Ships ahoy! Sew Dolly Clackett #2

Y’all are wonderful, truly. Every comment on my last post gave me warm fuzzies. The shorts got a good workout today, too, when we went out on a boat ride. I got to drive a boat! And previously I would have had to wear a dress (not exactly appropriate for a speedboat) or running leggings.

And, speaking of boats…Ta da!

ImageA dress with ships on it, of course.

This is my second entry in the Dolly Clackett Sewalong. I’m sure I’ve said before that I draw inspiration from Dolly Clackett – she knows what suits her, and uses TNT patterns to let the fabric take the center stage. I decided that the sewalong was the perfect time to crank out some similar dresses myself, as I’m generally lacking in this kind of casual dress.

The dress is made from a Michael Miller quilting cotton (see Dolly Clackett’s own version here). I’m not sure why so many sewers/bloggers are against quilting cotton – sure, I had some disasters when sewing with poor quality stuff when I was younger, but I would have had MORE disasters had I tried using anything less stable than a sturdy quilting cotton. ImageI’ve now learned how to sew with a heap of different fabrics, but it’s nice to come back to a fabric that you know will treat you well.

The pattern from this dress is my bodice sloper, and an a-line gathered skirt: basically, I put down my cambie skirt pattern with about 15cm extra width, so it would still be shaped but I had room to gather it.

ImageIt’s best worn with a belt because a gathered skirt isn’t the most flattering shape on me, and because there’s something squiffy going on at the front – I think the lining is sewn in a bit shorter than the shell, so it pulls up at the waist seam. It’s also a bit loose on me but I’m liking the amount of ease.

Image*Sigh* still having some fitting issues with this sloper. The shoulders are pulling a bit which I know is because the slop is drafted to have sleeves, and sleeveless dresses should finish higher on the shoulder. There’s also that combination of gaping and pulling at the bust/underarm, which I think means the bust of the dress is a bit too high. If I tighten my bra straps a bit it goes away. One day I’ll get rid of all gaping, or I’ll just get over it. Do other people not have gape, or am I just blinded and much more critical of my own sewing?

ImageI’m also happy to say the dress has pockets! Only semi-matching polka dot pockets, because why not?

ImageI made sure to hold the skirt up to me to make sure the pockets are the perfect height, as I’ve found a few patterns put them too low for me. The skirt itself is a bit too short – I initially cut it quite long then had to hack it off. And, well, I hacked off too much! It’s not like this dress would have been work appropriate anyway, but I would prefer it 1-2″ longer.

ImageConstruction wise, it’s all pretty standard for me. I lined the bodice with cream cotton (it’s all I have, okay). Bodice seams were just trimmed, and the skirt seams were overlocked. Hem is just turned over twice – should have kept the length and done a blind hem. I used an invisible zipper.

If anyone cares, my trick is to interface both sides where the zip will go, then sew the first side. Mark on the zip tape where you want the second seam to be, then pin and sew up from just below the seam. After making sure the seams line up, you can go back and finish below the seam. You do have to make sure the TOP of the dress will line up when it does up but that’s way easier than trying to get the seams lined up when sewing top-down.

ImageI’m way angrier than this when the seams don’t match



Pattern: My own sloper + gathered skirt

Fabric: 3 yards of “My Favourite Ship by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller” from, approx. $30 after shipping, and lining from my stash

Notions: Thread and zip from my stash

Total: ~$30

What are your thoughts on quilting cotton, and how much do you think your opinion has been swayed by popular bloggers either way?

ImageLook how BIG she is now! She’s going to be huge.


27 thoughts on “Ships ahoy! Sew Dolly Clackett #2

  1. I love this dress, it looks great and I think the fit issues come from you being a perfectionist??? I only think that because I am exactly the same! Hahaha I only see what is wrong and where it does not fit perfectly, yet in a shop bought item I would overlook it! I don’t know why? ! I Often comment on the problems to my friends on my makes but they never even see them! Maybe we are just too critical!? Dress looks really great! Well done!

  2. Your dress is great, and I would never have known there was any sqiffiness going on. I like quilting cotton because there are so many fun patterns. Truly, we are most critical of our own work. Ohh, such a cute puppy, and they never know they are big, they always think they are tiny!!

    • Haha yes she has NO idea that she’s growing! She’s finding it more and more difficult to scramble from the boot of the car into the front (we have a dog grate but she can fit around the sides… for now).

      I really wish they made fun patterns in other fabrics widely available – imagine this ship pattern on a cotton-viscose knit??

  3. Great dress … I have this fabric in my stash too. I especially love your contrast polka dot pockets … polka dots are a slice of sewing sunshine wherever you use them.

    As for your question, I don’t know why some sewers are so anti quilting cotton. I find that if I buy it from a good source (Michael Miller et al) its wonderful quality and washes and wears brilliantly. I also make almost all my husband’s shirts from quilting cotton and he says they are the comfiest shirts he owns. I have a Michael Miller print ready to tackle my Dolly Clackett dress … just heading out to the sewing shed to tackle the bodice toile.

    • It told me a lot about a certain popular blogger when she advised against using quilting cottons. She has since taken that back, but still – how can you completely write off a whole range of fabrics? Unfortunately I don’t think my husband would wear stuff made from quilting cotton, if only because there’s no way I would choose demure manly prints!

  4. I love your dress! The fabric is great, so dolly clackett! I love, love quilting cotton. I think it’s about the quality too. there are stiff ones that I do avoid. When I first started it sewing, I read on blogs that quilting cottons are a no-no for garment sewing, and I didn’t understand why. I was sad, but then I said the hell with it. I like sewing with it and that’s all that matters because, in the end, I’m the one wearing them.

