It's true, I really did make an actual dress! You all know that machine sewing has never been my passion or my forte, but with some patience, a lot of swearing, and a lot of help from YouTube and kind people on Instagram, I made a dress that is not only wearable but actually rather lovely. I can't quite believe it and this is another post, like the knitted jumper, that I didn't think I'd get around to writing. I'm so pleased.
The pattern is the Camber dress from Merchant and Mills and I would definitely recommend it as a beginner pattern. It's a simple shift dress, for which you need to add darts at the bust, sew bias binding around the neck and sleeves, make a yoke for the back and insert the sleeves, unless you want a sleeveless shift which, now I come to think about it, would be very nice for the summer.
All of these were new to me and I learned so much just from sewing this one dress. My darts didn't sit right to begin with (pointy boobs!) but after unpicking, re-sewing and pressing well with a DIY tailor's ham (a damp tea towel filled with rice) they were salvaged.
I didn't find the yoke across the shoulders overly troubling and I went very slowly and carefully with the stitching on the bias binding as I find stitching on a curve really tricky.
Inserting the sleeves was fiddly but I found a couple of really good tutorials online and followed them. The pattern directions are clear but scant, and as a total beginner I needed more detail so thank goodness for Youtube.
I decided at the last minute to add pockets, simply by sewing two squares onto the front of the dress. I love pockets in a dress or skirt, they are so useful.
A more skilled dressmaker would no doubt have inserted pockets along the side seam of the dress but this was a step too far for me and I like them as a bold feature on the front.
I found the pattern a little on the loose side but I haven't washed it yet so it may shrink a little. I will probably wear this dress with a belt, or you could make a nice matching sash/tie from leftover fabric. I chose a linen fabric which is gorgeous, and I love the way it creases, but it's heavier when worn than it feels when handled in the shop, if that makes sense, so it's an autumn and winter dress.
The day Bella took the photos below I wore it to work with leggings, sandals and a cardigan, but when it's colder I'll wear it over a thin black roll neck jumper with tights and boots. It's very versatile.
Apologies for the graininess of these pictures; Bella took them on my phone in her bedroom at about 7.30 one morning before we left for school and work.
But I absolutely love it and am definitely going to make another. I am currently thinking about a patterned fabric, although the thought of pattern matching makes me nervous, or perhaps one in grey linen with contrasting bias binding and pockets in a bold colour like mustard yellow or raspberry pink. I don't know but I'm going to have fun thinking about it.