Not my usual sewing….

You have seen my sewing on paper creations. (If you haven’t, then you might like to look here.) For a few days of last week I was intensively sewing on material, making myself a dress.

I learnt to sew as a young teenager, with my Mum teaching me how to lay out patterns, follow instructions, set in sleeves and make darts. But often my dresses turned out wonky, with that definite ‘home made’ look. I have tried since then, but never been really happy with what I make.

Lately I have been inspired again. By bloggers like Margaret and Lyn, who create wonderful garments that are stylish and well made. By independent material and pattern designers.

I wanted to make a dress but I was determined not to make the mistakes of my youth. With age comes some wisdom!

Mistake #1: choosing the wrong fabric

In the past I chose material that was either a colour/pattern that I loved or a price that was right (i.e. cheap!), regardless of what was needed for the pattern.

This time I set myself up for success. I took my good friend Janis with me to Tessuti Fabrics in Melbourne. Janis was my consultant and Tessuti have quality fabrics and patterns. We walked in the door and saw a rack of dresses, which turned out to be their patterns made up. Isn’t that a brilliant idea? It was great to see the garments in real life, how they hang, the fabric used and to see the details. We oohed and aaahed over many different ones, and eventually I settled on the iris dress.

linen dress The help from Tessuti didn’t end there. I took the dress to the counter and asked the young woman’s advice on what fabric she would suggest. She was so helpful, showing us a range of different ones. Even when I settled on linen she continued to advise me on colours and weights. With her help, and help from my Consultant of course, I decided on two linens ~ one white with a faint blue stripe and the other a baby blue. It wasn’t cheap, but it was right for the pattern.


Mistake #2: not having the finished dress fit properly

This time I measured myself. It didn’t help much, because the measurements of my bust, waist and hips varied from Medium to X large! In the end I decided to make it for my bust size as the rest of the dress is very loose fitting, good for hiding all those bumpy, lumpy parts of me. It was the right decision. As was shortening the pattern before I cut out the material.

Mistake #3: being sloppy with the making up

I tend to think “she’ll be right” and take short cuts. Not this time. It was all done by the (pattern) book. Again, I have to say how clear the Tessuti pattern instructions were. They included photos at every step and links to tutorials  for further help.

I pressed seams (gasp!) and overlocked/zig zagged the raw edges (more gasp!). I even shocked the Younger Me by buying, and using, the tear-away Vilene recommended to stabilise the neckline.

linen dress
Pressed collar with the pattern photos in the background

Not having a definite right and wrong side of the material meant that I came close to making some big stuff ups. Most were averted….except for this one….which I only noticed when I was giving the finished dress an iron.


Yep, I sewed the sleeve on the wrong side. Fortunately it’s a little seam, a little piece of imperfection.

Here it is, finished, and fitting. (And will look even better with shoes!)


So I am older, and a little wiser, learning to choose correctly in the first place, taking time and following instructions, and measuring. Next time it will be perfect….maybe.

By the way…I have some linen scraps. If you can use them, I am happy to send them to you. Leave a message in the comments.



In the letter from my studio this week I am going to up-date you on my stitching of the Grampians bluff. I am much happier with what I am doing now than the work I showed you last time. You can sign up here to find out more.

Lastly, please let me know if you have any problems with the sign up form. I am a little concerned that things aren’t working as they should.

17 Replies to “Not my usual sewing….”

    1. Ahh, those scraps have winged their way up to Kate in Queensland, who will, someday, incorporate them into some beautiful quilty creation.

    1. So true! Thank you for your inspiration too. I love reading your blog too, and being inspired by the garments you make.You helped me to realise that attention to detail is really important.

    1. Thanks for your inspiration Margaret. I love reading about the dresses, skirts, shirts that you make, but I don’t think I will ever contemplate sewing jeans. Have fun with those!

  1. Oh yes, I LOVE Tessuti, I have their blog bookmarked for the tutorials on construction and wonderful finishing. Lovely dress, Anne, a perfect choice. You look cool, comfortable and very stylish. And if I’m lucky enough to be selected for your leftovers, do hang onto them till I see you in February 🙂

    1. You will have to drop into Tessuti when you come down in February. I am sure you don’t have enough material in your stash!! Their website and blog is a treasure trove for people who sew.

  2. What a great dress and many important lessons have been learnt. I too haven’t made myself clothes for many a year. I never did learn how to properly read patterns as my grandmother who taught me to sew was a dressmaker and didn’t need patterns!

    1. I admire that skill of not needing a pattern. My aunt used to look at a dress in a shop and come home and make it. I am sure your grandmother would have done the same. My aunt would have passed on many sewing skills to my Mum, but certainly not that one!

    1. With your sewing skills and your talent for colour combinations you would be a natural for sewing clothes! You will have to add it to your list of “Projects to do someday”.

  3. Anne, I will post here and on your other blog. Since I don’t see any other comments here (and I know some were made) I wonder if they are being held in moderation somewhere?

    In any event, I’m so glad you made your self a dress in beautiful linen that you love and that fits well. I haven’t made a garment for years either, other than Halloween costumes, and they’re very forgiving.

    I love the picture of you as well, looking healthy and youthful and ready for spring and summer adventures. xo

    1. Thank you Alys! “Youthful” ~ bless you! I still haven’t had a chance to wear the dress, as the weather has been a little chilly, but I am hoping that our family Christmas will be the first outing!
      You were so right about the comments….they were all patiently waiting for my approval. Silly me for not looking sooner.

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