Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Sixties Vibe Shift Dress - Hillary's Craft Competition




I was recently invited to submit an entry to Hillary's annual craft competition.  I fancied a challenge and if I'm honest needed a bit of a kick to get the sewing machine out again and make something, so here goes.

The idea is simple.  Hillary's send you a 1 metre square sample of their blind fabric, you have a choice of gorgeous designs and you can make whatever your heart's desire with it.  I opted for the Daisy Pistachio pattern, it had a fairly small pattern repeat and I thought I'd be able to get the best use out of this fabric.

The fabric designs are from their new roman blind and curtain collections and as you'd expect, the material is a light upholstery weight.  It was perfect for finally finishing off a piano stool I'd been re-upholstering, or it would have made wonderful cushions. However, I don't like to be bound by conventions and am quite happy to break the rules as far as crafting is concerned - I've made bunting from old lace handkerchiefs, handbags from denim jeans, pjs from pillow cases, refurbished children's deck chairs with tea towels and made doorstops from tweed skirts and jackets in the past.

Once I got my hands on the fabric, the bold geometric floral print reminded me of Orla Kiely and Mary Quant, so I decided to make a sixties style shift dress for my 7 year old daughter.  It was going to be a squeeze with only a metre of fabric to play with though!

I used a dressmaking pattern (Simplicity 1457 AA) although I do think they need to change their name - simple it wasn't!  I've only ever made a dress from a pattern once before with an awful lot of help from my mum so this was indeed a challenge.


Firstly, the pattern suggested 1.5 metres of fabric, but I felt confident laying out one of Ruby's existing dresses over the fabric that there should be enough.  The great thing about the Daisy Pistachio fabric is that the design is symmetrical so I was able to use some jiggery-pokery and clever folding to get out the pieces I required as it didn't matter which way I cut it. Unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric to allow the luxury of pattern matching at the seams, but I don't think that takes away from the finished result at all.

The paper pattern suggested cutting the dress shape in two parts - a bodice and the skirt, joining up empire line style.  But given my restrictions I decided to tape these sections of the pattern together and cut it as one continuous piece and actually I think this makes for a more authentic vintage shift style.


After pinning and cutting my four pieces - a front and back dress and a front and back yolk, I tacked them together and checked for fit.

Finally it was time to start sewing for real.  I'll be honest, the yolk was a real challenge.  Getting the seams to lay flat and for it to fit snugly inside the dress was no easy feat, but I'm so pleased I managed to achieve it as it gives such a professional finish to the neckline.


The armholes were finished off with bias binding - again quite tricky because I was working with tiny armholes so getting it on the machine was a bit of a faff.  But finally it was complete and I'm thrilled with how it's turned out.

It's a little on the large side as the pattern is American and I think their sizes come up larger but that's ok - it means she can wear it for longer!

With the small remnant of material I had left I used a glue gun to cover an alice band to complete the look.


I'm really grateful to Hillary's for this challenge.  It stretched my sewing skills, motivated me to make something which I haven't been able to find time to do for ages, and I learned how to make a dress from scratch.  With a yolk.  A yolk folks!  I'm amazed.



I hope you like my finished creation.  Do take a look at some of the other entries and fingers crossed everyone.

Being Mrs C's Peg Bag
Life As Alice's Noticeboard
Tired Mummy of Two's Camera Bag


36 comments:

  1. Oh Liz! I love the style of that dress, you clever lady. Ruby looks beautiful and that fabric looks amazing as a dress, you'd never guess it was blind fabric

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    1. Ahh thank you. It was a real labour of love but I'm pleased it turned out so well.

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  2. Oh what a lovely dress that you have created!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, happy to have learnt a new skill too. Loved working with this fabric it's so pretty.

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  3. I absolutely adore the style of the dress, What a great skill to learn, might just need to give it a go myself.

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    1. Ah thank you Angela, it was fun (ok maybe a little stressful!)

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  4. Oh wow that is so lovely! How talented are you!! I wouldn't have the first idea x

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  5. You talented lady you! The dress looks awesome, very 60s indeed! x

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    1. Aw shucks, I don't know about that!

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  6. What a lovely dress! Very talented. I'd love to try dress making myself but not sure I'd be too good at it!

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    1. Thanks Leona. Dress making patterns could certainly be a whole lot simpler! The commercial type tend to have numerous different patterns in lots of different sizes with instructions in every language. You could try with a pattern purchased from somewhere like Etsy, for a specific garment.

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  7. That's fantastic, gorgeous material too! Love it you clever thing you!

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    1. Ah thank you! I love the fabric too.

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  8. I love the fabric choice and the dress. I love the alice band too. I grew up wearing outfits my mum made me. I wish it was easier to make boys clothes!

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    1. Ah thanks Jen. I need to keep practicing, I'd love to make more bespoke clothing for her (and me!)

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  9. That looks really cute! You are so clever. I keep thinking that I should invest in a sewing machine as I watched my mum using hers when i was growing up and I'm sure she must have passed a few of her sewing genes on to me

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    1. Oh yes you should! I love playing around on mine. It's amazing what you can rustle up!

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  10. What a fantastic job you have done there. I loved my mom making me dresses when \i was younger.

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  11. Such a pretty dress and it looks gorgeous on Ruby! The lovely fabric does have an Orla Kiely look about it I think. Great idea making a matching headband too.

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    1. Thanks Tracey, I'm pleased I used what was left on the headband, I think it finishes off the outfit.

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  12. I absolutely love that pattern it is amazing and Ruby looks stunning x

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    1. It's a gorgeous pattern isn't it? I love the colours.

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  13. What a lovely dress, I think you have done amazingly, love the design and print.x

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    1. Ah thank you Sarah-Louise. I think the print lends itself to the dress style very well.

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  14. This looks fab and a true one off!

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    1. Thanks Kara, I love that she has clothes that you can't buy in the shops!

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  15. I'm very impressed, it looks fab! Loving the fabric choice!

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    1. Thank you Donna, it was good fun to do, and the fabric is gorgeous.

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  16. Wow this is brilliant and I love the fabric. I would love to be able to make my daughter clothes!

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    1. Thank you! You should try, it's not that hard (if I can do it...!)

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  17. Wow! That is fantastic. Wish I could sew a napkin, let alone a dress!

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  18. Oh Liz this is utterly brilliant, how clever are you! A dress and a matching headband - just fantastic. I so wish I could do this, suspect I'm better sticking with the camera! Have a lovely weekend x

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  19. I can't sew for toffee! Clever you - this is a beautiful dress. Kaz x

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