I made a dress! It’s been so long since I’ve done that; even longer since I’ve sewn one for myself that I’ve loved. But now I’ve done just that with Sewhouse 7’s ‘Mississippi Avenue’ dress …

I knew I wanted to sew a summer dress – a sundress – suitable for this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer sewing challenge and I confess I dithered for a while before deciding on this pattern. And then took just as long choosing the fabric; I wanted a print where the pattern repeat was fairly uniform but not too ditsy and I didn’t want to faff with pattern matching – I also wanted it in colours that would enable the dress to transition through to Autumn, paired with a cardi, tights and boots. I purchased this viscose twill ‘Feathers’ fabric from Patterns & Plains because I’ve used this ‘Linz’ base cloth from them before (in a different print). It’s a dream to work with and washes and wears brilliantly.

I cut a straight size without any alterations (apart from rotating the shoulders forward 0.5″). This very rarely, if ever, happens for me. There is a lot of joy – and time saved – in being able to sew a pattern straight ‘out of the envelope’! I have to say, I think the drafting of this dress is really quite clever – first off, the pretty shoulder ties make the shoulders a cinch to fit, literally…

…the gathering created by this cinching creates lovely pleats and shaping at the chest. The central panel is the stuff of my dreams; it allows you to fit an elastic casing through the back and side waist but leaves the front free; I hate the feeling of anything compressing my front, especially as I’m prone to perimenopausal bloating (fun fact ;-))

The dress features a high-ish, somewhat empire waist-line, a V neckline (more on that in a minute!), those spaghetti shoulder ties (which are fixed in place) and has several length options (it can also be made as a top)…

…the Mississippi is available in two formats – the indie downloadable PDF format (which I used) and as a paper pattern licenced by Sewhouse 7 to Simplicity; Simplicity 8231. Apparently there are some differences in drafting between the two formats; the indie version is graded closer to RTW sizing whilst the Simplicity version is closer to their own block, having a larger overall size range and a sleeve option. You can find the PDF pattern HERE and the Simplicity paper version HERE.

The dress sews up beautifully – apart from that, supposed, V neckline. There is no sharp V on mine but rather a gentle curve. I think if the central panel is stiched so it disappears to ‘nothing’ at the neckline – with the side front panels butting up against each other at the top then a sharp V would be created; I’ve measured the pattern pieces and this is feasible. However, on most versions I’ve seen – and certainly on my own – the top of that central panel is about 0.5″ wide at the top when stitched in, which creates a horizontal line not conducive to creating a V. I’m being really pedantic here – but that’s how my brain works! My advice would be, before you plough ahead and attach the bias binding at the neckline, take a good look at the garment in your hands first – if your central panel doesn’t disappear to nothing at the neckline, forget attaching your bias using the method shown in the instructions and instead attach it as for the armholes (starting at the shoulder line). You’ll more than likely get a neater, smoother finish that way!

These are the line drawings to illustrate what I’m referring to :

The only other thing worth a mention, construction wise, is a tool I found incredibly useful in the making of this dress. I’ve talked about the Clover Loop Pressing Bars before (in my latest Fave Tools & Gadgets post HERE) but they really are fab; I used them to press those spaghetti straps so as to easily get the seam line to run exactly centre) and …

… also to feed the elastic through that waist casing. I’ve used quite a few different methods over the years, from safety pins to bodkins – these bars are the best I’ve found so far; their length makes quick work of the job plus they they hold the elastic really securely!

I could really do with two or three Mississipi’s in my wardrobe – it’s an incredibly comfortable dress to wear; one of those effortless ‘throw on’ outfits that miraculously manages to make you look ‘put together’ whilst requiring zero effort whatsoever!

Are you planning a #sewtogetherforsummer sundress? (see the full details HERE) You still have time if you haven’t started – the closing date is the 21st June.

Until next time, happy sewing!

Disclaimer : not a sponsored post. I was given the pattern with no obligation to make or review by Sewhouse 7. Fabric and notions were purchased. Post contains some affilliate links. Sarah x

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Hello lovely sewing people! Now that the sun has finally arrived here in the UK my thoughts more naturally turn to sewing all the sundresses – this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge theme! (Click HERE for the full deets). I think we can all agree, one of the things that can be tricky with sewing a sundress, or a strappy top of any kind, is getting the length of the straps right. One way to avoid this hassle is to switch out fixed straps for adjustable ones, or replacing them all together with ties.

So that’s what todays’ blog post is all about; written by my lovely friend and #sewtogetherforsummer co-Host Suzy, aka @sewing_in_Spain. Over to you Suzy…

“The Sew Together for Summer challenge that Sarah, Monika and I, Suzy, have been running for the last 5 years is all about getting people, regardless of skill level, to sew. I’m sure you’ll agree, the practice of sewing is inextricably linked to our emotions: working with fabric and thread can calm us, distract us or even make us feel more optimistic. After a difficult year, this years’ sundress theme aims for ‘bright and happy’.  However, as with all of our #sewtogetherforsummer challenges, we also want sewists to take on new skills, so we like to include a few tips and tricks to encourage participants to try something new!

