A little of what’s been happening…

Well, ever since Laura After Midnight changed and adapted to become Midnight Costume Services and I returned to my roots Designing and Making Costumes for Stage and Screen we have been run off our feet! My little team is gradually growing and I just got back off of my first Holiday in years to Paris… but more on that delicious adventure later!

Since Christmas we have been building Costumes for a Holiday Park including mini versions of over 15 West End and Film Musicals, dream job, right?! We were also commissioned to make 8 matching Madonna Cone Bra Corsets for some Dancers, worked on an awesome Victorian BBC TV Show and completed more work for Celebrity Cruises on three more Cruise Shows and that’s not everything… phew ‘eckers!

I’m going to be sharing more over the coming weeks as I slowly get back in to this blogging lark- it’s been nose to the grindstone a bit, with 12 hour days, 7 days a week and I do hope you can understand why I haven’t been sharing the love on here so much recently- but I thought I would start with the Anna and Elsa Costumes I shipped this Thursday… because they are a treat!!

We used the Yaya Han Corset as previously talked about for the base for all three Frozen Dresses because we knew it fitted the performers really well. It also gives a great foundation to be built upon. All skirts and Cloaks were then hand drafted to measure. The most work went into the Elsa Snowflake Dress, which took three of us about 4 days to build so I thought I’d share the process…

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The Corset for the Elsa Snowflake Dress has been made from 4 layers of fabric to build up the look I wanted. In the animation it’s actually illustrated as if it’s layers of square sequins however; anything like that that I tried to replicate was either too expensive (budget for this dress was about £100) or just didn’t move enough on stage and looked ‘clunky’ so the decision was made to emphasis the Snowflake aspect, which I think really worked.

About 200 Snowflakes were hot knifed from the Crystal Organza to use on the Silver Glitter Body Suit, the Corset and the Cloak.

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Once I started sewing the Corset together I had to get it on the mannequin almost immediately to see how it looked! It’s not often I get this excited as there’s a lot of prep that goes in to a Costume so I normally have a good idea of how it’s going to look… but this was different! The layers of Organza and Satin looked amazing once they were sewn! I also started to play around with the placement of the Snowflakes at the neckline. Super exciting!!

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Once the Corset was sewn properly, the Snowflakes were attached, and then Hot Stoned with Diamante Hot Stones, which really made the whole thing shimmer.

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The neckline of the Silver Glitter Body Suit was also strewn with Snowflakes and then Hot Stones, as you can see from the far left and 2nd left pictures above the Diamante Hot Stones really make the whole thing sparkle.

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The final costume was gorgeous however; because of the tight deadline we don’t have too many pictures. We shall hopefully be rectifying this soon, as we hope to soon see the costumes in action.

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As you can probably tell, I have tried to simplify the design of these Costumes. This is due in part to budget and time constraints however; it is also because I believe there is a risk in over embellishing Disney Costumes. Often the simpler they are, the more like the cartoon they look.

Above is Elsa’s 1st Dress, which has been colour blocked with the design hand painted to the front of the Corset. The thing I’m most pleased about? The Cloak!!

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And last, but not least, Anna. I love the simplicity of this dress. Love it! I think the green stripes of the Skirt work wonderfully, and in person the hand painting on the Black Velvet Corset kinda glows, it’s a shame it’s not showing up so well in the photos.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my fairy-tale world!

Happy stitching!

I’m in The Stage! Woop!!

It’s always rather pleasing to see something you have hand crafted in the Press, and this doesn’t disappoint because it’s accompanied by a rather lovely review! I’m head over heels a Costume I created was in a review in The Stage! I say again… woop!

Kristin Hutchinson, Catherine Cusack and Liam Smith in Howard Baker's Judith: A Parting from the Body at the Arcola Theatre. Photo: Nick RutterI was commissioned a couple weeks ago to create the Lead Actress’ Costume, a stunning Edwardian Bodice, Skirt and Petticoat (above, knelt center stage) in Green/Gold Shot Silk Dupion for Catherine Cusack in Judith: A Parting From The Body at The Arcola Theatre.

This costume had to be ”quick rigged” because the Actress had to unbutton the Bodice on stage, quickly, so all the buttonholes are fake! What fun!

