I finished sewing my Great British Sewing Bee tea dress recently!; this gorgeous fabric was gifted to me, and it is a 70s vintage inspired bright floral and apple print (very in keeping with this series’ 70s themed episode). The original pattern which I have hacked with an inverted pleat and a contrasting polka dot facing, was part of a Daily Mail promotion of the Sewing Bee called ‘Start Sewing’ and is taken from one of the earlier series. I’ve been saving the pattern and fabric for a special occasion – I wore this dress to a Salsa night, and boy did she spin on the dancefloor.
This project had an interesting start. I got a concussion which caused me some problems – the fabric has some stretch and a slippery, silky texture – and the invisible zip just wouldn’t go in as I wanted. I tried interfacing the opening around the zip to stabilise it (I interfaced the wrong side in my concussed state!). But all was not lost, I took the dress to the Make at 140 Sewing Sewcial and Vanessa helped me to fit the dress. We figured out during a fitting that it was too big anyway, and I took the seams in. I haven’t fitted a zip in this dress this time, as the stretch and room in this dress allow for me to take it on and off without (if I was more well endowed, I think I would have struggled though!).
The neck opening was far too big on me at the back neckline as I have a narrow back, so we made an adjustment. With Vanessa’s guidance I sewed in an inverted pleat in the back neckline (pictures below) which was incredibly simple and I think the finish looks really professional. I then hand finished the neckline where the excess fabric sits. I love the shaping and the fitted look the pleat creates at the back of the dress. I finished the seams with pinking shears for a complimentary vintage look.
Finally, I added 2 metres of one inch wide red velvet ribbon from Hobbycraft to sinch in the waist, and a friend suggested I wear the dress with a red tulle underskirt for volume! The ribbon was a success, but I wasn’t too keen on the underskirt when it arrived – for the first time I’ve included a little video of me wearing the dress in my Instagram post, and for comedy value an extra special clip of me wearing the dress with the underskirt! Undoubtedly the first time I’ve looked like a very brightly coloured milk maid…
Want to sew an inverted pleat? here’s how:
- Try your garment on inside out, have someone find the centre back (half way) by pulling the two halves of the neckline together to fit, and create a fold (right sides together), then pin that fold in place. Sew about two inches vertically downwards from the top of the neckline (this will look like the stitching on the left below). Next measure and pin exactly half way along the excess fabric and press the right edge flat;
2. Fold the excess fabric towards the neckline (your pressed line is your centre marker);
3. Check that the back neckline looks like this on the right side:
4. Pin in place and hand sew the top edges of the excess fabric to the back neckline facing. Press the excess fabric in place. Pin and hand sew a label to the back neckline facing to hold the sides of the folded excess fabric in place.
Et voila, your first inverted pleat is complete! The inverted pleat is really useful for those with a narrow back, particularly for tops and dressed with wide necklines. I’d like to experiment with inverted pleats at the neckline and waistline in future projects.
Bye for now, I hope you enjoy the video – in my next post I hope to be sharing my first attempt at sewing trousers with you! For more updates, follow the hashtag #sewgoodintentions2019 and my Instagram posts @shelovestomake.uk