Sunday 8 June 2014

Sewing A Dress For Beginners

Checked Handmade Dress

Alternative post title: LOOK - I'VE MADE A DRESS!! Can I get a *whoop whoop* please? Thank you. I've been hinting at this project for a while on here, and even used some of the left over fabric to cover my headphones. Now that I've finally finished sewing it, I thought I'd share it on here, along with some tips for beginner's sewing that I've picked up along the way.

The pattern I used is from Dressmaking - The Complete Step by Step Guide, by Alison Smith. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against standard sewing patterns, and have used them before, but I really liked the tutorials in this book. For a start, there are numerous pictures for each step of the process, and very detailed guides on everything you come across when sewing garments; making adjustments, inserting zips, using interfacing e.t.c. This was particularly useful for me, as I have only faced basic sewing patterns before, and this pattern saw me learning many new skills. I inserted darts (actually quite easy), a zip (not as scary as I thought) and sleeves (a bit of a fiddle, but I got there in the end). You have to print out the patterns yourself, and this made me apprehensive at first, but actually it worked out fine. I liked the fact that the patterns could be printed on cartridge paper, and were therefore sturdier and more suited to repeated use.

Checked Handmade Dress

I'm not a big sewer, but I definitely learnt a lot from sewing this dress, and really enjoyed the process. In fact, I'm already dreaming of my next project. Here are my tips for beginner sewers:

  • Prepare - You should actually be spending very little time sat at the sewing machine, as all the real work is done in the preparation. In all projects where I've rushed to get on the sewing machine, I've never really been pleased with the results. I like to pin before tacking all seams and hems. Tacking is my new sewing BFF. 
  • Iron - To get a really neat finish, I recommend using an iron to press your fabric throughout. This gives everything you do a very precise and clean finish. 
  • Unpick - If you're not happy with what you've done, then reach for your unpicker. I always used to associate the unpicker with personal failure, and whilst it can be soul destroying to unpick something that you've spent a lot of time sewing, it's for the best. If it's not right, chances are you won't wear your creation, so redoing a section of sewing is worth it in the long run. 
  • Advice - Hunt down somebody who is willing to help you through bits you're unsure of. Whether it's family, friends, or an internet forum, sewing advice can be easily accessible and very helpful. 
Checked Handmade Dress

Just a quick word on this fabric - isn't it a dream? I came across it in a second hand shop, and it had to come home with me. It features my all time favourite colour combination, and lovely diagonal checks. The main issue with it was that it was a very long and thin piece of fabric, so finding a pattern to fit was hard work, but I knew that it had to be made into a dress.

I'll be wearing my checked dress with chunky flats and a quirky pendant necklace, although it would work just as well when worn smart, with pointed courts and a boxy clutch.

Do you have any tips for learning new crafting skills?


  1. The dress looks lovely! And your tips are really helpful. I think you've just inspired me to get my sewing machine out!


    1. Thanks Gemma! Let me know how you get on!