Tuesday, 27 August 2013

"Autumn in Tokyo" Dress - The Sew Weekly Reunion

I have tied myself in knots - staggering I know, it's totally not like me to give myself a hard time!

See that smile?  That's because the dress fits at bust and shoulders with
no pulling at the front and no gaping at the back - result!
In my head this is how The Sew Weekly Pantone challenge would go:

  1. I would make a garment using the Pantone Autumn 2013 colours
  2. I would finish it well before the deadline
  3. It would be a dress - because I need some and I would be brave and overcome my cowardice fear of accommodating my bust - thus achieving my Sewlution too
  4. I would use one of the 2 fabulous patterns sent to me by Barbara as part of the swap - both of which were dresses, how serendipitous
  5. I would definitely incorporate some of the beautiful notions Barbara sent me
  6. I would use only stash fabric, thus adding to the total for August for the Style The Stash sewalong and removing some of the guilt about the amount of fabric I've added to my stash in the last few weeks!
  7. I would make sure the inside of my dress was as well finished as the outside, I have an overlocker after all
  8. I would follow the instructions to the letter
Well, I managed 1, 2, 3 and 6 - so I guess 50% is pretty good!  I am not going to beat myself up over it.

My fabric choice made a huge impact on my plans.  I'd identified 16 possible pieces but when I looked afresh I felt that this was the best match for colours:

I bought this in Tokyo last September, it's a beautifully soft cotton.
There were challenges because it is actually a sarong, so very narrow - more
on that below
Because of the limited amount of fabric I had to work with I couldn't use either of the dress patterns Barbara sent me in the swap - they just needed more than I had.  So, it was back to the drawing board and a search through my patterns.

I chose Butterick B5450 because it requires so little fabric.   Also, because of the way the bodice is constructed with pleats I thought it would give me the opportunity to tweak a little bit and end up with a fitted dress that didn't pull across the bust.  I made a muslin of View A and, with a bit of faffing around, had a fit I was happy with.

I am so thrilled about this I can't express it - if Karen comes checking up on my Sewlution I have totally nailed it, I won't need to hide behind the sofa!

Sadly, my fabric choice didn't work with any of the notions Barbara sent me either - but that just gives me something to look forward to when I'm not so constrained by colour choice.  I already have a plan ...

So here goes, The Sew Weekly Facts:

As you can see, I was right at the end of my fabric,
I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make all the
pattern pieces fit

Fabric:  A beautiful sarong that I bought in a flea market in Tokyo last September.  The colours were perfect for this challenge, the size of the fabric was not!  Although I had 2.2 metres in length the fabric width was about 75cm.  It was tight!

On the plus side, width doesn't count in the Style the Stash sewalong - as it's the only thing I've managed to make in August I need to count every centimetre.

This is how much fabric I had left from each end of the sarong - literally scraps

Notions: Just a recycled zip (charity shop find) and thread. 

Pantone Challenge colors:  Acai and Vivacious.  There are also slight hints of Linden Green too.

Pattern:  Butterick B5450

Year:  Circa 2010.  I bought the pattern last year as an OOP - part of a bundle of 3 for £5 last September at a craft fair.

Time to complete:  This is tricky.  I spent one evening after work making and fiddling with a muslin.  It was totally worth it though and I'm so glad I did.

I made the dress on Sunday - apart from hand stitching (bodice lining and around the zip).  I definitely added time because I really didn't like the instructions for putting the dress together.  I was determined to try to stick to them (because for some reason I'd put that on my list!) but the lining instructions were bonkers - I'm not doing it like that again - there was swearing!

And the zip insertion made no sense to me so I reverted to Winnie's brilliant tutorial - she's never let me down yet!  That meant I inserted, removed and inserted the zip again.


All in all, probably about 10 hours - I'm slow obviously.

However, when I make it again, and I will, it'll be much quicker.  And I'll finish all the insides properly - this is totally ridiculous but I forgot to use my overlocker - seriously.  You couldn't make it up could you?  I think I got so befuddled trying to make myself follow instructions I didn't like that I just picked up my pinking shears without thinking!

Most importantly, it fits - so that trumps absolutely everything else!

First worn:  Today, for work which included a multi-agency meeting - I wouldn't wear all of my handmade garments in that environment, this dress felt smart enough :)

Wear again?  Absolutely, I've had so many compliments today.  My favourite was a male colleague asking me if I make my dresses to match my existing jewellery!

