Bobo Bun talks about sewing her latest project

I was thrilled to be chosen by Oyin as October’s blogger for Lushcloth. I’ve bought quite a few fabrics from Lushcloth ever since I first discovered them and have always been thrilled with the quality and choice of designs. For this project I knew I wanted to make an everyday vintage inspired dress in floral autumnal tones.  Oyin let me know me if I waited to make my final choice then the new sewing fabrics would have arrived. So I waited and as if by magic the perfect fabric was there right in front of me. I do love a busy floral on a black background with the choice of matching in different knitwear colours and accessories. This floral is a crisp cotton so holds its structure well, and of course being a cotton fabric it was very well behaved to work with. 

Even before I had chosen my sewing fabric I knew the exact dress I was going to make for this blog post. I rarely make a full sewing pattern straight out of the packet. I prefer to pattern hack elements together to create the exact design I’m after. For this project I wanted to make a 1940’s inspired cotton day dress, one that I can easily pop on and looks good under knits as well. Recently I’ve been learning how to draft my own sewing patterns. I run my own Sewing School teaching others a wide range of techniques, but equally enjoy being the student too as there’s always far more to learn. The first pattern I drafted was inspired by one of The Vampires Wife dresses. They’re stunning dresses, mainly using a simple jewel necked bodice with skirts at different lengths and varied gathered tiers. I decided to use the bodice I’d drafted for my Vampire’s Wife dress. The bodice is a jewel neck shape which is bias bound and the bust and waist darts have been rotated to French darts.  I paired my bodice with two other patterns I’ve used a few times now for the sleeves and skirt.

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As I always make toiles of my sewing patterns, I have a variety of bodices, skirts and sleeves that I know fit me perfectly in the shapes I prefer to wear. Mix and matching my patterns to recreate different looks means I can create something unique and exactly to the idea in my head. I’ve made the Liberty Patterns Bella Tea Dress a couple of times now, but also used the sleeves in blouses and a velvet bolero jacket. The pattern was originally a Vintage Vogue sewing pattern from 1939. The Bella Tea Dress sleeves are beautiful with true 1940’s details. The sleeves have four darts on the sleeve head and a central pleat at the hem. 

For the skirt I chose Experimental Space Patterns Rosalee Dress Skirt. I pattern tested this dress in its full length version, which has rather a 1930’s shape, a few years ago.  I’ve used it many times since in a shortened version as it’s a great skirt that goes with everything. The skirt is an A-line, cut with three panels at the front and back with slashed integral pockets. 

When I had my fabric and it was washed and ready to cut my dress started to take shape really quickly.  I had one problem to solve though. I prefer side zips on my dresses as they’re easier to reach and also to use in the fitting process. With a jewel necked bodice it has to be a back zip, or there’s no way a head is going through that hole. I’d cut my bodice for a back zip, but realised I’d cut the back panel of my skirt on the fold so no seam allowance there for a zip of course. I didn’t want a keyhole opening at the back so I decided I’d put in a short lapped zip at the top of the bodice so I could get my head through. I also added the concealed side zip to my dress and I’m rather pleased with it as a solution that I think I’ll be doing this again on purpose next time. 

Unfortunately illness struck just as I was nearing the finish with my dress so my sewing got put back. When I started on my dress again all I had to do was to sew the bias binding to the neckline and hang my dress before hemming the skirt. 

I finally wore my dress for my Saturday sewing classes this week as I knew we could get some photos taken afterwards before the light faded. Both classes immediately commented on how much they loved my dress which is always a lovely thing to hear. They also loved the different colour palette I’d gone for. It really is a striking cotton poplin fabric which really lifts what appears to be a very simple dress design. I love how well it works with a black belt, fishnets and my patent boots to give it a more contemporary twist.