Autumn Sewing – Kate jersey dress version 4


It has been a phenomenal summer hasn’t it? Gloriously warm lazy days filled with lovely beach walks with the dog, alfresco dining and wearing anything other than cotton or chiffon feels just too hot! However, the nights are drawing in, September is the beginning of Autumn and the heat won’t last forever!

I headed to the nearby Fabricland in Portsmouth last Sunday – if I am honest, Fabricland is a bit hit and miss, sometimes brimming with lovely fabrics other times I leave without seeing anything inspiring! Thankfully this visit was one of the inspiring ones! I was looking for knits – warmer dresses to see me though the Autumn and into winter.


I could not resist this beautiful floral print, so reminiscent of summer but in a cosy jersey that was so soft to the touch it would be a delight to wear. It has a lovely weight that hangs nicely.


I love the butterflies through out the pattern – there was no definable direction to the print, although I detected a slight diagonal. The flowers were not so big that it made pattern cutting difficult. I bought 3m at £4.99 pm which is a bargain!

I decided to use the Kate Jersey Dress pattern again – to be honest with you I have lost my sewing mojo a little lately and I just wanted to get the dress done rather than having to faff around with pattern adaptation. It really peeves me that I have to always do the Full Bust adjustment, so I decided to use the pattern already drafted. Not only that the style really flatters my shape and I feel relatively happy with the finished dress. (Even though I am not really that happy with my weight at the moment!)


However, the pattern is tricky considering it is for knits. The central panel finishes at a sharp peak, the bodice is also sharply curved… needless to say stretch fabrics and points are not easy to achieve. I think the first time I did this dress I used some contrast fleece fabric that gave it some stability. However I wanted to make this complete in one fabric so had no option. I think the next one I make I will add a fleece backing, the knit is too soft to really define the lovely point – which is a key detail on this pattern.

So I am all ready for Autumn … let’s hope we have an indian summer!





Tailor made – dress form

Made to measure dress form neckline

It is quite a process to create a dress form that follows the contours of your body exactly. I have developed a fast and easy method that does not include duct tape or plaster casts.

Made to measure dressform

It is not for the feint hearted, to be faced with your body from the outside, all its lumps and bumps is quite distressing at first. Having been slim and lithe for most of my life, middle age is definitely spreading. However, once that shock is over, it gives an opportunity to really assess the body in terms of what I want to enhance and what I want to hide.

made to measure dress form

The dummy in this picture is not straight on mostly because I feel rather exposed showing this shape, but you get the drift. I do have some lovely fashion fabric to go over the dummy, but I find white is less distracting.

Made to measure arm hole

Having a dress form makes sewing so much easier, you can do alterations without stabbing yourself with pins, and given my sway back, I can ensure that the back sits perfectly.

The whole process took me approximately two days to do, but it is worthwhile… it really is key to getting good fitting garments.


The Dressmaker – clothes maketh woman!

4b2982a503c84eb43b4f5150c1a656abWhen I read about this film I couldn’t wait to see it, but I had to be very determined! Most of the showings for the film were during the day! It did make me wonder if the cinema promoters were sidelining it because of it’s ‘niche’ – women’s interest! However this film is hilarious and not one to miss even if you aren’t interested in fashion and dressmaking!


Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns to her home town of Dungatar (yes it does include the word dung – apt you will agree) in country Victoria in the early 1950s, all grown up and hell-bent on revenge. She’s armed with her Singer sewing machine, steps off the coach and declares, “I’m back, you bastards!”Blamed at age 10 for the death of another child (who was the town bully) and sent away, Tilly has returned with haute couture seamstress skills to deal with her childhood baggage and rewrite the wrongs she feels the “good folk” of Dungatar have visited on her in her past.

As expected the costumes were delightful! Set at the beginning of the 1950’s – when feminine style was at the peak! Kate Winslet is the perfect actress for this, her beautiful hourglass curves make the most of the costumes. I adore the little crochet hat.


What a dress to see a football match! Tilly certainly makes an entrance and we begin to see the gleam in her eye – she knows how to get noticed! The town is full of extraordinary characters – it reminds me of Pricilla Queen of the Dessert – Australia does oddball characters very well!

