A Dress in a Day?

Today is a bank holiday in the UK, and as I had the day off, I decided to get stuck into making a dress for a wedding I'm attending in 2 weeks. The weather is dull and rainy and my husband had to work, so I had an uninterrupted day of sewing.

I don't usually time how long it takes me to to sew garments, but I thought that today would be a good chance to see how much I could achieve within a day. I had the fabric and lining washed, and knew what pattern I wanted to use - this:

 Woman W412 and Simplicity 3426

Well, I decided to make the bodice of the Simplicity pattern with the skirt of the Woman pattern. I made the Woman pattern for a wedding last year, and was really pleased with it. However I liked the bodice of the Simplicity dress and wanted to make something new, although I didn't have enough of my chosen fabric to make it, so I decided to 'franken-pattern' it.

Here's my fabric:

I bought it at the Crafters' Ceilidh in January this year. I had intended to use it for a Colette Patterns Jasmine blouse, but decided that was a stupid idea, plus I had over 2 metres of it. I think it was described as a 'cotton silk' and is a lovely silky smooth and light cotton.

Due to the fabric's weight, I wanted to line it with cotton, to give the fabric more body and ensure it wouldn't be too sheer. I ended up buying a crafting weight white cotton, as this was the most appropriate thing in the fabric store, though a cotton sheet would have worked just as well, and would probably have worked out cheaper.

Here's how my day of sewing worked out:

10 -11 am - I made a bodice muslin, which turned out to be too small and ill-fitting on the bust.

11-1pm - Tried adjusting the muslin then decided to trace the bodice pieces and do a proper Small Bust Adjustment - this was the first time I have done this, and it wasn't as tricky as I thought. I cut new bodice pieces from the lining fabric and cut my skirt pieces from both the lining and main fabric.

1 pm - Lunch!

1.35 - 3.30 pm - Sewed the bodice lining (a much better fit) and dress bodice. Attached skirt fabric and skirt lining pieces together - I wanted the bodice to be lined and the skirt to be underlined.

3.30 - 4.30 pm - Gathered the top of the skirt, adjusted and pinned it to the bodice fabric. Sewed together with a long stitch.

4.30 pm - Tea Break!

Dot getting involved with pattern cutting

5.10 pm - Tried on the dress, which consists of the outer bodice fabric attached to the skirt. It still requires the bodice lining to be attached to the outer bodice fabric, and the zip to be sewn in, then the skirt has to be hemmed. Verdict? I am very happy with the fit. The side seams could come in a little bit, but as the skirt is only tacked on, this can be easily adjusted.

 Living Room set up for sewing

I think I could probably have kept sewing if I was so inclined, and got the dress nearly finished. However I'm pretty tired and have a sore back from bad sewing posture. I'm really chuffed with how much I got achieved today with my super-focused day of sewing. I don't like to feel rushed, and don't think I am usually particularly quick at sewing, but it was nice to have a day devoted to sewing at my own pace, with lots of Radio 4 listening.

How about you - how quickly can you make a garment? Do you like to take your time or can you whip out a dress in no time?

K x

p.s No Pattern Monday today! I meant to put it together this morning then kind of forget about it. It will be back next week, as usual.


  1. Congrats on all that progress, wow!

    It's been awhile since I've sewn sadly. But in general, I can really only go in fits and spurts. An hour or two in an evening or a few hours on a weekend afternoon are about all I can take before I find myself getting annoyed or stumped at some point (or just too fidgety), and feel the need to stop. I know this has something to do with my lack of sewing productivity!

  2. Thanks - it was a rare treat to have so much uninterrrupted time. I usually have some cleaning to do or something equally dull.

  3. Impressive stuff, amazing how much you can achieve if you have whole chunks of time (or days) to dedicate to the cause! I've always been to 'scared' to time myself like this, because I know for a fact that I'm a a slow stitcher...darn it!!!

  4. wow, thats such a productive day !!!

  5. Oh, to be able to sew for a whole day! I don't think it will be happening until my children grow up and move out...
    Well done to you!
    I always have to adjust my patterns around the bust and I'd be interested to know how to 'properly' do a small bust adjustment. Did you use an online tutorial?

    1. I know, it was a real luxury!

      I used a tutorial in the Colette Sewing Handbook which was concise and clear. I think there are quite a few tutorials available online too.

    2. Oooh! That's good, I ordered that book for my birthday...which is next Saturday! I hope it arrives in time!
      Thanks for that. xo

  6. After a quick browse at your two previous versions, I am really excited to see this next dress! The fabric is gorgeous and the two patterns are just lovely.

  7. Wow, what a fun day! You're a much quicker sewist than I am-- it takes me forever just to trace and cut!

  8. Good for you - and what pretty fabric, looking forward to seeing the finished dress

  9. Seems you made pretty good progress.
    You need more days like this to do just what ya wanna do.
    Can't wait to see more.

  10. What a productive day! Looking forward to seeing the finished object!

  11. Kerry its going to be gorgeous. Intetesting exercise taking note of what you did and how long it took....good rogress especially considering its lined and you mastered a new adjustment!!


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