Too Many Dresses

doctor of romcoms, twee as fuck

Sew Dolly Clackett – The @TheQuill Dress

on April 17, 2014

Happy Easter, bunnies! For some reason the weather here has decided to turn just as we’re in sniffing distance of the long weekend. Boo.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to be extremely British and moan about the weather, but rather to show you all my Sew Dolly Clackett dress!

I was so excited when Roisin (actually, no, I think it was Nic who told me!)…when Roisnic told me about the wonderful contest that Sarah over at Rhinestones and Telephones had cooked up to pay tribute to this lovely couple on their big day.

Sewing a Clackett-style dress was not at all a challenge for me because I copy her all the time anyway we have very similar taste when it comes to wardrobes – we’re both all about the fit n flare dresses and the fancy shoes, ai! In fact, we have often lamented one the very sad fact of our friendship, which is that we do not have the same size feet.

Anyway, the contest was very fortuitous for me, because it just so happened that the next sewing project that I had lined up was Clackett all over – a By Hand London Elisalex in a large scale print.

2014-04-16 19.46.34

Photo here courtesy of the lady herself.

I had already created a wearable toile (muslin) of the dress out of a Lady and the Tramp print curtain that I had got off Ebay and was reasonably happy with the fit once I’d done a slight adjustment to the sleeves. My toile was a little erm…how to put this delicately…boob-squishing, but (after seeking counsel from Roisin herself) I decided that a FBA wasn’t required, but simply sewed up my “proper” attempt with a 3/8 seam allowance on the bust of the princess seams rather than the standard 5/8, as the lovely By Hand London girls suggest in their sewalong.

I really loved the tulip skirt on my muslin (even though I accidentally cut it 8 inches too short…never use Tramps as hemline markers, that’s all I’ll say), and originally intended to do the midi tulip on this one. However, as I started to work with the fabric I realised that it was drapier than I’d anticipated. It is a really soft cotton and flows really nicely. But obviously, this made me question how well it would hold those gorgeous box pleats. Rather than fight the fabric I decided to frankenfrock and let the fucker drape, so I put on a super-simple gathered skirt instead. I love the way this looks really feminine with the bodice and it was definitely the right choice for the fabric. Plus, to mix and match bodice and skirt combinations is…so Dolly Clackett!

2014-04-16 19.16.36   2014-04-16 19.16.17

As others have said, this pattern comes together so easily and is a dream to sew, especially following the sewalong. As a beginner I found the instructions that come with the pattern a bit minimal but the sewalong more than compensates for this, and then I supplemented this with referencing sewing books and videos online for things like easing in the sleeves. The princess seams scared me a bit…the very first dress I ever made had princess seams, and the pattern was marked easy, and so, having no clue what I was doing I just sewed them as I would a normal seam, and of course they came out all lumpy and kinked and weird. So I have avoided princess seams since then. But these were fine. I think with a bit more experience, I knew that I had to approach them differently to a straight seam, and that made all the difference.

I popped in my first exposed zip in this one, lined in a black cotton voile and finished the neckline and sleeve hems with some metallic topstiching – my first go at this and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Sleeve hem topstitching.

A post shared by @toomanydresses on

Featuring a stab at metallic topstitching!

A post shared by @toomanydresses on

I’m also pretty chuffed with the fit and it is so comfortable to wear. The only thing I did find was that it slipped off my shoulders a bit – next time I make an Elisalex (yes, there will be a next time) I think I’ll take in the shoulder seams by half an inch or so. As a fix on this dress I copied a tip from Jennifer at Workroom Social about putting bra strap carriers in, using Dixie’s tutorial, which has really helped a lot.

Frock-lovers among you may well recognise the fabric – it’s the same print as the Vivien of Holloway Telstar dress. Now, I actually own this dress too (don’t judge me!). I love it to pieces and it is my go-to for any sort of smart evening event, dinners, weddings etc. However, with the exposed shoulders, it’s hardly work-friendly. And a print like this is far too awesome to be kept just for nighttime. So when I spotted a bolt of this lurking right at the back of Fancy Silk Stores on a fabric shopping jaunt to Birmingham with my colleague and friend Rachel, I just couldn’t leave it on the shelf. It was a very reasonable price – £6 or £7 a metre for 60″ wide fabric.

And when Rick and I booked another trip to Berlin for the end of March, this time to coincide with Mark Morriss‘s European tour, it seemed that a special gig deserved an appropriately themed dress. So that is the story the @TheQuill dress, and of how I came to have two musical instrument print dresses. And I think two is enough…for now.

By Hand London Elisalex

Obligatory doorstep photo!

I’ve known Nic and Roisin for over 4 years and not a day goes by when I don’t thank my lucky stars that I have this fab pair in my life. We’ve spent many nights of pizza, ale, prosecco and Vienetta together chatting shit about television, dresses, and hand-dryers and then dancing around the living room to Kate Bush or the Divine Comedy. I always leave a get-together with them feeling energised, excited, and loved, with my belly hurting from laughter and a smile on my face. They are just that kind of people. I couldn’t be happier that they are making this special commitment to each other (and for the excuse for another piss-up) and I wish them so so much happiness for the future. Love you both!

And on that soppy note, I have to get back to my work, and counting down to the 4 day weekend. Which, in my house, must always be rung in with this:



3 responses to “Sew Dolly Clackett – The @TheQuill Dress

  1. Well, this is just fabulous. Even more so in real life! Love you so very much xxx

  2. AMAZING!! It looks great on you. 🙂

  3. gmariesews says:

    What a fantastic dress! I really want to respond to your questions about Maui – but it seems a bit long for Instagram. Wanna email me? g

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