Sewing

THE OLIVIA DRESS by COTTON AND CHALK

For my second make, I decided to get ambitious! The Olivia dress by Cotton and Chalk and was another Simply Sewing Magazine freebie. Having started last week with a simple pattern, the Olivia is rated as 3 out of 5 for difficulty……I could feel my palms sweating already!!

I had recently bought two and a half metres of a fine cotton lawn from Truro Fabrics for just £5 a metre which was going to be perfect and, with images of doing some kind of skirt waving merengue a la Baby in Dirty Dancing, I chose the knee length dress with the ruffle.

Determined to make my first dress “properly”, I traced the pattern and started to cut out……..It took forever. It felt like 4 hours but was probably closer to 2.  

The first scary thing on the pattern was the facing around the neckline but it was actually really simple. I didn’t understand what understitching was so had to refer to my sewing encyclopedia for a tip there. I had trimmed my seam allowance and cut in notches before I understitched, which I won’t do again as it left me very little to sew to and my foot kept getting caught on the notches as I sewed.

I knew that one change I wanted to make was to replace the cased elastic in the waist and sleeves with shirring elastic. Although I didn’t have anything to compare it to, I thought it would look better and be more comfortable. It took a bit of experimenting to get the shirring elastic right. What worked for me was to stretch the elastic as much as I could as I wound it around the bobbin. I sewed with a medium stitch length and when I started the second, and subsequent rows, I pulled the previous rows taught as I sewed. I’m sure everyone has different methods and different materials react differently, so always practise first!

I sewed on the ruffle and, voila, she was finished!!

And that is when disaster struck!!! In my enthusiastic inexperience, I thought it would be a could idea to zig zag and then trim the seam between the dress and the ruffle. I happily zigzagged and started trimming without realising I had caught the dress in the seam and now I’d just cut a 3 inch hole in my dress!!!! 

The best I could do is try and seal it up with some SF101 and hope it wasn’t noticeable. Thankfully, it’s on the back of the dress but that’s a big lesson learned and a mistake I hope not to be making again any time soon!

I absolutely love this dress! I’ve worn it 3 days in a row now and, perhaps, the waist is a little too high as, when i walk, i does ride up a touch. I wanted to make another one straight away but have packed the pattern away until next year as this one will see me through to the end of summer and I need to start working through an ever increasing to do list! 

Until next time, friends…….Jenny 

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