Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Helen dress

The namesake of this dress is the fantastic and beautiful Helen, aka Funkbunny, who very generously gifted me this fabric. If you hear us referring to the "Ballan Collection" we are affectionately referring to our almost matching dresses.

A motto I like to live by is "you never know unless you ask" - that if you don't tell people stuff they'll never know. Importantly, asking doesn't mean expecting, no is a perfectly acceptable answer, it just means putting it out there. This theory extends quite well into my current work, which is all about making sure your wishes are known, but it turns out it extends well into sewing too (and also chocolate).

At social sewing a while back Helen was cutting out a lovely dress from this fabric and I expressed that if she needed a home for any leftovers then I could volunteer. It turned out, she had some fabric left over after cutting out her dress, and she generously offered the left overs to me. I gratefully accepted, planning on making a fabulous pencil skirt from the stunning sateen (wow too many adjectives in that sentence, but nevermind).


When laying out the fabric ready to cut out the skirt, I discovered that there was quite a lot more than I realised, so made the decision to make a dress instead of a skirt. I decided to do this by simply adding a bodice to the skirt pieces I was already planning on cutting out. I did this due to a combination of being lazy and not being sure if I quite had enough fabric to eliminate the waist seam. The bodice is my standard self drafted bodice, with the neckline changed to be a boatneck.

I didn't bother lining the dress, and finished the neck and armholes with some red bias tape. Part of the reason was again laziness, but also not knowing what to line the dress and still retain the stretch in the sateen. Anyone have any great tips on that?


Overall I'm pretty happy with this dress. It's a nice pop of colour for me to wear to work. However I do have some reservations about it and how flattering it is. Maybe the existence of the waist seam is causing that effect, and wearing it with a thin belt (which I don't have) would solve that problem, we'll see I guess. However, I'm a cold creature and so far have worn it with a jumper over the top anyway it's not a deal breaker for me as that way it is fine.

Thank you again to Helen for the generous fabric gift!


  1. What beautiful dresses! You both look fab, and I admire your ingenuity in squeezing a dress out of "leftovers".

  2. Beautiful fabric - both of you nailed it!

  3. I have this exact same fabric! Bought it two weeks ago. I'm really inspired to sew mine up quickly seeing both your makes. I was planning a nice little pencil skirt, but I do have enough for a dress. I wonder what I'll end up actually sewing :-D

    I think your dress looks really nice on you just as it is, but I think a narrow belt would work well too. The front waist seam looks like it's curving down just a bit. I'm wondering if that's an illusion (Side on it looks fine) and if that's why you're not so comfortable with it? It would be quite easy to make that seam a bit straighter-looking, I would say.

  4. I think Sasky said it all really ;) I really like your version. I lined mine in bemsilk and just cut the lining a little bit bigger than the dress apart from at the armholes and neckline . This is probably a terrible sewing sin but it seems to have worked (no rips yet)

  5. You might like to back up your bust darts a little so they can end 1.5 to 2 inches away from your bust points both the side seams ones and waist. The back neck to waist length could be shortened to avoid wrinkles in the future but otherwise it looks like you can have lots of fun and get compliments with such a cheerful fabric!

  6. I think it looks gorgeous! You both look great in this fabric :) You should get your hands on some stretch lining! I'm yet to try it but I hear a lot of people swear by it! Looking fabulous as always Madam :)

  7. So pretty! It looks great and I like the sound of stretch linibg. I need some too!

  8. Ballan Collection for the win! What a glorious fabric- you are both spunks in your frocks!

  9. Major dress envy, all over again!
    I love this cotton sateen!! So beautiful <3
    Again, the fit on your body is just impeccable.

  10. Wow. Love that fabric and the pattern.

  11. It's Ballan, dahlinks.
    What a stunning sateen. Maybe you need to found a 'lost home for fabric scraps'? If this is anything to go by... imagine what could come into your possession!!! hehe. Love the dress :)


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