Tilly is there not just to piece together the past but hopes that the town will give her the acceptance she craves.

64748847cdd80aefdf2167cae071c166Gertrude is the first of Tilly’s customers – Tilly entices her with the promise of a dress for the local dance.


Gertrude certainly was ready for a make over – she had er eye on the most eligible bachelor in the town – the change is so effective soon all the women in the town are flocking to have their dresses made.


This is my favourite Gertrude dress – who would have thought a redhead would carry of red polka dots so beautifully!

The film really did live up to my expectations – so many beautiful dresses to delight the eye, but over and above a heartwarming, laugh out loud story with bittersweet moments. It is deeper than merely costume – not to mention the delightful eye candy in the shape of Liam Hemsworth as Tilly’s love interest – certainly had me reaching for my fan! Ooh la la!

The film is fabulous – laugh out loud hilarious and of course our lovely lady does get her revenge!


You can see a wonderful interview with the dress designer, Marion Boyce for the film here where she talks about the interest in retro fashion. Of course if you are lucky enough to live in Australia the costumes are on tour! (Please let them come to the UK!).

I think there’s a few different things going on at the moment. My personal view is that costumes, especially period things, are having a bit of a renaissance at the moment because we’ve become so incredibly generic.

Everything’s the same out there in chain stores. Everything no matter where you go in the world, everything’s the same. And people are starting to look for something different and something with personality that they can make their own. And I think it’s part of that, where people are actually searching for something different.

Marion Boyce

It is at the heart of why so many women are turning to dressmaking, seeking to create clothing that helps them to stand out from the crowd. I don’t want to walk around in jeans and a teeshirt the same clothing as Mr D, I want to look like a woman and I am not alone.

It’s really a lost art isn’t it? That whole approach to dressing. We seem to have lost a lot of that today.

Totally. We’ve become very casual. We don’t often have occasion dressing, we leave work and we go out for dinner. And the last bastions of “dressing” are when we go to weddings, and the races (laughs). That’s all we do. We shop in a very different manner.

It’s great because this is the beginning of the Fifties, the renaissance of couture, so it’s still ensemble dressing. Which I really truly adore. I love putting everything together from the shoes to the hat. It’s a really great journey for me. Marion Boyce

Opportunities to dress up may have disappeared – theatres, restaurants even shopping tips are no longer the dress up affairs I remember in my childhood. Society may have lost its sense of occasion – dressing down is the mode!  Clothing stores might have rail upon rail of clothing that does nothing to enhance or delight the eye, but as dressmakers we can create our own destiny, forge our own path and thank goodness!


In case that has whetted your appetite here is the trailer

Vintage Womans Weekly Magazine – August 12, 1933

01-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933

Sit yourself down, with a lovely pot of tea and some vintage cups and take a perusal of a Womans Weekly, 1933! Over 80 years ago! It is fascinating to look  at what women were reading about back then-when I spotted this in a charity shop I could not resist it!  I am hungry for  vintage details – because you can look at the styling that was taking place back then in context.

As you can see from the front cover – the magazine came with a knitting pattern – for average to large sizes. This gives us a clue that the magazine was mostly aimed at mothers and grandmothers rather than young women – which is still true of the magazine today.

02-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 1

The inside cover has a advert for another magazine, most likely by the same publishing 04-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 3house – that includes free patterns. The two button suit is very glamorous –   the hat and gloves completes the outfit – no woman would be seen outside the house without them!

The September issue of Home Fashions caters especially for the late holiday folk who want smart styles for last minute frocks and suits for the sea and the country. Free patterns are included for making the most attractive suit and little puffed sleeve blouse. There is a Coupon Pattern for a charming ensemble that consists of an afternoon frock and coatee suitable for patterned silk. Then there is a special supplement of lingerie fashions showing the newest and loveliest designs and including models with the new on-the-cross cut.

Bias cut had only just been introduced and popularised by Vionnet and it is still a wonderful way to create beautiful feminine lingerie.

Notice the pretty blouse peeking out from the jacket top! You can see how sixties fashions were inspired by the 30’s -with this cropped jacket, pillbox hat!

