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New From Old : Linen Summer Dress

A couple of years ago I made this self-drafted linen dress and wore it quite a lot that year.  This year, however, I’ve always chosen something else ahead of it in the wardrobe so, when I decided to make a short, sleeveless Summer dress in an attempt to stay cool, I thought I’d cut it up and re-use the fabric as I still love the colour.

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I’ve used this New look pattern before when I adapted it to make a white triple-layered dress, also from linen, as in view B on the pattern envelope below.

This time, I chose view D.

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Most of the time was taken up unpicking the old dress, ironing the fabric and cutting out the new pieces, after which the simple shift dress came together quickly.

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I know it was supposed to be a simple shift dress, but it was a little too simple for my liking so I tried out this bit of sequinned trim around the neckline.

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Much better and still no too fancy for a day dress.

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I added a couple of long darts in the back through the waistline to give the dress a bit more of a shape.

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Although I initially hadn’t planned on re-using the pockets, I do like pockets and, as it’s a casual dress, decided to go ahead and stitch them on.

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I used French seams throughout and simply overlocked and turned the hem, armholes and neck edge.

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Bust darts stop it being too boxy, too.

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I had to join two short lengths of trim and there was just enough to do the front neckline only. Spot the join if you can!!

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Hubby’s away on business so I had to resort to mirror selfies again I’m afraid.

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So far this Summer it’s been hovering around 30°C for at least a few weeks which us poor Brits are simply not used to and, as such, the most I’ve worn is a pair of knickers whilst at home.

Luckily for the Postman, I now have a piece of clothing that I can bear to wear:)


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Vogue 1496 Linen ‘Cocoon’ Dress

This is a make from way back in May that has been so useful and worn so much that I just had to get around to doing a blog post about it.

There’s nothing particularly special about the pattern, other than the fact that it is a Vogue original which has been my favourite pattern brand since the Eighties.


I think we can agree that the shape does nothing for the model’s slim physique on the front of the pattern envelope but, on the contrary, I could envisage it working well for my 5’2″ size 14 figure.

The ‘cocoon’ shape has rather a daring low neckline, short sleeves and the length falls to the knee – perfect to show off my best bits (boobs, arms and legs) and skim over my non-existent waistline.

It also features pockets in the side seams, which are a must for me.


I went to a bricks-and-mortar shop to buy my fabric, and chose this linen with a large floral design from Hanson’s in Sturminster Newton.


A quick make, I sewed it up in no time in anticipation of a long, hot Summer (ha, ha!)


I do love hand-worthy pockets.


No bra needed because the pattern is busy enough to distract the eye from any potential embarrassment – perfect for our up-coming foreign holidays where it would be far too hot to wear a bra.


The armholes were an interesting design.


No waist-hugging meant it promised to be the perfect outfit for a meal with plenty of space to accommodate a full belly!


Yep, overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it looks on me.


It certainly has proved to be a worthwhile make as I’ve worn it lots over the Summer – and I mean LOTS.

Here it is at Desert Springs in Spain in May.


Back home in England it has regularly been a comfortable outfit for meals out.


Another holiday in Spain saw it worn even more as the temperatures soared in July.


Paris in August – I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of this one!


There was even enough left over fabric to make half a dozen little fabric storage pots to donate to the school Summer fair.


Having been away for most of the school holidays, not much (ie. none) sewing got done and I’m looking forward to getting back to the sewing machine again.

 Sewing 100+ name tags into school uniform doesn’t count, does it?!


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Triple-Layered Linen Dress

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This month’s make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger’s Network is an interesting one. I started off with a commercial pattern but had to drastically alter it after I realised that the white fabric revealed my underwear!

Click on the link below to read all about it: –

Triple-layered linen dress


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Linen Look Cotton Tunic

This month’s Minerva Crafts blog post is finished!

Just click on the link to see all about the Linen Look Cotton Tunic.

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Marcy Tilton 8813 – Vogue Linen Dress

If you have been following my blog this Summer, you may have noticed my penchant for linen and the ‘Lagenlook’ style of clothing.

Linen is not only comfortable to wear and brilliant for keeping you cool on those long, hot Summer days, (not that we had many of those in England this year) but it also gets better with washing – softer and more drapey.

The pattern I wanted to try was V8813 by Marcy Tilton for Vogue which called for a lightweight linen or jersey. Obviously I chose a linen, and went for a stunning Pillar Box Red 100% linen from Minerva Crafts. It has a subtle sheen to it which is quite unlike the linens I have bought before.

This is what arrived in the post: –

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As we’re heading into Autumn, short sleeves were not an option so I opted for view B with three-quarter length sleeves.

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Although not immediately obvious on the pattern envelope, the oversized pockets have a pleat in them which is held in place by a button. As the fabric is plain, I decided to make a statement with these swirly patterned buttons which are very striking and quite unusual; they look like they’re hand painted.

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The dress came together very easily but, although I washed the fabric before starting to sew, it is still stiffer than I’d like. A few more washes will soften the linen more and more though, and those pockets will drape better eventually – they just look a little too structured at the moment.

