english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Floral Velvet Wedding M7154

M7154 in Floral Velvet

So here’s a dress that was long in the planning! Two years ago, my brother James announced his wedding. Not long before that, McCall’s had released M7154, a 1930s reproduction pattern. I loved M7154 on release and when the wedding was announced thought it was the perfect excuse to try the pattern.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Despite having two years advance warning (and the pattern in a drawer for that time), I, of course, waited until a few weeks before the wedding to make a start on my dress. I actually did the majority of the sewing in the week before the wedding, in the evenings after work. I finished the hem of the dress on the morning of the wedding, along with finishing touches to a wedding jacket for my brother and his wife’s dog, Rupert… I was staying at the venue, and had my bedroom set up as a sewing room, with machine and sewing supplies spread across the dressing table.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

The wedding venue was a fort on the Cornish coast, which you can spy in the background of my photos. It was a beautiful wedding and we had a lovely weekend, and even decent weather for February – with the exception of during the official photos, when it poured!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

My fabric is a floral velvet purchased from Barry’s Fabric. Barry’s have a small rack (near the till) which contains a selection of fabrics which are kept out back (mainly velvet and fake fur), presumably due to a combination of price and the space the bolts take up.

Phil was wearing a purple suit to the wedding, so I started off attempting to buy a purple or pink velvet for my dress. However, due to needing five metres, available options were limited – I had the staff in Barry’s back and forth checking pretty much every velvet on the rack… I love the fabric I did come away with though – and I have a little left to make something more casual, given the impracticality of this dress.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

I’m not a toile-girl, so I went straight into making the pattern ‘for real’, and adjusted as I went. I made quite a few adjustments to better fit the dress for my body, and to tweak the design:

  • The pattern has you continue the zip from the back of the skirt up to the top off the dress along the bodice lining. Based on the bodice construction, I could see this being fiddly, and I didn’t want the lining to be visible at the bodice back. Instead, I finished the zip at the skirt waistband and added a hook and eye at the waistband, as well as at the top of the bodice (as per the pattern);
  • Initially the bodice hung very low. I raised it by unpicking the bodice at the shoulder seams and trimming off approximately 2 inches from each of the four straps.
  • The bodice is intended to hang over the skirt, but I had a lot of excess fabric at the bodice back, which hung awkwardly. I suspect this was partially due to using a heavier-weight fabric than recommended. I unpicked the bodice back from the skirt as far as the side seams and reduced the bodice length – pinning and eyeballing until it looked right;
  • I cut approximately 4 inches off the length at the skirt hem.

I also found the instructions for sewing the neckline to the bodice at the front and shoulders unnecessary fiddly, and would recommend following your own common sense on those sections.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Photos of what you really want to see from the wedding, Rupert’s dog jacket, to follow!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet


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Christmas Party Alix Dress

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Happy Christmas everyone! Phil and I spent Christmas Eve with his family, and Christmas Day with my family. We’re having a lazy Boxing Day at home, and I’m intending to squeeze in lots of my favourite things – I read half of a new novel curled on the sofa with a tea this morning, and I’m planning to make a start on a couple of sewing projects, with a movie on in the background, later.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Life has been (happily) crazy for the last couple of weeks. I’m one of those people who really relishes Christmas and likes to slowly build into a festive mood, but this year Christmas was here before I knew it. I finally managed to watch White Christmas and Home Alone while wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, and I have time off work over the next couple of weeks, so plenty of chance to knit in front of Gone with the Wind and It’s a Wonderful Life.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Unlike the Christmas presents I was planning to make (total failure), I did manage to make myself a new Christmas party dress! I actually made this to wear at the unofficial/boozy Christmas party at work, and wore it again yesterday to visit family.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

This is the Alix Dress (version 2) by By Hand London. The pattern is designed for wovens but I made it up in a stretch velvet which I purchased from a market stall during my recent trip to Istanbul. Since the design is loose fitting it doesn’t really require a knit fabric, but it does make it very comfy. The only change I made to the pattern was to add an inch to the length, since Version 2 comes up quite short as drafted, and I wanted it to be suitable to wear into work on the day of our Christmas pub crawl.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Since it’s Christmas, I also made a matching bow, which I sewed on to a headband. My team at work thought I should have gone bigger and more Madonna – so that’s the plan for next year!

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

As I was in a suitably stupid mood on Christmas morning, here’s a suitably ridiculous picture of said bow. Happy Boxing Day – hope you are also doing fun things.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet