Tag Archives: Fashion

Gingham Shirt

I am so excited about posting this blog because I have been planning and thinking about my gingham month for weeks now and it’s finally here. I’m overlapping my shirt sewing with the gingham sewing too, to make things extra special in this blog!

I thought long and hard about using cotton Gingham as a fashion fabric.

Gingham-Shirt-Front image

We are used to seeing it in children’s wear and in vintage clothing, Julie Andrews in the wizard of Oz, but is it really a sophisticated fashion forward look? Then I noticed that quite a few of the big name designers like Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Mcqueen, and Chloe had created beautiful dresses from the little chequered fabric.

If it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me!


Gingham Fabric image
Gingham Fabric
Shirt Pattern image
Shirt Pattern

I have used a commercial paper pattern for this sewing make. It is New Look number 6232 which I have modified a bit to give a looser feel to the shirt. It is a very useful pattern which I can recommend as I have had it a few years now and it has been tried and tested in a few different sizes by me for myself and other family members. I made it in a size US 8/ UK 12.

Gingham-Shirt-Back image

I have left out the darts in the back to create a bit more fullness so it is less tight across the back of the body. This is a casual look for me, not a smart office or interview type of shirt. I changed the way that the yoke is constructed too, by cutting out and using only one yoke piece instead of two and sewing it together in more of a dressmaker fashion rather than tailoring the shirt for a man, more of a relaxed blouse. I tend to stay away from pocket placement on the front of my tops as they tend to sag, even when not used, and this is definitely not a flattering look for anyone!

Gingham-Shirt-Front image

As I am sure you can see from the photos, I have changed the cuffs as in the Easter shirt, by cutting the sleeve about six inches shorter and adding a simple cuff band instead of the conventional cuff with buttons. I think this is much more flattering. I have previously made this same shirt with a little cap sleeve too and that would have worked well in this fabric.

I chose the bright pink buttons for the front of the shirt to set off the pink in the check more. One little tip I have when you are positioning the buttons on the front of a shirt or blouse you are making, is to put it on when you mark the position of the buttons and buttonholes so that you get them in the correct place for you rather than the recommendation on the pattern diagram. I rarely wear my shirts buttoned up to the top, so think about how you will wear the shirt, and then decide how open you want the neck to be as well. If you place the fastening too high, you might feel choked, or too low, you could feel too exposed, you won’t wear the shirt because you won’t feel comfortable in it.

Gingham-Shirt-Happy-Sewing image

Black Dress with Princess seams

Hi and welcome to this week’s blog.

Do you wear a lot of black clothes?

I know I do. It seems to be my default colour. If I can’t decide what to wear, I reach for the black dress!

So what do all the black clothes in the closet signify?

Some would say black is stylish, others would say unimaginative. Some people wear black because it is rebellious while others wear it to conform. It is the colour of mourning but also sexy and seductive. There are so many contradictions and ways to interpret our feelings and attitudes towards our black clothes but it is probably the one colour everybody has and uses often.

So I thought to myself that it was time to add another one to the collection.

If you managed to read the blog I posted a few days ago, “How To Sew A Princess Seam” you would have seen me piecing and sewing together beautiful princess seams on a black bodice.

Princess seam bust front

I continued with making the dress and the result is this blog for you.

This is the picture I have used as my inspiration. It is a gorgeous black winter dress by the fabulous Yves Saint Laurent. HERE

This style of dress never seems to go out of fashion, the hem line and the sleeve length may go up and down depending on the season, otherwise its a classic look which from the sewist’s perspective gives us scope to make so many variations from just one basic pattern.

Princess seams on a dress can be made to continue down the whole length of the dress or they can stop at the hips or at the waist. On this dress I decided that the skirt was going to be a full circle skirt so the curved princess seams would only extended down as far as the waistline. They are on both the back and the front of the bodice which gives a perfect figure hugging shape.

Working with the black fabric at this time of year was a bit of a challenge and demanded plenty of good quality artificial light. I recently invested in a daylight light bulb which actually gives off a blue light rather than the yellow light from a regular bulb. Still a poor substitute for real sunlight though.

I knew that I was happy with the fit of the bodice, except for the neckline which was a little bit high so I lowered it by three inches, before starting on the skirt. I took the waist measurement for the skirt from the bodice and used this to make a pattern. My fabric was not a large enough piece to allow me to cut the circle skirt in one which I would have prefered, so I had to make separate front and back sections, remembering to allow for a zipper. Having the side seams did have the advantage of allowing me to alter the fit easily when necessary.

As the skirt does have the side seams I played around with the idea of pockets in the seams but the fabric is really quite heavy and to add more fabric and more weight would be too much in this design. I’ll put some in-seam pockets into another project soon though.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Lining Top of Dress
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Lining Top of Dress

The finished dress is fully lined, except for the sleeves. I am sure that there was more work in the construction of the dress lining than there was in the actual dress itself. I used a lovely black and white, antistatic, spotty lining fabric. I didn’t want the lining to show at the neck edge so I cut a facing from the black dress fabric and attached this to the neck edges of the back and front lining pieces, this was then under stitched.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Sewing Avenue
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Sewing Avenue

Under stitching is done on the lining or the facing, inside the neck edge or sometimes at the arm hole edge. It is usually done with a slightly longer stitch length and by adding this extra row of stitching, about a quarter of an inch from the seam line, it keeps the seam edge in place and stops the fabric rolling out.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Lining
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Lining

When I made the lining for the skirt of the dress, I made it as a straight skirt, not a full circle because I wanted it to stay in place when the dress moves about. Maybe when I’m dancing around! I also attached the skirt lining to the bodice the opposite way around at the waist so that the side seams would not be visible, they face inwards, against the legs. I was pleased with this little trick and will certainly remember to do it again on other dress and skirt linings. The other decision with this skirt lining was to leave it unattached to the dress. Linings are sometimes attached with a swing stitch or the hems can be joined together but in this instance that would not be a suitable option. As I said, I wanted the lining to stay in place when the dress moved about.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Back
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Back
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Sewing Avenue
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Sewing Avenue

I have put in a concealed zip down the back of the dress. Don’t be put off using this type of zip as it is almost invisible on the garment and looks very neat and professional. You do however need the correct foot attachment for your sewing machine. You also need to make sure you are taking the correct amount of seam allowance when stitching it in place. there is a tendency when sewing in any type of zip to line up the edge of the zip with the edge of the fabric and this may well not be your seam allowance so measure it , check and make sure. You don’t want it baggy at the back!

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Finished Dress
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Finished Dress

I’m happy to make this dress another addition to my working wardrobe and possibly my socialising one as well.

Don’t forget to subscribe using the link at the to of the page.

Happy sewing