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With a Design and some measurements I drafted a Pattern and my assistant and I got stitching! Apart from the nifty fake buttonholes I also drafted a lovely detail in the front of the Bodice, wherein the darts are incorporated into a separate Pattern piece under the bust, with gathers above. I’m pretty pleased with the outcome!

The Skirt is shaped, as the Actress was taking the Bodice off pretty early on we decided it would create a lovely shape with the shirt underneath whilst also being period accurate.

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In just four days this was picked up and whisked off to London to tread the boards, and I have to say she looked fantastic.

Happy stitching!

It’s been a bit quiet…

… so sorry!

It’s been crazy times in the Atelier recently with 5 or 6 costume jobs being stitched up by my growing team of wonders. Most recently shipped off were these beauties for Celebrity Cruises production of Elysium.

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The Evil Enchantress

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Autumn Ballet

I’m sure I shall be sharing a little bit about the methods behind construction soon but before I catch my breath I’m off to get married this Wednesday! Eep!!

Can’t wait to start sharing more of my Sewing adventures with you soon.

Happy stitching!

Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-Along: Week 2

Welcome! Welcome to Week 2 of the Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-Along.

By now I hope you will all have drafted your Basic Trouser Block, so we can get started on the exciting bit- making the Basic Block in to our Working Pattern!

You will need to make decisions on the following. What sort of Pockets you would like at the Front, and whether you would like a little Change Pocket. What sort of Pockets you would like on the back of your Jeans- are they to be stitched decoratively? Would you like a Flap, are they to be shaped or even have a Zip? You’ll also need to decide if you would like a Button or Zip Fly Front. Now, I’m not insane so I shall be instructing how to make a Zip Fly Front however; there’s a great Tutorial on adding in a Button Fly Front here if you’d like to make one. The pieces of Pattern you need to draft are the same.

As you can see from the these images, there are many choices to be made and it is worth having a good look out there to make your decision. I like to look at things I normally wouldn’t be able to afford to see style and design elements I like and would like to add in to my Patterns!

I like to make a little sketch of my design- called a Technical Illustration- of all of the elements I like so that I know what I need to Pattern Draft…

jeans sew along bristol sewing classes

Now, I’m going super duper classic here and there are a couple reasons for that. The first is that it suits me, the second is Classic Jeans kinda go with lots of different looks and, as I have made a few tops recently I want something to go with them all! Finally, it’s so that you guys can see what goes in to a Classic pair of Jeans instead of getting all fancy pants and convoluted on you!

Once you have a Technical Illustration, you’ll need to make a list of the elements to be drafted. Mine are:

1. Front Pocket

2. Front Pocket Facing

3. Pocket Bag

4. Change Pocket

5. Fly Front

6. Back Yoke

7. Back Pockets

8. Waistband

9. Belt Loops

10. Front

11. Back

Phew! Sounds like a tonne of work, right? But it’s not, I promise! Next I sketch a little break down:

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Which is all well and good but I am sure a few of you out there will be questioning a couple of these instructions! Pocket Bag? Change Pocket? Yoke?! Yes, these are things, and I promise I’m not making it up…

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The Pocket Bag is the piece to which your Change Pocket (the teeny tiny Pocket with lovely Rivets on it) is sewn. About one third of this is seen, the other two thirds are attached to the Pocket Facing and form the Pocket istelf. You can choose to make this in two parts (as I am) so that both the bottom part of the Pocket Bag and the whole of the Facing can be made from a contrast Fabric. Which is delicious!

The Yoke sits above the Beck section of the Jeans, but below the Waistline. You can pop additional fitting in to this (like moving the darts in to it, I shall be explaining this later) however; how deep or shallow will effect the look and determine where the Back Pockets sit. This article is an interesting read on this subject, and give some invaluable information regarding Yokes for different body shapes. Again, I’m sticking with kinda basic and going for a Straight V Yoke because I know it suits me best.

So, that all being said, lets get on to the really interesting part- drafting the Pattern Pieces! I’m going to post this in the next few days as it has turned in to a slightly longer post than I had be anticipating!

