There's nothing quite like the promise of a ball to get you reaching for the fanciest fabric and pattern in sight. Or, if you're like me, to fill you with sheer panic and indecision. Despite buying my ticket to The Dressmakers Ball months ago, I couldn't for the life of me settle on an idea until the weekend before the bash.

My bountiful stash just wasn't inspiring me, partly because I don't have super fancy taste so nothing seemed appropriate. With the pressure of being on the awards panel mounting up, I was on the verge of giving up when I remembered the luxurious velvet I bought from Fabric Godmother about 18 months ago.




As someone whose usual motto is 'more is more', black monochrome was not the obvious choice for me. However, the velvet's textured stripe effect, substantial weight and delicious drape give it a really expensive air (I mean, it wasn't cheap, but you know what I mean). 

To achieve the look I was going for, I paired it with the Jennifer Lauren Gable top, which has a chic 1950s-inspired slash neckline. I shortened the top to hit at my natural waistline, tapered it in slightly and added clear elastic to the bottom before attaching the full skirt from the Pauline Alice Aldaia dress. The Aldaia skirt comes up quite short, so I added about 13cm to the length for a more formal vibe.

I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I felt ridiculously elegant swishing around in it on the night, which was quite impressive given that I've basically made secret pyjamas disguised as a dress. Better still, I can genuinely see myself wearing it for so many other occasions. 



The biggest thing going for this dress though? It matches my handsome mini rex rabbit called Opie. Well, it's not quite as lush as him, but it's close! Now I have two dresses that match each of my rabbits - remember my original Aldaia in the grey colourway which perfectly complements Birdie rabbit? If #DressLikeYourPet or #MatchYourPet aren't a thing, they should be. Who's in?



Finally, a MASSIVE 'thank you' to Freya and Sarah from Crafty Sew & So for hosting such a wonderful night, in Leicester no less! I never fail to be impressed by how far stitchers will travel to meet up with each other and by how talented, beautiful and funny they are.

Happy birthday to me! The greatest gift I've given myself this year is finishing and photographing this dress - 1950s Simplicity 3931 - because it makes me feel like a vintage vixen!




It's hard to believe that I started making it about a year and a half ago! I had to grade the pattern up by an inch or two, so the muslin stage took a bit longer than I anticipated. By the time I had nailed the fit it was time to pack up my sewing room for a very long and disruptive period of house renovations. After that, it took me ages to get my sewjo back - it's still only fleeting - but I'm so glad I finished it. The pairing with this drapey linen from Walthamstow Market - the man outside Sainsbury's (TMOS), to be precise - is so dreamy. 

Sadly, with so much time passing, I can't really remember the exact alterations I made to the original pattern. I have the new pieces, so not all is lost, but I imagine I took the shoulders in a bit, shortened the bodice a touch and added some centimetres to the centre front and side seams. I also skipped the sleeve ties for a less fussy look, but might give them a go next time as they're pretty sweet and all the rage on the latest indie patterns I've seen.

One thing I do remember is how quickly and easily this pattern came together. The instructions are actually really good for its age and the construction is fairly simple. If you can get your grubby hands on a copy, I thoroughly recommend adding Simplicity 3931 to your collection.





As with most vintage patterns in my stash, what attracted me to this one were the gorgeous details. I can't get enough of the shoulder and front skirt pleats - they give such romantic shaping to the bodice and make the skirt just full enough. I'm particularly taken by the clever little elbow darts to shape the sleeves and, I assume, give them more flexibility of movement.

For a more streamlined look, the front bodice and both skirt pieces could be cut on the fold, as the zip is inserted in the side. I squeezed this out of just two metres of fabric, so cutting on the fold wasn't really an option for me. My biggest challenge was the front bodice pattern placement as I had very little fabric to play with and didn't want to end up with bronze areolas! It was touch and go for a while, but I managed it in the end...phew!



I'm now ready for afternoon tea please...anyone care to join me?