TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

#usedtobeatablecloth: The construction

After about two weeks of an intense search for inspiration, I finally came up with a plan that I was happy enough with to start work on my third item that #usedtobeatablecloth.

I already knew that the tablecloth itself will be turned into a circle skirt, and I had an idea about the silhouette too, so I was just looking for a bodice with some nice seam lines. I went with the same design as the one on the swimsuit below, but looking at the final result now, I am pretty sure that subconsciously I was going for a Dior look after watching the Dior and I documentary a few days before finalizing the plan…

Image sources clockwise from left: 123, 4

I decided to draft my own pattern, because I have recently experimented with a design using my brand new bodice block (drafted to my size), and I was really happy with the results.

First I measured where I would like the top of the bodice to finish, and where the dart should finish, by wearing the toille for the original block. Then I took these measurements and transferred them onto my copied bodice pattern.

After this, I just marked where I would like the seam lines to be, and decided how wide the opening on the back should be for a lace up closure. Once I had all these lines, I copied the new pattern pieces to plain paper, one by one, and closed/opened the darts where it was necessary. After adding the seam allowances, I was ready to make a toille.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

I was trying to buy some calico in my local fabric shop, but it was way too expensive, so I bought some polycotton instead. After making up the toille from it, laziness triumphed and I decided it will also serve as the lining. I actually didn’t even think about lining it at first, not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I totally forgot about it.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The size of the circle that was cut out (to turn the tablecloth into a circle skirt) was based on my waist measurement plus seam allowance, and I deducted the gap I needed to leave for the lace up back opening.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The bodice’s pattern pieces were cut out from 3 napkins, out of the 8 that came with the tablecloth, and were arranged more sensibly than on the photo, of course. 🙂 Two napkins probably would have been enough though, was I not an idiot who used a pen to mark the dart points, and ironed the interfacing onto the right side of the fabric…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

I was really unsure about what kind of interfacing to use. Out of the two on hand, one was soft and drapey, but quite thick, as I bought it to use on a winter coat for a little added warmth. The other one was a piece I bought to use on a pair of structured trousers. I decided to go for the latter one, as I thought that as much as I would like to keep the qualities of the fabric, the bodice is very fitted and does actually require some structure.

The piece of fabric I used for the lining of the skirt turned out to be too small to cover more than my bum, so I decided I should try to add some tulle (yay to no hemming!) to make it long enough, and just see what happens… The-accidental-making-of-a-50s-cocktail dress, that’s what happens! 😀

As soon as I tried it on, I knew I didn’t want to turn it back into a simple summer dress anymore. All I wanted was a friend or relative to get married, or be knighted (like that’s gonna happen) immediately so that I can wear it with my incredibly uncomfortable silver heels, sipping cocktails in a beautiful garden. You get the idea…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The last step, that took approximately 7 hours, was making rouleau loops for the lace up back, sewing them on and sewing the back of the skirt shut. I have just read Marijana’s post on how she wrestled to make them for her version of the tablecloth dress, and I must say I totally understand her struggle.

I managed to turn mine inside out, and for the second try I even succeeded to line them up (close-enough to) perfectly. As for the “lace”…well, that I mucked up totally. It took me about 45 minutes to turn it inside out, just to find out that I sewed the wrong sides together and now the seam allowances where the bits were joined together are on the right side. Oh well… Once I figure out what I’m gonna do with it, I will show you how it all turned out!

In the meantime you can already check out Marijana’s beautiful indigo dyed #usedtobeatablecloth dress. She used a similar tablecloth to the one I made my first dress out of, and she managed to transform it stunningly!

Me-Made-May 2016

Me-Made-May 2016: Week 3

Week 3 has been and gone. It was one busy week! On Monday (Day 16) I went to work straight from the train station, so I was wearing pretty much what I wore to Paris. By this time I obviously couldn’t wait to get the stuff off me, otherwise those pants are made for long days! Unlike Saturday’s (Day 21) black, experimental silky pair…I am so getting rid of those. For getting snacks from the shop next door it’s just alright, but I am in constant fear of ripping them, they pull at places  and there is that weird flap on the front. It’s everything I don’t want my clothes to be.

