Summer Flowers – Dress for a wedding

flowery fifties dress

A dear friend of mine was getting married so I decided to make myself a dress – I have been gradually working through my fabric stash -this beautiful fabric was bought a couple of years ago from a curtain shop that was closing down. In all I had just over three metres that I had snapped up for £7!

Fabric design

The fabric is big and bold the flower heads were enormous, but the repeat was manageable with the quantity of fabric I had. I also loved the weight of this cotton, similar to the purple linen I used for my spring dress. I have also been learning some Couture techniques that I was hoping to put in practise: using an underling.

Threadcount pattern

This pattern came with my Love Sewing Magazine and, joy of joys, it came in a DD cup! No full bust adjustment for once! What a brilliant idea! The Thread Count patterns are very well thought out and I hope that other patterns will follow their lead!

The princess seam line, just off the bust line works well for my body shape, it makes the bodice  easier to adjust without deep darts. I really struggle because my bust is quite big, I avoid waistline darts as there is not enough room and they end up very deep! The pattern was very easy to follow –  I was delighted to find after making the toile there was no pattern adaptation other than bringing in the back by a couple of inches.

I decided to change the lightly gathered skirt opting to use a circle skirt to avoid extra bulk around the midriff. I am short waisted with a bit of a tummy which reduces the overall space between the bust and waistline.

Princess seams

I used a beautiful soft voile as the underling – it was the first time I had used this technique – oh it is delightful, suddenly the garment has more structure! I hand stitched the princess seams open – it might look messier than my overlocker, but I find I really enjoy the control hand stitching gives! This will be covered by the lining anyway.

pattern matching 2

I used the underlining to pattern match the bodice pieces, I wanted the design to flow round the body – while the design was large I had enough fabric to get the pattern matching right on the bodice.

pattern matching side seam

The side seam worked beautifully – once again hand stitching the seams open to the underling, meant that no stitches came through to the front of the garment.

back bodice zip

The pattern matching came up well along the back bodice, although it was difficult to do on the skirt.   I hand stitched the zip to the underlining again – so there is no visible stitching line the right side, only the zipper pull is peeping out from the top.

Organza skirt lining

I used a organdie lining for the skirt – I had to pattern match as best I could – trying to ensure the flowers ran centrally along the front. The underlining helped the skirt to maintain its crisp shape, allowing the garment to flow around the body, as it is quite slippery.

threadcount pattern

The skirt flowers matched the bodice but I could not be as accurate as I was on the bodice as there simply wasn’t enough fabric to play with. Although I am quite pleased with the results.

Reading poem

Here I am wearing my dress and reading out a poem during the service, the dress was supported by a net underskirt.  It was a fabulous wedding and a beautiful day!

the Happy Couple

The happy couple! Congratulations!


Burda Skirt 6834 – perfect for hourglass, curvy girls and sway backs!



Home fires will be back on our screens soon – I love the show and quietly  coveted the beautifully fitted wool suits the ladies of the WI wore – so this was the inspiration behind this skirt. I wanted to challenge myself to make a really fitted garment without using stretch fabric.

I am an hourglass – while it might be the ideal body shape, it tests fitting skills to the max! Not only is there a 6 inch difference between my waist and hip measurement, but being short the height between waist and full hip is only 4 inches! If you think about an hourglass it is a rounded shape, so it not just goes in at the sides but also the front and back – so a sway back is part of the challenge (not to mention the rise of the middle aged tummy!).


If, like me, you are curvy, the traditional A line skirt ends up with huge deep darts at the back but the six piece skirt, like this pattern, offers more opportunity to accomodate the bulk over six seams – so this is an ideal pattern for curvy ladies!

As you can see from the toile the waist has to be reduced by quite a lot, but each seam can divide the overall reduction – giving a lot of opportunity to refine the shape.

I had to add a few inches at the hip – it is easy to do, just draw a straight of grain line in the centre of the pattern piece and add inches. As long as you do this inside the pattern lines you won’t alter any of the pattern edges so it should all line up.

Burda 6834 toile second fitting

The waistline of the second toile needed some adjustment but you can see that this pattern makes enhances curves! As I am fairly short, I decided to go for a slimmer flute at the bottom.

Burda 6834 skirt

I had this beautiful purple wool fabric in my stash – we are not into summer yet and wool is such a great fabric to wear – it seems to maintain an ambient temperature. I wanted this project to test my fitting abilities – and wool is the ideal choice because you can shape it so easily with steam.


The left hand picture shows the skirt seam before it is steamed – I used my dummy to maintain my shape as I gently held my steam iron about 4 inches away. Then using a pressing cloth to gently work from the seam outwards- look how beautifully the seam lays open – but also because you can stretch and shape the wool – it hugs the body nicely.

