I’d wanted to take part in #SewTogetherForSummer but, because of my injury, I’d been unable to get in my sewing room for a while and had pretty much given up hope of participating. Then Sew Over It released the Penny Dress last week and I fell in love with her, so, as I’m a bit more mobile now, I decided to set myself the challenge of completing it before the 21st June deadline. Mad? Probably! Determined? Definitely!
I’d had my eye on the gorgeous Amazon Lily cotton lawn for a while and it’s a perfect match for Penny. I love love LOVE the bold pattern and the colours are fabulous. It’s such a happy fabric and totally shouts SUMMER!
I use Netprinter for PDF patterns these days: it’s so much easier than printing and cutting out out reams of A4s and sticking them together; it only costs 75p per A0 sheet; and they’re super-quick with their turn-around and delivery, so ideal for my challenge. And, of course, Sew Over It offer brilliant customer service, so I didn’t have to wait long until I’d got everything together and ready to go.
The finished measurement for the bust on a size 10 is 39.5” and I’m 37”, so, aware that shirt dresses are better with a bit of room in the bust area to avoid gaping, I decided to go with that, as the waist’s elasticated so I could adjust it to fit, and it’s a full circle skirt so no need to worry about hip room. I’d seen that others had mentioned about the bodice being a bit short, so I checked the length and then added 5cm to the bottom of the front and back bodice pieces. If (who am I kidding? WHEN!) I make Penny again, I think I’ll add an extra couple of cms to the centre of the front bodice, as the waist rides up a bit there because of my full bust.
The construction of the bodice was straightforward with clear instructions – the shoulder band and ruching make for a lovely detail – and the only part that was a bit of a fiddle was attaching the collar. When it came to the button placket, I felt the ‘correct’ way – left over right as you look at it – of buttoning it just didn’t look right, due to how the pattern finished at the placket edges, so I made a conscious decision to fasten it the ‘wrong’ way. See what I mean…?
I also decided to add pockets, because, well, POCKETS! Lisa’s done and excellent video tutorial showing just how easy it is to add them into the side seams. Penny’s full circle skirt is one HUGE piece of fabric folded in half. In an ideal world, you’d add seam allowances and cut the fabric as two pieces, but I’d already cut it out on the fold, so I went ahead and cut it in half along the fold line. Then when it came to sewing the side seams I used an 8mm seam allowance instead of the usual 1.5cm to gain back some fabric so that it fitted into the bodice correctly at the waist.
It’s a fabulous, floaty dress to make for the summer, with plenty of challenges for a beginner, but enough detail for an intermediate sewist. I love cover buttons for shirt dresses, so matched mine to the pattern on my dress with two yellow ones and one white. The midi length (now 5cm longer overall than it’s designed to be) is perfect, even on my vertically challenged 5’4”, and gives it a real ’50s look. I often find flared skirts make me look like a little girl, but this longer length is much more grown up.
Just one last thing… it’s a loooooooong way round that hem and there’s a lot of overlocking (I’ve got an overlocking stitch on my machine which looks more professional than zig-zagging) so make sure you’ve got plenty of thread! I got through two-and-a-half reels in total.
These photos are from my first proper “walking” venture outside since March (my current step-hop method of getting around on my skinny left leg – the result of rupturing my Achilles tendon – needs a lot of work!). They’re taken at Blakeney Quay on the North Norfolk Coast – the perfect place to take my Perfect Penny out in the glorious sunshine!