A Beautiful Welsh Summer Wedding

On Thursday I watched one of my best friends of eight years marry her childhood sweetheart in a beautiful Welsh wedding in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons. She looked stunning in her sweeping, lace gown which perfectly complimented her petite figure and warm tan. But most beautiful of all was her beaming smile, which I don’t think left her face all day! 😀

It’s not for me to post photos of someone else’s wedding online for all to see so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was beautiful. 🙂 But I am able to share with you a few photos of my finished Wedding Guest Dress, which I finished in the nick of time!

As a recap, I used New Look 6401 as a base pattern but I made some adjustments to suit my style and tastes. First, I adjusted the bodice to ensure a better fit on my figure, and I decided the back would meet at a higher point than the original pattern. The long, drapey ties for the bow at the back were lengthened further and a ‘peek-a-boo’ back was added towards the final stages as I struggled to get the fit to work otherwise. I added a narrow band under the bust to connect it to the skirt rather than attaching the skirt directly to the bodice as, again, I felt it complimented my shape more. I used a very narrow hem to ensure the gown was floor-length at the front and had a short train at the back (which was repeatedly trodden on by other guests but I loved it so it was worth the hassle!). I also added a side-seam split on the left-hand side to ensure there was plenty of movement for dancing! I managed to avoid any fastenings whatsoever so I was pleased!

So, here it is! 🙂

Dress front Dress front2

And now for the back…


I don’t think it’s quite as clear in these photos as in reality how the back looks as the bow had dropped a bit – probably because I’d been seated beforehand. I really didn’t think that part through, I realised; I had to sit against a knot for the entire day!! 😉 Hopefully, you can just see that there’s a band of fabric across the bra-line (for the precise reason of hiding a normal bra so I didn’t have to wear an uncomfortable ‘invisible’ one all day!) and then there’s a ‘peek-a-boo’ gap, which I added when I had trouble with the fit of the waistband.

The night before the wedding I was holidaying with family in North Wales and so I was able to model my dress to my Grandma. Here reaction was priceless and so meaningful to me! She proudly paraded me to another caravan (yes – I strutted around a caravan park in this get-up, which led to a few funny looks!) to show some other family members. It was a relief as I was nervous by this point that I’d totally misjudged the dress and would look like a complete idiot at the wedding and be quite clearly the guest who had made her own outfit. Crippling self-doubt is a very common problem for me.


I had the cutest shoes from Debenhams to wear with the dress, which were a lucky find in a sale a couple of days before. I’d also had Shellac nails done at a salon as my nails are always painfully ugly so what better way to compliment them than with a 10-minute clutch bag make?! Basically, I looked at clutches but couldn’t find one I liked so I envisioned making one. Needless to say I left it too late in the day to make my ideal bag so I tried to think outside the box… I grabbed a cushion cover from my car that had been waiting to go to a charity shop for weeks and quickly whipped up a perfect-sized sparkly clutch! One press stud and a bit of cardboard (for rigidity) later and hey presto! What do you think?


New Toys!

I’ve been adding to my equipment and pattern stash recently, in part because I was avoiding essay writing but also because I’m greedy when it comes to sewing supplies! Of course, my big purchase was my Jaguar 096 overlocker, which I posted a photo of before it arrived. I thought it would be a lot trickier to thread than it is but the key really is to unthread it only a step ahead of rethreading it so you can’t get muddled up. It is rather noisy but it saves so much time whilst also providing a professional finish. Being as the Wedding Guest Dress has so many panels forming the skirt, I’ve had lots of practice overlocking long lengths of seams! 😉

My less expensive purchases are a mish-mash of things I have either wanted for a while and saw in online sales or happened upon and decided I needed them.


Hobbycraft were having an online sale on sewing supplies so I picked up two patterns which compliment my current stash by being completely different to anything else I have. One was of a girls’ dress so I can make not only the pattern included but also have some idea of sizes for drafting different designs for my nieces.


The other pattern is for a ladies’ jumpsuit or playsuit, which appealed to me as a good holiday item. I might make a jumpsuit for my Sri Lankan holiday in November as an option for evenings.

The recent issue of Prima – which my Grandma bought me a subscription for – contains a pattern for off-the-shoulder boho/gypsy-type tops so I might be making one of those too.

Cutting and Sticking Tools!  

