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The Wendy Smock | the frilled dress hack

WENDY SMOCK HACK | I did a little hacking of our Wendy Smock pattern and, if I do say so myself, made a rather splendid dress! 

This was actually a salvage job from a previously failed hack and that poor thing has lain, neglected, in the pile of doom all lockdown. But then the sun came out and the UK got hot. And nothing fits anymore (I’m talking body and mood, here! hello menopause, lockdown and well…cake and beer) so I needed a new plan. And voila…she’s now a cool frilled hem dress that’s perfect for the heat!

There’s no actual tutorial just these ramblings…it really is just a case of making our Wendy pattern longer and attaching a frill, but check out our French Dart Frill Sleeve Hack tutorial if you are looking for a little more in the way of detail – it’s exactly the same process just on a different scale.

You’ll need to make a few decisions |

  • how long you’d like your dress
  • how deep you’d like your frill
  • how full you’ll like your frill
  • I’ve included my measurements as a guide but I’m only 5’2″ so bear that in mind. This dress finishes about 5″ above my ankles so adjust to your height/needs/desires! 

PATTERN |

First up: lengthen the bodice pattern.

  • overall length – frill depth = amount to add + seam allowances

I added about 5cm extra to the length of the bodice patterns and added 1cm SA to attach the frill. Please remember I am short! And keep in mind we are still going to add more length with the frill. Don’t over-complicate this bit, I literally just extended the side seams and added on the extra length. Do take the time to check your side seams are the same length and that they will create a smooth hemline when you join them.

FRILL | I didn’t actually make a pattern I just chalked it straight on my fabric as the frill is just made up of 2 rectangles, one for the front one for the back.

DEPTH | You’ll need to decide how deep and how full you would like your frill to be.

I made my frill to finish 33cm deep and added 1cm SA to attach to the body and 2cm hem allowance so I could turn it twice and have a cleanly finished hem, so I cut the rectangle 36cm deep.

WIDTH | The width of your pattern will dictate how gathered your frill is. I decided on a gathering ratio of 2:1. That just means whatever the hem width of the front or back panel is, I doubled it for the frill width. My front had a hem width of 65cm; 65cm x 2 = 130cm + 1cm each end for the seam allowance = my rectangle was cut 132cm wide.

You can change the ratio to suit you and your fabric, a bit more or a bit less gathering to work with the amount of fabric you have will be fine! If you are short of fabric you can join several rectangles together to make your frill.  I just made the same size for the front and back panels as they weren’t very different in size and I was very short of fabric!

GRAINLINE | I cut the frill across the piece of fabric so it is on the same grain line as the bodice. If you have a plain fabric you can cut the frill with the longest length parallel to the selvedge, but be aware if you have a printed fabric it may look odd. 

CONSTRUCTION | remember to press everything as you sew.

It’s all very straight forward – make your Wendy as usual and when you get to the hemming stage, just stick a frill on the bottom!

  • Run gathering stitches across the top of each rectangle. I did 2 rows, but do 3 if you prefer, and I gathered each rectangle in 2 sections so I could gather half a rectangle at a time to make it more manageable. 
  • With right sides of the fabric together, join the frills at the side seam. Neaten and press seams open.
  • Hem the frill.
  • Attach frill to the body with a 1cm seam allowance. Neaten the seam together and press upwards away from the frill.
  • Waft around the house/park/shop at whatever is this week’s acceptably social distance.
  • If you need a little more frill info see our French Dart Frill Sleeve Hack tutorial as the method is the same.
  • I decided later to run my dress in a little at the sides and our High Neck Smock tutorial has instructions to help you!

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted a couple of other differences. I used a wider elastic, 2.5cm wide, at the cuff and I can confirm it’s quite comfy! And the neckline of this Wendy is different too as I have elasticated her rather than finished with the usual binding. This was actually the first method I tried out for Wendy at the toile stage many moons ago before settling on the binding method, but I think that will need to be a whole different tutorial!

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A Most Delightful Pattern Hack

The French Dart Shift | Button Back Tutorial

The French Dart Shift is possibly the most versatile pattern you will ever sew with and I have another little pattern hack to share with you today!

 

I originally made the Indigo Moon spot sample for The Festival of Quilts as I wanted to showcase the Corozo buttons that Mr.M had sourced. Corozo is a natural, sustainable product that works in harmony with the rainforests of Equador, and as it is an excellent alternative to plastic buttons so we felt it was an important message to share.