Wearing the kimono dress with the military jacket on a great day out on Brick Lane yesterday, was one of those things that remind me why I’m sewing in the first place. 🙂

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay16

Day 16

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Day 17

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Day 18

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Day 19

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Day 20

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Day 21

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Day 22

  • Dress: The kimono dress (self drafted)
  • Coat: The military jacket (refashioned)

As I am getting closer to finish Me-Made-May I started wondering what I should do with the clothes I did not pick up  to wear, or those that don’t fit me quite right.

Do you give up your unworn me-mades for charity, sell them or  recycle them?

From scratch

That Dior dress? Finished!

I have a feeling that Dior won’t be suing me after all…

TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress is ready3

     Here it is. I’ve probably spent over 20 hours in total on putting this dress together…and I’m only fine with the result. Not as ecstatic as I’ve expected to be, which is probably due to the fact that it existed as a problem for about a year, then when I figured out how to do it, well…it got boring! It’s unfair from me to say that I’m not even half as much in love with this dress as with the kimono dress, as I have actually worn this already, unlike that one. To be honest, I wore it with a jumper on top, which is pretty cool as I can dress it down, but I have a feeling that there will be hardly any occasions when I’ll feel totally comfortable wearing it without a bra, as I (and Mr Galliano probably) designed it to be worn…

TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress is ready13

    And a little bit about the construction, as it was a struggle, but it turned out well. I’ve learned on my first attempt of making this, that I need a short kimono sleeved bodice pattern so that there are no armhole seams. As I couldn’t find any, I drafted one by modifying a basic sloper. Then I made a muslin from the lightest gauze like fabric out there, which seemed to be a good fit, but the dress was a lot heavier (obviously!?) and felt too loose around my waist. Since I didn’t want to alter the chiffon bodice to avoid further fraying, I decided to insert an elastic band into the waistline, which successfully cinched it in a little. Then I attached the velvet ribbon first from the outside, then from the inside, hiding all the seam allowances neatly.

TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress is ready - details

    The closure on the back of the bodice caused a headache though, as the crocheted thread loop  for the button (a result of the most boring 30 minutes of my life), weakened the fabric. I decided to sew grosgrain ribbons there instead, which seems to be working a lot better.As for the he invisible zipper in the skirt bit, well, it turned out as it should have, pretty invisible. 🙂

TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress is ready - details5

TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress is ready - details7

    The edges were finished by zig-zag stitching over an embroidery thread then cutting the excess fabric off, which gives the hems some definition, as well as it makes the fabric tear easily (see on the picture of the sleeve below). The floral fabric on the bodice was first basted then hand sewn from the inside of the dress, but it was done in a less than professional way, as I got really impatient by the end of it, as you can imagine.

TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress is readydetails

All in all, I’m happy it’s finished and I hope I’ll get to wear it more!

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Image sources: Title: Dior dress, background images of the Dior dress:, all other images are mine.
From scratch

That Dior dress…still in the making!

Do you remember that Dior dress I used as inspiration to make a similar one, about a hundred years ago? Well, I don’t blame you if you don’t, I would have forgotten about it too, did I not feel guilty about having yet another UFO in my drawer. So here is a quick recap of the starting point and the mistakes made on the way.

The inspiration:TheSecretCostumier - Dior dress TheSecretCostumier - Dior dress TheSecretCostumier - Dior dress

Image source:

At first I used a cap sleeved bodice pattern and almost gave it all up after I realised I should have cut the bodice in one piece with the sleeves…you know, like on the Dior dress, so that there aren’t any unnecessary seam finishes showing through the transparent fabric.TheSecretCostumier-Inspiration: That Dior dress

So I decided to draft a short kimono sleeved bodice. I also changed the base colour from red to black as I stupidly thought it will be ready by Autumn and it will go better with my black tights, but guess what…It’s still not done!