In the meantime, why not take a peek at some Jeans or Trousers you already own to get a feel for the Pattern Pieces we’ll be drafting tomorrow? How deep is the Yoke on those Jeans that fit so perfectly? Why do you like the Pockets on that other pair? Part of learning to Pattern draft is to take on elements of designs which work for you as well as looking good… there will be a reason you were-or are- attracted to certain designs and now is a great time to see what they might be.

See you soon Jean-sters, I’m looking forward to it!

**UPDATE: Because of some scheduling issues some posts haven’t gone live at the correct times. The Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-Along will re-start soon **

x Happy stitching!

 

 

Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew Along: Getting Started

I'm working hard to put ME back together one stitch at a time .... Make-Do-&-Mend Pin up

Now I know we all are excited to start whipping up a pair of Handmade Denim loveliness however; I thought that, after getting y’all pumped up about Drafting your Pattern last week I would take things down a notch and talk a little about the Fabric and Notions needed to complete this project, and give a rough schedule for this Sew-Along which I shall be posting weekly-ish.

Because we are drafting and fitting our own Jeans Pattern we can kinda choose whatever Fabric we like as we will be fitting down the line however; finer fabrics like light weight Chambray will fit differently than a heavier weight Denim so I would advise choosing a medium to heavier weight Denim for this first pair. I also like to make mine from a Denim which has a little stretch to it.  get mine from Fabric Land and theirs at something like 10% Elastane in it. This makes the Denim SO much easier to wear as it ‘pings’ back when you move instead of getting baggy, it is also a medium weight so it’s nice and easy to sew. Happy Days.

On average you will need 2.5 meters of Fabric because of the length of Jeans. Remember when cutting stretch Denim however; you will need to cut it with the Stretch going around the body.

I found this great Blog post from Pattern Review which has some fantastic information about Fabrics and Notions which is well worth a read.

Concerning Notions I sometimes like to push the boat out and, because this is a Sew-Along I am going to on the Black and Blue Jeans and treat myself to Rivets, Topstitching and proper Jeans Riveted Buttons… but more on this and so very much more later. All you need to get yourself started is the Drafted Pattern, some more Pattern Paper for all of the other bits we’ll need to draft like Pockets and Fly Fronts and about 2.5 meters of Calico for the Toile. Oh yes, there will be a Toile!!

In choosing your fabric for your Toile try to get a similar weight Calico to the Denim you would like to use. This means that all of the fitting we do on the Toile should assist in the final fit of the Jeans.

The schedule will be as follows, and starts next Monday:

Week 2 Design Decisions

This will cover making the Basic Block in to a Working Pattern as we decide what sort of Packets, Patch Pockets, length, Zip or Button Fly etc to have and draft all of the Pattern Pieces to create the Working Pattern.

Week 3 Making up the Toile and Fitting

Just exactly what it says on the tin! We’ll be making up the Jeans and fitting them, which is an excellent opportunity to try our hand at all of that pesky Top Stitching, and whether we’ll be going all fancy and double Top Stitching! It will also give us a chance to practice the Fly which can be very awkward. We’ll also be transferring any fitting issues we resolve on to the Working Pattern to make our Final Pattern.

Week 4 Treating the Denim, Cutting Out and starting to Sew

Prepping to Sew as we wash our Fabric and cutting it out, the beginning to Sew up our Denim goodness. I’ll be sharing a few tips on working quickly as I’ll be making four pairs of Jeans throughout this Sew-Along as well as tips on finishing and neatening Denim, which can be a little different from the usual as we are making classic ‘work wear’.

Week 5 Fit and Finishing

a Final Fitting session to make sure there aren’t too many discrepancies from the Toile to the final Jeans the it’s on to all the finishing details like Rivets! Yay!!

Hope this all sounds as good to you guys as it does to me, I can’t wait to get started. I’m finally going to be able to wear all of those tops I’ve been making myself!

Pattern Ponderings

I thought I would share a few of the lovely new Patterns coming from The Big Four pattern companies today.

First up is Vogue V9103, and I am completely in love with it!

V9103, Misses' DressLine ArtV9103, Misses' Dress

Those darts, that v-neck plunge! Le sigh, they’re perfect and I think I may have to pick up a copy of this understated perfection. As you can see from the above, there are a couple of different variations and I’m not entirely sure about the gathering in back however; I think in real life it would give a truly enchanting flair to an otherwise plain skirt. The fabric needed isn’t insane either. At just under 4m this could be a pretty and cheap make for the Summer!

