• A girly swirly wedding guest dress

  • Wedding guest dress

    Back in August I attended the wedding of an old school friend of mine, at a gorgeous hotel in St Albans.  I decided some time beforehand that I wanted to be good enough at dressmaking to be able to make my own dress to wear on the day of the wedding.  I had only been sewing for a few months, so the very idea of this seemed a tad daunting!  But I knew I wanted to make my outfit myself.

    I opted for the Flora Dress (variation 2) from By Hand London.  I’m not really one to go for anything super girly usually, but this dress jumped out at me.  I think it was the neckline which sold it to me – I loved how classy it looked.

    Once the pattern arrived I got to work with sourcing my fabric.  I found this quite hard!  Mostly because I’m quite picky with patterns and colours.  Then I came across the fabrics for sale from Sew Over It.  So many gorgeous ones to choose from!! I’m always drawn to blues and greens though – I guess because they suit me – probably because the colour contrasts against my hair!  So I ended up going with this vintage blue & cream floral fabric. It’s a lightweight cotton, which I figured would work well with the pattern.  I thought the vintage look would really suit the style of the dress.

    Wedding guest dress

    Before the fabric arrived I had a bit of time to knock up a toile.  This was really helpful as the back of the dress was a bit gapey on me –  so I was able to fix this before starting on the posh new fabric.

    I also decided that I would try a new technique on this dress – one which I hadn’t tried yet. This was to fully line it…!  I bought some plain ivory coloured cotton poplin from John Lewis in Cambridge.  It meant more work to do this, but figured that the finish would be worthwhile.

    Sewing of the dress went really well.  I followed the pattern instructions as well as the sewalong on the By Hand London website.  This was so so helpful!  I’m quite a visual person so I always find that pictures help.

    I also had the task of inserting an invisible zipper… This was covered in my course so I had already had a very small amount of experience of putting invisible zips in.  So I wasn’t entirely excited about putting one in!  They can be a tad tricky!  I used the tutorial on the By Hand London website to keep me on track.  I did have a minor heart attack at one point, when I thought I had sewn it all on the wrong way!  Turned out it was ok though 🙂

    Then I got to the point of hemming.  The instructions recommend hemming by hand – so I duly did so.  I had never done an awful lot of hand sewing – I guess I have a vague recollection of doing a few things at school.  I did my research on blind slip stitching to find a how to guide.  I knew it was going to take a while, and I had moments beforehand where I toyed with the idea of machine hemming to save time.  But I went ahead with doing it by hand – and I am so pleased that I did.  It took probably a whole evening to do this – but I did it from the comfort of my sofa and found it to be a pretty relaxing experience!

    I gave the whole thing a good press once it was finished, it looked so beautiful!  Very very chuffed with myself!

    Wedding guest dress

    Wearing it was kind of exciting – I mean, the fact that I made it and all.  It fitted beautifully – I made in size 8, and made the alteration to the back to stop it gaping open.  The fabric was a dream to wear too – so soft!

    Wedding guest dress

    This dress was slightly out of my comfort zone as I don’t really wear much that is too girly… and this dress is definitely very floral and feminine.  So decided to team it with a fairly chunky gold ‘wide collar’ necklace from Warehouse and my Carvela ‘Klunk’ sandals from Kurt Geiger.

    Wedding guest dress

    I also had my hair put up by a very amazing hairdresser, with this chunky French plait.  Absolutely loved it!!

    It was an amazing day with hilarious friends – fun memories made!

    Anyway, hope you like the dress.  Shortly after this, I got to making another Flora dress for the next wedding of the season.  Photos of this to follow very soon!

    Peace and love

    Jen x

  • Happy New Year! My very first post... My very first handmade dress

  • Hello!  So here you have it – my very first post on Gingerthread Girl – I can hardly contain my excitement!!

    Mortmain dress

    I figured that the best place for me to start is with my very first ever handmade dress.

    I started this over my first few dressmaking lessons during my evening course.  The idea of the lessons was that we would learn a new skill/technique every lesson, as well as work on  our own project – most were working on dresses.

    I swiftly took myself to the shamazing Backstitch shop at Burwash Manor in Barton.  This has become one of my favourite fabric shops!  Alice who runs this shop is lovely, and always helps with any questions I may have – no matter how stupid (and believe me, as a newbie sewer, some of the questions can be supremely stupid!).  I picked this Riley Blake cotton chevron fabric in navy, as well as a solid (plain) navy cotton.  This was after picking Gather Kits’ The Mortmain dress pattern for my first creation.  I chose it because it looked like an easy wear day/work dress which I could team with a blazer or jacket.

    It was a great choice for my first dress – not too complicated – and taught me how to sew darts and make pleats.  My course had already taught me about seams (allowances and finishes) as well as basics of measuring myself for a pattern and fabric cutting.


    It took me quite some time to finish this first dress, but I cannot tell you how proud I was when it was done!  I took it to my next lesson and my teacher was so surprised that I’d managed to finish it.   To be honest, once I’d started I couldn’t leave it – I was addicted!!

    Looking back at the dress now, I would DEFINITELY be able to finish it much better.  But it doesn’t matter.  That was my start into the world of dressmaking, and I will always love it!


    I will definitely be making more Mortmain dresses in the future too 🙂

    I hope you like this, and just ask if you have any questions…  especially if you are someone hoping to get started with dressmaking!  I’d love to hear from peoples 🙂

    Jen x

    P.S. Here’s a (blurry) photo of my fluffy sewing assistant!  He insisted on sitting on the chair too, while I was sewing this dress.