05-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 4

I adore this charming feminine blouse, the lace frilled edging is a lovely detail around the button placket as well as the collar, it looks as if it is flat not gathered or pleated.  Lace would have been mostly cotton as nylon had not been invented.  Note also the fullness of the sleeve – a feature throughout the 1930s.

Both illustrations include a six  gore skirt finishing somewhere between the ankle and the knee.

The silhouette is streamlined, after the 20’s flapper style which hid the waistline and saw women flattening their chests – thirties fashion with the bias cut – creates flowing garments that enhance and accentuate curves.

12-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 11

15-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 14

On a gingham holiday frock the only relief might be a wide, white pique belt. Smartest, if the lines in the weave run down.

This is the opening page of the magazine – the title ‘Weekly Whispers’ is rather quaint, don’t you think? I have to say that even with my glasses I am struggling to read the small text. Oh imagine – it was usual for readers to visit a dressmaker rather than off the peg! Advice in their letters page is just as useful today as it was then.

‘Women are becoming more practical about underclothes, at last’ remarked a very shrewd dressmaker to me the other day. They are awake to the fact that it is just as important for the under the gown to fit well – as it is for the frock itself. There’s logic of course in her remarks, when a dressmaker has provided a good line to a gown it must be very heartbreaking to have it all spoilt by the basics -ill fitting underclothes.

What great advice – given that a lot of these dresses would be cut on the bias, any undergarment bump or bulge would be visible. It is the same today, the muffin top is a pure invention of badly designed underwear. French knickers are ideal under a bias dress – it also flows around the body without cutting in – as you find in the average cotton brief.

Pleated organdie frilling makes this dainty collar and bow. Two double pieces of frilling joined together and gathered up in the middle. A brooch would cover the gathering stitches.

Pleated organdie frilling makes this dainty collar and bow. Two double pieces of frilling joined together and gathered up in the middle. A brooch would cover the gathering stitches.

A friend of mine, who has no maid, has made the prettiest organdie covers for her tea table. When there is a little party, she gets everything ready and then she covers the table with this organdie square. (It is hemstitched and strewn with little flowers in simple embroidery) It looks so pretty and gives such a feeling of freshness to the tea table.

Imagine, not having a maid… poor thing!   Oh how dreamy this dress is! I imagine it to be made of Georgette fabric – that has enough weight to make the most of these lovely lines! Dresses were often ‘updated’ by maids – to give a garment a new lease of life. Here there are instructions for making an organdie bow.(see caption)

Here is a fairytale design for the loveliest luncheon set.

Here is a fairytale design for the loveliest luncheon set. The flowers are worked mainly in Satin stitch and stem stitch. The pattern was available post free from the Woman’s Weekly Transfer department in Oxford St, London.

It seemed that readers engaged in home crafts – here is a lovely pattern for a ‘luncheon set’ – if you were not using a full table cloth – then smaller sets were made of linen – similar to place mats today, even trays were lined with linen cloths – you can usually pick these up in charity shops or antique markets.

An Adventure to make in two colour knitting - Woman's Weekly, August 12 1933

An Adventure to make in two colour knitting – Woman’s Weekly, August 12 1933

The knitting pattern was a front cover feature – and it was why I bought this particular issue among the six available. Notice how close fitting this garment is – very different from knitwear available today.

08-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 7

A friendly little jumper – a thing to be gay the Autumn! Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

The use of the colours works so well – and I adore the collar what a lovely finish. Her hairstyle is classic, you also see it on models of 1950’s. Once again the skirt is a tightly fitting six gore skirt – but as it is white the details are almost lost.

Who would have known it - a vicar is a love interest for dear Norah - complete short story in Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Who would have known it – a vicar is a love interest for dear Norah – complete short story in Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

Short stories are still a feature of the magazine today, the tale of Norah and Peter Cunningham had a hundred readers so stirred up enough to ask for a sequel!

Peter Cunningham was a big manly fellow, sufficiently unlike the orthodox parson for tongues to wag in the village when he had first arrived.

It seemed that Norah and Peter were just beginning to have feelings for one another when a silly girl grabbed all his attention! Poor Norah was left alone with a broken heart – and that is why readers pleaded for more! Thankfully – it turns out that Norah and Peter finally found each other again.

Peter drew her hand through his. ‘ ‘Never mind the fog’ he said. ‘The stars are shining somewhere’ My stars are shining here’ Norah answered. ‘Happy’ he asked. ‘Perfectly, perfectly happy’ she answered. ‘You will always be’ he told her.

Little Bill on his Holiday - Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Little Bill on his Holiday – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

There are a number of little poems scattered throughout the pages, wether or not they were reader’s poems it isn’t made clear. I love the illustrations – similar to Mabel Lucie Attwell who was very popular at the time – she illustrated for the Tattler and the Illustrated London News.

Ponds Advert - Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933. Endorsed by Lady Hindlip.

Ponds Advert – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933. Endorsed by Lady Hindlip.

It seems that celebrity endorsement is not a modern concept, here is a peer of the realm endorsing Ponds Cream. There are a few other adverts in the magazine, some companies are still trading; cutex, harpic, New Zealand Lamb, Robin Starch and Kraft cheese (foil wrapped triangles!)

Kellogs All Bran Advert - Woman's Weekly - August 12, 1933

Kellogs All Bran Advert – Woman’s Weekly – August 12, 1933

Kellogg’s were advertising back then, but some names are lost in the mists of time. Cepos – monthly pain relief for headaches and Neuralgia  (I am not alone!), could be bought ‘without embarassment’ Fennings Children’s Powders and Southalls rubber pants for babies! There is even a Liquid hair remover called Taky way.

Mrs Marryatt gives some very wise advice - Woman's Weekly, 12 August 1933

Mrs Marryatt gives some very wise advice – Woman’s Weekly, 12 August 1933

Mrs Marryatt was giving advice just as she does today! In this article it is suggested that girlfriends ensure they are not dismissive of their beau’s female relatives.

There is one thing which girls often forget when they are rather keen on meeting young men – and that is the value of being friendly and nice to the womenfolk of the men they meet.

Young women are recommended to take a middle road between disinterest and disregarding women in his life but not to ‘over do’ the friendliness either.

A weariness comes in the society of the too demonstrative friends.

19-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 18

What a future wife should own before marriage – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

This wonderful article specifies what a bride should have in her Hope Chest or Bottom Drawer as she approaches her wedding day.

  • 3 pairs of sheets
  • 6 pillow cases
  • 3 bolster cases
  • 1 under blanket
  • 1 counterpane for each bed
  • 1 eiderdown for each bed
  • 3 top blankets
  • 6 bath towels
  • 6 face towels
  • 3 breakfast cloths or sets of mats
  • 6 table napkins
  • 2 roller towels for kitchen
  • a few tray and afternoon cloths
  • 6 dusters
  • 6 tea cloths
  • 3 glass cloths

It is quite a modest list – but entirely made up of textiles in one form or another! Imagine a young girl carefully embroidering her tray cloths – in the hope that she would one day have a home of her own. It is why they are so prolific, and often in good condition – as they would have been reserved for high days and holidays!

Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

Food and recipes did not feature very large in this issue – There are a few short paragraphs with sandwich filling suggestions for a picnic. The illustration beside it is delightful – the lady’s hat frames her face, and once again we see full sleeves on her dress. Big florals and geometrics were fashionable in this Art Deco era, and the gentlemen would have worn shirts and jackets. The sandwich filling suggestions are: cream cheese and walnuts, minced ham and cress, cheese and tomato and egg mayonnaise.

26-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 25

The front cover features this dress which is ‘This Week’s Bargain Pattern’ readers had to cut out a coupon (still intact in this issue) and send it to the Woman’s Weekly offices with enough stamps to cover postage (4 1/2d ) there is an alternative address for Australian Readers. The pattern was created especially to give a slimming effect – with the pattern sizing available from 36 up to a 48inch bust and a special version for ‘short women’. 

Front dress pattern 1933 Woman's WeeklyThis week we have thought of our older readers! We have found them a slimming and gracious little dress for printed silk and the pattern can be had in all the large sizes as well as in the average size. A new afternoon frock is a boon for the late Summer days and for the early Autumn, while later on, it looks so pretty under a heavy coat. This design slims the figure very cleverly with the centre seams and the skirt carried in points above the waist. Notice how the bodice itself comes down in a point into the skirt to keep the figure perfectly flat in front. The little vestee and pretty cowl-like collar give softening at the neckline. I suggest you choose a printed silk in any dark colour, and have the collar and cuffs in cream georgette – so much softer than dead white. 