Vogue have a tricky reputation, and even I will admit their Patterns can be entirely too snooty but they do design beautiful things. My advice? Read all of the instructions, even the bits at the beginning about how to use the Pattern and make sure you look at both the picture and the written instructions. They have a tendency to assume you have done this before which can trip up even a *ahem* seasoned seamstress!

Next up… McCalls M7154

M7154, Misses' Dress M7154, Misses' Dress M7154, Misses' Dress

This Pattern is truly sublime, don’t you think? It’s from the McCalls Archive Collection and I hope you are as pleased as I am all of these companies are re-releasing their Vintage Patterns! They call it swoon-worthy and I’d have to agree. Capturing the essence of that elusive between the Wars glamour they have another here, both of which are Patterns I think I may buy simply to gaze upon their glory.

Including sizes 6 to 22 this dress is to be made in fabrics which I think sound as lovely as the finished item… Charmeuse, Crepe de Chine or Crepe Back Satin. Yum! Because of this I think it places the skill level firmly in Adventurous Intermediate or even Advanced but the effort would be well worth it!

Finally, this interesting Vintage re-release from Simplicity 1166

I think if you were looking for a truly Vintage Summer look this is the one for you. I’d be going for the more covered up version however; if you were brave the bikini style top version would be super cute on any beach, don’t you think? I actually love the shirt on its own, and think it would also look amazing with a pair of jeans too!

Pattern includes button up blouse, bra top with crossed back, and full skirt with buttons up to a size 24… woop! It’s quite fabric heavy though, that skirt needs over 4m, yikes!

That’s it for Pattern Ponderings this week, have you discovered a delicious Pattern recently? Do tell… if you’re in or near Bristol, UK join Sewing Club on Facebook to swap and share Patterns.

If you’re as into Patterns and Pattern Making as I am watch this space too for more news on my Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-a-Long as it’s just getting warmed up!

Happy stitching!

Introducing the Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-Along!

I have been making my own Jeans and Trousers since I was about 16-ish, and I still remember the utter satisfaction- after another failed shopping trip to buy Jeans, any Jeans!- of rushing to my local Fabric Shop, buying the only Jeans Pattern available and making my first pair that very same day. They were great, I mean I’m sure they had a little wobble in the stitching here and there but even my Mum was impressed and I literally haven’t shopped for Trousers or Jeans since.

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Blessed with my Grandmothers huge hips, as well as height it has always been difficult to shop for clothing. Fat or thin I have always struggled however; I was to receive a rescue of sorts that same year I was 16 when I toddled off to Art School to study Fashion and Textiles… dear reader, I was introduced to the mystical art of Pattern Cutting.

I honestly haven’t looked back.

Not only did it make sense in a way that made me happy, I was good at it! Have you ever had this happen? The simple joy of embracing a new skill and devouring all that you can? Heaven! I soon had students from the years above me asking for help and I think this was my first introduction to sharing ideas and skills, which I also loved. At the time I was obviously going to become a leading light in the Fashion World *ahem* and despite this not happening- mainly because I realized I wanted to work on film and a few years later toddled off to a different Art School to study Costume- I still adore Pattern Cutting and I want to start sharing this more here, especially after my enormously successful Pattern Month a few years ago.

Simply because I need some new Jeans myself I thought I’d start with Drafting a Jeans Pattern, Toiling and making the resultant Pattern up with tips on how to do so, fit and I am sure all sorts of further nonsense!

Sound good? Awesome!

I’m hoping to do this over the next month or so, starting today with Drafting the Trouser Block. If this is entirely new to you, you may want to check out my Pattern Month, which is a good introduction to all of this.

First off, I shall be using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting book, which is my bible! and, whilst I shall share some of the Pattern pages here, I do strongly suggest your buying a copy if this is a subject you are interested in. You can read more about why I think everyone should own this book here. After the last Pattern Month, I was asked frequently if I would email or post more pages from the book, but I will not due to copy right. Please buy the book, it’s brilliant!

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You’ll need a Pattern Master, because these are the best tools when Pattern Drafting, along with a selection of Pens and Pencils as well as a Calculator. I use coloured Felt Tip Pens because if I make a wrong line, or want to highlight a line I can do so. I also find them nice to draft with because pencils can be a bit messy and I tire quickly of sharpening them!