I have recently ordered a box of different sewing machine feet and I tried the rolled hem one on the neckline, but unfortunately the result is rather inconsistent, because of the thin fabric and the unstoppable unravelling…The situation is similar with the French seams, although I’m sure it’s more of a question of practice  than anything else.

I finished the edge of the front panels by zig-zag stitching over embroidery thread and cutting the excess fabric off.

Then I came up with a brilliant way to make pleats in the chiffon, attaching it to a piece of tulle, which worked out really well, apart from one little problem: the tulle is way to stiff to be sewn on top of the chiffon!TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making! TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making! TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making! TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making!

I know, I know, I should have seen this coming and I kind of did, but I thought it’s just going to give it a little support. Well, it’s way too much support, so the idea is to take it all apart and do it all over again now with a chiffon & chiffon combo. But before I take it apart I’ll try to show you next time how I did the pleating!

From scratch

Learning when to give up

    Actually I learned when to restart. So here is this dress, that’s been stuck in my mind for months now. First I kept putting off getting started with it, then I realized how hard it is to work with the fabric, then I realized that I made a mistake choosing the pattern, as it has way too many seams that will be on show. So even though I figured out a way to finish the seam allowances with the machine (still there is some swearing during the process, but it’s quicker than hand sewing at least), I was just not happy with the result. I kind of messed up the Hong Kong binding, and that bias strip is unravelling too, so on one sunny, cold morning I just decided to give up. Give in, start it all over again.TheSecretCostumier - Learning when to give up

TheSecretCostumier - Learning when to give up TheSecretCostumier - Learning when to give up TheSecretCostumier - Learning when to give up TheSecretCostumier - Learning when to give upI should have known that it was a bad idea when I realized that the sleeves on the Dior dress are cut with the bodice, but I just thought I can make it work my own way. My biggest fear is giving up, as according to 66% of my family that is what I usually do (btw they are right), so to prove them wrong, I developed this habit of going through with whatever I started, even if the end results are less than desirable. Not this time though.

    Tomorrow I’m buying some more fabric (I might go crazy and buy a different colour, as I’m starting to get sick of the whole project), and will look for a simple pattern, or just make one myself. Oh, and I will use French seams wherever I can, as well as use the “Narrow zig-zag hem” method to finish the sleeves, as it seems to be working.

    I’m wondering if it’s just me, or if there are others struggling to give up on a project when it clearly doesn’t work too?!

Images: All by moi.

From scratch

Inspiration #1: That Dior dress

It all started a few months ago when I discovered the remnants box at the Rolls & Rems in Lewisham. I found over 2 meters of this beautiful floral chiffon for £4.50. I wanted to make a dress that was not too girly, but I couldn’t imagine using a minimal pattern either, so I just ignored it until I came across this Dior dress from the 2012 RTW Spring-Summer collection.

I was going to use a nude colour for the bodice part, but could not find any see through chiffon that matched my skin tone, so I decided to pick something striking instead, like…red.

I do feel a little bad about shamelessly copying the design (“shamelessly” if it turns out well, obviously), but I do have a few points to calm my guilt:

  1.  I make it for myself, not for sale;
  2. Great painters learned the techniques by copying their predecessors;
  3. It. Is. Hard. Work.

It really is hard to sew the chiffon as it frays within seconds in my hands, and the bias binding that I chose frays too. That must be the punishment, I guess. I chose a Burda pattern that is really simple, and has an interesting dart on the bodice and pretty little sleeves, although I just realised a HUGE difference between the pattern I’m using and the original dress: the original is made of a single front and back piece, with no seams attaching the sleeves. That makes a big difference as mine will have more design details showing through… I will (have to) do tons of hand sewing, as I decided to go with the hand rolled solution to finish the neckline and sleeves. I haven’t figured out yet how to attach the top part, but it will possibly be done by some more hand sewing.TheSecretCostumier - Inspiration: That Dior dress

The new pledge that comes with making this dress (which I have no idea what shoes to wear  with?!) is that I will sew at least 15 minutes a day (as suggested by Sarai Mitnick @ Coletterie), so I should be done with it by the time temperature rises above 20 ºC here in London. Just kidding, I will definitely finish it before August! 😉

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