A monthly box of sewing goodies, delivered to your door

Make Of The Month; Corrine

Novembers top make came from Corrine who used the black and orange geometric viscose from Septembers “Measure Twice, Cut Once” box to make a Tilly and the Buttons Lyra dress

Hi, I’m Corrine and I live in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, with my husband and two children. I started sewing a while ago now, and thinking about it, it coincided with the very first series of The Great British Sewing Bee. I had been ogling SewHayleyJane boxes for a long time before I became a subscriber. I used to torture myself regularly by watching unboxing videos on YouTube before I caved in and subscribed, and I’ve now been a subsrciber for a year. I’m still addicted to unboxing videos now.

In September’s box I received this lovely, drapey, geometric print viscose. I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it – make the Lyra dress by Tilly and the Buttons. This was my first go at making this particular dress. My birthday is in October and I wanted this dress to be ready for my birthday treat – an afternoon tea.

Shirts are one of my favourite garments to make, and I have made many for myself and family, so I wasn’t daunted by sewing this pattern. Using an old bed sheet I sewed up a quick and dirty toile of the bodice and one sleeve just to check the fit and the position of the darts. Everything seemed to fit fine and point to the right place (!), so I went ahead with sewing my usual Tilly size 4 with no adjustments.

Because I’m a classic box subscriber, I received 2.5m of fabric. Technically, this wasn’t enough to sew the variation I really wanted, which was the midi, long-sleeved version. The pattern envelope states that 4.4m of 150cm wide fabric is needed. I took this on as a challenge.

It was tricky getting the version I wanted out of this fabric, but with some cunning pattern placements, I was able to get it out of the limited fabric. The only compromises I made was to use a different fabric for two out of the four pocket pieces and to piece together the belt, but you can’t see either of those compromises.

The trickiest bit of the entire project was the cutting of the fabric. After I managed that, the rest was plain sailing! The bodice and sleeves came together reasonably quickly but I must admit that I was dreading the gathering. The top tier was gathered in the way that the pattern suggested – three rows of basting stitches pulled to gather. The bottom tier was gathered using the elastic method.

Elastic cut to the size of the bit above but stretched to the size of the bit below and sewn on. This was so much quicker and I ended up with perfectly even gathers all the way round. I’ve decided that all gathering will be done in this manner in the future.

I’m a teacher with no dedicated sewing space – I sew on the dining table and my family insist on eating their meals at it so I have to pack my stuff away each time. This meant that my sewing had to take place over several days. Obviously, as my birthday came around, my dress still wasn’t finished!

As my mum had booked us an afternoon tea to celebrate my birthday, I had a deadline to hit. An hour before our reservation I was still sewing my dress. I was desperately trying to attach that bottom tier to the dress (backup dress plans were being made at this point) and hem it. That bottom tier is huge and hemming and gathering, even with elastic, took a very long time. With half an hour to go until our reservation, I got a wearable dress, if not a technically finished dress.

Even though I knew it wasn’t quite finished, I managed to wear my dress out and it felt great. About a week later I made the thread chains for the belt loops and overlocked the insides of the dress. 

I love receiving my SewHayleyJane boxes each month. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I find it difficult to keep on top of the fabric; I have built up a sizeable stash. What is great to know is that this pattern is not off-limits for my stashed fabric lengths. I have a feeling I may be making more long-sleeved, midi Lyras.