Sew My Style Challenge – Sunny Dresses for winter and summer

Back in December I signed up to the Sew My Style challenge 2018 co-ordinated by @jessicalorraine01. This is my first sewing challenge and my goodness, it’s quite a biggie, with 12 patterns to make over  12  months. However, there is a Facebook group for those taking part in the challenge to share tips and each month has a leader to give inspiration and support. I hesitated a bit (well not that much!) before signing up because my personality is a bit ‘completer-finisher-y’ (see Belbin for a little overview of this personality type) and I knew that I would have a tendency to give myself undue pressure  to make all of the 12 patterns when sewing is something to be enjoyed! On the other hand, I really liked a lot of the patterns (particularly the Rumana coat) and thought that a community sewing challenge could be really fun and supportive to help me improve my skills.

The first pattern for January is the Sunny Dress / Top by Friday Pattern Company.

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No mum tum on this model!

Whilst in the middle of winter, it felt a bit odd to be planning a summer dress and really my summer wardrobe doesn’t need another knit dress (bending over constantly with a toddler means shorts are more practical!) and I tried to be sensible by thinking that a chic plain black number might be a useful addition. After considering more expensive options, I ordered some black viscose and lycra stretch jersey from Minerva Crafts on sale at £3.99p/m. It was advertised as being medium weight and suitable for dresses but my goodness, I don’t call fabric that is easily see-through when held up to the light ‘medium weight’ and the fabric is so lightweight that any slip would look bulky underneath it, so I’m stumped as to how that would be suitable for a dress?! Anyhoo …. I considered it would be a toile and told myself that you get what you pay for!

All in all, it came together well, the stretchiness/slipperiness of the fabric was the real challenge. Others have commented about the lack of notches and I think that’s a very fair point, particularly if you were new to sewing knits. The pattern asks you to set in the sleeves but there’s no need. You can sew them in on the flat and then finish the side seams and sleeves in one go (win!) There is the option of making a binding for the neckline/hems or turning them under and topstitching. I have no problem with the ‘hem’ method for both having used these for the Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern. I was however concerned about a wavy hem, considering the lightness of the fabric and the curve, so used stay tape, starch and a walking foot. It is slightly wavy but I think it’s as good as I’m going to get.

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At this point, you will see, that I realised (not quite sure why it took me so long!) that I could simply put a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans/leggings under the dress and with a scarf, it suddenly became a perfectly wearable winter outfit. In fact, it was the perfect solution with the see-through jersey!

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My measurements suggested a Small for the bust and hips and a Medium for the waist, however I wasn’t taking any chances and graded out to a medium for both waist and hips. That was definitely the right thing to do as this pattern has a beautiful shape over the hips but it is very figure hugging which I’m not wholly comfortable with! Thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric, it’s not really a problem but for the summer version (below), I ended up taking out the seams and guess that that would be nearer to a large. I think that’s something else that a fair few others on the challenge have also commented on, that it really is close fitting around the tummy, so if in doubt, better to grade out!

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For my summer version, I cut the waistband off an elasticated ankle length skirt that I made a couple of summers ago and never wore. I’ve no idea where the fabric came from but it really is a medium weight jersey and a good quality! I wanted to try out a boat neck and used the bodice from the Walkley Dress pattern (by MIY Collection) and merged it into the Sunny dress. I didn’t have enough fabric for the curved hem and used the original hem from my skirt. This was a mighty quick make and I’m glad I tried out the bodice as this is something that I might come back to when I’m looking to hack the bodice of the Marigold jumpsuit which is the April pattern.

All in all, I surprisingly really like my winter Sunny dress. It’s a design that I probably wouldn’t have picked out for myself in the shops or as a pattern but I’m wearing it already and really like it.

Next month is the Rumana coat, which is going to be quite the challenge and my first coat!

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