    • Think of those who didn’t have the gumption to keep sewing with them anyway! Much better to suggest certain types of patterns that would work best with them, than tell people to steer clear completely. I only tend to avoid them because they’re MORE expensive than garment fabrics here – often $20-30/m instead of $15-20/m for cottons, linens etc (and $25-40/m for silks and merino)

  5. The dress looks great, nice fabric choice. I don’t really notice any gaping, so I think you are being too hard on yourself πŸ˜‰ Oh, and I love the shorter hemline, it gives the dress a young feel without being indecently short, and I think it looks great on you, I like this length better than your usual over/on the knee. And I love sewing and wearing quilting cotton! So many fun prints to choose from and usually 100%, bring it on!

  6. Ooh, another lovely dress! I agree with Pips: quilting cotton offers so much more options when it comes to prints! I haven’t used them yet because I listened (foolishly?) to all the quilting-cotton bad-mouthing. Come to think of it, I could use a fantastic print in my spring-summer capsule wardrobe. I’m just wondering if it may be too heavy for a warmer weather dress. What do you think?

    • This is exactly what I wear in the summer! Although I must admit I haven’t quite got my head around “seasonal dressing”, I just wear the same things and layer.

      That’s my problem with these popular bloggers writing things like that as if it was fact, rather than just their opinion: how are others supposed to know any different? I would totally go for it, although I recommend feeling the fabric before buying in a shop, or going for someone like Michael Miller who is generally excellent quality – there will be others too, but I don’t order online enough to know (I just assumed MM was because I know a few people who recommend the stuff)

  7. This dress is fantastic, Soph! Love those polka dot pockets and the breezy fit of this. So cute, especially when accompanied by that adorable bundle of puppy. She’s grown so much!

    I will also never understand the hate for quilting cotton – if it’s high quality, then who cares? The prints are fabulous! Also, in hot weather, a cotton dress that you don’t have to line can be a godsend. Incidentally, my Sew Dolly Clackett project has just become a Sew Sophie-Lee project, as well! I took photos of my dress in this exact print yesterday. We are inadvertent twinsies!

    • YES, matchy matchy! Have you decided what you want to do with the fox material yet? I’m not sure what to do with it because it’s such a strange fabric.

      I can’t quite believe that Jessie used to be smaller than our cat, and smaller than Mr. Guy’s slipper. She’s only 14 weeks old, she’s going to be HUGE

  8. Pretty! I didn’t notice the fitting issues at first; we’re always hardest on our own clothes! You look great. It’s such a cute dress. I dream of having a wardrobe populated with dresses like that πŸ™‚ I’ve read that gaping necklines can be related to the bust needing more room, so I’m thinking maybe you could add some extra there (and there are strain lines around the bust…I think) Hope you figure it out πŸ™‚ it looks fab anyhoo!

    • Good, all I need to hear is “noone else noticed it” and I can forget the fitting issues. I think it will help when I get/make a properly fitting bra – I think in this the bust DOES need a bit extra room, something to do with this bust curve being a bit too flat (that’s why there’s gaping above, too). Unfortunately I don’t have your patience with muslins! Maybe we should set an afternoon at Made Marion to help each other with fitting

      • Yeah! Let’s do it, I need more social sewing in my life for sure! Keep in touch about it whenever you sort out you might want to do something like that!

      • Sounds good! πŸ˜€ Any of those could work (I guess depending on what Reagan is up to at the time πŸ™‚ )

  9. I think this dress is really cute and flattering. Plus, it looks really comfy!

    I actually really love quilting cotton, especially for “fit and flare” dresses. I don’t know why so many bloggers hate it so much!

  10. Such a nice silhouette on you, I love the dress. I am fairly new to sewing and teaching myself, so I keep thinking that all fabrics should have some stretch in case you can’t fit it properly. Quilting cotton seems daunting to me, but I did buy some this weekend, hopefully I can figure things out with it like you obviously do!

    • Yes I think when I started, I only really used cotton sateen’s which have a nice amount of give, and a few quilting cottons from memory.

      Tell me – as a beginner, do you find reading sewing blogs makes it more accessible, or more daunting? I didn’t know about fitting, or even pressing, for YEARS after I started sewing. I’m not sure if I would have been inspired or turned off by reading popular blogs

      • I am just about to order some quilting fabric to make into clothes, I had just assumed that it was off limits to dress making. Thankfully, bloggers post pics of their makes in these fabrics which is helpful.
        For me, bloggers are a wealth of information and inspiration. When I first started, I only knew about the Big Four because my mom used to sew. Now I know about wonderful and better quality independent companies. Also, it’s sooooo helpful to see the adjustments people are making to their patterns before you give them a try.
        For me, it’s difficult to envision what the product will look like based on the pattern companies photos and line drawings. I usually think I will hate something, then I can see how it looks on real people and with similar body types to mine. Have you seen the poses Vogue puts their models in?? I have never thought to squat in a birthing position in a dress to show it off.
        The design ideas that sewists come up are inspirational as well.
        Ok that was a long winded way to say the blogosphere is great for me!

  11. Absolutely lovely. I really love the combination of fabric & pattern – it makes for a great breezy daytime dress. I gotta get me some boats!

  12. Very cute! I love the ships. Like all fabrics, choosing fabric withthe right properties for the garment is what counts – writing off anything outright seems daft.Don’t use a quilting cotton for a garment that needs a silk. Don’t use poor quality quilting cotton (and it does exist) for something you care about. Speaking of, in terms of quality, Michael Miller is lovely,as you’ve found, and so is Henry Alexander – I have lots of his stuff and it’s great. Michael Miller might be slightly more polished in texture, maybe? But I’ve got a HA dress and skirt and they’re fabulous and I love them.

  13. Pingback: Don’t look now Jessie, she’s gone full lobster! |

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