I’ve been meaning to buy a rotary cutter and mat for a while and so the Hobbycraft sale provided the perfect excuse to do so. At half their usual price, I’m happy to have added these to my kit! The glue gun was an additional purchase (£5 from Hobbycraft) as I was toying with the idea of adding tiny “diamonds” to my Wedding Guest Dress. It didn’t work but I don’t regret the purchase as it will come in use for many things and didn’t break the bank.


Crochet Hooks Set

A full set from 1mm to 10mm across 20 hooks so I won’t have to work out whether I have the right hook size for a project when I trying to buy yarn in-store! (I have far too many 3mm – 5mm hooks as a result of never being certain what I have in stock!) I’m hoping to get lace-making now I have some smaller hooks. 🙂



Machine Feet

I desperately wanted to finish off my Wedding Guest Dress hem with a rolled hem so I bought a compatible foot online… and then waited for it to arrive from China for three weeks! My, my, my – what a fiddly little ****** it is to use! My attempts were shocking and I ended up putting it to one side and finishing the hem manually. With time, hopefully I’ll get the hang of it and be rewarded with delicate, light and floaty hems!


The other foot is to assist with pin-tucking because my attempts on the yellow chiffon Betty blouse I made were passable but could have been more even. I’ve not used it yet but, as pin-tucks are a favourite feature of mine, I’m sure it won’t be long until I do.

Magnetic Pin “Cushion”

As someone who is absolutely rubbish at putting pins into a cushion as I go, this is a real delight! Something so simple yet so helpful in preventing stabbed feet and en masse pin loss!




I’ve made a *couple* of fabric purchases lately, namely some navy cotton stretch jersey and also some grey jersey with blue and white anchors, which is super cute. 🙂


I took a chance on a wool fabric, which looked as though it would be nice for a coat but it was very disappointing when it arrived. It’s much more ‘plastic’-looking than the photos on the website show so I would only use it ‘inside out’, so to speak.


Other purchases include some navy chiffon with spots in red hues, and some purple/pink swimsuit fabric, which I mainly bought to bulk up my order to get free postage and a discount but it will be good to practice on before forking out for more expensive stuff in the future.

That’s it for now! June needs to be a frugal month so I’ll have to hold steady on the purchases but I think you’ll agree I’ve enough to keep me going for at least four weeks as it is! 😉


The Wedding Guest Dress: Part 3 – Bust Out Those Darts

Warning: This post contains unflattering images and naked underarms… 😬

Trying to work out where bust darts should go when you have to self-pin is a tad tricky…! Maybe I should have bought a dressform rather than an overlocker!


The pattern doesn’t call for darts but I’m bigger busted than the pattern and don’t know how else to overcome the issue so darts it is! 😝 Gotta love a good dart. Or two. Two tends to be better otherwise you’d be a bit lopsided.

I also need to alter the neckline at the front. I mean, this is a daytime wedding! 🙈

That’s an easy little fix though.

These photos show the inside of the garment by the way, though it’s pretty much the same on the outside; just flowers in different places.

Restlessness equals spontaneous online purchases… I may have just bought an overlocker! 🤤

Jaguar 96 ex-showroom model with 15 year guarantee. New it would cost over £320; I’m getting it for £179! 

It’s probably waaaaaay too professional for the likes of me but I could have paid the same for a much more basic, brand new model so I figure a bit of quality is a good thing to have! 🙂 

(Chocolate) Chip Off The Old Block

My mum used to make cookies all the time when I was growing up, until she became overly concerned with ‘health foods’ and started substituting all the yummy butter and sugar for coconut oil and… well, I can’t remember what replaced sugar. I am a ‘full fat’ baker – if you’re going to have a tasty treat it’s okay for it to be calorific! Just don’t eat them all day, every day.

Anyway, I don’t possess my mum’s talent for just chucking ingredients together and turning out perfect cookies, so I have to follow a recipe. I don’t know why but I’ve always struggled with cookies – they turn out too ‘biscuit-y’ usually rather than the gooey loveliness I’m after. I wasn’t going to make any sweet treats this weekend; I planned only to make scones and quiches but you’ve gotta go where the wind cravings take you!

