Monday 4 October 2010

Socialite Dress

I've been wanting to make this Anna Maria Horner 'Socialite Dress' pattern for a while but wasn't sure the style would suit me - it's quite a loose fit and being on the curvy side, clothes that are too loose often make me look, shall we say, pregnant!  Then I saw a few lovely versions made up with belts - genius!  Not little fabric scrappy belts but big, substantial thick ones that nip you right in at the waist, which for me, changed the whole look of the dress.  

The pattern and fabric both came from M is for Make, one of my favourite fabric and pattern sites.  It's run by the lovely Kate who has given me TONS of great advice and help ever since I started sewing.  She also stocks gorgeous, unusual fabrics and patterns.  I used one of Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley fabrics which are all beautiful.  It took me a long time to decide which one to use but the colour finally swung it (I like grey).

So here it is..

I'm glad I went with the grey as I can actually wear the dress in the Autumn layered with a cardigan and boots (as I did today).  

As this was the first pattern I've attempted without the help of my sewing tutor, I read the pattern all the way through about four times (seriously, I'm so sad!), just so I knew exactly what I'd be doing and I really think this helped.  Size-wise, I went with a medium which was perfect (I'm a 10/12).  Once everything was cut out it probably took two afternoons to sew, one uninterrupted and blissful, one with the kids whining down my ear the whole time so not quite so enjoyable.  It's a great pattern for a reasonably confident beginner to attempt as it has no zips, buttons or fastenings of any kind - hence the V-neck and loose fit in order to get it over your head.  The language is friendly and it explains every single stage, even down to back stitching at the beginning and end of each seam, which could be quite annoying for a more experienced sewer, but for me was fine.  The gathering at the front and back took the longest, but this was because I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing!  It came out OK though.  
A slightly better view of the gathers
I'll probably make another one for wearing in the spring/summer, in which case I'll make it longer (there's an option on the pattern to do this).  With tights, it's fine, but I'm not displaying my knees!  


  1. WOW Jane - that looks amazing!

    The neck gathers took me a while too, I think it's doing it on a 'v' rather than curve that confused me. I have been searching for a dress to wear to a 40th in November, after seeing this, I might try and make myself a new version to wear!

  2. It's gorgeous and you look wonderful in it. It's really nice to see this fabric made up as a dress too - for some reason Denyse Schmidt fabrics seem to have a softer drape to them (or am I imagining it?) than many quilting weight cottons, which has been making me wonder whether they might be good for dressmaking. The grey is my favourite print too. Perfect dress envy.

    Florence x

  3. Gosh, thank you for your really kind comments, they've absolutely made my day. Kate, you're right, it was the v at the front that foxed me, the curved yoke at the back was a doddle by comparison! Florence, the Denyse Schmidt fabric does seem slightly more drapey than other quilting cottons and is beautifully soft to wear. It's a dream to sew with. The other fabrics in the collection are crying out to be made into clothes! x

  4. Now I've got this pattern and have been looking for the right fabric - maybe this is the way to go, I was thinking on Kaffe Fasset spots in grey and black....

  5. I love the dress! It looks fab, even tho I don't need anymore dress patterns I may just get this one as yours turned out so well!



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