english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Sewing Projects are Never Really Finished

Simple Sew Grace Dress

As mentioned in my last blog post, I recently repaired this little Simple Sew Grace Dress, and then realised that it no longer fitted me. I decided the dress was worth an attempt to make it bigger, and if that didn’t work I’d admit defeat and it would move into my fabric scraps basket.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I couldn’t gain any ease from the existing seam allowances as I had trimmed and overlocked them very close to the seam line. This is how I’ve always overlocked my projects, and it does give a lovely neat finish, but in future I’m planning to leave larger seam allowances on areas I might want to let out in future. P.S. Gillian has some great tips on sewing for gaining weight on the Sewcialists blog this week.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Luckily, the remnant of fabric left over from making the dress was large enough for me to re-cut the waistband and the back bodice pieces (but not the front bodice). Since the skirt is gathered, it was easy to gain some length there, and I was even able to reuse my existing gathering stitches!

When I made the dress back in 2017, I cut a size 8 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist. Referring back to the pattern I found that my measurements now put me into a size 12. I had cut (as opposed to traced) the pattern when I first made the dress, so I worked out approximately how much width to add to the pattern pieces to cut a size 12 back bodice and waistband. Adding all of the additional ease to the back of the bodice meant that the armholes hung slightly low, so I added two short darts at the front armholes to mitigate this.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I wasn’t sure my fix would work, but I now have a dress which fits me well, if differently than previously. The pattern was designed to have a close fitting bodice and waist, whereas I have some ease (and could probably pop a t-shirt underneath), but if anything it has made it more wearable – especially at the moment, to wear at home or on a walk locally, as in these pictures which we took on our new regular walking route yesterday evening.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

All in all, I’ve now spent quite a bit of time on this simple dress, but it has been fun to successfully rescue a project from my repairs basket, and to problem solve a solution. It’s proof that a sewing project is never really finished.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

There’s still A LOT to work through in my repairs and UFOs baskets. I’m thinking I might tackle my too-small jeans next, but maybe next week!

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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A Dress with Nine Lives

Simple Sew Grace Dress

We’ve been working our way through the house since social distancing began, cleaning and sorting through the contents of all of the drawers and cupboards. Inevitably, I finally reached the baskets containing my UFOs and repairs.

I’m aiming to work my way through the baskets over the next few weeks. I’ve set myself the same goal before, with largely the same contents of the baskets, but with more time at home perhaps I’ll be more successful this attempt? There’s always going to need to be a UFOs basket, but it would be good to empty it and start fresh.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This dress was the first project I pulled out of the basket. It’s a Simple Sew Grace Dress, which I originally blogged in 2017. I made this dress in a hurry to wear to an event, the fabric frays easily and I was planning to revisit it to stabilise the seams before washing or wearing it again. Unfortunately it accidentally got thrown in the washing machine and emerged with holes along the centre seam.

I carried out a panicky repair job, overlocking everything in sight. In my rush to repair it I did a terrible job of gathering the skirt (which is a bit heavy to gather well), and the waistband was still quite damaged. I wore it a few times (including in those previous blog photos), but then it went it to the repairs basket.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Yesterday I found out a remnant of the fabric I used to sew the dress (which was a gift from Madalynne through a giveaway on her blog), and recut a new waistband. I also regathered and attached the skirt.

It looks so much better now. The only downside is that the dress is now too tight to be comfortable. Partly as a result of me gaining weight since I originally made it, and partly because I was careful to stabilise the waistband this time around, via a combination of underlining and lining.

So, I’ll be revisiting this dress again later today, to see if I can eek out enough ease by reducing the seam allowance at the zip to add this back into my wardrobe this summer.

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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A Sunny Southport Dress

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

I planned to sew the True Bias Southport Dress as soon as it was released, but it sat waiting until Heather’s Sundress Sew-a-long gave me a nudge to get sewing, before the summer is over.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

I fall between pattern sizes, but given the ease in the pattern (as a result of the gathered waist) I sized down to size 0. To compensate for sizing down, I used a smaller seam allowances than recommended, but it wasn’t necessary as the finished dress has plenty of ease.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

I’m fairly short (5’4″) and the dress turned out very long on me. I shortened the shoulder straps by around 1 cm as the front neckline was originally a bit risque. I also used a total hem allowance of 4″ (twice folding up a 2″ hem). The resulting length is just right with heels, but is too long to wear with flats. I might take the dress up further as I do tend to wear flats most of the time, but I do like the glamour of a really long skirt.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

I haven’t worn a floor-length dress in a long time. I avoided them in RTW as I always thought I was too short, but the joy of sewing is that it inspires you to try different silhouettes. I definitely fancy some more maxi length dresses now.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

The fabric is Liberty, purchased in Shaukat on a trip to London last August. After a year in my stash, I’m glad to have stopped being precious about the fabric and put it to use. The fabric is perfect for a summer dress, since it features lots of suns – as well as quite a few clouds, just like an English summer!

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

I had slightly less than 2 metres of this fabric, which is less than is recommended for the maxi version (2.5 metres in my size). I was determined to use this fabric and to make the maxi version, so I had to cut one of the front skirt pieces in two panels. Given the busyness of the print the seam isn’t obvious unless it’s pointed out. It’s definitely one of those things that only someone who sews would possibly notice!

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

In the pictures above, the waist is gathered with some cotton yarn, which was all I had in my stash. I’ve since bought some cord from Guthrie & Ghani, which I think finishes the dress nicely.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

The buttons I used were some I made a couple of years ago in polymer clay and painted with stripes using acrylic paint.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric

I’m hoping for good weather for a couple of months yet so I can get some more wear out of this dress, and sew a few more summer projects.

True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric