The Gingerthread Girl | Dressmaking, Sewing & Crafting Blog
My name is Jen and I am a sewing addict. In May 2014, 10 months after getting married, I was still kind of suffering from post-wedding blues. The creative in me was hungry for a new challenge. I swiftly took myself to a local college and signed up to do an evening course in beginners' dressmaking. Best. Decision. EVER. I now dedicate all of my spare time around a full-time job to dressmaking.
Well, I have been absolutely gagging to show you this dress. It has been a long time coming, for sure! I first dreamt up this dress when I bought the paper pattern at The Great British Sewing Bee Live back in September 2017. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to attempt a hack to remove the buttoned up front, and add an invisible zipper up the back. The pattern? A Nina Lee Kew Dress – and what a beaut she is!
And it was fate that the Atelier Brunette Stardust double gauze fabrics were released, right at the time I was ready to start this make. I literally raced up to Backstitch to go buy this, and so began my make.
I will be posting a video on my YouTube channel really soon with details of how I hacked this, but it was essentially fairly simple. I just cut the front bodice and front skirt pieces on the fold, so they were each 1 piece. Then for the back bodice and back skirt pieces, I didn’t cut on the fold (as the pattern asks), and I added 1.5cm to the centre backs, to allow seam allowance. It was pretty simple – though I was pretty nervous to try it on in case I had stuffed it up… that would have been a total tragedy with this fabric!
This was my first venture into sewing with double gauze fabric. If you haven’t come across double gauze before, it’s like 2 thin layers of fabric joined together with the tiniest almost-invisible stitches. The fabric is quite a loose weave, which had me a little worried for sewing the bodice and skirt together. I could see the seam line between bodice and skirt sagging out of shape quite quickly. So I decided to interface the entire bodice with a lightweight black interfacing first. So happy that I did! It definitely feels like it will hold the shape and structure that is needed on the bodice.
I had a little bit of a nightmare with hemming. I wanted to shorten the dress, which I wish now that I had done during the fabric cutting. I ended up finishing the hem by a combination of measuring the dress in a flat-lay, and also by eye. It definitely worked out in the end… but I was holding my breath for parts!
I felt as though this dress/fabric combo was deserving of some real attention to detail, so I ended up finishing quite a few parts by hand. Normally I’m one for avoiding any/all hand sewing, but lately I have found it so therapeutic. So I finished the lining along the zipper by hand, as well as the hem.
The pattern itself is amazing. Clear instructions, beautiful packaging (illustrations all by Nina too!), and everything just works. The fit for me was spot on – the only change I made was to shorten the shoulder straps slightly – but that’s an alteration I would normally have to make anyways.
I am chuffed to bits with how this dress has finished up. I feel like a princess wearing it! And will be wearing it to my brother’s wedding in March. I love it that much!
Ok, so I asked myself ‘Jen, do you think a full dress of rose gold sequins is a bit much?’. We all know the answer to this question… hell no! Also, you know, Christmas and that.
This was my very first venture into the world of sewing sequins. And man, it is a scary place. I diligently started my research into sewing with sequinned fabric, and was kind of pleased to see the advice to just sew as you would a normal woven fabric. Ok… sounds too easy… but fine. My sequinned fabric, which was from Cotton Reel Studio, was basically mini sequins sewn onto a mesh. This was easy to cut out – I just used a rotary cutter. Some people recommend wearing glasses or something protective for your eyes when cutting out. I didn’t… living on the edge and all that.
I spent quite some time deciding on a pattern… I wanted something which wouldn’t be ‘too much’ considering that I was entirely using rose gold sequins. I decided to stick to the safety of a pattern I had used before. I went for the Papercut Patterns Sigma dress. I previously made this from a lovely wool fabric (here), and love the style. Really wearable. I knew some alterations I wanted to make from having made this before. Mainly I needed to be rid of the dreaded gapey neckline.
The sewing process was kind of ok… I did break 2 needles (!) but it was all fairly straightforward other than that. I fully lined the dress using an incredible lining fabric from Truro Fabrics – which really helped make the dress comfy to wear. No-one wants death by scratchy sequins do they?
Everything was going swimmingly until I discovered that the sequinned fabric was stretching. So when I had roughly assembled the dress and tried on… I could see it was looking a bit sloppy. Nooooo! What a waste of sequins! So I just had to, well, basically, bodge this dress together to make it fit! I removed so much fabric from side seams and the back seam before inserting the zip. It was crazy. But hey. The finished dress fits pretty damn well.
I’m super pleased with the finish of this dress – and can’t wait to wear it to a festive party. I first need to be invited to one though…!