Special Guest Post- Family weddings: Simplicity 1653

This is something very exciting for me- I get to introduce you to Ellen my cousin-in-law!  We took the opportunity at a family wedding to take some pictures of Ellen’s fantastic handmade dress.  I’ll let her tell you all about it…

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Hello, I’m Ellen and I’m delighted to be writing a guest post for Naomi Sews!

Our husbands are cousins which means that Naomi and I share a wonderful extended family. We live on opposite sides of the country, so we tend to see each other at big family occasions. I’ve been completely inspired by Naomi who, in the course of teaching herself to sew, started turning up to every family celebration in a beautiful, handmade outfit! Her enthusiasm and her blog have encouraged me to take my own sewing from straight lines (cushion covers and quilts) to the next step of dressmaking.

After I had sewn a few garments, we received an invitation to a family wedding and I was determined to have a go at sewing something to wear. It was a spring wedding with an outdoor ceremony by a lake, so I needed something that would work with layers for warmth, and would also be able to withstand any sudden gusts of wind!

I’m a big fan of wrap dresses so I went for a ‘mock’ wrap dress: Simplicity Amazing Fit Knit Dress 1653, which came free with Sew Magazine. The dress has a wrap top with a tie but a fixed skirt, so you get the nice ‘wrap’ shape without the potential for the skirt to fly open when it gets windy. I chose some navy and ruby jersey fabric from Sew Over It – it is pretty but very stretchy, and I think I may have over stretched it at times as there are parts which became slightly see-through.

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I prefer to use indie patterns as I like the instructions and the quality, but the Simplicity Amazing Fit collection is a real gift as it includes a variation of cup sizes. This meant I didn’t need to do my usual FBA adjustment so it made the process quicker than usual.

I had already taken a sewing class with stretch fabric to make another wrap dress, so this wasn’t the first time I was sewing with jersey. My Singer sewing machine belonged my mother before I was born, which means it is older than I am! It’s still going strong but it doesn’t have a stretch stitch. I used a jersey needle with a long zigzag stitch and it seemed to work well enough, although an overlocker or a sewing machine with a stretch stitch would have looked neater.

The dress was reasonably straightforward to sew and came together surprisingly quickly. My main issue was working out the direction of the pleats in the wrap tie section – I did them back to front the first time around. This may have been more to do with me than with the clarity of the instructions.

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The neckline comes down quite low and I didn’t have time to make the navy camisole I was planning to wear underneath it, so I ended up wearing the dress with a safety pin to avoid over-exposure. This shifted the neckline a bit but I decided it was better than the alternative! I have since made a camisole using the brilliant pattern from So, Zo, What to you Know which is a definite improvement on the safety pin.

The wedding was beautiful and the dress worked really well outside – a normal wrap dress would have been problematic. I got very positive comments from our family as well as from Naomi herself, who asked if I would like to write a guest post. She and Matt took me for a photo shoot during the wedding reception and we had a lot of fun. 

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