August 12, 1933 dress pattern layout

August 12, 1933 dress pattern layout

Front dress technical drawing

The layout of the pattern and instructions are also included on the page – there is not a lot of detail! However I really enjoyed reading the problem page at the bottom entitled ‘Is this your problem too? – write to the London Girl if you have dress problems – she knows all the answers’

Skirt length was an issue, women needed to feel they were respectable. Ida asked about the correct length of a skirt from the ground as she had just learned to sew. London Girl replied: For streetwear, skirts are now fourteen inches from the ground. Sports clothes and man-tailored costumes are sometimes worn a little shorter. For afternoon occasions ten to twelve inches is correct, and evening dresses should be instep-length or just clear of the ground. 

27-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 26

The remnant frock – Amazing what we can do with our gleanings from the sales. Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

There is something very taking about a plain frock well tailored. The box pleated flounce makes pattern 52,415 distinctly interesting, (and box pleats are so easy to manage!) Perfectly simple – the two piece skirt and plain bodice and a neat cape collar. Short or long sleeves are equally smart. 

12, August 1933, Woman's Weekly

12, August 1933, Woman’s Weekly

FUN – IN A NEW DRESS – The special occasion that needs a special frock. What a harassing problem this is unless one prepares one’s wardrobe with an eye to the future. A long frock, prettily cut, will always come in for the dances and social evenings that are soon to be here again. This design with a dear little cape to hide the low neckline when needs be. The two piece skirt has true circular flounces, and is joined to the bodice at the waistline. 

Double Frill dress, Woman's Weekly 12, August 1933

Double Frill dress, Woman’s Weekly 12, August 1933

It seems that London Girl is promoting the Woman’s Weekly patterns and given that there are four pages of patterns in all – it would suggest that women were making their own clothes.

Two remnant dresses

Two remnant dresses

Notice all the patterns have full sleeves, with bows and or dainty button details. Also the cape adaptation – helped when wearing Sunday Best to church.

13-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 12

Updating coat advice – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

If you have a light summer coat which needs a spot of ‘doing up’ try the effect of very dark revers on it. These light-and-dark contrasts are extremely chic at the moment. 

32-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 31

Best Way Outsize Summer Fashions – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

That ever-perplexing-problem, ‘What to wear on holiday’ is easily solved if you make your choice from the many attractive designs in Bestway Outsize Summer Fashions. This useful book contains a host of flattering designs especially cut for the larger figure. All easy and smart to wear. There is also a FREE pattern for making this charming frock. 

It seemed that most women had little option but to make their own clothes – and there were many pattern companies to choose from. Sizing difficulties is not a modern phenomenon after all!

24-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 23

Holiday suggestions in the 1930’s Jersey promises fun and gaiety and all possible amusements! 

25-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 24There is a lot of illustration – mostly of young, slim women and dashing young men! Older women are not portrayed in such good light – our poor Matron and Mrs Marryatt are rather stout!

10-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 9More advice – this time childcare from a Matron of a big welfare centre. The letters ask about treating stinging nettles (dock leaves) and dandruff. Rub the skin of the head with a freshly cut lemon before washing her hair with tar shampoo. Massage a mixture of castor oil and eau-du-Cologne onto damp hair at every night. Wash hair once a week. 

29-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 28

I love the way the flowers adorn this gorgeous lady! This is the Beauty Advice section

I am having my first permanent wave shortly, I want to get it in really good condition. What do you advise? -ZITA

Use a good tonic, like Bay Rum and Cantharides. Massage a little into the roots of your hair twice a day. You need not bother to shampoo your hair as the assistant will wash it first. 


Would you mind telling me where I can buy sunbathing oil? CITY GIRL

Most chemists keep sunbathing oil to-day. Several good brands are put up for sale a 1s 6d size.

03-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 2

I hope you have enjoyed your time travelling tea break!

Enjoy the summer! 

ttfn x

Pattern Adjustment – increasing/decreasing the pattern at the hip / waist.