Total Cost: 
  • The fabric was 440 yen, at today's exchange rate that's about £2.90 
  • The zip was part of a bundle I bought in a charity shop, probably about 10p
  • I've had the thread in my stash for ages, I have no idea how much that cost, I'm calling it £1
  • The lining fabric was scraps leftover from part of a dance costume my daughter had years ago so I'm calling that £0.00. 
  • Cost of pattern was about £1.70
Grand total - £5.70 - woo hoo!

Forgive the wrinkles (on the dress not me!)
Photos get taken at the end of the day, when P is here to take them,
at least that way I know garments have passed the wearability test!

Well, I've really enjoyed taking part in The Sew Weekly Reunion - thank you to everyone who organised it for all of your hard work.



  1. The fabric, the dress, the construction, it's all so beautiful and you look amazing xx

    1. Thank you - good job you can't see the insides, although I do love a pinked seam!

  2. I love this. It fits you perfectly and the colours suit you so well. And what a bargain!

    Well done on your Sewultion success.

    1. Thank you Sam. I think it's a bargain - although Paul quietly mentioned the cost of a trip to Japan! However, we were there anyway, whether I bought fabric or not, so that totally doesn't count! I've been in fear of Karen pulling my name out of the jar - I know you completed yours in good time :)

  3. This is gorgeous, I absolutely love the fabric. Well done for getting the whole dress out of a piece that narrow. I'm hoping to get cracking on my Sew Weekly dress today.

    1. Thank you - I love the fact that gorgeous fabric can elevate a very simple shape. Looking forward to seeing your challenge dress :)

  4. Lucky you going to Tokyo:). The dress is gorgeous - it fits so nicely on you. It usually takes me hours to make something the first time as well - but seriously, why worry? I think sometimes we expect too much of ourselves - even experience sample machinists can take a long time making the first sample. You were lucky to get the dress out of the small piece of fabric you had.

  5. It was an amazing trip - I feel very lucky to have been. Thank you for your encouragement, as always. I seem to spend ages tracing pattern pieces etc, actual sewing time is much less but the prep is all part of the process so I count it - I'm just not a fast sewer :)

  6. What a beautiful dress! I can't get over how inexpensive the fabric was - it looks expensive! You did a great job on this!

    1. Thank you - it was a very, very lucky find. The flea market in Tokyo was amazing, honestly mind-blowing. There was a dedicated craft area and it was bigger than my nearest craft shop!

  7. This is just so lovely! Perfect fabric, great pattern...simply beautiful. And the fit is wonderful - so flattering. Well done!

    1. Thank you so much - I've already figured out how I can tweak a bit more to improve slightly, but it's all about learning isn't it. I'm still chuffed with it!

  8. It looks fantastic, and the fit is great! Oh, and the fabric is gorgeous.

    1. Thank you Lynne, it's a beautiful print :)

  9. This is a really pretty dress. I can't believe how frugal you had to be with your fabric! But it was totally worth it.

    Well done on meeting four of your objectives. Let's face it, it was all the important ones that you nailed.

    And well done on meeting your Sewlution. That's an important one too.

    1. Hi Bea, thank you very much. Now if only I'd been sure of the fabric content I could have used the dress to take part in Fall for Cotton - but that really would have been pushing it!

  10. Pretty dress! It's such a great feeling to get compliments on something you have made isn't it?

    1. It is a great feeling - I used to worry that stuff looked 'iffy' and that's why people thought I'd made it myself but actually decided I don't care about that! :D

  11. This is gorgeous! I really like the details on the front panel and it must be so satisfying to have taken the time to get the fit just right. That fabric is gorgeous too! and well done on getting a dress out of such narrow fabric. I wish I'd been in to sewing when I visited Japan 5 years ago - though we brought back plenty lovely things as it was!

    1. My OH now factors in leaving space in the luggage for bringing fabric back - not something I used to do! I was particularly pkeased with the things I picked p at the flea market because it appeals to my recycling/waste nothing nature :)

  12. It looks great and what a bargain!

    1. Thank you - I can't imagine I'll manage to make a cheaper dress ever!

  13. IT'S GORGEOUS ON YOU! Looks tricky to me! Well done! xoxo


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