Making my peonies dress

Judging by the photo at the top of the Peonies post, I don’t need to remind you that I am not a trained dressmaker. I subscribe to the ‘have a go’ school of crafting. Little by little, attempt by attempt, my sewing is getting better. It is still far from perfect, but it is better than it was, and that counts for a lot, in my book.

I drafted the pattern using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric pattern cutting for women’s wear (5th edition). It didn’t take as long as you might imagine – largely because I keep a close fitting bodice block (pp.16-17) and a one-piece sleeve block (pp.24-25) in my sewing drawer. I used the classic waist shaping (p.29) and transferred the darts to make a single french dart at each side of the front piece (pp.38-39). The collar is the shawl collar (pp. 74-75), and the sleeves the inset cap sleeve (pp.54-55).  So you see it’s just drafting by numbers, really.

To finish it off, I measured the bottom of the bodice and made a semi-circular skirt to fit, and cut some wide strips from the left over fabric to make a wide self-fabric belt. I hand stitched a length of grosgrain ribbon to to inside of the collar, in a colour to match the flowers, which is the sort of little detail I like. I may or may not add some creamy-white shell buttons to the bodice. We’ll see.

The dress is made in this fabric, which I love. Patterns are much more forgiving than plains when you are making something a bit challenging (and beware of stripes, which point to every flaw). And I always use this as a lining when sewing clothes. It’s wonderfully soft and quite thick, with a lovely drape. As an added bonus, bamboo is one of the best things to wear next to your skin, as it is naturally anti-bacterial. Linings make dresses hang much better, look more luxurious, and remove the worry of see-through skirts on sunny days. Plus, if you live in the UK, you’ll be glad of the extra layer on all but the warmest days.

So if you’re that way inclined, but have never drafted a pattern before, I urge you to have a go. I’d love to see what other people make up, for themselves. Leave a description in the comments of the Peonies post, or a link to your own blog or photos. I look forward to hearing about your creations!