Tuesday, 22 April 2014

All matchy matchy for my first blog post!

How fabulous is this print? I loved it the minute I saw it in my local fabric shop.
I bought this in January and it has waited for the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge and the lovely Emery pattern to come along to liberate it from my stash. When Roisin and Nic decided to marry I bet they didn't count on unleashing the tide of fun and madness that has been Sarah's Sew Dolly Clackett challenge. It's a feast for the eyes and the heart.

Sew Dolly Clackett Kimono Dress & Parasol.
Not only is this the best fitting dress I have made so far, it has a matching upcycled parasol! I love it to bits. I am planning the next "set" now, I want to make the whole outfit from some vintage fabric.

Back to this dress. The print is covered in kimono clad lovelies strolling through a springtime garden. So I thought I would take the pictures in a downtown beauty spot (aka. a little patch of green hidden behind a car park) where a pear tree was covered with the fluffiest fattest blossoms I have ever seen.

The pear tree which must be 100 years old,  in full glorious blossom.

Upcycled Parasol:  Perhaps it was the print itself that suggested the idea of a parasol - there's dozens of them on there. The matching dress and parasol set idea was probably last 'big' in the 1950s, as seen in this McCalls pattern for a border print  dress.

I love those old umbrellas with their curvy handles, pointy ends, beautiful fabrics and matching covers. They are so impractical but so cute. This parasol started off as a faded 60s umbrella. I removed and used the original cover as a guide pattern for the new one, following some online instructions on the Threads site.

It was fairly straight forward, I cut it out in the most frugal way I could without matching anything up. I did a really thin fell stitch with a zig zag for strength. I finished it and then realised it was UPSIDE DOWN! So I did another, and used the upside down one as a lining. So much for frugal.

I don't normally use invisible zips but for this print I had to, and hurray it worked! See note below.
The Emery pattern:  Emery is really good for full on prints like this, and as everyone says the fit is very easy to perfect. I took an inch altogether off at the waist, I also increased the shoulder darts quite a bit, but that was it. The BEST thing about Emery for me is that it takes up very little fabric. I can get a full skirted dress for not much more than 2 metres (depending on the fabric width). I think I did some matching on the sleeves and the back (and the bigger the print the more fabric you need to pattern match) so I probably did use more than like 2.5 metres on this one.

This is a quilting cotton but I didn't wash it before I made it up, and it has shrunk a bit after its first wash. Hey ho, it's still lovely.

That invisible zip bit: I really don't use invisible zips, but with this print it seemed a good idea. I did one before (in a class) and learned enough online to know invisible zips are easier on stabilised openings. I used a couple of strips of very lightweight fusible interfacing, a woven type so it has some give. And once it was stable I was able to match the pattern perfectly as I put the zip in.

I confess, I went back and bought more of this fabric. I really want to make another dress with it but I have promised I would to make a shirt (front panels only with this print) for my partner. His and hers matching outfits were big in the 50s too. The visual effect of two people wearing this print may be a tiny bit too much, but I won't let that put me off.

When Sew Dolly Clackett was announced two months ago I thought it was a nice idea, but seeing all the love and effort spent on these dresses really is life affirming (for us sewing obsessives, for normal people it probably just looks mad). Well done to everyone involved and best wishes to Roisin and Nic for their wedding!


  1. Well, well! Big congratulations on your first blog post! And covering your own umbrella is such a cool idea! Way to go! Your Dolly Clackett dress is adorable, as are you! I know Roisin is really going to love your dress!

    1. Thanks so much for that lovely welcome. I loved making the umbrella and it's actually quite easy to do. I think it could be start of a new obsession.

  2. Love your dress and matching parasol!

  3. Hi there! What a gorgeous frock. The style and the print are beautiful - and a matching parasol too, perfect! Gorgeous bag and blossom as well. xx

  4. You're starting off splendidly! What a gorgeous girl you are- and great print on your dress!

  5. That's so lovely of all of you, thank you that's very kind and very encouraging to a newbe. x

  6. This is amazing - loving the matchy-matchy dress and parasol - so wonderfully mid-century kitsch but fabulous. And please, please tell me what that amazing building is behind you!!

    1. Oh thank you, yes as you can tell I'm very partial to mid century kitsch! The building is the old ruin of St Botolph's Priory in Colchester. It's in a rather run down part of town, but it's a charming space and a lovely spot to have a break.

  7. I love the site you chose for the photos and the colours in the dress are so pretty! It was a great idea to do a parasol. I see this is a new blog. Good for you! I am going to be very envious following and watching you sew all these pretty things.