Didn't You Know? I LOVE dressmaking...

My 1st 'Making' Post... The Laurel Dress..!

You know what? I finished it!! I can't actually believe it - but I did! This may not come as a surprise to you (as I stated that was the plan in my last post); but I've always felt like more of a starter... much less a finisher... but - I FINISHED IT!

Now that's the most exciting part over... Let me start at the very beginning. (what a very good place to start..,).

I follow a really user-friendly You-Can-Make-Anything-You-Want-To kinda dressmaking blog called http://www.coletterie.com/ - and about six weeks ago it launched a new competition, with the Laurel pattern...

The upshot is you buy the pattern, and make it your own way; with six different categories you can enter your own version into - I won't go into any more detail, suffice to say all the T's and C's are on their website if you'd like a look...

It's basically a very versatile shift dress (with a blouse pattern in there too) - suitable for lots of different fabrics; and with (almost) endless options for customising, and making the garment look unique. These are all factors I loved about the pattern when I first saw it, irrelevant of the competitive streak I have in me (!) - I thought, 'What's the worst that can happen? I'll buy the pattern, make something rather quickly, learn a lot from the process, and be left with a pattern I can use for life...', there was no way I could pass it up! In addition to that, there's a free download on the website, with nine ideas for variations. All-in-all I felt it was worth the a) money and b) effort... Now I'm sharing my the product of my efforts with you! I thought it'd be a nice idea to show you some of the other dresses that have been put forward for the competition, before I show you mine. This is just to give you an idea of what everyone else has made, and also how mine differs and/or is similar...

Of-course, feel free to browse them at your leisure, head to http://www.flickr.com/groups/colettepatterns/ and use #Laurel to find the entries; I find it amazing that there are so many variations, and so much talent out there...

*BTW, you know what I'm like for soundtracks; here's the one I recommend for reading this post, and admiring peoples' efforts - it was also the music I was listening to for my 'photo shoot' (obviously I have to put that in parenthesis, as calling any pics taken on my phone in my back garden a 'photo shoot' is pushing it... but that is what I'm calling it... so... shall I continue..?!)


This is Allyson's creation, she's a seasoned pro based in New York - and I think that really comes across in her version; you can find more of her creations on her website http://byathinthread.com/ .I think it's obvious why this is one of my favourites; gorgeous clean lines, lovely scalloped edges, and oh-sew-simple-but-effective-use-of-block-colours*. 

I also love the backdrop, such a stylish 'set' - and yet doesn't detract from the dress, quite obviously the Star of the Show :)  

*sew sorry, couldn't help myself*

 Moving onto Amy, who also chose Version 3 of the Laurel pattern (like me); I haven't tackled stripes yet, so I admired her choice of print (takes a brave woman, that!) - and the fact she's taken the pattern and made it sit right, without adding more darts in the waist area. These are the main differences from my creation; I believe what makes this work so well is the finish... (you can tell it's well-made! Really clean lines...)

I can't find a website to link to; so here's Amy's Laurel entry on Flikr :)

*if that changes, I'll update this post!

Next comes Ana in New Zealand. (y' know, I feel like I'm announcing Miss World... feels good FYI...).

Ana's called hers Bullseye Laurel - for obvious reasons! Again, a really eye-catching use of print, and the sort of material that might make other seamstresses recoil in horror, at the thought of making it sit right. It might look quite straight-forward, but when I look at this creation, I see someone who's put real effort into working out the point of focus - and how to make that work in a finished dress... it CAN mean buying much more fabric than you'd otherwise need, just to get the desired effect. Again, this is something I'm yet to attempt - so for the meantime I'll just be admiring other people's efforts... like this! Take a look at Ana's website, http://threadtracings.wordpress.com/ for more background info on her interpretation :)

Now to Australia's Entry! 

(*I really feel there may be something in this Miss World thing... how about 'Miss Seamstress'? Now there's a TV format worth pitching!! Again, I digress...).

I love the simplicity of Leith's creation - and it appears, from reading her blog, www.sewbrunswick.blogspot.com.au - that she faced the polar opposite issue to me with her fabric, describing it as 'too fluid'... You can't tell, which is another reason why I think this is a great version (she's made difficult look easy); and it's also very easy on the eye :)   

Back to the US now, where Melissa's pics just make me want to go on a road trip around America. NOW. This is just one of her two entries into the Laurel competition; and I think it's obvious she's entered the 'Detail' category of the comp - what an adorable peter-pan collar, buttoned turned-back sleeves and gorgeous patch pockets!! I just love this.

I would say this is a VERY strong contender, and if I was making bets (which I'm not, as there doesn't seem to be a bookies placing odds on the Laurel competition, which is a real oversight if you ask me..) - Melissa's two dresses would be front-runners. End Of.

Actually, not 'End Of' at all - head to http://scavengerhunttheblog.blogspot.co.uk/ for more inspiring posts from the talented lady!

And now to Canada... 
(the more I write, the more I'm desperate for someone to commission my Miss Seamstress format. Come ON!! Any takers..??!!)

I think this Laurel creation shows real imagination; Caroline shows a unique approach to taking a simple shift, and making the lines run in an entirely different way. It's almost like her playful design is saying 'Look at my face! I'm just as adorable as my clothes!'; really cute and playful :) AND she dyed the trim herself. *extra Brownie points*

Caroline's website made me think she's probably many men's ideal woman; she works in a library by day, also as a scientist in a CSI looky-likey lab, makes gorgeous clothing in her spare time, and her website's called http://fulltimevixen.blogspot.ca/ . Enough said!

and so to mine... 