There’s lots of information on how to use the above pages here, I would strongly advise reading it before joining in unless you are familiar with the Winifred Books. Firstly it is important to take accurate measurements as the Basic Blocks are to be made up to your measurements. It is imperative that accurate measurements be taken so that the Block fit as accurately as possible, with minimal changes needing to be made in the later stages of creating your Working Pattern.

For the Basic Trouser Block you need to take Waist and Hip measurements, then check which size these most closely resemble in the Standard Body Measurements Chart here. The measurements listed on the Basic Trouser Block can then be found on the Standard Body Measurements Chart. I have found that taking measurements from the Chart greatly increases the accuracy of the pattern and saves time! We will then draft the Pattern and make a Toile to make the Working Pattern and in future posts I’ll cover things like adapting the Basic Block to Fit, altering the Length and adding Style Lines.

It is not easy to measure oneself however; if no partner can be found use a mirror to ensure the tape measure is placed as correctly as possible. I have a few hints and tips on measuring oneself accurately here.

Well, as I have drafted my Basic Block already- I make this Pattern up quite a lot!- I shall leave you to Draft yours, and of course check out Jeans and Trousers you like on the internet to get an idea of what sort of a Pattern you’d like to make… retro… modern… button fly?… high waisted?… aah the choice is endless! Finally, this process won’t be too difficult I promise! If you are an Adventurous Beginner I am sure you will be able to follow along, and anyone can feel free to comment or ask questions as they need or want to.

I’ll give you a week or so to gather supplies and get drafting, I can’t wait to see what you all make!!

Happy stitching!

 

Notions: How to Finish a Dart

I thought today I would show you this beautiful hand finishing technique for ensuring your Darts are beautiful every time!

As I am still up to my neck in Dimpsy T samples, as well as finalizing the Pattern ready for release, I thought I would make up my very own in the gorgeous Parisian Summer fabric. Isn’t it just the best thing ever?

Firstly, you will need to sew up your Dart as usual… the Dimpsy T’s is in the middle of the bust and can look a little odd until it’s sewn…

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Leave the threads long and tie as usual however; instead of cutting close, thread them through a needle as illustrated.

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As close as you possibly can, thread the push the needle back in to the fabric, in to the Dart as shown below. You need to insert it in to the Dart, above the stitching and take the longest stitch you can.

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Push the Needle back out and pull, then clip the Threads close. I like to ‘pull’ slightly so the Threads *ping* back in to the Dart and are hidden forever.

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As you can see, the Dart is finished beautifully with no Threads visible and is ready for a final press!

This is me proudly showing off my newly made Dimpsy T…

me in dimpsyI love the combination of the Navy Collar with the Red and Navy Print, and I’m super pleased with the fit and placement of that Dart!

Pre-order your Dimpsy T here, and help me bring this sweet Pattern to life!

Happy stitching!

 

 

Pattern Ponderings

Another Monday, and another Pattern Ponderings!

I do so hope you had a wonderful weekend, full of Sewing, tea and cake. This week I have some wonderful finds from the world of Independent Pattern Making and I have had such fun finding them! There are Pattern Makers the world over, all happily drafting away and selling their wares. First on my list today is the Mimosa Blouse from SBCC Patterns.

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This is a Raglan T-Shirt Pattern, made pretty! You can choose to make it with or without the Ties, but that’s the bit I love! SBCC (which stands for Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic), make Patterns from XXS to 3X… in layman’s terms that’s teeny to extra big and I’m sure they do something for pretty much every size out there. This would be an excellent Pattern to bring along to the T-Shirt Project Day!

Okay, after making my Tea Dress a few weeks ago (yay #MMAW15!!), I am a new fan of the gathered bodice as it turns out it suits me. Yes, even after sewing for as long as I have and Pattern Drafting for almost as long I can learn something new about my own body shape! So my new current obsession is the Giselle Dress from Kate & Rose Patterns.

Image of Giselle Dress PDF Sewing Pattern

I just love the long sleeve, shorter version. Inspired by the flowing Dirndl Folkware of the Alps, this Pattern is classed as Advanced Beginner, and you would learn so much! I think this could also be an awesome dress to play around with mixing patterned prints, or prints with plains. If you like this idea but are worried, why not put the question to Sewing Club? They’re very good, y’know!