The classic sundress has straps of one type or another and these can be crafty little things to sew when you want a truly professional finish. Besides, you don’t need to slavishly follow your pattern – you can introduce your own touch! First I show, step-by-step, how to sew woven adjustable straps, with a discussion and signposts to other techniques, including how to turn out and press spaghetti straps, sew shoulder ties and create elastic adjustable straps!

STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL : How to do make adjustable straps – Woven Fabrics

To take your straps up another level you could add sliders to make adjustable straps; it’s very simple – here is our own tutorial on how to do it!

First, make your ‘pattern’.  You will need to make a pattern piece for the strap and one for the strap loop.  The Strap piece is 4 cm wide and mine is 52 cm long for a UK size 10, grade up or down by one centimetre for every size up or down.

Note : The strap loop is 4 cm by 6 cm for all sizes.

Cut out a pair of straps and a pair of strap loops in your fabric.  You will also need bra sliders and rings, available from haberdashery sites.  I cut them off old bras and swimsuits for when I need them.

Sew your straps and strap loops with a 1 cm seam allowance and trim the seams as you don´t want bulky straps.  Turn the strap and strap loop to the right side.  Press the straps so the seam is in the middle of the back (Sarah loves these Clover Pressing Bars to get your straps pressed nice and evenly!)

NB – If you really don’t like turning out thin staps, we show how to do simple topstitched straps at the end of this post 😉

Thread your strap loop through the ring and sew the ends together, make sure the seam is on the inside.

With the strap seam side up, thread it through the slider so the middle bar is visible.  Press the end in by about 5 mm.

Now fold back 2cm and stitch down enclosing the slider. 

Keeping your seam to the inside, thread the strap through the ring and then pass it back through the slider so it looks like this.  Do the same with the second strap.

Now just attach the strap to your dress in the normal way, making sure the rings are at the back. 

You can make a wider strap, but you will need wider sliders and rings.

Topstitched straps

You could also make simple straps without the need to turn them out. This works well for more stable fabrics like linen, twill, denim or whenever you want a sturdier strap.  

Decide on the width you want your finished strap to be.  For example, if you want a 2cm finished strap, you double that measurement and add on 1cm seam allowance.  

2cm x 2 = 4 + 1 = 5cm.

Cut your straps according to your calculated width and the necessary length. 

Press the sides in by 5 mm, then fold in half with the right side outermost. 

Next, edge stitch your strap, first on the open side and then on the folded side.  I use an edging foot which makes this more accurate.

That’s it – a simple and strong way to make your shoulder straps.

Adjustable straps – Elastic

There are quite a few tutorials on how sew adjustable straps with lingerie elastic, I really like this one from Colette.

Tie Straps

You may wish to turn your straps into cute ties, which also makes the straps easy to adjust for yourself or if you’re sewing for someone else. Look how gorgeous Ambers’ (@soisewedthis) Ogden Cami dress hack turned out! She made the straps wider and longer so as to be able to tie at the shoulder. True Bias, the designer of the Ogden, has a fabulous tutorial on the website explaining how to do this (see HERE).

If your dress has straps which are cut as part of the bodice you can still add ties. Here is how to do it on the Kim dress, a design of By Hand London, which would work on lots of other patterns – see their full tutorial HERE.

Spaghetti Straps

Thin ‘spaghetti straps’ always look gorgeous – just look at this Sicily Slip Dress by Sewing Patterns by Masin – but they can be fiddly to sew and turn out. Grainline Studio have written a full tutorial that takes you through the sewing and turning out process step by step (see HERE).

I hope that helps when deciding what straps you would like.  What is your favourite way to sew straps?”

Thank you Suzy!

Until next time (when I hope to showcase my own sundress!) happy sewing!

Disclaimer : Not a sponsored post. Post contains an affiliate link for the Clover Pressing Bars. Sarah x

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Hello lovely sewing people!

I’m just dropping by to let you know I recently recorded an interview for the Sew Organised Style podcast with the incredibly warm human being that is Maria @velowsews, alongside my #sewtogetherforsummer co-Hosts, Monika and Suzy. (This podcast recording is proof, should evidence be needed, in getting me to sit down in my echoey kitchen to record this, just how good these amazing women are taking my hand and guiding me safely out of my Comfort Zone!)

If you would like to listen to the episode then grab your drink of choice and follow THIS LINK. The show is a conversational piece; in amongst the laughter we discussed how Suzy, Monika and I put together the yearly #sewtogetherforsummer challenges; talking about our friendship as well as the inspiration and ethos behind the challenges themselves.

There are show notes attached to the podcast. You can also find more information on the Challenge over the years by clicking through the link in the above menu or by reading the 2021 ‘Sundress’ Challenge blog post HERE.

L-R / Top to Bottom / Maria / Suzy / Monika / Sarah

I’ve got to admit, my own sundress plans got off to a shaky start – I made and discarded one toile in a fit of pique, only to pick it up again a few days later when I decided I did like it after all! Note to self: don’t make decisions when you’re tired!

How are your sundress plans coming along? I’m making the SewHouse7 ‘Mississippi Avenue’ (Simplicity 8231); I’m also contemplating a knee-length Closet Core ‘Sallie’ and the SH7 ‘Underwood’ maxi. But then I rather like the look of Cashmerettes ‘Holyoke’ too…

Perhaps if we all make and wear sundresses, we can appeal to the Sun Gods to actually deign to make an appearance?!

Until next time, happy sewing!

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