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Let me confess something to you - I am not a dressmaker - I am generally crafty, knit more than I sew and I'll always run up a pair of curtains and a few cushions. I have even been known to quilt on occasion but when it comes to straight up dressmaking I find the whole thing a bit intimidating. I'm just not a great pattern follower - I tend to skip the instructions when reading a pattern and plod along only to realise halfway through that I have forgotten something vital. I have realised the reason for this is a somewhat short attention span and an assumption that they're probably being overly fussy and there's definitely a quicker way to do it. I am that monster that walks against the yellow lines in IKEA because I'm convinced I have found a more efficient way around it.
I have recently started to challenge myself to follow patterns properly and have had some success - no doubt I'll update you in some future blog - but until then let me show you the perfect project for those impatient souls among you who just want a new dress!
The secret to this easy sew project is plisse fabric - this is the most beautiful type of fabric - it's usually fairly lightweight and has tiny pleats the entire width and I am slightly obsessed with it! Don't be afraid of it -it will flatten out in parts when you sew but just don't stretch it as you're stitching and certainly don't iron it and all will be well.
Let me show you how to make a super simple skirt and an easy peasy dress and I swear to you I had both run up in less than an hour, from thinking about how to do it to the finished product.
*To figure out how much elastic you need - stretch it around your waist so that it is tight but comfortable and then add 2cm.
When you get your fabric it will be double folded with the pleats running across the width like this:
Next fold it in half widthways.
The next step is just a bit of shaping to give the skirt slightly less fullness at the hips - and who needs anything extra there? - mark a point about 34cm across - this is for size 10-16, for smaller go 31cm, larger go 39cm, then use your measuring tape to mark a diagonal line to the bottom right corner and cut along.
Fold it back out from quarters into half and cut along the top so you have 2 pieces:
Next with right sides facing, using a straight stitch and a 1cm seam allowance throughout - sew up the 2 sides of the skirt.
Then you want to make the waistband by making a channel for the elastic - with the wrong side facing you turn down the top by 25mm (1") - sew all the way around leaving a gap of about 25mm (1") when you get to the end - then stick a safety pin through the end of your elastic and use this to thread it through the waistband.
When you get to the end, pull both ends through and stitch together. Then stitch up the gap in the fabric.
Try on the skirt and cut the length if desired - it doesn't need hemming but if you do this you may want to reinforce the last inch of stitching on the side hems.
The dress may be even easier but you don't need to tell anyone that when you're wearing it:
*To figure out amount of fabric - measure your widest part, usually the hips and take 10cm off this measurement, for example my hips measure 120cm all around and so I used 1.1m fabric.
Lay out your fabric with the pleats running down, then mark the halfway point and cut up the length of the fabric leaving you with 2 pieces.
With right sides facing, pin at 28cm from the top on both sides, stitch up to this point, using a 1cm seam allowance throughout - this will be your armholes, this will be for size 10-16, smaller make it 26cm and larger go for 30cm
Now for the neckhole - make it 30cm wide for size 10-16, 28 cm for smaller and 32 cm for larger. Simply mark with pins evenly across the top and stitch to this point with a 1.5cm seam allowance.
That's basically it, turn the right way around trim any threads, as in the skirt you can simply cut to desired length, reinforcing the side hems at the bottom if you do. For the lighter plisse fabrics the neckline just naturally folds itself under but for the heavier one like this one with metallic finish you may want to hand stitch the neck seam down so it sits well.
This was all so easy that I got a little carried away and now Lauren and I have an entirely new plisse wardrobe!
I started working for Hickeys when I was only 16 and my love affair with all things fabric, textiles and crafts began!! I always have some project on the go (even if they don't always get finished), and after nearly 20 years in the business I'm still learning new things all the time from fellow staff and amazing customers!