The sample and the buttons proved to be very popular and there were lots of requests for a tutorial on adding a button placket. The buttons and buttonholes are functional, but you don’t need to undo them to get the top on and off. I’ve added the buttons down the back of the garment, you could just as easily use these instructions and have them down the front instead. I’ve made this French Dart as a top but you could make a button through dress version, just be aware of how much ease you have in the hips and bum area – too little and your buttons and buttonholes may strain or pop open when you sit down! I made the top sleeveless – it was the height of summer here in England – you know that 3-day window where the sun shines consistently before normal British weather resumes when dressing involves sunglasses, factor 50, a cardigan and canoe, because who knows, but best be prepared?!  I made no alterations to the pattern to make it sleeveless, just left the sleeves off and bound the armholes.

| HABERDASHERY for a top|

For all sizes | 1.5m of 150cm wide fabric (you will have enough fabric to cut out short sleeves if you don’t want a sleeveless top).

Indigo sample | Indigo Moon Fabric, 7 Corozo buttons – 24 ligne (15mm) || white linen sample | the linen was found in Ikea bargain corner, 7 Agoya shell buttons in natural – 24 ligne (15mm)

TOOLS | French Dart pattern, paper, scissors, tape, buttons, lightweight interfacing, buttonhole foot, and the usual sewing stuff!

ABBREVIATIONS | CB: centre back | CF: centre front | WS: wrong side | WST: wrong side together | RST: right side together | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance

| THE PATTERN |

First, you’ll need to alter the pattern. As always when altering a pattern trace off a copy so your original stays intact (if you have the PDF version you can always print another). Copy the collar, back and front but don’t cut them out yet.

I left out the back darts to make it a slightly boxier shape.

Decide on your length. I made the CB finished length (the length when it’s all sewn up and not including any seam or hem allowance) 60 cm and added a hem allowance of 4cm (pattern length including hem and neck SA – 64.6cm). No need to overcomplicate this bit, I just measure up from the hem in several places and draw a new line before chopping off the length. The only things to be aware of are;

  1. make sure the new line intersects the CF and CB lines at right angles to stop weird pointy angles.
  2. make sure your side seams are the same length and run smoothly around the body, again to avoid weird pointy angles.

| ADDING THE BUTTON PLACKET |

 

Working on the BACK BODY of your copy pattern, mark the CB line in a red to make it clear (the original ‘cut to the fold line’ is the CB).

Draw a line 1.5cm away and parallel to the CB line, creating a button placket. This will be the folded edge.

Draw another line 4.5cm away and parallel to the fold line, this makes the back facing.

*I used 15mm buttons. If you are using bigger/smaller buttons you can adjust the width of the placket and facing to accommodate your buttons and buttonholes.

When the facing folds back into place it should be the same shape at the neck and the hem as the main body. Fold the facing along the fold line so it sits in place, pin to hold and cut through both layers of paper. Make sure the neck and hem intersect the fold and CB at right angles. When you unfold the facing it will be exactly the same shape as the body. Make a notch in your pattern on the fold line at the neck and hem.

Fold up the hem in the same way before cutting out to make sure it is the same shape as the body when folded into place.

| COLLAR | 

As we have extended the CB by adding 1.5cm for the placket, we need to add the same amount to EACH end of the collar so it still fits. (Don’t worry about the seam allowances as they are already on the pattern, just add the 1.5cm.) Remark your notches.

| INTERFACING | 

Cut a strip 5cm wide and the length of your CB pattern and press onto the WS of the facing. By making the interfacing slightly wider than the facing and you’ll be able to press a nice sharp fold in your fabric.

| CUT AND MAKE |

Make your French dart according to the instructions.

  • Stay tape the neck – for the back neck use half the given measurement and add 1.5cm, or finish the tape at CB if you forget as I did 😉
  • Close and neaten French darts, shoulder and side seams. Leave out the back darts for a boxier shape top.

| COLLAR |

Press 1cm SA on the long edge to WS (STEP 14 in the instruction booklet) and pin in place.

Mark the midpoint between the SA notches.

Keep the 1cm SA pinned in place and fold collar RST in half at the midpoint, align the SA notches.

Close CB collar seam with 1cm SA, keeping 1cm SA folded in place and 6mm SA hanging free below.

Trim top corner to reduce bulk.

Turn through to RS and press seam so as not to roll to either front or back but to sit right on the edge.

| FACING |

If you haven’t already, apply your interfacing to the facing.

