I made a Christmas dress! (no santas or snowmen were harmed)

I rarely make myself anything for Christmas but this year I just fancied a little dress that would allow me to eat an extra mince pie.

I know, I know, I have made the same pattern again.  I just can’t help myself.  I have chosen to make The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern Book “Stylish Party Dresses” by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

These are my versions of this pattern so far, a top hack, a long sleeve top hack and a black crepe dress. I love it, it’s an easy one to make and sometimes easy is just what I need.  It’s also extremely useful when I am very time poor, which of course, I always am at this time of year.

I spotted this fantastic fabric on Pitt Trading‘s Instagram page.  It was love at first sight.  The fabric is just amazing, it had to be mine.  It’s rare that I make impulse fabric purchases but this is one of those rare occasions.  I am sure you can see why I just went for it.


The description was polyester, large digital print, 150cm wide.  I had visions of a floaty rayon type fabric but it wasn’t that at all.  It was almost like a lightweight scuba.  Not unhappy with this turn of events I have to say.  It has body and I like a bit of body in my fabrics.   It also had a bit of stretch so I thought I would treat it as a stretch fabric.

I decided to use my walking foot throughout this process, but use a standard needle and not a ballpoint.  I also decided to finish the seams with a 3 strand overlocked edge to help the seams sit flatter.

The dress itself is an easy one, made before many times so the only things to contend with was managing the fabric.  The walking foot and the overlocking worked a treat but pressing was an issue.  The fabric has bounce.  I remembered an excellent video blog post by Did You Make That? about such issues, using a clapper and some simple ironing techniques so I followed her lead.

I don’t own a clapper and I am sure many sewers don’t so I had to find an alternative.  What I did end up using was our sleeve pressing ham.  It’s long and heavy (perhaps not as flat as it could be) but it did help reduce the fabric’s bounce.

I was super careful when pressing, using a piece of fabric as a pressing cloth just incase I scorched the fabric.  I have burnt fabric so many times, often at the end of a make, like here.  It often results in tears and a lot of swearing.  You would think that I had learnt my lesson but it seems not. I slipped, missed the pressing cloth and burnt the shoulder of the dress in it’s final press.  If it had been on a black piece of the pattern I think I could have lived with it but no it was on the peach panel, right on the shoulder for all to see.  There was no option but to remove the sleeve and recut it.

Sometimes these things prove to be happy accidents.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the neckline.  It is faced and with this slightly thicker and bouncer fabric it just wasn’t sitting as flat as I like.


I had under stitched the neckline but when I clipped the curve (as per instructions) it started to look quite jagged and bulky.  You could also see the clipping after I pressed and topstitched.

Pre-burn shot: I burnt the peach piece on the right shoulder.

So when removing the right sleeve, I removed the top stitching, under stitching and facing from the neckline.  Due to the clipping I also had to cut the neckline back a little, which was fine. I decided to use some bias binding to finish the neckline.  I am much happier with the result.

I decided against any kind of pattern matching but did want the neckline to be predominately black so to hide the top stitching.  I was also super anal with the hemming and changed the thread from black to peach and back again when finishing.  Has anyone done that before or is it just me?

Lessons were learnt with this make. I have since made a pressing cloth with a tag which now hangs next to my iron as a constant reminder.  I think the other lesson was to sew more instinctively.  I thought to myself that binding would be better than facing on the neckline but dismissed it.  Go with your instincts.

So here it is.  I love it and have already worn it a couple of times.

New sleeve in place…
Notice the machine hemming – it’s invisible as I changed the thread
Love the green panel around the neckline here
Much happier with the neckline (even though I don’t look it!)

I am really loving this fabric, I also have enough left to make something else.  I am thinking a little self drafted skirt??  I just can’t leave this fabric in my stash!


Made Up Initative – sewing for charity!

Oh this is perfect for me, sewing for charity.  I am in!


The Made Up Initiative is the brain child of the sewing legend and prolific blogger, Did you make that?  The initiative is to support the National Literacy Trust in the UK.  A worthy cause indeed as one person in six in the UK lives with poor literacy.

When you donate, all you have to do is state your self-set challenge and away you go.  The pledge can be big or small it can be sewing, knitting, baking or anything really. The deadline is 10th September. So I donated and set myself the challenge!

My Challenge

I have had this beautiful fabric staring at me with hope and inspiration for the last few weeks and when I saw this pattern, it was a match made in sewing heaven.  My challenge was set!


The fabric is a beautiful double sided jacquard called Jail Break Beige from Tessuti Fabrics.  It’s quite heavy and has the structure needed for the pattern.  I am a jacquard novice – how is this possible?

The pattern is from the April issue of Burda Style Magazine, it’s the Boxy Top 123B.  I don’t often sew with Burda, mainly because I am lazy and don’t enjoy adding seam allowance!  But it was such a cool shape, I had to give it a go.  The description indicated it was the perfect top to concealing a tummy – this was definitely the top for me!

Image taken from Burda Style Magazine April 2015

It is also an unusual pattern, the sleeves are attached to the back piece and then come together at the front with a raglan sleeve.  There are only 3 pieces in total, front, back/sleeves and the neck facing.  The most complex bit was finding the pattern on the massive sheet of a thousand lines, it took a while!

The unusual back and sleeve piece

Once I had worked out the pattern, it was a straightforward sew.  Having never sewn from the magazine before I hadn’t realised how minimal the instructions were!  A clear head is what’s required. I made it though, in record time and I am thrilled with the results.






The Made Up inititive was just the shove I needed to get this project underway.  I am so happy to have participated to this fantastic Trust.

Now, what’s next, I think a pair of culottes would finish this outfit off….