Summer Dress: Charles 2nd prevents finishing…

There were still two problems with the pink flowery dress that still needed to be solved: I had crooked up the neckline and something was amiss where the bodice was attached to the skirt (lots of layers and ugly bulging).

Since discovering I love handstitching I solved the neckline by stitching it by hand.

For the bodice-skirt-problem I unpicked the seams. I opened the seam and pressed it. The pattern says to flip both sides to the top but that looked terrible. I now have one side looking up and one looking down.

In the back I could finish both seams using the lining. Here the lining was long enough to fold it under the seam allowance that was pressed downwards towardds the skirt. I had my sewing machine have a look at it and that was that. The last 3 cm I stitched by hand, making sure I did not have to undo the seam that holds the zipper (and the lining) but still protect the lower part of the seam properly.
The lower part is rolled a bit and kept in place by hand stitches while the lining travels upwards towards the zipper seam, also assisted by some hand stitches. No fraying. I put a pin in it to show you:
Modeled by my lovely assistant Lillepoes who is quite opinionated when not snoring or shedding…

It is really weird, the dress was on the table for just a second. I turn around to get a pin, turn back and there’s a cat on it!

In the front the lining is not long enough to cover the lower part of the seam. So I just folded it under and sewed it to the upper part, protecting that from wear and fraying. I sewed it by hand. It only took one episode of Horrible Histories, a British children’s show about history and an absolute blast.

They have amazing sketches and songs based on modern songs, this is one of my favourites:

Charles the second, King of Bling!

The actors really are amazing, they can take on so many different flavours and personalities. Go look at a clip or better yet watch the series!

For the front part of the dress I’ll have to insert an other solution to keep that seam allowance from fraying. I have opted for binding with a piece of ribbon. I have not thought this through yet…
Here’s a piece of purple satin ribbon (that came with a box of chocolates. Those are THE GOOD RIBBONS!).
It’s not bias band and I have to think about how many lines of stitching this requires. The idea is the edge of the fabric will be caught in the folded ribbon but I don’t want to make it too bulky or stiff.

But can’t think now, have to watch the rest of the series Horrible Histories nr4!


pen paper scissors cat

Playing with the paper pattern! First: trace the right size onto a piece of paper.
I have no tracing paper but I found an old roll of rice paper. It’s 90 cm wide (nearly 3 feet?) and wide enough to capture the wide part of the skirt piece.
Rice paper is in my house because I do/did Sumi-é, the Japanese brush painting technique:

cat help…

To clearly mark the corners I drew the two meeting lines longer, so they overlap and make a little cross. It’s a habit trick I learned at architect school. It makes a clear mark of the point you intend to be the end of something. Your handdrawn lines may be all wobbly and askew, if you mark the point where they meet it will give a visual clue of your intentions.

I did the same while cutting: just cut a little further than the intended end. Don’t try to turn the corner with scissors.

Seeing how the pattern pieces fit…
Featuring various objects that lay around this room: tape, scissors, a stamp, a wood carving knife, a shoe and a cat. On the left a little silver thingie: it’s a nifty distance holder for my sewing machine. I will insert it at the same distance as the seam allowance of this pattern (1,5 cm). I already drew those lines on all the paper by the way.

ps. see my handknitted sock? Dyed the yarn myself. That blueteal thing is a skirt I felted. Over woolen muslin/chemaine de la laine. Nice and warm!

she’s nagging!
disapproving cats surround this project.

checking the distance between the selvedge edge and the grain line on the pattern piece at one end:

and checking the distance at the other end:
The two distances are the same. The piece lies parallel to the selvedge edge = perfectly in grain.

They fit all nice on the old sheet folded double. There’s even room for the bodice lining. It’s all in grain too. I pinned them to the two sheets of fabric. I could start cutting! It’s all ready!!!

but I guess I should press the sheet first…. I really should. Just to be all official and good the very first time. Just because I intend this to be a toile, a fitting prototype of which I hope to get the pattern pieces of future dresses. So pressing, it really should be done.

