I wanted it very soft, I always ended up looking odd. So in the end I did my own make-up. Now, as I mentioned, I don't really wear much make-up so the whole make-up world was a bit foreign to me, but I did my homework and I thought I'd share a few suggestions for anyone else who may be going through the same though process as I did.

DIY wedding makeup


1. Watch You-Tube videos! This became a bit of an obsession for me once I discovered them! There are millions of videos out there that guide you through from the very basics of foundation application to blending eye shadows and how to get the perfect eyeliner. A few of my favourites are:

-  Jaclyn Hill - especially this video

- Lisa Eldridge

- Tanya Burr

- Goss Makeup Artist

- The Makeup Chair

RS wedding 042

2. Invest in a few decent brushes - this is so important as the right brush can make applying your make-up so much easier. Through the you-tube videos I discovered Sigma and Blank Canvas Cosmetics brushes, which are similar to, but cheaper than, the infamous MAC brushes. Blank Canvas also have some double ended brushes which save money and space.

RS wedding 033

3. Invest in a MAC make-up lesson. I was completely new to the world of MAC and assumed it would be like every other make-up counter where you get a free make-up application and then get pressurised into purchasing all their products. Nope - you have to PAY for that service…and in Belfast there is a massive waiting list too!! When I discovered this I was a bit put off and didn't know if it was a good idea or not. But actually, if you know you are likely to buy something from MAC it's not such a bad idea as the cost for the lesson actually gets deducted from a purchase afterwards (but you can't get a refund if you don't' buy anything). So I decided that, because I wasn't going to have a make-up artist on the day, I would spend that potentially saved money and take my Maid of Awesomeness (the new name I gave my Maid of Honour!) along and we would both get a make-up lesson and then purchase some of the products to use on the day. So sort of a win-win situation!  Now make sure you explain that you don't want anything too strong. I don't think my MoA explained that well enough as she ended up looking a bit drag queen (MASSIVO black eyebrows!), but I went on and on about wanting a soft look, and ended up with really lovely make-up. Oh - and don't forget to go out for cocktails afterwards!

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4. Practice! Yep, the old saying 'practice makes perfect' - I tried out so many different styles, specifically eyeshadow. The whole eyeshadow blending thing was very new to me so I had to just keep practicing until I found something I liked.

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5. Each time you try a new look, try and write down which products you used and how, and then take a photo. Make-up always looks different in a photograph than in real life and you are going to get photographed a LOT on your wedding day, so it's important that it translates well. Having photos of each look you try is also great for deciding which look to go for too.


6. Try and get a foundation without any SPF in it as apparently this reflects back in flash photography and gives you a white face - not a good look!! I used a MAC face and body foundation.

236xNxallnighter jpg pagespeed ic Qn6Zj05uK3

7. Invest in a setting spray. This is like hairspray for your face - it keeps everything in place all day so you don't have to keep running to the bathroom to touch-up! I used an Urban Decay one and it worked really well.

RS wedding 039

8. The week before your wedding, run through the make-up look you have decided on a few times and make sure you know exactly what you are going to do. Put all of your products in a special bag or box (I used a retro tin lunch box…which I FILLED with my products…yes, I had a LOT!!) and don't take anything out (or at least make sure you put it back if you use it!!!). That way you will know that you definitely have everything you need in the one place.

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9. OK, this one may seem a bit OCD, and my photographer laughed at me when she saw it - but I tell you I was so pleased that I did this. Write down a list of every step of your make-up look…even the basic steps, like washing your face and putting on primer. Each time I was running through my chosen make-up look I kept missing out a step, and it was always a different step that I would miss out! So I decided to write every single step down (yes, even washing my face). And it was honestly the best thing because on the day I was pretty nervous and my brain actually went blank and I couldn't remember the steps at all - but I just had to refer to my step-by-step guide and it came back to me!

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10. If you are not getting ready at home (my family and I stayed in rented cottages near the wedding venue the night before) make sure you find a spot  to apply your make-up that has really good natural light. It might be a good idea to bring a free standing mirror with you so that you can prop this up on a window sill for example. And make sure you have lots of room to lay out all your products so they are easy to see and you're not rooting through a bulging bag for each item, that will only lead to stress! 

Su Sews So So Make Up 1

If you were thinking about doing your own make-up for your wedding I say DO! The money I would have spent hiring a make-up artist I invested in products which I'm still enjoying the benefit of now and I learnt a new skill too!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Red Hot Bombshell Dress ;)

I actually made this dress last year and posted this photo up on the blog, with promises to do a proper blog post about it asap:

bombshell dress

Roll on 15 months and I still haven’t blogged about it, so I thought I had better get on with it. Only problem being that I really wanted to take better photos of the dress, but guys – it was pretty figure hugging when I made it…and now it doesn’t fit me! Argh! So you guys will just have to make do with what photos I do have.

This is the Craftsy Bombshell Dress, taught by the very talented Gertie who, I have to say, is a brilliant teacher. The course covers very advanced couture techniques, way beyond my normal sewing skill level. But Gertie takes you through ever step slowly and clearly explains exactly what you need to do and I really would recommend it if you are looking to improve your sewing skills and challenge yourself.

A lot of people have already taken this class and given really good reviews so I won’t go into too much detail, but some of the techniques which I learnt and have found really useful are:

- Using carbon paper to trace seam lines

- Having massive seam allowances and thread tracing your seam lines – this allows for a very accurate fit and is really useful at the fitting stage (see below pic)

Bombshell cups

- Creating a muslin and using this as the underlining to your fashion fabric – and being able to write info on these (like numbering pieces and showing grainlines – see above pic), so so useful!

bombshell shell

- Using batting to pad bra cups – butting seams together (see red zig-zag stiches in above pic)

- Using stay-tape to reinforce curved seams (see above pic)

- Using spiral steel boning – and raiding my husbands tool kit for the job!

- Adding a waist stay and zip guard – both really helpful for getting in and out of the dress.

I used a lot of the skills learnt on this course to help make my Wedding Reception Dress.


I decided to add a basic halter neck strap to my dress, as I find this more flattering on my body shape than strapless. I was planning to wear the dress to a friends wedding and, as per my usual style, was doing everything last minute – so the halter neck was the last thing I did – and I was sewing it to the dress on the morning of the wedding! Gertie suggests adding buttons to the inside of the dress, and button holes on the ends of the straps, so that you can have the option of strap or no strap, but I didn’t have the time, so I just hand stitched it in quickly. I also just used a strip of fashion fabric, plus some muslin, but no interlining to strengthen it. This turned out a bad idea as over the course of the day the strap creased and folded and didn’t look as good. The stitching also came undone during the night! Thankfully the strap is only decorative so I didn’t have to worry about the dress actually falling down!


Apart from the strap issue I really do love this dress – I think a large part of that is due to the fabric I chose, which is a cotton that I picked up when I was in Thailand a few years ago. I do, however, have a few criticisms on the dress style and the fabric choice. Although the fabric is a lovely pattern, it’s actually a bit gauzy, and as such I have found that I have to be careful not to catch the dress on anything while wearing it or it can easily get holes in it. And as for the pattern – in these photos, which have been carefully selected, it is a very flattering dress. But in reality, it is not flattering to my rather small bust size (they are rather squashed and I look flatter than normal) and the gathering at the waist actually makes me look like I have a pot-belly! I suppose that is one of the risks you take when you make your own clothes and are trying a new pattern/style – you don’t really know how it will look on you until you have it made up!

That being said, it’s still one of my absolute FAVOURITE makes and one that I am very proud of! If you haven’t taken the Craftsy class, I recommend it thoroughly.

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