You can see why I almost made this blog post about everyone else's entries; there's really so much talent out there, and I'm just starting. It does feel like I've got a bit of a nerve entering myself into this well-developed, expertly-crafted, arena! But I am... because I've spent a LONG time making this dress, and I'm not ashamed of it... will I ever wear it out? Who knows... I'll tell you in another post what went into this creation; taking a pair of curtains from a charity shop - and creating My Laurel. 

*and surprise surprise, Rod wanted in on the action... :)

Side-on, so you can see how the darts I added work to shape the dress to my less-than-model-like proportions!

"Mummy's a bit busy at the mo, cuddles in a minute Roddie..!"
"I don't care about that Mum, just take the shades off - you know I hate you in sunglasses!!"

Obviously Rod wanted a cuddle in the middle of the shoot. He had clean paws, so why not?

Me trying to be 'Mad Man-esque'.

As always, I'd LOVE to hear your comments; and I've added a Facebook comment thing at the bottom of the blog for that purpose, if it helps :)

You can see all my pics on Flikr -  here... http://www.flickr.com/photos/sequinsandslippers/


  1. It seems a lot of entries have gone for straight lines or curves so your retro floral pattern is unique and will help to stand out from the rest.

    I'm not a designer or a expert in dresses (obviously lol) but I would have gone for a borning white dress with black flowers with red centre's

    A retro-type photo that is edited so everything in it is black and white except you dressed in your design would help the colours of your dress leap off of the photo

    1. All very true Carl, thank you for the fitting feedback :) And yes; purely in terms of the photo looking as vintage as the outfit, next time I may well play with the colours... Although this time I don't want to look like I'm relying on any fancy tricks to make the dress look better, if that makes sense? :) Esp. as all the other entries are so picture perfect, without any 'editing' -thanks for being supportive :)

  2. I think the Rod one wins as the most natural, nice and sunny pic all round..smile, flowers and dog.

    1. Ha ha! Yes, I'll never win any competition when it comes to Rod sharing photo space :) He'll always win a 'photo shoot-out'!! :)

  3. Are you sure you're a beginner to this dress-making biz? I'd love to see what you could do when you're an expert! If I saw those photos of your dress without reading the content, I'd have assumed you were a similar skill level to the competitors you posted above; you're so talented, Gemmy Gems!
    I'm proud of you, Miss Enseñat! ;)

    1. Thank-you Sarah, as always! I've made 2 dresses (before this one), but I'll defo try to make more now... Hopefully I'll get quicker (and better) at it with time, this one took me AGES! :)

  4. Well that is just fabulous! I love the style, the sleeves and cuffs and everything about it. Speaking as someone who only made one dress in their life, which split it's seams at a crucial moment at a party, I am in awe at your talent and can't believe this is that same pair of curtains I saw at your house at Easter. I am sure you are a very strong contender and look forward to you making one for a more mature woman (me !) Good Luck my talented little girl.xx

    1. Thanks Mum... I've definitely learnt a lot from working with that curtain; it's not as easy as Maria (Sound of Music) made it look!!

    2. And of course I'll make you one! As soon as I've recovered from this... ;) xxx

  5. My two favorite photos are hand on hip (classic pose) looking to your left and hand on hip smiling

  6. Thanks for featuring my dress Gema! I love your version - you've done a fantastic job with the fit and I love the floral print you chose. Well done! Ana

    1. You're welcome, I'm glad you let me :) And thank-you so much; there's always SO much to learn though, isn't there? Not sure I'll be using a curtain again! Your dress is gorgeous, will be following your blog for more inspiration!!

  7. Aaaaah, thank you for featuring my dress, I feel so honoured! And your write-up is immensely flattering, I had to blush while reading it on my laptop. I showed your post to my boyfriend and he found it charmingly hilarious. He wanted me to let you know that you were right about how I am the "ideal woman", hahaha.

    Your dress is very lovely and you should be very proud of yourself for sewing it up! I wrote a blog post and linked back to you. I hope we can be friends! You have no idea how happy you made me feel with your post.

    I've been floundering with keeping up a regular blog but I think now I feel like I can really give it another go. Thanks again, you're a lovely lady.

    1. You're welcome Caroline, and I'm glad your boyfriend agreed with my description of you ;)

      I'm going to read your blog post now..! But in the meantime, thank-you for YOUR lovely feedback; and yes - I'd love a long-distance sewing pal in Canada! How exciting!

      I look forward to reading your posts... :D

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  9. I love this blog, and when I looked through the Laurel pics I had to show yours to my hubby. I said "look at this lady, she has class and so much va-voom". I entered my first dress in this competition and just had a blast. Great job!

    1. Hi Laura!
      Thank-you so much for your lovely comments; I'm so chuffed someone thinks I have 'va-voom'!! :)
      I'd love to see your dress, could you send me a link; I can't seem to see it on Flikr...
      It was great fun, wasn't it? I really learnt so much from the process too, Happy Sewing!
      ...And thanks again :D

  10. The entire Laurel dress photo shoot was delightful.
    One of my more memorable makes was from a very similar set of curtains in around 1970; a pair of bell bottom hippie pants. My orthodontist thought they were amazing.your dress is ever so much more so!

    1. Hi Sci5!
      Thank-you for the compliment! I love the idea of making clothes out of curtains; it's that whole Sound of Music Maria thing I've always wanted to do :) I'd really like to see your bell-bottom pants!! Any pics? Thanks again for leaving a comment, really enjoy getting feedback from my posts, and hearing what memories & thoughts it sparks in people :)


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