I think I am in a bit of a girly, dressy mood today because my final choice is the Cami Dress from Pauline Alice.

Camí dress 1

How happy does this dress look? I think I would have to add in a little to the length but I love the in-seam Pockets and retro feel of this dress. I also adore that little cuff!

Don’t forget, if you like these Patterns, buy and support an Independent Designer like me! You can see my Patterns here, with more to come. A lot of them come as PDF Downloads which makes them cheaper, and instantaneous yay! If you’re struggling, pop along to a Sunday Sewing Bee for some help.

Happy stitching!

My 3rd Sewing Bee Challenge!

We’re cracking on lickity split over here at The midnight Atelier with these challenges, and this weeks one was brilliant! Loads of fabric, and a Vintage feel, heaven!

I’m a bit late posting my Challenge this week though, it’s been a mad week here again. Fella and I were very sad to learn of the demise of two of the greats this week. LLAP Leonard Nimoy, and indeed Friends In Your Head. I think you will both be missed verily in this household.

If you want to see what all of this Sewing Bee Challenge nonsense is all about check out the original (and best?) Great British Sewing Bee here… I’ll be holding a glass up and toasting to those we have loved and lost.

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As usual, I made a little sketch right before I began, and draped the entire challenge as I sewed. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I had thought of would work, and I went into this Challenge a bit panicky! I knew I wanted to play with the Pattern of the Curtains I managed to find, they have flowers in a stripe and I thought it would be really cool if I managed to ‘decorate’ the design with them, which is how I ended up at pleats. Add pleats to Vintage and I naturally came to the conclusion I wanted to do a pleated ‘shelf’ bodice!

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I first outlined the shape of the Bust piece with Pins in the Dress Form, than folded a section of the Curtain fabric so that the design made stripes of floral, then plain. Well plain-ish anyway!

I wove the folds together at the Centre Front for a little visual flair which made me very happy.

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Pinning the sections in to the Mannequin, I then draped the ‘shelf’, which is actually from the hem of the curtain!

I was shocked this worked so quickly. I literally have very little photos because this was so quick.

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Pinning everything together away from the Mannequin was a bit tense- and I held my breath!- but then I sewed it super duper quick, popped it back on Lady and voila! I was pretty pleased with the result!!

I quickly draped the back which was a walk in the park compared to the front, and looked at the time furtively. To my surprise I had accomplished all of that in half an hour! Win!

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I used every last scrap to cut the Skirt so I could gather a lot of fabric in to it so it was nice and ‘swingy’ (technical word alert), then hemmed it with a stitched Zig Zag so it didn’t fray, but still looked ok.

I spectacularly broke a needle too… well okay, okay, I broke three! Curtains can be thick, and I was left wondering why we didn’t see any of the contestants break one!

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I slightly underestimated the amount of gathering folks! Here’s a tip though, lay a Tape Measure out and Washi Tape it to the table to mark the length you need the Gathered section to be, then Gather away. Much easier than trying to compare it to the Bodice every few minutes.

I had to get about four meters in to 80cm and I gathered like the wind!! Then attached it on to the Bodice… you see no pins ‘cos there were no pins. I don’t seem to pin anything any more, and on a timed project like this there’s no time.

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Looked pretty good though, and I was on to the Zip. I only had a Grey Concealed Zip (boo), and inserting it with that much Gathering was interesting. This is where I knew I had started to panic as I had just a few minutes left!! Eeep!

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Thanks (obviously real, and totally there) Claudia!

I finished dead on my time, literally sewing through to the last minute of time allowed…

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I’m pretty happy with it though!

Actually, I’m really, embarrassingly, head over heels proud of this look… 90 minutes peeps! I was reminded of my Costuming and Filmmaking days, and damn I was good if I say so myself! Have you noticed how the back matches in Pattern all the way down? Oh yeah!

Now, if you would like to make a similar dress, pop along to the Sew Anything Course ‘cos I have a Pattern.

Next week… 80s Suit (eep!)

Confused? See my first Sewing Bee Challenge here, and my 2nd here.

Happy stitching!