In order to avoid the ‘librarian’ look I wanted my skirt to be a bit edgy, so this embroidery design by urban threads was ideal. The top left is the design on white, but when I tried it as a sample on the fabric the black was not enough of a contrast to do the embroidery justice, so I used lime green!

Burda 6834 lining

My first lining fabric was a nightmare I chose it because it was fushia pink and made a great contrast but  it was way to flimsy and ended up fraying so I had to completely rip it out and re-do the lining. I had this lovely weighty oyster polyester silk which complemented the skirt nicely I decided to end the lining at the straight edge rather than the frill. I hand stitched it between the skirt facing, (while watching England play Wales in the Rugby) again on the tailor dummy to maintain the shape. Hand stitching gives you so much control – I am addicted to it. Years ago I avoided it – wrestling with my machine to get the fabric under the foot. Then unpicking it because the seam was off – now it is just a case of placing a stitch exactly where I want it and no unpicking!


I love my fancy machine stitches and never find much use for them – so it was nice to use a patterned stitch at the edge of the lining.(top right)  I made little chain tacks using in soft cotton Perle it holds the lining in place but allows for some movement. I also embroidered a tiny loop for my top closure using buttonhole stitch – my hand embroidery skills come in useful! It is these tiny details that give me such satisfaction. I don’t want my sewing to be the same as a shop bought skirt – I want it to be better! These details have mostly disappeared as clothing is made as fast and as cheaply as possible.

I love my skirt – it was a painstaking effort in all it took me three weekends to make but it was worth it. The lining slips around beautifully and it is so warm and figure hugging – I could never buy the same fit, I am just too oddly shaped!

The fitting took a lot of time but that was the challenge of this exercise and I have my toile to make more skirts!

I would recommend this pattern – its the first time I used a Burda pattern – having learned a few couture techniques I thought wrongly that Burda patterns did not include a seam allowance, but they have changed.  I think Burda have some great styles and the instructions are straight forward, although I have to admit, I didn’t follow them!

ttfn x






Simplicity Vintage Patterns – For Your Body Shape

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Rectangular, Pear, hourglass, small bust.

If you are planning to visit Goodwood Revival or the Tinwood Festival, this dress will be perfect. You will step right into the 1940s.

The front panel and gathering hides a rounded tummy.

If you are curvy, this will enhance your shape, great for those with a smaller bust.

The Y shape balances pear shapes, and gives an overall slimming illusion.

Best in crepe or a polyester with a bit of a drape to make the most of this style.


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Hourglass, Pear Shape, Triangle

I love this 1950 vintage style dress it is such a flattering style especially for summer. I really like that there are two models on the front of this pattern, the one on the right looks much closer to my body shape.

It will flatter hour glass, and pear shapes as it enhances the waist.

Also inverted triangles, (wider shoulders narrow hips) as the gathering in the skirt balances out the hips.

The bust panel enhances can help if you are smaller busted.

This would be a lovely dress to dance in, as the skirt will billow out when you spin.

If you wish, team it with a net petticoat to give the skirt added volume.

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 Hourglass, Rectangle 

This pattern is for Mad Men fans! Classic 1960s style – make it in a lovely wool crepe with a chiffon blouse – it will be perfect for a summer wedding. This pattern offers great value as you get a jacket, blouse and skirt.

Hourglass figures look amazing in pencil skirts, the waistband enhances the waist. Cut the jacket at the waist rather than the hip it will be a more flattering line.

click for simplicity site

click for simplicity site


 Pear,  Diamond, Triangle, Hourglass, Rectangle

With its high empire line bodice and A line skirt, this is a very flattering dress style to suit all body shapes.

If you are pear shaped using a darker lower half will enhance the smaller top half.

Reverse for Triangular shapes with a darker colour on top and light skirt – creating balance.

Great in cotton which will give the dress a little structure.

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Diamond (O), Pear, Rectangle.

This dress uses a central panel creating a slimming effect. Great for those who are Diamond or O or pear or Triangle shapes.

The coat is very on trend at the moment, especially if you use a light weight linen for summer. O, Pear and Diamond shapes will look great in this style of coat.

If you are full busted beware it will affect the line and add volume.  If you are hourglass your waistline will be lost.

click to visit site

click to visit site

Pear Shape, Small Busted, Petite, Rectangle,

Boho chic 70’s is trending everywhere

This is an ideal top for those with a smaller bust, as the fullness and gathering round the cups offer a little enhancement.

Great for those who are pear shaped, add a long A line skirt to create a lovely balanced dress.

The peplum will help add curves to rectangular body shapes – with the emphasis on the wide waist band – creates a ‘defined’ waist.

Perfect for cottons, chiffon, polyester or crepe

You could take the Style A and add a longer skirt and matching panties to create a lovely retro swimsuit right out of the 1940s.