Tea Leaves Betty Dress

If you were lucky enough to receive Liberty coins to spend, what would you buy? I found myself in this fortunate position after helping out with some tartan for the wedding of some friends last year. Adam bravely came with me and after what felt like 30 minutes of dithering, I walked out clutching a couple of metres of the beautiful Tea Leaves B cotton lawn. They were destined for one pattern only - Sew Over It's Betty Dress. It seemed to be a pattern and fabric match made in heaven. 

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The modern tea leaves prints are described as "a contemporary interpretation of classic blue ceramic designs using an intuitive, illustrative hand. Inky tones bring a subtle batik feel and echo the Japanese origins of the subject matter creating a story characterised by Far-Eastern influence." I was drawn to the batik look - I love how the green merges into the deep purple background like it has been painted with water colours. 

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After making a number of changes to my first version, I didn't make any further ones to the pattern with the exception of the skirt. The lawn was wide enough to allow me to cut the full width of the skirt which, with the drape of fabric, makes for a lovely swishy skirt. The fit is pretty good still although the back gaps a little more than I would like - a fact I found out only after I had completed the dress. I chose to fully line this version. This is partly because I didn't want to use the fiddly facings but mainly because of the lightweight nature of the fabric. The lining is a white bemberg and while it is lovely to wear, it is awkward to use. Any slightly breeze moved it when cutting out and don't get me started on how much it shifted during the hemming stage. Still, the effort was worth it. 

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This dress took weeks to make as I've found my sewing time rather limited over the past few months and you can tell this in the guts of the dress. The major benefit of this is the dress spent a great deal of time pinned to my dress form meaning the skirt dropped as much as it ever would. As my time got pressed, I opted for quicker techniques which of course meant bringing out the overlocker. Originally all of the seams were due to French seams and I had planned a narrow double turned hem for the skirt. Instead I have an overlocked centre back seam in the skirt and the hems are overlocked, turned up and stitched in place. I suspect I will change the hem at some point and lose a centimetre in length. It seems that this dress deserves better. 

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One area I am pleased with is the zip. I used a pale pink concealed zip and you can only tell because of the zip pull. In addition, I managed a clean finish on the inside with the lining which I'll share next time with a demo of how I achieved it. 

I'm sure I've said this before but this may just be my favourite handmade dress... 

Sew Over It Betty Dress

How are you all? I hope you're all enjoying your weekend. May has been an impossibly long and busy month for me with many evenings curled on the sofa trying to regain some energy for the next day. This culminated in a big event a few days ago that also left me on the sofa, almost unable to walk as I strained my ankles running around so much. Needless to say I'm very, very pleased to see what back of this month! I did, however, have the energy to make a dress. 

This is a dress that started with the fabric. I've long adored the Betty dress by Sew Over It and finally scooped it up a couple of months ago when my By Hand London fabric arrived. I had ordered an extra metre from the girls to make sure I could fit a Betty out of this gorgeous design. The fabric is Sweet Female Attitude in pale grey and pink and I just love how they work together. 

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Before launching into the construction details, can I start with what makes me sad about this dress please? I was so excited when the fabric arrived. It was beautifully presented with my other goodies (I've not been parted with my mug while sewing since it entered the house). It washed and pressed very well, and has a good hand, like a lot of high quality cottons I've used in the past. I had high hopes for it but they were dashed a little. You see, this cotton is a little unforgiving. Pins left marks and I have permanent lines where I ripped out poorly sewn lines or removed basting stitches. These permanent lines are now white and glare at me constantly. No one else seems to notice it though. Despite these issues, I'm still very pleased that I paired this fabric to this pattern and I hope you will agree. 

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I was first drawn to Betty by her feminine style and back neckline shaping and she hasn't disappointed. We did have a little argument though over the bodice. I had to make a series of alterations: lowered the armholes by 1.5cm, hollow chest adjustment of 2cm, moved the back darts closer to my centre, and pinched out about 2cm from the back neckline. My second toile fitted perfectly so I merrily cut out and during a sewing day with VG, stitched until the bodice was attached to the skirt. I got home, delighted with my progress, only to find that she didn't fit. The centre back seam didn't meet. Fabric was thrown and a few tears were shed. I'm still not fully certain what happened but I suspect I took too much out the paper pattern when I altered the pieces from my toile. Thankfully I had enough left over fabric to recut the entire bodice at the original size and just pinched out the excess at the back before inserting the zip. 

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The skirt isn't as full as I had originally envisaged. I struggled to get the full skirt width out of the fabric so removed about 10cm of width from each piece. I also shortened it by 3.5cm to ensure the white borders of the fabric were hidden. I rather like the effect. The cotton hangs beautifully and I love how it flows over my hips. It seems that there is the right amount of fulness for this fabric. Construction was easy. I love that the facings are all in one even if I got a little confused on how to finish the shoulder seams cleanly. Turns out it very easy in practice, not so easy to describe in words! 

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Despite our rocky start, Betty and I have made it up completely. She is a very welcome addition to my wardrobe and I love how versatile she is. I can wear her as a summer day dress or dress her up for smarter events and thankfully I have enough accessories to match her subtle colours. Except shoes, I need to buy shoes - now that's a hardship isn't it? How about you, do have an item that you fell out with at the beginning but wouldn't be without now?