It was with great embarrassment that I realised my “dress” fabrics bin was overflowing and yet I was actually contemplating BUYING some summer clothes! Instead, I found the Ruby Dress and Top pattern, designed by Made by Rae, which is only 4 pieces and can be cut out and sewn up in an afternoon! However, be warned, it’s not a pattern for the larger among us. I made the largest size and it’s very generous proportions sometimes feel more like an oversized muu-muu than a shift dress. However, I’m over 40 now and I’ll dress how I darn well want to. Without further ado, I introduce my closet full of Rubies!
This top was my first effort, a wearable muslin made from some lawn leftover from another top a few years ago, and a beautiful pinky/mauve bedsheet. The polycotton of the body means that it’s hard wearing for the hot summer we’ve experienced and doesn’t show the creases after a long day. Definitely a bonus!
Next comes the one I grab out of the wardrobe constantly – using a print from the foxglove range for the yoke and a small floral polycotton from that overflowing dress stash. These tops are cool, fresh to wear, look great with jeans or a skirt, and give a pop of fun to my day. I was very happy to have no “boob-gap” and bra flashing around the armholes, although that’s just my fit. Sadly my bust has increased an inch or two over the last couple of years which has played havoc with fitting.
As I made each top, I had some fun with the little details, like a fussy-cut Tula Pink Owl yoke, bordered by a vintage ric-rac trim, which is echoed around the hemline. Sadly this top was made with a cotton lawn body which I thought would be light and cool, however is shows the creases like crazy, shrank a second time in the wash which played up the hem trimming, and always looks rumpled, despite how recently it was ironed.
Here is dress version one. The yoke was salvaged from a vintage tablecloth, drawn thread border and all. The linen gives a lovely structure to the neckline, and I fussy-cut the flower motifs to ensure they were centred and a primary feature of the neckline. The body of the dress is quilting cotton, which isn’t as prone to easy creasing as the lawn, however it has more body and weight than the lighter fabrics, which means that this dress hangs large and heavy. It’s not for the hottest days, and although I still wear it, I feel it’s not as flattering as it could be. I choose not to belt it because most of my weight is in my belly, so a belt simply makes people ask when I’m due!
Finally we have my favourite dress, which was the best of all the previous experiments. The neckline is the same Kokka owl linen that I used on my Zip up tray. Half a metre gave me enough fabric to comfortably make both. The green is actually a shot cotton, slightly lighter than normal quilting weight. I thought I was buying enough to make a top only, but when I laid out my pattern pieces I realised that I had enough to make a dress if it was slightly shorter than the pattern. I used my overlocker to create a rolled hem at the very bottom of the dress, maximising the length.
On both dresses I added pockets, using the same method I outlined HERE in my Dottie angel Frock-along hack. In the first dress, the pockets were made with a contrast vibrant pink floral, however I slightly miscalculated their position, making them about an inch lower than is ideal. This second dress has them in a self fabric of shot cotton, and they are perfectly placed, and used all the time. Of course, I felt the fabric was a little plain, so I decorated it with some leftover embroidered and lace doilies, all carefully stitched on with invisible stitching. This dress is lovely and light, the ideal hot summer day dress which combines practicality with whimsical femininity. Or so I tell myself when I wear it.
So here is my closet for summer, brimming with handmade clothes, all of them with a unique touch and flair that you cannot purchase off the department store racks.
Do you make your own clothes? What challenges you most about them, or what scares you off from trying it?
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