Tag Archives: clothes

Gingham Dress

One of the main reasons why I sew my own clothes is so that I can achieve a good, hopefully great, fit. Shop bought ready to wear is made for the average sizes and lets face it but very few of us are a perfect average and few of us would ever want to be!

I know we are all too aware of where our own fitting problem areas are and mine has always been the fact that I am tall and that the extra height is not in my legs where I would want it to be but in the length of my torso. For example, it is impossible to get a one piece swimsuit to fits me, I always have to get those two piece tankini combinations. So with clothes shopping I’m alway looking out for longer length tops and shirts and I know from experience that the waist on dresses always sits in the wrong place, about two inches north of where it should be. Commercial paper patterns are no different and over the years I have drafted my own patterns from my measurements.

I’m fortunate though that my standard pattern alteration is a fairly simple one as I know that some of you have to work quite a bit with a pattern to get it to work right. But once you have spent the time, trial and erroring with a toille and keep a note of the changes you made it becomes easier to transfer those alterations to all your favorite patterns. I have created a simple measurement chart so you can keep a note of your size.


This is the first of my black Gingham dresses, there are going to be two. Both are sleeveless but different styles. I think that sleeveless dresses will be really practical for me going forward into spring/summer now as I will team them with a colourful cardigan. Everywhere I look at the moment I am seeing this black gingham fabric. Ive seen it on the catwalks recently particularly in Diane Von Furstenberg’s 2015 Ready to wear collection. It is used for not only dresses but shirts and blouses, little vest tops and accessories too.

Follow Sewing Avenue’s board Gingham Fabrics on Pinterest.

It (gingham) seems to be in both high fashion stores as well as vintage designers shops at the moment, which means its right on trend whether you are a fashionista or a vintage chick.

Sewing with a basic cotton fabric like gingham is a straightforward sew, no stretch to consider, however gingham is even easier as there is no right or wrong side to the fabric. The fabric I was using was quite a light weight so I used a heavier lining fabric to give it more body so that it would hang better.



Here’s a little bit of history,

Gingham fabric was first manufactured in Malaysia which was controlled by the Dutch in the 17th century. It was originally called genggang, meaning stripped, and imported by the Dutch into Europe. If your interested in more history then this is a great site for the full historical low down visforvintage.net/2012/09/11/gingham-fabric/

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Happy Sewing


Purple Bodycon Dress

Do you wear your dresses in the winter months?

Do you need more winter dresses so that you can be warm and comfortable?

Finished purple body con dress with piping
Finished purple body con dress with piping

I’ve decided to make a series of warm winter dresses over the next two months of this New Year. And I’m starting with a simple bodycon style made from purple Ponte di Roma.
The pattern that I have chosen to use consists only of four pieces, the back, and the front and the two sleeves. Because it is such a simple design I felt that I wanted to break up the body of the front of the dress to create a bit more interest. I looked around for ideas and inspiration from a few of my favourite recent fashion shows and came across the Christopher Kane Spring RTW 2015 collection. I’ve pinned two of the pictures from that show here and here

It was both the colour of the fabric and the directional lines, which dissect the body at differing intervals, which appealed as a starting, point for my own ideas.

Sketch of purple dress ideas
Sketch of purple dress ideas

So maybe my sketch doesn’t look as dramatic as the designer’s, but I am making a new winter dress and it has to be a practical day wear outfit too.

I’ve used a basic sewing pattern, which I have used before so I know that it fits me. I drew it out onto paper and played around with it, drawing the piping lines onto the front until I was happy with the placement, then I cut it up!!

purple dress pattern
Purple dress pattern

I numbered the paper pattern pieces and marked them with the straight grain line so that it would be easier to keep them in the correct order. It was important that I remembered to add the seam allowances onto these new pattern pieces as well. I used an allowance of 15mm / 5/8 inch.

I’ve selected to use a Ponte di Roma fabric for this make. It is a warm double knit with a directional stretch. It is very easy to sew with and comfortable to wear. It is also simple to wash and press.

Inside front of dress
Inside front of dress

When I was cutting out the fabric it was important to get the straight grain of the fabric on the vertical but also to check that the stretch was going to be going around the body and for the sleeves, around the arms. I numbered all of the fabric pieces as I cut them out to save confusion when it came to sewing them together.

Front of dress with piping detail
Front of dress with piping detail

I handmade my own piping from a darker shade of purple, to add an accent. I wasn’t sure about it at first so played around with a few options on a small scrap of the fabric. As well as piping with the accent colour, I tried piping with the main fabric, it would have worked well, but I was after a bit more punch.

Piping samples
Piping samples

I was pleased with how easy it was to put the main front section of the dress together. The seams were overclocked/serged before sewing the back and front together with the sewing machine, it gives a neat finish.
I decided to sew a single line of piping on to the sleeves as well. By simply measuring my arm length and cutting the sewing pattern where I wanted the placement of the piping to be and not forgetting to allow an extra seam allowance so that the tapered sleeve would still fit my arm.

Was this a successful first winter dress of the New Year? (@sewingavenue)

Finished purple body con dress with piping
Finished purple body con dress with piping

I think so. I am happy with the result; it will be fun to wear inside and with the addition of boots and a cardigan under a coat it will be great for outdoors too.