Sunday, 21 August 2022


It's known for being a bad idea for cats, but what about dressmakers?

New Look 6594. I altered the pattern over and above my usual adjustments while I was making it, and then last week I altered the finished dress some more. I'm much happier with the sleeve position now, but moving the sleeve up the shoulder means that its hem is now far from level. And the bodice is still a bit too long. Plus, the very wonky fabric printing meant that I had to make all sorts of compromises when cutting the dress out.

In short, I wondered what the dress would look like if it were made properly.

Having another go

Redrafting the bodice to have a shorter, slightly dropped, shoulder and a shorter bodice overall was quite an exercise, especially as the pattern has no shoulder seam - the back comes over the shoulder to form a faux yoke. And the front is in two pieces. But happily, everything came together, and all the seams matched. I kept the sleeves the same length at the underarm seam, but lengthened them at the centre.

For fabric, I used a floral viscose which had been banished to the naughty bin because it was so thin that the pattern showed through anywhere where there were two layers of fabric. To get round this, I decided to use plain fabric for the facings and midriff lining. I had no plain viscose however, and all of my cottons seemed too stiff. Fortunately, I found an old toile from my dance-costume-making days, which had been made from an old and by now very soft bedsheet - re-recycling! It also had the advantage of adding a tiny bit of extra body to the midriff section.


There's not a lot to say about the construction, except that I managed to sew the skirt pleat the wrong way round, despite having the first version of the dress right next to me for reference! Sigh. I hand sewed small rolled hems on the sleeves to keep them drapey. As with the first version, I went for a length between views A and C.

Version two

Also as with the first version, I didn't sew down the front skirt pleat. The result is a skirt which doesn't bunch up when I'm sitting, but isn't hugely full, either.


In terms of look, I see it as 'vintage adjacent'. It's a bit of a mix; the midriff section is very 1940s, while the sleeves (of this view at least) are more 1930s. The neckline is ideal for showcasing this 1930s necklace which belonged to my maternal grandmother, while the dark and light greens in the print go nicely with these shoes which I rarely get a chance to wear.

The necklace fits nicely

Showing off the shoes

I must admit though that I'm still not entirely happy with this dress. The right sleeve seems to hang slightly oddly, and the whole thing is a teensy bit baggy. Possibly a waist tie at the back might help? I see a strong possibility of more tinkering ahead! On the plus side, it has used up some more stash fabric, which is always good.

Still a long way to go - part two

Sunday, 14 August 2022

A new look from New Look?

Just a short post this week, because
a) it's hot
b) I'm not long home after a train journey which was far longer, slower, overheated and tiring than I expected, and
c) did I mention that it's really, really hot?

This week has been about lots of little sewing admin jobs. I've drafted the proper version of my alterations to Style 1271, and I've tweaked a dress which was annoying me - New Look 6594.

When I made this dress a year ago, I noticed that the shoulders were too long on me, so redrafted the armscye to shorten them by ½". But after wearing it several times recently, I came to the conclusion that the shoulders were still too long.

This is very odd. A quick glance at the Contemporary Gallery page of this blog shows just how many New Look patterns I've made up over the years. It was my go-to brand until I started vintage dressmaking in earnest, and my work wardrobe consisted almost entirely of dresses from New Look patterns. In short, I would have noticed if the shoulders were consistently too long.

I went back to comparing the line drawing of New Look 6594 to that of a tried and trusted favourite (I've made it four times!) New Look 6093. The distance from sleeve seam to centre front looked pretty similar. But whereas 6093 fits perfectly, the sleeve of 6594 is sliding off my shoulder and down my arm, even with the ½" reduction.

New Look 6594 (top) and 6093 (bottom)

I unpicked the top section of the sleeve seams, and repositioned the sleeves a further ¾" up the shoulder. The dress hangs better (although I could possibly adjust a little for shoulder slope), and I'm much happier with the way it looks.

The sleeve hangs much better now

But overall, that’s a whopping 1¼" difference from the pattern! All my other existing New Look dresses still fit fine, so it's not that my shape has changed. All of those dresses however are from patterns dated 2015 at the latest, whereas 6594 dates from 2019. Which makes me suspect that New Look have changed their sloper – the basic design from which all their patterns are derived.

It's hardly the end of the world. I rarely even look at new releases from the Big5 pattern companies these days, and if a new New Look pattern does catch my eye well, I know what alterations I need to make. But it's just a little irritating that a brand can change its product so much without warning.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Style 1271 - part 2, view B completed

Big hair, who dis?

What can I say? It's a bit of a different look for me!

I've finished Style 1271 - my first version, but definitely not my last. There are a few things I still want to tweak, but this was meant to be a wearable toile, and I'm pretty happy with it.

As I hinted in part one, the cuffs were a bit of a struggle. For one, the pattern piece didn't match the instructions - never a good start. The pattern only has an overlap section, which is not sewn to the sleeve, at one end. However, the instructions show overlap sections at both ends.

Cuff pattern, with overlap on the left . . .

. . . but the instructions show overlaps at both ends

My guess is that the pattern was changed at some point in the development process, but either the instruction sheet or the pattern piece wasn't updated.

The next issue was that whereas a modern pattern would probably have a notch to match the cuff to the sleeve and a dot to indicate where the cuff should match the sleeve seam, this pattern has the notch only. So it's entirely possible to attach the cuff the wrong way round. Which, of course, I did!

Once I had fixed that, I machined the cuff to the sleeve right sides together and slip-stitched the underside, as normal. Except that I hadn't taken into account that the cuffs are folded back, so now the stitching shows! Only a tiny amount, but enough to annoy me.


All in all, the cuffs had me entirely bamboozled. Fortunately everything else was fairly plain sailing. The skirt has a back pleat with separate under panel, so just to add a bit of interest I made that from the same fabric as the cuffs. I also managed to pattern-match the centre back seam.

Contrast at the back of the pleat

The buckle for the belt has fairly narrow slots, and I was worried that once I had attached one end of the belt to the centre section, there wouldn't be enough space for the other end to pull through. So, I only used a single layer of buckram for the section which wraps around the buckle. This made it far more pliable, and left enough room for the buckle to be usable - phew.

Narrow buckle, but it worked

I couldn't find any buttons I liked for the cuffs (what else is new?), so instead I went through my button box for two plain, flat buttons, mismatched but the same size. I covered them in scraps of the patterned fabric wrong (domed) side out, and sewed them on round the edges of the fabric.

Cuff 'button'

When it came to taking pictures of the finished dress, I wasn't sure what to do with my hair. Then I noticed that the lady in blue on the pattern envelope seemed to have some sort of bouffant up-do, and off I went! It came together far better than I had hoped, and was great fun. Admittedly the back didn't bear scrutiny, but for photos that didn't matter.

Posing like the pattern model

With handbag

And one more, because I was having so much fun!

I even remembered to wear one of my many brooches! Plus, a fabulous pair of earrings from Loved And Loved Again, which are a perfect match.


Due to the weather mostly being too hot-or-cold-or-wet to sit outside, I've never got round to putting the outdoor chairs in the yard. So for the seated shot I had to perch on the meter cupboard - oh, the glamour!


This is the first entirely new item that I've completed for months. For once, the Stashometer can be updated in the right direction.

Still a long way to go

Now I just need to create a record all the pattern alterations I made, and I'm good to go with Style Print patterns.