all my own work by ann

Sewing and textiles with Ann

Simplicity Blogger Challenge


The story of four garments

So this is the story about making New Look 6145 pattern; the dress that I chose to make for the Simplicity Bloggers competition. The final product is in petal print blue chambray from Textile Express, as seen above.

The story started when I saw some beautiful French chambray at the NEC in March, from It was £10 per metre at the NEC, but I didn’t buy any. It was early days and I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted the dress to turn out. So I checked online when I got home to find that the normal fabric price was £25 per metre. (It seems to be £15 now…) That was going to make my dress cost something in the region of £75, and I am certainly not paying that much to make my own dress, when actually, I have plenty of dresses already. So the hunt was on for fabric equally as beautiful, but a lot less expensive. It did however cement the decision that chambray would be a good choice of fabric. I sent for some samples from Textile Express and chose the petal print.

However simple the dress making might have looked, I was concerned about the sizing. This is where my dress form comes in useful (as well as for most of my blog photographs) and I fitted the paper pattern to the dress form.

Checking sizeI decided that I would go with a straight size 16, but to be sure I would make a wearable muslin, and if it didn’t fit, it could go to the charity shop. The fabric was £2 per metre from the market. However, I cut size 18 pattern pieces because I could easy cut round the size 16 lines, whilst preserving the larger size in case I needed it.

DSCN2097So this is garment number 1. It’s made up largely as per pattern, and actually, in some ways, I think that the finished item looks better than the one I will be wearing. It will go to Oxfam once I have completed my competition entry. My conclusions:

  • The upper body size is good. But I do need some more room on the hips and around the bottom of the sleeves.
  • The front darts fit very well
  • I did not stitch the back darts, as I thought that they might cause the front tummy area to pull a bit. It was one of the last things that sewed on the blue version, having decided when I tried it on, that a bit of back shaping would improve the fit.
  • I was warned that the back pattern matching was going to be important. I decided that I would need to cut out two backs separately each from a single layer, and that when I inserted the zip, I needed to start pinning from the top of the left side.
  • The collar rolls nicely, although I was puzzled by the grain line of the spots. I eventually concluded that the fabric pattern is on the grain, but that the collar piece is not at a 45 degree angle, as I supposed it to be. The collar on the blue version is similarly ‘off bias’.
  • I debated about the length. The 60’s influence suggests that it ought to be on the short side, but I am ‘middle aged’ and influenced more by the 70’s, so I have made the final version a little longer.
  • It made me wonder about the sleeve pattern matching…. In the end I decided that matching the pattern didn’t really matter, as long as both sleeves were the same, so they also ended up being cut out separately from a single layer.

And most importantly, after wearing the spotty version around the house one afternoon, I decided that I would cut a full size larger, so that I would be comfortable doing every day tasks, including getting in and out of the car. Here I am matching the back sections.

Pattern matching down the back seam

The big difference with the blue chambray version is that I have lined the bodice for easier wear.


I have simply made up the dress without the sleeves and collar, included the lining into the collar seam, hand stitched the lining to the zip on the inside, and finished the lining with the shoulder seams on the overlocker. I stitched the lining hem using the sewing machine. I would recommend anybody else to line this dress too.

So that’s garment number 2. The actual competition entry.

A brief note to say that I have had so much trouble finding a photographer for this. Three of these were taken by my elderly parents, outside their apartment in Leeds, but there was so much concern about how to use the camera, that the pictures are not brilliant. I think my mother had an idea what I was trying to achieve. In the past I have asked friends nearer to home to take pictures, with similarly poor results…..

But anyway, I have now introduced garment number 3, the 3 hour slouch cardi from Claire Louise Hardie’s Fashion with Fabric.

One day I tried on seven jackets and cardigans with this dress, and none of them worked well with the rolled collar! But it’s May, and it hasn’t warmed up yet, and even in the summer I need a cover up when I leave the house in the morning. I needed something ‘slouchy’ that would fit under the collar and provide me with a bit of warmth. The fabric is from Barry’s for about £5.50 per metre, and as Claire promised, it took about 3 hours to stitch the cardi. I love the little pleats. I still needed my mother’s help to tidily tuck the cardi beneath the collar at the back.

This is the main reason why I won’t be making this version of the pattern again, which is a pity, as it is comfy to wear, pulls on easily thanks to the lining, and indeed, the rolled collar sits nicely and I have nothing else similar, but, it is very difficult to pair it with a suitable cover up.

And what about garment number 4?

For whatever reason, and I can’t remember now, I ordered 3m of fabric, despite the pattern saying 1.8m. It’s also possible that I was able to make better use of the fabric by cutting out the back and sleeves as separate pieces. Anyway, I had plenty left, so I made a lined A-line skirt.


In contrast to my pairing experience with the dress, when I looked through my wardrobe to find a matching blouse for the photographs, I was spoilt for choice. This is with Tilly’s Mimi blouse from Love at first stitch, blogged here.

Why I entered the competition.

This is something like my 95th blog post, and I have hand made garments that have not been blogged, as I am finding out as I document Me Made May!

My mind relaxes by working out what to sew next. It’s more fun than working out the impact of the late delivery of a network link, as I do for some of the rest of the time. Having conquered many sewing techniques (but by no means all of them!), I set up the blog over 2 years ago, partly because I wanted to reach out to the rest of the world with my sewing, and partly because I thought it was appropriate for an IT professional to have a blog. I mainly entered the competition to encourage me to upgrade the quality of the blog, rather than for the sewing. As I said, I didn’t need another new dress.

I have learnt how to attach the competition widget, and of course, other widgets, and I have also learnt how to make links. Indeed, my recent blog entries abound with links now!

I want it to remain a simple blog. If I had easy access to a decent photographer, the pictures would be more varied, but I haven’t. I can’t include things like videos, because again, that needs two people.

My blog traffic is growing. I have about 60 followers at present and a year ago I set up a Twitter account @amowby, exclusively for sewing activity, and I use that to post my blog links out to the sewing world. Thanks to a couple of notable re-tweets from well-known sewists, I have had 100 hits in a day, but even on days when I don’t touch the blog, I get a handful of hits. So thanks for everyone for your interest. Maybe when the traffic increases further, and I am spending less time at work, I could start to do tutorials and sew alongs, but that is some way off right now.

By the way, @amowby was a mistake. It should have been @amowba – All My Own Work By Ann, (first letters) but I hit ‘y’ and enter, and it was done!

In the meantime, enjoy my blog, and thanks to the competition for getting me to upgrade the content. Oh, and make another dress, a cardi and a skirt!


May ’15

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