I’m super-excited to share with you my first dressmaking project as a Mum! My sewing machine hasn’t been touched for a while, so it felt really good to be making again.
From the day we’d decided that we would have H christened, I was dreading finding something to wear. My post-baby body and shop changing rooms are not friends at the moment. Most of my pre-baby dressmaking had been for work-wear (hello Coco dress for each day of the week), and some more casual bits for the weekends. I had never even thought about making a dress for a special occasion before.
Not long after we finalised the date, my pre-order of Tilly and the Buttons’ latest book Stretch! landed on my doorstep. I’d previously swooned over the mustard yellow Freya dress that Tilly shared on Instagram, and when the book arrived, I realised that it wasn’t too advanced for my skill set. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure that a high neck and ruffle would be that flattering on me, but at least it would detract attention from other areas!
If you’ve made a Coco dress before, this pattern is essentially a step-up in terms of difficulty, although with Tilly’s instructions, it is still achievable for even the most inexperienced sewist. I made my dress using a mustard yellow Ponte Roma, one of my absolute favourite fabrics to sew with. It doesn’t fray, it stretches (but not too much), and it’s thick enough that it skims rather than clings!
The majority of the dress (including the neckline) I was able to construct in no time at all, however when it came to the ruffle, I managed to mess it up royally! I followed Tilly’s instructions step-by-step, carefully tried on the dress with the ruffle pinned neatly, and it was all looking ok. However, when I came to sew it, I managed to not only jam my machine, but also break a needle and then discover that my pinning hadn’t really worked. My once neat ruffles now looked like a mess.
The thing I’ve learnt with dressmaking is that if it goes wrong, take a break, grab a cuppa, and pick it up again 30 minutes later. That logic seemed to go out the window as I found myself trying to repin the ruffles in a fluster. After a couple of disastrous attempts, I decided to start from scratch with the ruffle. Although my pleats were a lot more even this time, my issue now seemed to be that I couldn’t get an even curve on both sides. After another attempt, I got there. Adding extra pins (just in case!), I finished off the ruffle and the rest of the dress.
Fast-forward one week, and as I got ready for the christening, I looked in the mirror and felt something I hadn’t done in a long while, I was actually confident about how I looked. Maybe it was the magic ruffle, or the gorgeous yellow colour, whatever it was; the Freya dress was the answer to all my problems. The design made it feel ‘special’, but the fact it was jersey meant it was practical enough to look after a six month old (who particularly liked nibbling on the ruffle). I’d originally planned to demote this dress to work-wear, but for now I think it will be remaining my ‘best dress’