The Cocktail Hour blogger tour – Kate

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We are delighted to be taking part in the sewcial sew-along The Cocktail Hour, organised by McCall’s. If you want to find out a bit more about it then check out our blog post so see who’s taking part. This is the second year of a campaign to help raise money for The Eve Appeal charity that funds the research for better detection, risk prediction and prevention of all five gynaecological cancers. Money from the sale of each pattern goes to the charity and last year they raised over £8k. This year hopefully we will raise more!

So this dress… any of you who follow us on social media and/or have met me will know you can usually find me in jeans and trainers or as close as I’m allowed to get to that at ALL times. When I heard about the theme for this years sew-along, honestly it brought me out in a bit of cold sweat. I kept changing my mind on the pattern and couldn’t really envision what I’d make that felt like me. I ended up choosing the Vogue® Patterns V8943.

I decided the best thing to do was to head out and go fabric shopping, always a pleasure never a chore! I hit up The Cloth House for a dose of inspiration. If you haven’t been before it’s worth the visit, the prices are a little eye watering but you’ll find stuff in there that you can’t find anywhere else. I walked in and had a good old snoop around and then it happened… I saw the fabric, the rest of the shop went into soft focus, music started playing, my eyes became heart shaped, I ‘needed’ it. Once I touched it I realised it was totally inappropriate for the dress I’d planned to make, but I didn’t care, l’d make it work because that’s what you do when you’re in love. I could only afford two metres of the stuff, and before I knew it I was out on the street swag in bag, and the deal was done.

The fabric is 112cm wide and a woven heavyish weight cotton from India. It’s made in the same area as Ikat fabrics so the print is woven into the fabric rather than printed on afterwards. I’ve always loved an ikat and the process of weaving the print, for me, gives a much richer finish to the fabric.

Having got home and looked at the pattern I knew I was going to have to alter the skirt part of the dress. The bodice and sleeves could work though. I made a toile of the bodice section of the dress and tried it on. I decided to lower the neckline as it’s more flattering on me, but in terms of the fit it was actually pretty spot on. As usual with these patterns I have to cut a couple of sizes bigger but it only took a couple of tweaks to get the bodice fitting nicely. I spent a long time trying to get the pattern to match and found using a tape measure really helpful to double check everything before I cut it out.

I found a lovely spotty cotton in my stash to use for the lining. My game plan was to make up the bodice and then try it on to work out what to do with skirt. I had 1.25m of the fabric left for the skirt so I’d just have to make it work. I tested out lots of options, I tried gathering but the fabric was too structured, I then tried out small pleats instead but this created too much bulk around the waist. Each time I would pin the fabric and then try it on over the bodice to see what it looked like.  I then started playing with larger pleats and this was where I started to see progress. The structured fabric worked well having a couple of bigger pleats and I decided to line them up with the darts on the bodice. Once I’d got the scale of the pleats correct at the front I decided to mirror them on the back and matched them up to the darts at the back of the bodice. I then stitched down the pleats and attached the skirt to the bodice. Once I’d done this I was on the home stretch and here she is!

If you are inspired to join in with Cocktail Hour, check out the full collection of patterns here. To find out what everyone else is making as part of the blogger tour, check out the amazing list of makers below. Chat about what pattern you want to make in the forum.

1. Winnie Longhurst

Scruffy Badger

3rd March


2. Kate Underdown

The Fold Line

10th March


3. Portia Lawrie


17th March


4. Rachel Walker

The Fold Line9

24th March


5. Wendy Gardiner


31st March


6. Abigail Dyson

The Crafty Pin Up

14th April


7. Lucy Regan

Sew Essential

28th April


8. Fiona Parker

Diary of a Chainstitcher

12th May


9. Nina Chang


26th May


10. Jen Sanders


9th June


11. Charlotte Powell

English Girl at Home

23rd June


12. Elisalex de Castro Peake

By Hand London

7th July


13. Kerry Patterson

Kestrel Makes

21st July


14. Gabby Young


4th August


15. Abigail Norton

Sew Abigail

18th August


16. Karen Ball

Did You Make That?

1st September


17. Rachel Wain

Rach Against The Sewing Machine

15th September


18. Elle Harris

Sew Positivity

29th September


19. Rachel Pinheiro

House of Pinheiro

6th October


20. Amy Thomas

Almond Rock

13th October


21. Jane Marland

Handmade Jane

20th October


22. Jennifer Walker

Ginger Thread Girl

27th October


23. Marie Koupparis

A Stitching Odyssey

3rd November


24. Elena Rosa Brown

Randomly Happy

10th November


25. Laura Clarke

Sew for Victory

17th November


26. Janene Spencer


24th November


  1. vintagerockchick

    And THAT is why we all have more fabric than we’ll use in a lifetime (although I’m inclined to think it’s as much lust as love!)
    The dress is beautiful and unique and fits perfectly – which is the reason we sew in the first place, well done x

  2. psychicsewerkathleen

    I laughed and laughed reading your description of your trip to the fabric shop! I love your dress – gorgeous! Inspiring to read your process and how you made a fabric you loved work with a pattern that had suggested such a different drape and weight I’m sure than the one you worked with. I like those two dramatic pleats in the front and back lined up with the darts and your fabric design so spot on showcasing the fabric just so perfectly.