Sunday, 12 December 2021


I'm onto the home stretch with the holly dress, and expect to finish it tomorrow. Given that it's needed for Tuesday lunchtime, by most people's standards this would represent cutting it terrifyingly fine. However, as I recently mentioned, by my standards this represents a triumph!

It's beginning to look a lot like - a holly dress

I decided to do the hem before sewing the leaves on, so that if the hem turned out to be really visible, I could hide it with leaves! Up to now, the dress has always been on either me or Nancy with petticoats underneath. But at one point it was on its own, and looked really droopy.

Cue the saddest of sad trombones

Clearly the skirt needs lots of support, so I ordered a second biiiig petticoat from Hell Bunny. The effect is alarmingly reminiscent of the dresses in the original Come Dancing, and the trail of destruction I leave when walking round my workroom in the full get-up is impressive, but it does the job. Almost.


For even more support, I decided to put crin round the hem of the dress. It's not something I've used before, and I don't know if I got it right, but this was my method. First, I marked the fold of the hem in chalk, and basted the crin in place. Because of the curve of the hem, it had to go onto the skirt, not the hem allowance, so I made as small stitches as possible on the right side.

The crin basted in place

Then, I folded the hem allowance over and pinned it to the crin, easing the excess fabric into place. (I had overlocked the raw edge of the hem when I made the dress, to stop it from shedding velvet fluff everywhere.)

Enclosed in the pinned hem

I sewed the hem allowance onto the crin along the top and bottom edges, and then sewed the hem in place, pulling out the basting as I went along. All in all, I sewed round a 3.4 metre hem four times!

The three rows of stitching are just visible

Fortunately, it all worked. The crin adds structure to the bottom of the skirt, and the hem doesn't show at all.

Then it was on to the leaves. I remembered to take Nancy's cover off, so nothing could get pinned to it, and pinned the leaves on by eye. Those on the bodice are quite widely spaced, to allow more room for berries, but on the skirt they are closer together.

The final arrangement

The 'drift' of leaves comes down from the left side of the bodice.

Showing how the leaves extend from the bodice

I used Microsoft 'Paint' to check the effect of red berries - hardly high-tech, but it worked.

The pops of red make such a difference

And then, it was lots and lots and lots more hand sewing, as I attached the leaves. I sewed down the centre vein in black, catching down the black felting wool at the ends to stop it from coming loose, and then sewed down the leaf points in green.

Finally, they were all done.

All the leaves in place

Now I am attaching the berries, which are tiny pom-poms cut from a bobble trim and sewn on individually with red thread. Once those are done, it's just a case of catching down the neck and armhole facings (and cleaning off dislodged wisps of felting wool, of which there are plenty) and I have a dress! Woot!

Berry time - the end is in sight


  1. Oh it's FABULOUS!! And to think I'm struggling with a welted pocket on a jacket front...LoL! Can hardly wait to see you wearing it.

    1. Thank you! It is now finished, and hopefully I shall have some pictures to share soon.

  2. Well worth the effort! I hope you will post a picture of you in the dress.

    1. Thank you Lynn. I'm actually getting some professional photos done for once (slightly terrifying prospect!) and will post pictures when I get them.

  3. Absolutely a work of art! What patience you have. (I have to wonder if you've kept track of the time?)
    I'm looking forward to your photos!

    1. Thank you Lodi. I didn't keep an exact track, but I reckon it was about 200 hours.