It is easy to add a few inches to a skirt or dress pattern – especially around the hip area. This pattern illustration is from the Simplicity Sewing book published in 1940! You can see by the right hand of the illustration the garment will wrinkle across the hip or waistline where the fabric is being stretched to fit.

Adding fabric for hips

As much as you might fear cutting into your pattern, this pattern adjustment will make the pattern work for your body shape – If you really struggle to get snipping with your scissors, you can always copy the pattern onto cross and dot paper – and keep the original.

So here is what you do.

Adding fabric for hips 1

2a pattern before adaptation

added seam allowance

2 b pattern after adaptation. Marked in section is filled with additional paper.

Cut down the front and back pieces from the hem to the neckline – then pivot the pattern apart into an inverted ‘v’. It helps if the top gap is small so that the pattern hinges.

Move the pieces apart far enough so that you have the extra space where needed along the hipline  (the dotted line on this pattern)-

Make sure your hip/waist measurement includes seam allowances and 1 cm for ease.

Fill in the gap with paper or discarded tissue from the pattern.

Because you have altered the patten within the pattern outline, the original design will flow correctly.

If you need to decrease the measurements, simply cross over the two edges you snipped with your scissors, by the amount you need to reduce the pattern by.

Finding Peace with our Bodies through Sewing

Dressmaking, sewing, body confidence, self love, self esteem-6

I turned to sewing out of sheer desperation.

Changing rooms in clothing shops were woeful experiences – seeing my body under harsh shop lighting; mirrors creating multiple reflections of parts of me that I did not usually see. The clothing either stretched out of place across my hips or it simply slipped off my shoulders. Trousers gaped at my waist and sometimes would not pass beyond my thighs.  I would leave clothing shops downcast and empty handed.

There is no standardisation for clothing manufacturing, with the increase in internet shopping companies experience huge returns for clothing mostly because women have to order a range of sizes. The industry identifies four main body types, most women in the UK are considered pear shaped yet manufacturers use a standard hourglass figure size 12. Some movement has shifted towards using body shapes with ease created in the style and use of stretch fabrics.

Women are graded by numbers – its quantifiable, smaller is better, size 10 used to be desirable now it is size zero, but hold on isn’t zero nothing?

Dressmaking, sewing, body confidence, self love, self esteem-5

Women blame their bodies for diverting from unrealistic standards. Talk to any woman about buying clothes and she will tell you what she believes is ‘wrong’ with her body: broad shoulders, narrow shoulders, or a small bust, or she is too busty, or her hips are too big. It is the cause of so much loss of self esteem in women and it is responsible for so much misery.

size diversity will become the norm

Thankfully times are changing, there are small rays of hope. Wasn’t Marilyn Monroe the icon of beauty –  a size 16?Manufacturers recognise that in order to sell clothing and reduce returns, they have to change.

Women are using blogs and social media to challenge the system of the ideal, the internet has given every woman a voice and the ability to speak in huge numbers.

Dove’s advertising campaign embraces women’s differences but imagine advertising where all the body shapes must be represented in order not to cause offence!

Dressmaking, sewing, self acceptance and self love

You no longer have to fit into a standard. If you are turning to sewing you will discover similar blocks in patterns, but with a little skill and knowledge, you can overcome them.

The dressmaking industry has used a method of standardisation that was last reviewed in the 1970’s and only 1% of women studied were over the age of 55. Women bodies alter as they age, but patterns were designed for a 20 year old woman before childbirth.

Standards are set using a B cup bra, most women today are a DD – so if you have to do a full bust adjustment you are in good company. Its a great idea to use the upper bust measurement rather than the full bust measurement to determine the size.

To sew your own clothing is to go on a journey of discovery about the wonderful home that serves us faithfully every moment of our lives.

As we begin measuring, adjusting, altering,  refining the patterns we use, we are learning to work with our bodies.

We learn a new language, there is no part of us that is wrong any more, certain parts that need a little more fabric or a dart here and there.

We begin to understand how particular styles make us feel good about ourselves – and then we can create these in an infinite number of ways.