Neaten (overlock or zigzag) the edge of the facing. Press facing to WS and pin to hold at the neck edge.

| ATTACH COLLAR |

Place collar RST with body aligning the 6mm SA edge with neck edge. We are just attaching a single layer so keep the other side of collar free. Align notches and place the back seam of collar flush with the folded edge of the facing (you don’t want a step!). Stitch collar to the neckline with 6mm SA.

Trim corner of SA to prevent bulk.

On the WS of garment bring the free edge of the collar to the neckline to cover the stitching by 3mm and enclosing all the SA. Tack and then stitch in the ditch from the RS to finish. This is the same as our usual method of attaching the collar – we are just enclosing an end.

| HEM |

I allowed a 4cm hem allowance. I pressed it to WS by 4cm and then pressed the top raw edge under by 1cm and topstitching it at just under 3cm making it a clean-finished hem.

TOP TIP – Make sure your backs are EXACTLY the same length now before you start buttonholing.

| BUTTONS & BUTTONHOLES | 

I’ll only briefly explain how I mark my buttons and buttonholes because that could be a whole post by itself!

I always mark my button positions first (on the side of the garment to be buttonholed) and then mark my buttonholes around them to get the correct spacing. My first button was 1cm below the neck seam (my buttonhole foot wouldn’t sit any closer to the seam) and I had an 8cm spacing between each button.

I did my top buttonhole horizontally and started it 3mm to the right of the CB seam to allow the button enough space to sit on the CB.

The other buttons were all vertical and positioned centrally to the button positions on the CB line.

Once the buttonholes are made and cut, I pin the back bodies WST and push a pin through each buttonhole…

… and mark a dot on the other side to show where to sew each button.

And there you have it…yet another garment from the French Dart Pattern!

 

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A tip from Mrs M!

I posted this on Instagram the other day and was genuinely surprised how popular it was.

So here is another of my random little tips. I do hope you find it helpful!

Ever get confused which line to follow when chopping out a pattern in your size? You do too?

There is a simple solution – mark it with a highlighter first. No cutting the wrong line here!

And while you’re at it – circle those dots so you mark the right one for your size and don’t forget any of them!

Then use your screw punch hole and notchers to finish the job. Ta-Dah!

✂️✂️✂️

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The High Neck Smock Hack!

The High Neck Wendy Smock Hack

Sometimes I make things up as I go along, this pattern hack is one of those occasions. One day, I decided I fancied making the Wendy Smock with a slightly higher neck.

I know what I wanted the end result to be but sometimes I make things up as I go along, and change my mind. I let it develop. I learn.

Sometimes good design solutions come from the mistakes. Sometimes they’re just mistakes.

I’m telling you these things because I hope it gives power to your making, to not look at mistakes as a complete disaster but, at worse, as a slight annoyance on a learning curve or even a design development.

Also, I pressed the sleeve seams in the wrong direction the first time! Hee Hee Hee! Look out for the warning below! ?

Abbreviations |    SA | seam allowance    CB | centre back    CF | centre front

Tools | 

  • paper
  • paper scissors
  • pencil
  • set square/pattern master/ruler
  • tracing wheel
  • tape measure
  • sellotape

Construction |

I constructed the high neck smock using the same methods as the original Maker Instructions. The only difference I made was to neaten the armhole seams together, rather than open, as I was using a nice lightweight fabric and pressed them towards the body. I also finished the cuff with bias binding rather than using elastic.  Do try her on after gathering the neck and cuff but before finishing with the binding as you can easily adjust the gathering to suit you.

Pattern alteration | 

So this will involve a bit of pattern cutting – nothing too complicated!

It’s a good idea trace off your original pattern so you can keep it intact to make another original version of the Wendy smock later. If you are tracing off the pattern leave excess paper around the edge to do the following alterations. If you have a PDF version of Wendy, and happy to print another if needed at a later date, you have the option to tape extra paper behind as I have.

Tape a bit of paper behind the front pattern piece. Use a ruler and extend the CF line and extend the armhole line. Mark the 1cm SA on all pattern pieces (this will be your actual stitchline).

Repeat for the sleeve and the back pattern.

Cut away excess pattern paper at the armholes, but leave at the neck.

Pin the pattern together |

Match up the pattern at notches and at the original neckline and lay with one stitchline on top of the other and pin the body to the sleeve along the stitchline. Don’t worry about pinning around the curve of the armhole, you want to keep your pattern flat.