Watching the cookies like a hawk really is the key to getting the right level of gooey. I’m used to cake baking whereby you have a spare 40-60 minutes of oven time to get the kitchen cleaned up and the kettle boiling before turning out a fresh bake, so the 8-10 minute timeframe screwed that up somewhat. However, the proof really was in the pudding, so to speak:


They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I take this quite literally! Karl is forever being surprised with freshly baked cakes, puds and breakfasts. I get immense pleasure from feeding people but especially someone with as sweet a tooth as Karl. Taking homemade cakes into the office is an instant way of brightening everyone up. Yes, I’m a public health student and should know better than to contribute to the obesity crisis but I’m also a depressive in remission so I know the importance of contributing to people’s mental happiness. 😉 Karl’s worked hard on the house these past couple of weekends and so I kept him fed and hydrated in the absence of any useful DIY skills on my part. He’s super clever – he can turn his hand to anything and his perfectionist streak means it’s always done to a high spec. The amount he saves us in labour costs is worth a few cookies and pancakes, right? 🙂

P.S. The secret to Mary Berry’s figure despite all the cakes? Definitely serving size. The recipe said the mixture makes “about 20” cookies but guess how many normal-sized cookies I got out of it? Yep, nine.

P.P.S. I did also make two quiches – with mixed results!

Wedding Guest Dress Part 2. Translating My Toile into Pattern Pieces

I’ve spent a looooong afternoon cutting out pattern pieces and I can say with certainty that this fabric is a slippery little so-and-so, which makes me nervous about sewing it up! However, for now we’ll pretend that’s not going to be an issue…

So, I chopped up my toile along the seam lines and used these to create templates. As the photos below show, the final toile and the initial pattern pieces I had worked from weren’t all that different but there were some changes;


After seam allowances there’s not much in the differences so it was flattering to learn my very first Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) was fairly accurate! The photo on the right shows my toile on top of the FBA template I made.

These are the completed templates. The solid black outline doesn’t have seam allowances so the red dashes and black dots are where I measured 1.5cm (black dots) or 1cm (red dashes) for the seams.


I cut out my first ‘set’ and took the time to pattern match the side seam before realising the dart I’d added to the bust made that a fruitless pursuit! I also realised that I needed to add more length to the front bodice section along the side seam, so I added a bit to my template;


Then came what seemed like hours of smoothing, pinning, cutting, refining and duplicating. Luckily, the F1 was on so I had something to keep me entertained (Vettel won! Yay!) but it was still a tedious job. I cut each piece out separately as well, rather than cutting two at a time by folding the fabric because the slipperiness made me wary. I chose to line the bodice in the same fabric for a couple of reasons, including that I don’t have any navy lining fabric to hand but I don’t want to delay the project any further…!

Unfortunately, when you’re working on a full length dress and 6 metres of fabric, you’re limited as to where you can work. Hence the kitchen floor and I became well acquainted…


Fortunately I realised after I took this photo that I’d laid the pattern pieces the wrong way around so the flowers would all have been pointing down! Phew! With these larger pieces I decided I’d go ahead with folding the fabric in half but it was still a painstaking process.

Trusty Pins: can I just say thank you. You don’t get enough credit but without you there would be much more frustration, many more mistakes (and perhaps one or two less ‘ouch!’ moments). Scissors: I’m sorry but you’re getting replaced. Blunt scissors ain’t got no business in dis neighbourhood.

Tomorrow, we sew!



Wedding Guest Dress Part 1. The Bodice Toile

Front view (Karl says it looks like a bra…)

After many, many alternations, I am finally happy with the fit of the toile I made for my wedding guest dress. My dear friend Z is getting married in June and I’ve been so excited to make my own dress for the big day since she got engaged! However, as the time draws near I’ve been struggling to find the same level of enthusiasm – no doubt in part because the threat of failure becomes more real with each passing day. 
I started off with the Butterick 5748 pattern but once I made a bodice toile for that I realised it didn’t really suit my shape, lovely though the pattern is. 

So I searched the internet for a longer, more open necked dress and came upon New Look 6401, version B. It’s a little alarming upon first glance that the photo on the cover is of a bridal dress as I’m in no way trying to upstage the bride! But if you look at the other designs, and B in particular, they are just maxi dresses, really. In fact, I’m tempted to make another version in my beautiful  butterfly chiffon if this version goes well. 

So, after all the fitting and re-fitting, I’m ready to dismantle my toile and try to replicate the fit in the actual fabric, which is navy with bluey-grey flowers. 

Now trying to decide whether to go with navy shoes and fascinator or to use a bright red for some “pop”! Alternatively, I could opt for grey. Guess I’ll know more when the dress is near completion. 

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