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After the main body of the dress has been constructed, the centre front panel is inserted and then the gathered detail is added.

Having read several other blogs featuring this pattern, it seems some people are finding that it is less fiddly to complete the gathers prior to inserting the front panel. However, I am used to using Vogue patterns and decided to follow their instructions which worked for me.

The pattern includes a great way to get really even gathers so I thought I’d show it in more detail as it’s a technique that would transfer to many other projects.

You cut lengths of cord twice as long as the guide lines – I used a baker’s twine but any thin cord will do.

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Pin the cord in place along the guidelines.

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Set your stitch width to a wide zig zag.

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Choose a medium stitch length.

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Zig zag over the cord being careful not to catch the cord in the stitching. I found that it just stayed in the groove of the sewing machine foot which made it easy.

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When all the cord has been enclosed, secure one end of each of the cords by wrapping it around a pin in a figure of eight motion.

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Then simply pull the other end of the cord to create even gathers across the entire length.

Secure with another pin at the other end and steam the gathers so they stay in place.

Finally, top stitch from the right side in two rows either side of the previous zig zag stitching.

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This is my favourite way to create gathers which are nice and even – it might take a little longer than the usual method of just pulling up the bobbin thread, but it’s much more professional looking and well worth perfecting the technique.

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I amended the design by adding a row of top stitching to the shoulder seams as it’s always a nice finishing touch.

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I prefer to leave the sleeve hems and bottom hem to the very end so deviated from the instructions at this point.

The very last thing to do was to sew those wonderful buttons in place!

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Can you see the slight sheen? It’s almost like silk.

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It is SUCH a comfortable dress to wear and will drape more softly after a few more washes. I can see myself teaming it with a pair of tights and boots for the colder weather.

If you are tempted to try this pattern, there’s never been a better time as it is half price at the moment!

Here’s the link: – V8813 Marcy Tilton


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Fuschia Linen Tunic Dress

Well that’s it, all my lovely linen used up and made into loose Summer garments which have been perfect in this recent spell of hot weather.

Remember these citrus shades I bought from Calico Laine?

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I made a sleeveless dress from the “Pool Blue” and self drafted a tunic from the “Leaf Green” (Don’t you just love the descriptive colours?)

Linen dresses

I wanted something along the same lines for the fuschia linen, another loose fitting, easy-to-wear item that would be a delight to wander around in on even the hottest day.

In the end I decided to make a dress based mainly on the tunic but, this time, with sleeves, albeit short ones.

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This is what I came up with for the pockets, the lines marking the placement for an inverted pleat.

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I used a combination of flat fell seams and French seams for the construction.

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Narrow hems were made throughout, so no need for facings.

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I really liked the details in the tunic so I applied them to this dress as well.

The parallel pleats on the front and back which draw the centre upwards and allow the edges to hang lower in an interesting shape….

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…the exterior pleats on the back which add shape as an alternative to darts…

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….and the inverted centre front pleat adorned with two coconut shell buttons.

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I added two pockets this time, in a slightly different style….

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…and this is the finished article!

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The sides are split to mid thigh level which lets the breeze in to keep me nice and cool!

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I can also wear linen trousers underneath for a different look (or if it gets cooler).

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Very casual, comfortable and cool – three reasons why I LOVE linen!

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Self-Drafted Linen Tunic

You may remember that a few weeks ago I showed you some brightly coloured linen that I bought from Calico Laine.

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I made this Vogue designer Summer dress from the ‘Pool Blue’ and blogged about it here.

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The gorgeous ‘Leaf Green’ was destined to become a tunic top of sorts, but I couldn’t find an off the shelf pattern that I liked enough so I decided to draft my own.

I had several features in mind from other tops I own that I wanted to incorporate, so I played around awhile until I came up with this: –

A one-piece front with a centre front pleat and two horizontal partial pleats running parallel to the hem.

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The back was also to be one-piece and would have some added shape in the form of external darts.

It was also to be shorter than the front and there would be slits on both sides.

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This is the finished tunic which, from the creases, you can see has been worn quite a bit already.

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The inverted centre front pleat was reinforced with a line of top stitching….

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…and a couple of coconut shell buttons.

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The parallel pleats at the bottom were designed to lift the tunic in the middle leaving the sides to drape lower.

To acheive the desired effect, the pleats were only partial and I only sewed between the pins as shown below.

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I like the darts from the dress I made but was happier after securing them flat against the back, so I did the same with this tunic.

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Much better!

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French seams and narrow hems were used throughout.

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The front pleats hang exactly as envisioned….

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…and I added a gathered pocket at the last minute, matching the style with a pleat and another coconut shell button.

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It’s a little bit stiff at the moment but will soften after the first wash.

I love it – the perfect loose, linen tunic to throw on over a pair of comfy linen trousers and mess around in the garden.

So cool and easy to wear and a lovely cheerful shade of lime green!

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I could have brushed my hair for the photo though – I look like a tree with a bird’s nest on the top:)