Channelling Princess Diana’s style

Cheap Fabrics set me a challenge. They said, “we’re going to send you this fabric and lets see what you do with it”. If you want to get your hands on this fabric, here’s a link. I love a challenge so here’s what I did.

I could’ve gone down the route of a modern pattern but after seeing the royal fashion exhibit at Kensington Palace and feeling inspired by Princess Diana’s style, I thought lets have a rummage through my vintage patterns.

Vintage patterns

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a large number of vintage patterns from friends, students and relatives. I found this Vogue pattern and yes, I was completely drawn in with the illustration on the front looking exactly like Princess Diana.

Unfortunately the pattern has had the seam allowance cut off. I’m not sure why but my experience of patterns from this particular donor is that she liked to take them off. Also with vintage patterns, the stitch line is drawn on. I can’t see the stitch line or any notches so it leads me to the conclusion that she trimmed the seam allowance off. Thankfully I can still make out the tailor tacks.

I was sent 3 metres of the crepe so plenty to work with but I needed some kind of lining. I found some fine black polycotton in my stash. It wasn’t enough for all the pieces but I don’t want lining for the sleeves. I want them to retain as much floatiness as possible. But there’s a good amount for the body front and back pieces and the collar. There wasn’t quite enough for the length but from experience I often shorten vintage patterns quite a bit. I like to think I have good legs. And the lining can be quite a bit shorter.

Cutting out

I’ve added an accurate 1.5cm seam allowance onto my pieces as it’s a pretty standard seam allowance. As the crepe is so wobbly, I used a quilter’s ruler, cutting mat and rotary cutter. You’ll also notice from my photos that I’ve folded in the pocket and the sleeve openings. I felt with a crepe dress, this was too much.

Putting together

This pattern has been a great quick sew. The pattern isn’t made for a lining so I’ve done a few little tweaks to the instructions. Such as the front opening, I didn’t need a facing as I could use the lining instead to make a seam which makes a cleaner edge.

The crepe fabric provided is really nice to work with, it sews well and a dream under the overlocker. It’s a really satisfying make. Unfortunately (but then it does depend on your project), when I gathered the fabric for the shoulder bits, it’s turned into more of a ease stitch and it isn’t gathered while the cotton is gathered underneath.

I decided at last minute to not use my cotton inside the collar as I want the tie to not be too bulky and have some softness.

How does it look after a fitting?

Uh oh. I showed my husband and he laughed his head off, saying that I looked like some dowdy house wife. Thanks… Probably not helped by wearing black tights. It’s at this point that students look at their work, see it’s not working and discard their project. Not me, I won’t be beaten and I will not waste all this fabric.

Right, let’s get to work and rescue this!

Making adjustments

I had a few days of thinking about it and this is what I did. Firstly I removed the cotton lining. This took ages as I’d overlocked the armholes, attached the collar and used the lining to finish the neck opening. Once the lining was removed, the armholes overlocked again and the collar reattached, I had a quick look at it on me. I forgot to take a photo at this point.

I then hacked 10 inches off the hem. I quite fancied doing a deeper hem than the usual rolled hem I would usually use for crepe. So I did a 4cm blind hem. I really like this finish and I have a deep 4cm cuff hem allowance. I feel this is somehow softer as well.

The dress is complete. I have a stretchy waist belt which finishes the dress well and gives me some waist shaping. I’m really pleased with the dress and I’m in love with the collar. It’s what drew me to the pattern in the first place.

And it looked fab at a party, I got so many compliments.

So what do I think about this fabric?

The fabric is great, is lovely to wear and luxurious. I was worried about being sweaty with it being a polyester but I needn’t have worried, it always felt silky and cool. If you use this fabric you do need a lining or slip of some form, it’s just a little sheer.

Thanks for reading.

Rosie.

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