Dressmaking, sewing, body confidence, self love, self esteem-4

Love Sewing Magazine Ruby Dress Pattern Review




04-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-010


 This ‘Sew Simple’ pattern came with Love Sewing Magazine – called the Ruby Dress

I thought it looked lovely – it is reminiscent of the 1950’s – a very flattering style, good for pear shapes or hourglass because the full skirt covers hips and thighs and focusses attention onto a small waistline which are the assets of a pear and hourglass shape.

07-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-002

There were a couple of adaptations I wanted to make to the pattern:


Replace the centre Zip in the back to a concealed zip in the side seam.

11-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-006I traced off the back pattern piece, using cross and dot paper.

I removed the seam allowance in the centre; because I have narrow shoulders pinched out a dart so that it narrowed the back slightly towards the top.

I drafted a mirror image to create one pattern piece that would not have to be cut on the fold. When you cut on the fold it is easy for the fabric to slip slightly out of grain – this can affect the fit and drape of the dress.

Increase bust allowance for a fuller bust

13-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-008

I am a 34 G bust – so I had to adapt the pattern to allow an extra 2inches at the bust line but 34 is very narrow, so I needed to bring the pattern in at the back and shoulders.

Once again I traced off the front bodice and hit a problem – the bust point was not indicated on the pattern. So I had to find my own bust point – you do this by laying the pattern piece across your body, mark the peak of the bust as a big dot. Then cut out the side dart and move it down so it is pointing at the dot. (I had to move the dart down about 2 inches)

I made a quick toile and found that I could just increase the side seam by 1inch, and move the bottom seam by an 1inch – it would give me that extra room.

10-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-005I also checked the measurement across the back – being narrow shouldered I needed to take another 1/2 inch out of the v at the back. I also skimmed an inch from the shoulder seam so it would finish at my shoulder.

Because of my large bust, I had to pinch out about a 1/2 inch dart at the neckline. I also altered the neckline so that it would sit just on my collarbone using a french curve to round it off.

Even though I am inserting a side zip, I did not need to add any further seam allowances as there would be sufficient room to insert the zip along the side seam.

I drafted new pattern pieces with these changes – these could be used to make more dresses without the need to go over the fitting again.

Lengthen the skirt length

I added approximately 3 inches to the bottom of the skirt, so that it would sit just below the knee instead of just above.

I added a cap sleeve – in keeping with the fifties style.

02-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-001


My Fabric choice

I had two lovely pieces of curtain fabric to work with from a local curtain shop. The spring linen was a remnant of 3 metres for £5. The silky satin lining was a pale green 5 metres £7 which was an absolute bargain.

I wanted to line this dress and the weight of the satin would help the garment flow easily as well as protecting me from the sharpness of the zip. In essence it means you make two dresses, but it feels luxurious to wear.

06-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-017

I believe the finishing of a dress makes a huge difference between the high street – it is what makes dressmaking so wonderful. Most clothing is so cheap that the design details are the way they reduce costs. I aim to sew garments that I could never afford to buy, not just for the customised fit but the small details you get with high end, great pattern matching, bra clips, lining attachments – details you will find in couture houses.

I made the lining dress first so that I was able to check the measurements again – before I worked on my outer fabric.



The challenging areas on this pattern are the neckline and the deep v at the back.

15-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-012

In order to give more stability – after stitching the lining and bodice pieces together I ran some hemming web between the two layers and ironed in place. This created a beautiful crisp finish to the edge and also stabilised the v at the back.

05-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-013

Its a great idea to attach the lining to the zip flap – I used my normal zip foot as it allows you to sew close to the zip edge.

18-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-016

I loved the pattern of this pretty spring fabric, but the darts at the front of the dress made it look a bit odd, so I appliquéd a couple of flowers over the seam so that it looked better.

14-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-011

I increased the skirt a little to add fullness and my ruffler foot made the regular pleats a doddle.

On reflection, I think I might make the next one more of a circle skirt without pleating.

16-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-014


This pattern was very easy to work with – although I did not follow the making up instructions as I was confident enough to make it myself. However, if you are new to sewing it might be worth either keeping the magazine with the pattern or just the pages where they give you instructions on how to make up, then the two won’t get lost!

I use the resealable freezer bags to store my patterns, its easy to see what they look like but there is also room for my adapted patterns too. (I can never get the pattern back into the envelope).