Well, let me think about it. I have to go away for a few days now so I will think about it.
Besides, I already realized I did not alter the hip for a size 14, it’s all size 16 that lays here. So altering of the paper pieces should happen anyway before putting it onto the sheet again. And I read somewhere that pinning your paper to your fabric makes the fabric crinkle out of alinement. So I’ll think about that too.

See you in a few days!

my tools: books, machine, ‘dress form’

as I wait for my patterns to arrive:

Processed through USPS Sort Facility, April 20, 2013, 11:50 am, CHICAGO, IL 60666

let me show you what tools I own. My books, my sewing machine and my ‘dress form’.

these are the books:

  • Mouleren by Ton Verswijveren
  • The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant by Sarah Thursfield
  • How to Adjust, Adapt and Deisgn Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan
  • Knippen en Naaien met BURDA by Burda

The last two I got as a gift from two lovely friends who knew I’d be sewing a dress before I knew it myself.

Mouleren by Ton Verswijveren is all about moulage, the art of draping cloth around the human form and deducing a custom fit pattern block out of it. (I was looking for images on ‘moulage’ and got all bloody murder on my screen. It seems in the US it is the art of making fake wounds.)


It features everything from starting a simple piece of fabric on a dress form to having all the alterations in fabric and making it into pattern pieces.
Ton Verswijveren teaches this skillful art in the Netherlands and also sells custom fit dress forms.
I don’t understand everything I read yet but I do see a lot, especially paired with the reading of the next book:

The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant by Sarah Thursfield.

This teaches how to make a ‘block’ off of somebody’s body and how to use that block to make historic garments.

The next book I have not read well yet. It’s How to Adjust, Adapt and Deisgn Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan.
It has a special section about how to proceed when you’ve bought a commercial pattern, that will come in handy.

Knippen en Naaien met BURDA by Burda is a book in Dutch from 1984 and it teaches the basics. Including alterations and some simple patterns. Its title translates to: “Cutting and Sewing with Burda.”

I learned a lot from it. It has lots of pictures too.The only thing is it is in Dutch, which is my mother tongue, granted, but I’ve been reading up on sewing in English and I have difficulty translating the right terms back to Dutch.
The same happened when I thought myself to knit and to spin. At least I’m consistent. I do want to learn the proper Dutch terms though because I’ll be talking to my Dutch friends about this over at my favourite group at And I’ll be buying fabric in a Dutch shop which makes it necessary to learn the fabric names well. Because I’ve got a feeling that the right fabric will make this dress and the wrong one will be eaten by my sewing machine…


It’s an old foot treadle with a boat shuttle and a part to wind up the long bobins that go aboard that shuttle. It is a good piece of equipment. It runs smooth, it runs precise.
It goes forward and it goes backward and I can adjust the stitch length. That’s about it!

It does well with cotton, felt and leather. I am really looking forward to do a smoother fabric on it like silk chiffon. But I may start with raw silk first. That is, after I’ve made a few dresses in well behaving, easy to handle fabrics.

To test my knitting garments I made a dress form last year. A couple of knitter friends got together and had a fun afternoon taping each other up.

she has no name. And after being stuffed in ‘the wool room’ for a few months she now leans back pondering ceilings.
There’s a clothes hook in there but the hook came apart from the wooden part that fortifies her shoulders. She was meant to hang, not to stand.
Oh well, it did reach the goal of shocking me into a more realistic idea of my body and better ideas of what styles suit me.


While waiting and reading I felt I do need a tracing wheel. I went to the church’s second hand shop and found one. And some bias band of which I hear great things. There were also lovely ladies helping me to pronounce it right (another haz(z)ard of learning through books and internet, you never know what you are saying). Apparently in Holland we use a French pronunciation, “bee-yay band”, is this correct?

As a sewing Bumble I’m all for Bee Yay Bands!

picture by Mikateke | Kateryna Korniienko-Heidtman

The ladies at the thrift store also prevented me from going home with a non-souple gauze to make a toile/muslin from. Instead they sold me this old sheet. It is very soft, has a small flowery pattern and even a repairment. Done with love and care.

Talk about love and care, there’s a lot of cat help around here….

“you’ve been working too long, it’s time to nap!”