Raise the neckline |

On the CF line mark a point 5cm (2”) above the original neckline and at 90°angle to CF line.On the CB mark a point 2.5cm (1”) above the original neckline. Again at 90°angle to CB line. Fold the sleeve in half and mark a point for the shoulder 1.2cm (½”) above the edge of the original pattern.

These are the measurements I used and I got them by trying on an old Wendy Smock and measuring how much higher I wanted the neck to sit. You can change them but remember that the finished neckline doesn’t stretch and needs to be big enough to go over your head when it’s gathered.

Draw a lovely curve between these points!

Make sure your line dissects CF & CB at 90° right angle, or you’ll end up with a weird pointy neck shape there. You can be a bit free and easy with the shoulder mark, concentrate on getting a smooth line, if you go a little bit either side it’s fine. 

Use a tracing wheel to transfer the new neckline to the pattern piece below before unpinning the pattern pieces.

OOPS! Originally I pressed the armhole seam towards the sleeve and then changed my mind when I tried it on and pressed it towards the body instead, so bear that in mind if yours looks slightly different to the photos! Sometimes you just got to make things up a bit as you go along!

The SA will be pressed towards the body of the garment and the seam allowance needs to get caught in the neckline during construction. When it is pressed to one side during construction SA needs to fold back and be exactly the same shape as the garment or the SA and garment will have a little ‘fight’ and possibly distort the garment out of shape at that point. So we need to ‘true’ the pattern.

Take the front pattern and fold the SA along the stitchline and to the wrong side of the pattern. Pin to hold and cut along the new neckline. (The photo is the sleeve pattern but same method!) Repeat for the back pattern.

Now check the body patterns against the sleeve pattern to make sure they are the same length…

Place the front and sleeve pattern together at the armhole. Align at the notch and check the seams are the same length. Make the sleeve SA is the same shape as the front SA as they are pressed in the same direction. The patterns should be the same length but you can add or reduce the sleeve pattern a smidge so they are exactly the same length. (This type of sleeve doesn’t need any ease). Repeat with the back armhole seam. Trim the sleeve pattern at the neckline.

Pattern done! Now you are ready to cut out and sew your new Wendy!

CONSTRUCTION |

As I said above I constructed high-neck-Wendy using the same method as the original Maker Instructions. The only difference I made was to neaten the armhole seams together, rather than open and press them towards the body. I also decided to use bias binding to finish the cuff rather than using elastic. Measure your widest part of your lower arm to give yourself a finished measurement. I advise trying Wendola on after gathering the neck and cuff but before finishing with the binding as you can easily adjust the gathering. For the neckline gathering, I settled on a measurement after trying her on and fiddling with the gathering. I actually made my cuff finish at 22cm but it’s a smidge small and a bit annoying when I’ve worn it for a while, so the measurements below are the original cuff measurements when elasticated, adjust to how you want it to feel when wearing and more importantly moving your arms!

These are the measurements I ended up using – treat them as a guide and adjust to suit you.

In the spirit of making it up as I went along…Try your top on as you go to check you are happy with how it’s fitting. Even though I usually quite cheerfully wear Wendy as is, straight from the packet as it were, with a higher neck I felt the proportions were wrong for me (I’m 5’2″ and a 36″ bust, and use the small size – if that helps anyone!). For me, she was too loose and too long. You could do this alteration at the pattern stage but I just tried the top on (inside out) with the sleeves attached, side seams closed and neck and cuff gathered but not bound. I literally just pinned on myself first and then sewed a new seam and trimmed off the excess.

I found that I needed to take in 2.5cm/1″ on the doubled fabric  (5cm/2″ each side in total, 10cm/4″ in total from the whole garment) at the underarm, straight down to the hem and back to the original stitchline at the cuff.

I made her shorter too, but instead of cutting any off I made a very deep finished hem of 6cm.

Hem | Turn and press the hem up 1cm and then fold and press again at 6cm. Tack and topstitch.

NOTE | If you have tapered the hem you will need to make sure the hem allowance is the same shape as the body when its folded up into place – as we did for the SA earlier. If the side seam is straight it should be fine, but fold the pattern as if you were hemming it to make sure it is ‘true’ and the hem allowance is the same shape as the body.

TIP | Use a safety pin in the back of the garment so you can tell which is the back and front neck easily during construction – it’s quite easy to get them confused!

  And then, on the finished garment, I hand stitched a running stitch along the inside of the binding at the back neck. And that, as they say, is that!